A Word from Father Jim
In the weekend when we greet Archbishop Farrell , it is a good time to reflect on our spiritual journey as we walk from Advent to Christmas. For me, it’s been a transition from life in the monastery to a return to pastoral ministry. I loved my time in America. I could happily have stayed. Yet I felt the strong call of the Lord to come home. This has been reinforced by my appointment to Balally. I have a deep sense of peace and a realisation that this is exactly where God wants me to be.
What a blessing it is to have Father Dermot as my brother, co-worker and guide. What a blessing to be with such a welcoming, generous people. In Mepkin I had the privilege of leading a very balanced life…prayer, community, stability, balance, all lived in the framework of Cistercian life and the Rule of St Benedict. I have become more and more aware of the challenge in the recent days, since I have come to live in 312 St Columba’s, (my names was Father Columba in the Monastery) of finding a way to live a monastic/ pastoral life in Balally.
The years in the monastery are not just pleasant memories but part of my DNA. Whilst in America I was graced to have an extraordinary spiritual director, Sister Ann Billard. She guided me in my discernment to return home .We talked this week of my finding a way to live my new reality. With her usual insight , she advised me to begin to find a way to live a monastic life in the city WITH my new parishioners. Let’s see how together we can build a more contemplative parish, a monastery without walls. TOGETHER.
The first stage of that journey is to begin to introduce you to some aspects of monastic life which might have relevance to the parish. Let’s begin that in prayer. On Sunday 19 December I invite you to join me in the church for “ An Advent hour from the monastery with Father Jim”. It will take place from 6pm to 7pm. It will include meditation, silence, music and a short talk from Caroline Stratton.
I’m hoping we can have a live link with one of my brother monks in Mepkin Abbey. This is about our spiritual journey together. It’s not about navel gazing . The vision I have is brilliantly summed up by Benedictine nun, Sister Christine Vladimiroff “ Monastic spirituality teaches us we are on a journey. The journey is inward to seek God in prayer and silence. Taken alone, we can romanticise this aspect of our life… But to be monastic there is a parallel journey, the journey outwards. We live in a community to grow in sensitivity to the needs of others…The monastery or the monastic parish is a centre to come out of and invite others in. The key is to maintain both journeys, the inward and outward… prayer and service“
We are blessed in Balally to have our own extraordinary Wisdom Elder, Father Dermot. I look forward to you joining me on Sunday 19th from 6 to 7 pm God bless Father Jim