CSAN Blog

A different approach

  
In the run-up to the Third World Day of the Poor, on 17 November 2019, we have assembled a series of three articles. Each reflects on emerging developments in Catholic social mission. In November 2018, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales encouraged leaders of Catholic organisations to work together on addressing the housing crisis. This first article in the series explores some progress in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, within the wider context of the Church’s pastoral work and mission in communities.

By Steve Baylis, Head of Development, and Jane Bamber, Senior Development Officer, at the Archdiocese of Birmingham

Over the last five years, the development team at the Archdiocese of Birmingham has been hard at work connecting with its deaneries, parishes and communities to discover their unique needs and to identify their priorities. Through this work it became clear that there was a need to develop strategies and plans to support the maintenance and long-term sustainability of the Catholic community’s buildings. With approximately 1,200 buildings in the Archdiocese alone, these are significant assets which support the fulfilment of the Church’s mission. These buildings hold Masses and services, others provide outreach and support for those affected by poverty, or those who experience social isolation. These buildings can provide the setting in which communities come together in fellowship and mission.

By identifying the priorities, and the issues our communities face, we have secured more than £4.4 million of new funding, specifically for the development and improvement of our buildings. We have invested this funding in projects valued at more than £7 million. This is a wonderful achievement which allows us to make real improvements for the benefit of our community, but, as always, we are looking to the future.

To achieve the greatest positive impact with our resources, we have strived to ensure that Catholic-owned buildings remain a vital, relevant resource to the people and communities who need them the most. In keeping with the Archdiocese’s mission, we want to continue to use our expertise and funding to improve the lives of those who feel disenfranchised, who are experiencing poverty or are subject to discrimination.

The Archdiocese has a diverse mix of parishes with some that are particularly land or asset rich, despite being in deprived areas. We continue to invest in our churches as sacred spaces where we come together to pray and worship God, however we also want to ensure that we are fully utilising all our assets in pursuit of our wider mission, and that means looking at ways that we can respond to the needs of the local communities, working with them and reaching out to those in need.

We are currently working with a number of partners to scope and develop new housing schemes that will increase local people’s access to good quality affordable housing. This is a long term project that will contribute to our vision and mission, and demonstrates a commitment to future sustainability. When scoping these major projects, the team is especially keen to foster wider community engagement and participation. One of our partners is offering parishes 40 per cent nomination rights for any new social housing projects we develop with them (meaning we can nominate people we know who are in need, so this could be a local family, refugees or a retiring priest). We see this work as being key to our department’s role of developing sustainable and vibrant parish communities.

We believe in starting at the grass roots of the problem. By carrying out a full feasibility study on a site we are able to gain a wider picture than the one which may seem immediately obvious. We are committed to enabling and empowering individuals and communities to have their own voice and to get involved in shaping their neighbourhoods. By supporting the community to support itself we believe we can promote greater well-being and a sense of belonging. In our commitment to the community, we always ask ourselves: what would really work best for the community and its people? How can local people gain from this project, what are their housing needs, and how can we campaign and deliver safer, greener spaces as well as services and facilities that are meeting the needs of the whole community?

We recently secured some £430000 from the National Lottery to work in partnership with two of our churches, the local Irish Centre and two Muslim organisations to deliver a joint project around early intervention activities for socially isolated older people.

We are currently developing a project in partnership with the travelling community, having invested £9,000 to employ an outreach worker to engage and work with this community, to fully understand their concerns and issues, to make sure we have their voices embedded in how the project will be developed and ultimately delivered. We hope to have this project funded by the Lottery and expect to be submitting a funding application early 2020 based on a clear evidence of need with end users at the heart of the solution.

Alongside our major project developments, we are becoming more aware of the increased need for parish and community based responses to homelessness and localised poverty. Many of our parishes are facing daily challenges: from the pressures of sustaining food banks, with people seeking refuge, requiring support for addiction and experiencing a lack of safe pastoral areas, which has led us to develop a pilot in a cluster of four parishes to make sure we have training and resources to deliver a “dementia friendly” church.

By producing skill banks – how we engage, identify and build the skills of local people and by utilising the strengths that our parishes already have – we are committed to getting the best out of our resources and thus supporting and developing truly effective parish action.

This article was first published in The Tablet.

