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Little Way Week

Image@http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk

I received an email from the Schools Commission this week with details of resources for primary and secondary schools during the course of a special week called ‘Little Way Week’. It’s to be celebrated in the week before the beginning of the Year of Faith, which begins on the 11th of October.

 

Thérèse of Lisieux
“In my little way there are only very
ordinary things… Miss no single
opportunity of making some small
sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there
by a kindly word; always doing the
smallest right and doing it all for love.”

Little Way Week is inspired by the spiritual teaching and example of St Thérèse of Lisieux and runs from the 6 to the 12 October 2012.  All resources are ready to be picked up and easy to use. You will find them here.

The initiative takes its inspiration from St Thérèse of Lisieux, the universal Patroness of Mission, who gave to the Church a teaching called the ‘Little Way’ –  the saint lived by this pathway which is a commitment to do small tasks every day with love. It is a simple way of witnessing to the love of God and neighbour.

The initiative is being offered in support of the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the UK who said to those gathered in Oscott in 2010: “I know that you will take a lead in calling for solidarity with those in need. The prophetic voice of Christians has an important role in highlighting the needs of the poor and disadvantaged, who can so easily be overlooked in the allocation of limited resources. In their teaching document Choosing the Common Good, the Bishops of England and Wales underlined the importance of the practice of virtue in public life. Today’s circumstances provide a good opportunity to reinforce that message.”

Bishop Kieran Conry (Arundel and Brighton), Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference and Patron of the initiative said: “In our communities many people are in need and it is the task of every Christian to reach out to them in love and service. You are invited to be especially attentive to those who might need help, ready to share as appropriate the reason for your actions – that you are following the command of Jesus Christ to love your neighbour as yourself.”

Little Way Week is a wonderful initiative that the whole school community can participate in
to witness to God’s love through service. Let us imitate St Thérèse as someone who found
deep and lasting joy and happiness in doing little things for Jesus and those around her.
Rt Rev Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department of Evangelisation and Catechesis

The Mystery of Suffering: How Should I Respond?

In the past two weeks Great Britain has been privy to the devastating mental and physical suffering endured by  Tony Nicklinson, 58, who had unsuccessfully sought permission from the High Court in England to end his life with the help of a Doctor. He wanted to end his ‘dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable’ life after he was left paralysed below the neck following a stroke seven years ago.  Mr. Nicklinson wept uncontrollably after the judgment and said it meant his anguish would continue.  It has haunted me and remains at the forefront of my thoughts.

His experience has left me thinking about what life has in store for me and how I would cope if I were faced with a disability such as his. This kind of life story is one which will make us all think.

Never in human history has suffering been more readily relieved than today. And yet, paradoxically, we have never been more afraid of suffering.

Our forebears would find this very odd. For them, horrendous suffering was ubiquitous, the bane of rich and poor alike. For example, before anesthesia, the agony of surgery may have killed more patients than surgical procedures helped. As Thomas Dormandy put it in his splendid medical history, The Worst of EvilsThe Fight Against Pain, “the searing pain of knife and saw” almost always caused patients to fall “into a state of shock on the operating table . . . Speed was essential. Prolonged pain not only hurt. It also killed.” No wonder John Adams, after witnessing the searing agony of his daughter’s one-and-a-half hour mastectomy, said he felt “as if he were living in the Book of Job.”

Pain was an integral part of life: If a man suffered appendicitis, he died in agony. If a man contracted bone cancer, he died in agony. If a man became infected with tuberculosis, he died in agony. Then there were the non-terminal illnesses and injuries like gout, carbuncles, migraines, arthritis, and broken limbs. Suffering was the hard price one paid for being alive.

Happily, those bad old days are mostly long gone, at least in the developed world. Thanks to tremendous breakthroughs in modern medicine, suffering has been pushed largely into the shadows. Surgeries no longer kill from the pain. Hospice and palliative care offer tremendous relief for even the most painful chronic and terminal diseases. The problem today isn’t primarily one of preventing agony, but rather, our sometimes inadequate delivery of efficacious and timely palliation. (Quoted from First Things)

Suffering surrounds us. Mental and physical illness, poverty and starvation, wars and violence of all kinds overwhelm individuals, communities, entire nations. We ourselves experience suffering. It might be broken relationships and alienated families, accidents and disease, failed dreams or boring jobs, in dying and death. How many people suffer from addictions, abuse and other forms of violence! Suffering is a Mystery. It cannot be explained outright because each individual case of suffering is unique to the sufferer. These responses are as equally unique to person going through the suffering. Although we humans often try to escape suffering, the truth is that suffering is an important part of life.

In times of crisis, we have to intentionally exercise our faith, purposely and courageously reminding ourselves that God’s ultimate purpose is to bring each person into a deeper and deeper communion with Himself. This communion begins and grows here on earth, but it reaches its fulfillment only in Heaven. The battles, struggles, sorrows, and often horrible sufferings we face on our earthly pilgrimage are inescapable in a fallen world; but God, far from being absent in the midst of them, has transformed them into channels of grace, gymnasiums of virtue, and bridges to greater wisdom, mercy, and spiritual maturity.