Advent is a wonderful gift of discovery. In that given time of waiting, and through entering into the wonderment of ancient prophecies, we can recapture something that can often evade us. Yes, we wait on God, but God also waits. Simplifying things can also mean that we see more of what God is inviting of us as Apostles of the Eucharist; Advent also contains within it an invitation to do precisely that. These days which mark the end of the calendar year have brought the opportunity to us here in Glasgow to reflect on a new initiative that was born during 2019.
On January 23rd, a team of four people were commissioned by Fr. Darren Maslen, SSS to undertake the task of further building the relationship between our SSS parish in Glasgow, and St. Saviours School, a Catholic School within St. Anthony’s parish. What has emerged is an intriguing situation of a mission, where the team are finding themselves experiencing the events of the Cenacle with the children who populate the classroom. Each member of the team has some share in the Eymardian vision of proclaiming the reign of the Eucharist, to young lives that have been socialized within this post-Christian society, marked by the cessation of faith transmission from one generation to the next. The team are keenly aware of the need to be as creative as possible as they animate a programme designed to reveal and communicate to the hearts of the children that God waits because that is what love does.
From the outset, we were captivated by St. Peter Julian’s adaptability in making use of ready-made communities in order to enhance the mission entrusted to him by Christ. In 1865, Fr. Eymard wrote in the article ‘Work for the First Communion of Workers,’ how the Parisian factories were assembled communities for the transmission of faith, and how “... this is the special work of the religious of the Blessed Sacrament.” In 2019, an Archdiocesan catechist, a member of the Aggregation, a Franciscan sister and a parishioner in conjunction with Fr. Darren, have recognized the same potential for the nurturing of faith within the ready-made community of the school. The project coordinator, Catriona Glen, here reflects on the mission to date.
“That you may tell the next generation that such is our God, our God forever and always. It is he who leads us.” (Psalm 47:15)
In a world that often appears separated from God, where do we begin to speak of Him, to speak of faith and of hope and of love? Nothing in our lives is by chance. Things don’t just happen. “I AM” – the creator of all, the lover of each of us (with no exceptions), is present to us at every moment – past, present and future – present always – and He waits…He has spoken every name and waits for us to remember this – to hear again and feel again this touch of His eternal love.
For most of us, this is buried by pain, by ambition, fear, excess, work, self-sufficiency. These aren’t the hiding from God of adults – we begin early.
The small group of us from St Anthony’s parish in Govan, Glasgow, Scotland began visiting a class of primary 4 children in St Saviours Roman Catholic School. We’ve named ourselves “ST ANTHONY’S SEEDS” (which shortens to SAS, there’s novelty there!) We quickly found that the seeds were already planted. God’s presence was there from the beginning – waiting.
Nothing by chance.
God waits through all the years of prayer
- from a parish,
- of individuals,
- of more than one parish,
- for the hope of a parish priest (Fr Peter Dowling, SSS),
- for the knowledge of another priest (Fr Darren Maslen, SSS),
- for the longing of a life that’s never known how to speak of God,
- for the hopes of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament,
- for the prayer of many saints who work to teach us,
- for St Peter Julian Eymard who teaches the unfathomable humility of God.
So many years of prayer brought our little group from the parish of St Anthony’s to the children of St Saviours. The format used was put together after times of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Fr. Darren and I knew we had to begin by going to God at first glance, starting out from the prayerful inspiration of Fr. Eymard. Prayer is the opening and end of every meeting we have together, the beginning and end of every session with the children; and as prayer is, that there can never be enough of, we are held in the prayer of the Franciscan Minoresses at Merryland St., Govan, who support us in this vital way.
We went into the school to look with the children at the LIFE, DEATH and RESURRECTION of Jesus. We’re not there to teach the children R.E.; that’s the work of the school, (though we play a part in it). We’re not there to prepare the children to receive the sacraments. Again that’s the work of the school, (but again what we do should play a part in that). We’re there to waken and keep alive the words God speaks to every heart, the presence of God already within them. We’re there to remind them that God is real, that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit long to and wait to draw us into their relationship of love.
This involves some work by ourselves, the most important being prayer, an acknowledgment of who we are and what gifts God has given each, a desire to serve, and deep trust that God provides all else. We’re there as people of faith who believe in what we’ve been gifted. Each of our small group is truly grateful for the gift of having the opportunity to share faith. God waits for us to open the door to the UPPER ROOM.
St Peter Julian tells us that “if God once enters into us and fills us with His goodness we are no longer our own and must surrender unconditionally to Him.” He charms us in His tenderness. He carries us in His arms and, wounded in heart we have but one word. “Lord, what wouldst thou have me do? I am all Thine forever!”
Let us wait with Him for the hearts of these children, for them to be touched by the God of unfathomable humility who waits for us all.
Catriona Glen - Coordinator
Fr. Darren Maslen, SSS