Seeking Sanctuary: Calais update, May 2019

  

By Phil Kerton, Seeking Sanctuary (CSAN member organisation)

Volunteers continue to work hard for migrants who exist in an extremely hostile environment: to offer a welcome, food, clothing, shelter, dignity, and to support them have their stories heard.

Over 90 people, a third of them from the Pas-de-Calais area, attended a gathering in St Paul’s Church, Dover, in October 2018, organised by the Justice and Peace Commissions of the Westminster and Southwark dioceses, together with Kent-based Seeking Sanctuary and the Maria Skobstova House of Welcome in Calais. This event enabled concerned people to share experiences, efforts and hopes for those in need and to try discern ways ahead and share ideas for action. Discussions were enlivened and provoked by a short interactive play, “Stage 3”, presented by students from Queen Mary University of London. The piece looks at the bureaucracy and power of the naturalisation system and young people’s sense of belonging and citizenship rights. By addressing the process through which individuals are dehumanised and arbitrarily categorised on the basis of race, age and socio-economic background, the performance highlights questions about perceptions of power and powerlessness.

Among the wide variety of organisations supporting migrants in the Calais area is CSAN’s sister Caritas agency in France, Secours Catholique. They run a Day Centre, where people can relax out of the weather, to chat, take a cup of tea or coffee, get a haircut, watch videos, play games together, seek advice from volunteers, or get involved in arts and crafts work. Another is the Association Maria Skobstova – a Catholic Worker House of Welcome. This is a residential community, serving people pushed to the margins of society since February 2016. They do not just try to ‘help’ refugees, but prefer to be there with them, providing support and friendship. Everyone lives as a community, sharing meals, friendship, and daily prayer; and supporting one another in the work that is done. Neighbours are invited to join the extended community and take part in the work. The main ministry is to youths who are suffering in mind or body and, as at the Secours Catholique centre, efforts are made to treat each person with dignity, as individuals each with their own hopes and concerns.

Groups working in Calais constantly need fresh volunteers and donations of supplies. The number of displaced people living in Calais is fairly constant at 600 to 800, while the number sleeping rough in woods at Grande-Synthe, near Dunkirk, has recently more than doubled to above 1,800. These are mainly Kurds, including many women and children. Dozens more can be found near any port or harbour between Bilbao and Flushing and near their approach roads, not to mention hundreds eking out a precarious existence on the streets of Paris and Brussels.

Jean Vanier RIP

  

By Eddie Gilmore, Chief Executive, Irish Chaplaincy (CSAN member organisation), following the death of Jean Vanier (10 September, 1928 – 7 May, 2019)

As I was told of the death, at the age of 90, of Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, there immediately came to mind my favourite story connected with him: an important story for me, and one which I discovered years later from Jean I’d actually misheard!

Jean was a son of Georges Vanier, a Governor-General of Canada, and he crossed the Atlantic at the height of the Second World War to join the British Naval College at Dartmouth. After the War, one of his tasks, together with a fellow young naval cadet, was to ‘entertain’ the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret on a long sea voyage to South Africa. I was touched to hear that when Jean went to Buckingham Palace in recent years to collect an award from the now Queen Elizabeth she said to him, “Hello Jock”, this being the name that those close to him used when he was growing up.

From this rather privileged background, Jean found himself in 1964 in a village called Trosly in the North of France, moving into a dilapidated old house with two men, Raphael and Philippe, whom he had met and befriended at a large institution, and whom he had invited to come and live with him. The house was named L’Arche, French for the ark, and it would grow into a worldwide network of 150 communities in almost 40 countries, where people with and without learning disabilities live and work and share life together. I joined the L’Arche community in Canterbury in 1988 and was there for 28 years, and it’s where I met my wife, so I have a particular reason to be grateful for what Jean started.

In 2006 I was attending an event in Trosly for directors of L’Arche communities in Europe, at which Jean spoke to us. In one of his talks he recalled how he’d been visiting a prison in America where one of the guys had told him proudly (or at least this is what I heard at the time), “I’m the best card-dealer in the State of Virginia”. Jean went on to say, “You know, we all need to be the best something; but where do I want to choose to be the best?” I interpreted this as meaning, ‘Where do I want to choose to use my gifts?’ At that time I was coming to the end of my initial 4 year ‘mandate’ as Director and unsure whether or not to continue for a second 4 year term, but this story inspired me to do so.

I told this story often to people, and I hoped I’d have a chance one day to say thank you to Jean. Years later I drove a full minibus of people from L’Arche Kent over to Trosly to visit Jean, whom we knew could be in his final years. It was never easy to get to speak to him one-to-one, but following Mass in the lovely converted barn of a chapel, I spotted that he was momentarily on his own in the courtyard, and seized my chance. I went over and said I wanted to thank him for something he’d said years earlier that had been very important for me. “Oh yes”, he replied, “what was that?” I said he’d been speaking about the man in a prison who claimed to be the best card-dealer in the State of Virginia. “No, no, no!” said Jean, “the best car-stealer in the state penitentiary”! And we both roared with laughter.

God bless you Jean, and Thank You.

Tabor House responds to Birmingham homelessness figures

  

Report from Father Hudson’s Care

After recent Government statistics showed a 60% rise in the number of people sleeping rough in Birmingham, Father Hudson’s Care (CSAN member charity) has spoken about the work at Digbeth homeless shelter, Tabor House.

Since opening in September 2017, Tabor House has supported ten people to move into their own accommodation. Yet more people have been supported to move back in with families or shared living arrangements. Volunteers at Tabor House provide hospitality to guests, offering them a warm and friendly welcome as they adjust to the shelter. Volunteer mentors assist guests in accessing the support they need to move forward – training, managing debt, building their employment skills – whatever they need to turn their lives around.

Christy Acton, Deputy Community Projects Manager at Father Hudson’s Care said, “The rise in homelessness is disappointing. We can see on the streets of Birmingham that the issue is getting worse. Tabor House is here 365 nights a year, and we’re trying to help people for the long-term. Some guests stay for three or four months, and during that time we work with them to give them every chance to move on. This may be into their own accommodation, or into work – we give them time and space to take steps forward.

“You can find yourself on the street very quickly. You can lose your job, a relationship might end – there are a whole range of complex issues. You end up with no choice but to sleep on the streets. But there’s a lot of good work going on in the city to try and help. Ideally we want to catch someone before they have that first night or those first few days because we find that once someone has had a few weeks or months on the streets, it’s a much harder situation to deal with.”

Tabor House is a collaborative project between Father Hudson’s Care, Midland Heart, Housing Justice, Irish in Birmingham, the Society of St Vincent de Paul (England and Wales), the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, corporate philanthropists, and local homelessness specialists. Together they have formed iShelter—a new homelessness organisation that aims to help homeless people turn their lives around. Homeless people are referred to Tabor House by the Birmingham charities Midland Heart and Sifa Fireside. The project is managed by the iShelter Management Committee, made up of representatives from the key partner organisations, under the umbrella of Father Hudson’s Care.

European Catholics discuss future of work

  

By Kevin Flanagan, Director, St Antony’s Centre for Church and Industry, Manchester (CSAN member charity)

I was pleased to attend a meeting in 2018 of the Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (Comece), as a representative for England and Wales. There are several committees, of which the Social Affairs Commission is important in relation to the work of many of CSAN’s members. My main participation on the Commission was to represent the situation in England and Wales, in their discussions on the ‘Future of Work’. I participated in three Commission meetings and, together with Bishop William Kenney (Auxiliary in Birmingham), the launch conference for their report on The Future of Work which took place at the end of November 2018.

The primary purpose of the report was to put before the Commission and other partners a vision for decent, sustainable and a participatory world of work, that serves the common good and reflects the dignity and value of each person. This discussion is vital given the significant changes taking place globally: automation, more precarious work and the need to be alert to the impact that work is having on individuals, families, societies and global resources. There have been many reports that some sectors of the economy and communities will be increasingly impacted due to not having the ability to compete within the new forms of economy that are demanding high levels of skills. Within Europe, the percentage of those in work who are at risk of poverty is estimated to have increased by 2%, to 9.6%, over the 10 years to 2017. I was delighted to give evidence from my Trade Union work, the work of St Antony’s Centre for Church and Industry, and my knowledge of CSAN’s members.

The Commission also discussed the challenges facing young people. For example, youth unemployment had in some countries (for example Spain, Greece, Italy and Croatia) grown to around 30-40%, while the EU as a whole had record employment levels of 239m people in work. An expert from the Spanish Bishops’ Conference highlighted the need for vocational training and good school-to-work transition.

The opportunity to be part of these discussions dovetailed well with our engagement at St Antony’s Centre with EZA (the European Centre for Workers’ Questions) and GEPO (the European Workers’ Pastoral Group), both of which held conferences in Manchester last year.

Readers may be interested to know that Comece has published other relevant documents including, ‘Robotisation of Life: Ethics in View of New Challenges’ and a ‘Contribution to the consultation on “challenges of work-life balance faced by working parents and caregivers”’.

Dementia in Faith Communities

  

By Margaret Hinton, Marriage and Family Life Coordinator, Diocese of Wrexham

The Dementia In Faith Communities group was set up as part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s work towards the Big Society, to work as an ecumenical and interfaith advisory group. The main purpose of the group was to share good practice in supporting those living with dementia among the faith groups represented there, and to be a reference group to Livability (the country’s largest Christian disability charity) and to Alzheimers UK.  There were representatives on the group from Christian denominations – Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Quaker and free churches, and from Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Jewish communities. I have been a Catholic voice on this group since 2017, keeping CSAN abreast of progress.

The group were pleased to assist Livability and Alzheimers UK in the organisation of the first national conference on Faith, Culture and Dementia which took place in the Friends’ Meeting House in London on 11 April 2018.

The packed conference was opened by Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimers UK, who summed up the essence of the day to come: ‘Faith is an anchor to who we are; so much of our personhood is held in our faith. This continues to be the case after a diagnosis of dementia.’  Other contributors included Shelagh Robinson, a Quaker who is living with dementia, who spoke about the experience of living with dementia as a person of faith in a Quaker community; Rabbi Menachim Junik, of Jewish Care, and Balvinder Kaur of Sikh Council UK. Their experiences painted very different pictures about how those living with dementia were supported (or in some cases not supported) by their own faith communities.  The remainder of the day was taken up with lively table discussions on Finding solutions to the challenges people with dementia face, enabling them to continue to interact with their faith and cultural communities; Becoming a dementia-friendly place of worship and supporting the wider community, and Dementia friendly services, sermons or prayers.

There was much to take away from the day and a much more good practice and prayers shared than I can write about in a short blog, so I urge you to read more about the conference here.


Caritas Leadership Week – Part 2

  

In September 2018, around 50 leaders of Catholic charities in England and Wales gathered in Rome for a few days, dedicated to leadership development. Two of the Directors have written a personal reflection on the experience. This is the second, from Steven Webb, Director of Development for the  Diocese of Brentwood.

Last week I was privileged to be in Rome with over 50 people from Caritas organisations all over England & Wales. We were engaged in discussions about topics such as how to promote this important work, how to train leaders for the future and how to ensure we meet the needs of those we serve. We met together in the company of our colleagues from Caritas Europa and we shared experience and learning. We visited the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis and the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, where we discussed the importance of working together and facing issues that cross national boundaries. We also met with the UK Ambassador to the Holy See and had an opportunity to share matters of concern under Chatham House Rules.

All of this brought home to me just how important is the work that we have embarked upon together in our diocese. I simply wanted to share that with you and to express once again my thanks for all that you are doing. Not everyone likes the word “Caritas” and I understand that it is not an everyday word. However, the fact that it is not an everyday word should give it special meaning for us. We should take time to ponder and pray upon the meaning.

The fact that it is a word shared by our brothers and sisters across Europe and the whole International Catholic Community should give us a sense of solidarity with them and all those they serve. To see the amazing work of Caritas Europa and Caritas Internationalis was wonderful, to feel so at home with them as Caritas Social Action Network was fantastic and to realise that Caritas Diocese of Brentwood is taking its first steps on the same journey is genuinely exciting.

At the same time as we were in Rome, the Bishops of England and Wales were having their visit ad limina Apostolorum. During this visit to the various dicasteries and Vatican departments our Bishops discuss issues relevant to our dioceses and also meet with the Holy Father. They also pray together in the Basilicas and at the tombs of St Peter and St Paul. They were constantly in our prayers as we met just across the eternal city. It was a wonderful experience to celebrate Holy Mass and to pray together with our bishops at the tomb of St Paul.

At the end of their visit, the Bishops of England and Wales made a statement that is published in full on their website. Of particular relevance is the following extract from it:

“Our reports of the Eucharistic Congress ‘Adoremus’ have been well received, as has the strength of our compassionate outreach to those in need. Indeed, the leaders of Catholic charitable works from England and Wales were present in Rome at this same time, at the instigation of Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) and we were able to spend time and pray together. In encouraging this work of outreach, Pope Francis urged us always to walk with those engaged in its projects so as to draw them nearer to the Lord who is the source of compassion and mercy.”

The fact that our Bishops and the Holy Father place so much importance on the exercise of the ministry of charity should be most heartening to all of us involved in this work. The fact that Pope Francis links it so firmly with drawing people nearer to the Lord makes clear the role of evangelisation played by exercising the ministry of charity.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in Deus Caritas Est and repeated in “On the Service of Charity”, the exercise of this ministry is one of three equally important and inseparable responsibilities that express the deepest nature of our Church. For this reason Caritas is included as one of our 12 Strands of Renewal as we work together to evangelise in the Diocese of Brentwood.

May we always walk with those engaged in our projects so as to draw them nearer to the Lord who is the source of compassion and mercy.

Caritas Leadership Week – Part 1

  

In September 2018, around 50 leaders of Catholic charities in England and Wales gathered in Rome for a few days, dedicated to leadership development. Two of the Directors have written a personal reflection on the experience. This is the first, from Eddie Gilmore, Chief Executive of the Irish Chaplaincy, based in London.

I get the chance through my work to meet a lot of great people, in some interesting places (from prisons to palaces), and the Caritas Leadership Week near Rome did not disappoint. We were a group of fifty, representing a range of Catholic charities and dioceses in England and Wales, staying at Villa Palazzola, a 13th century Cistercian monastery perched above a volcanic lake, Lago di Albano, and according to the website ‘Rome’s best kept secret’.

From the garden terrace at the Villa (where pre-dinner drinks were served in the evening!) the view is vast and truly breathtaking. On the opposite side of the lake can be seen the twin towers of Castel Gandolfo, the summer papal residence; beyond that in the distance the urban sprawl of Rome; and further still on a clear day the bright blue of the Mediterranean. I loved to stand on that terrace at various times of the day and to behold the subtly changing vista and colours. The sunsets over the lake were especially stunning.

According to the program the purpose of the four days was: ‘the formation of leaders within the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) through personal development, developing relationships as a community of leaders, and experiencing ourselves as part of the global Caritas family and universal Church’. I would say in retrospect that the meeting achieved all of those aims. A key element for me of such events will always be meeting people and building relationships, and I was really touched and inspired by those I met. I could see how everybody in the group was enjoying meeting one another on a very human level, and getting a sense of being part of something greater than ourselves and our own organisation. The nice location helps with that; also being well cared for, with good food and wine (occasionally I resisted, but mostly I didn’t!). And there’s also a swimming pool, which I had been particularly looking forward to using. I managed four swims during the meeting, also three runs through the woods that circle the lake (there are some very sporty types in the CSAN family!)

Another central element of the week was prayer and liturgy. Amongst the group were four of the loveliest and most down to earth priests (also a deacon) and they led us in a daily celebration of Mass, and in the Morning (7.15 am!) and Evening Prayer of the Church. One morning the Mass was in the crypt of St Peter’s, in front of the tomb of St Peter; and the following day it was with the Bishops of England and Wales in the magnificent basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, and which included a final prayer at the tomb of St Paul.

And there was music! I found a guitar in the house and one evening after the bar had opened I got together with Sean who had a collection of tin whistles and recorders, having worked as a professional musician before joining Caritas. What a session that was! We spent about two hours singing mainly Irish songs, some of which I hadn’t sung in over twenty years but somehow could still remember the words to. Being a mainly Catholic group, a lot of people had Irish roots and there was no shortage of either requests for yet another Irish song or people joining in. Then on the final night Sean compered a musical evening during which several people did turns. One of my favourite pieces was a music hall song called ‘Light fingered Freddy’ which is from a Salvation Army musical (I never knew such a thing existed). Yes, one of the CSAN directors is a Salvationist, and what a great guy he is. He runs as well!

We were not just eating, drinking, singing, swimming and praying: there was excellent input, besides two trips into Rome to meet different groups (and to have lunch with the British Ambassador to the Holy See). The main speaker was Kerry Robinson, who founded ‘Leadership Roundtable’ based in Washington DC. She was particularly eloquent on the urgent need for the Catholic Church to harness the gifts of women in leadership at all levels. I was excited when Kerry mentioned Henri Nouwen, the Dutch priest who had been a member of L’Arche in Toronto and of how he had encouraged us to be people of joy and gratitude. This was in the context of fundraising which was one of the themes of the week and I later shared with the group something Henri has once said in a talk about fundraising: “When we ask people for money we shouldn’t be embarrassed or apologetic; we should say ‘it is my pleasure to invite you to share in our mission’”!

Another inspiring speaker was Sally Read, an English poet living near Rome, who told one evening the very moving story of her journey from atheism to faith. And I was touched as well by our meeting with members of Sant’Egidio, a community in Rome that reaches out to those in need, including many homeless.

To all the wonderful people I met at Villa Palazzola: keep up the great work and hope to see you again.

‘A Kingdom of justice, love and peace’ – The Eucharist and social justice

  

By Dr Philip McCarthy, Chief Executive, Caritas Social Action Network

When I was asked to speak on ‘how the Eucharist changes the way we can see the world and the demands it makes on how we should live’, my mind went back to an early experience. When I was 16 a Marist priest who taught at my school asked for volunteers for an overnight soup run in central London. What I saw that cold night had a profound effect on me. It was the mid-1970s when ‘cardboard cities’ lined the Thames embankments: homeless people sleeping in boxes. People huddled under the extractor fans from the Strand Palace Hotel for warmth, and many as hungry as they were cold. The soup run was provided by a couple of priests, several religious sisters and dedicated lay people. They all had day jobs,
and as the night wore on I witnessed their commitment to alleviating hunger and loneliness. I realised that this was an integral part of their Christian faith.

In my adolescent mind I had assumed that being a Catholic meant going to Church and trying not to commit sins, so this was a breakthrough for me! Pope Benedict XVI tells us in Deus Caritas Est,

‘The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God, celebrating the sacraments, and exercising the ministry of charity (caritas). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature.’

If proclaiming the word, celebrating the sacraments and caritas are inseparable, it follows that the Eucharist, the ‘source and summit’ of our Christian lives, must make demands on the way we relate to others, particularly those in poverty and
exclusion from society. Like manna in the desert, the Eucharist sustains us in difficult times and helps us to deal with our limitations. St Pope John Paul II wrote: ‘Were we to disregard the Eucharist, how could we overcome our own deficiency?”

We go to church to receive the gift of the Eucharist, but from the moment we enter the building we are reminded of the demands of social justice. We know that Jesus caused scandal to the religious authorities of his own time by sharing meals with outcasts – but how well do we welcome outsiders and those who do not easily ‘fit in’ to the Eucharistic
feast? I expect that most of us can think of times when we have failed in this and so we start Mass by admitting our own failures and brokenness.

Throughout the Mass there may be words and actions that remind us that the Eucharist calls us to serve each other, as Jesus did at the Last Supper by washing the feet of his disciples. We may also reflect that such love and service can be costly and as we call to mind Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we may reflect on the sacrifices that many have made in His Name for social justice. The Blessed Oscar Romero, one of the patrons of Caritas, gunned down while saying Mass, is a vivid example, but we may also be called to make day to day sacrifices of our time and energy for others.

At the end of the Mass, having met Jesus in the Eucharist, we are sent forth, not just to gossip on the church steps, but to change the world and build the Kingdom of God. We have received the body of Christ and now we leave to be the body of Christ for our world; to bring healing and wholeness to a divided and unjust world. As St Teresa of Avilla wrote:

‘Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he
looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

I have described some of the demands that the Eucharist makes on the way we live our lives, but how does it change the way we see the world? It seems to me that this is where Eucharistic adoration can help us. Through Eucharistic adoration
we may be led into contemplation of wholeness, the unity of the human family and the wonder of the universe. In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis wrote:

‘In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed, the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love. We are called to respond to this outpouring love for us, through acts of compassion for others and care
for our planet.’

A brief article can only touch on a few aspects of this subject. I hope the Adoremus Congress workshop will enable us to explore this subject in greater depth and lead to practical actions in service of others. If so, what a wonderful legacy
Adoremus might leave in England and Wales for the years to come.

This article was prepared for a workshop at the National Eucharistic Congress held in Liverpool on 8-9 September 2018, and was first published in ‘The Universe’.