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For times over the Christmas period


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What were the highlights of this year’s Thinking Faith?

We chose this year’s theme, ‘Young and Old’, to link with the autumn Youth Synod. [pics]

We began with a very sensitive exploration of how older and younger people respond to terminal illness, which was very helpful for any of us who might be involved with such situations, personally or pastorally. This was given by a guest speaker, Dr Jude Raper, a Consultant in Palliative Care, who works in Warwick.

Martina Rensen, who teaches languages in Germany, reflected on The Old Man and the Sea, a powerful short story by Ernest Hemingway, which explores the relation between youth and old age through the story of an elderly Cuban fisherman. Martina helped us to appreciate the richness and subtlety of the characters and the narrative.

Fr Richard Finn presented us with some fascinating paintings to ponder together, in particular versions of the Presentation in the Temple by Rubens and Rembrandt. He brought out the way in which theological perspectives are revealed in the choices the painters made.

Our second guest speaker, Sarah Wells, works for CAFOD and is one of the delegates for the autumn Youth Synod. She described to us the preparations for this, which have included several meetings with Cardinals and even the Pope, and how the young people involved have gradually been able to find a voice to share their experiences and concerns. Joshua Dixon, a seminarian from the Liverpool Diocese then introduced us to philosophical ideas about wisdom, raising interesting questions such as the relation between wisdom and experience, between wisdom and faith and between theoretical and practical wisdom.

Our final guest speaker, Fr Luiz Ruscillo, is Director of Education for the Lancaster Diocese. He led two sessions, speaking about passing on the tradition, first via a meditation on the life of Jacob in Genesis, and then using his experience in parish and youth work.

On the final day, Dr Lucy Underwood of Warwick University gave us a fascinating insight into the lives of young English Catholics just after the Reformation. She used her own research based on the answers given by seminarians entering the English College in the decades around 1600. Sr Margaret A. concluded the formal thinking by leading a discussion on how traditions are passed down the generations in our age of geographical mobility and the internet.

As usual we shared Morning Prayer and Mass together and joined the Community for Evening and Night Prayer. On Wednesday, Fr Luiz presided at Mass for the Feast of St James, and Maria Hall led the music, after a rapid and amazingly effective practice! Boarbank also offers plenty of space for quiet personal prayer, in our chapel, gardens or oratory. One highlight was Night Prayer during an evening walk to Humphrey Head, surrounded by wonderful views over Morecambe Bay just before the sun set. A big thank you to Fr Richard for his excellent sermons throughout the week! [pics]

Social - We watched two films together, The Old Man and the Sea, a classic starring Spencer Tracy, and Lion, the extraordinary and heart-wrenching true story of a small Indian boy who was lost from home, adopted abroad, and years later started to hunt for his original family on Google Earth.

We took advantage of the fine weather, with long walks to Grange and Hampsfell, and above the shore of Windermere, as well as a picnic on the lawn. [pics]

On the last day we assisted Sr Florence in providing a Malaysian-style meal for our Social Evening, for which we were joined by some of the Sisters. Much of the produce came from the Boarbank kitchen garden, which we had enjoyed exploring during the week. [pics]

Community - The greatest pleasure of the weeks is always the friendships that develop, based on shared faith and values, fostered by shared meals and conversation, rooted in shared prayer, and open to our hosts, the Augustinian Sisters, and the guests with whom we also share the Guest House. [pics]

A big thank you to Martina, assisted by Joshua and Lib, for the photos.

NEXT YEAR’S THINKING FAITH will also be WALKING FAITH! We are taking the theme of pilgrimage and planning walks around various local shrines and churches, with talks on related aspects of the faith. Dates will be 20th to 27th July 2019. Please put it in your diary!

Thinking Faith is open to Catholics in their 20s to 40s. If you might be interested for joining us in next year, please contact SR MARGARET for more information [link]. [more pics!]

A taste of this year's (2018) Thinking Scripture event

This year we chose the theme of Wisdom Literature.

Fr Dixie gave us a general introduction. Dr Geoffrey Turner focused on Proverbs, Fr Dixie on Ben Sira and Sr Margaret on the Wisdom of Solomon.

We began each book with a general survey, then explored them further via the themes of ‘Living the Good Life’ and ‘The Nature of Wisdom’, supplementing the lectures as usual with discussions in smaller groups. Many of our participants were regular attenders and appreciated the stimulation of texts that were new to them.

We hope that we all ended the week wiser than we began it!

As always, we included a cultural element, with a musical meditation presented by Geoffrey, structured around the Mass, using settings by different composers for different parts.
Participants in September were also treated to some piano music played by Haydn Lee during the social evening, and we watched Leonardo di Caprio’s Before the Flood, a thought-provoking exposé of environmental problems. On a lighter note in September we saw Love and Friendship, an adaptation of an early short story by Jane Austen.

We also made the most of the local area, with participants visiting Cartmel and the Lakes, and a smaller group enjoying a challenging climb up Black Combe in June and a gentler walk near Kendal in September.

The group were also free to participate, of course, in daily Office and Mass. Thank you to Fr John W., Fr John M., Fr Ralph and Fr Dixie for presiding and preaching at these.

Next year’s courses, two full weeks as usual, will be on the theme of the Letters of Peter, James & John.

Book early to avoid disappointment - we are filling up already!

The dates are 1st-8th June and 28th September - 5th October 2019

Please contact SR MARGARET if you think you would find this course interesting.

Autumn Break - Reformation and Counter-Reformation

This year’s Autumn Break marked the Reformation anniversary by focusing on the arts of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.

Sr Margaret teaching Autumn break

 Once again, we were treated to an intellectual and artistic feast. The scene was set on the first day with Haydn Lee's introductory lecture on Luther and the German tradition, followed by the powerful film Luther, starring Joseph Fiennes. Haydn followed up with two more presentations, moving from Germany to England - Tallis, Byrd et al. - and including some of the continental Catholic tradition.

As usual, he combined talking, playing the piano and selections from CDs in a very illuminating and enjoyable way.

Autumn break

Fr Dixie explained the theological significance of Luther, adding nuance to the story told by the film.

Rosemary Mitchell’s slide show and lecture on the art of the period showed continuities across the Reformation divide, and some fascinating recusant architecture and Joyce Simpson set John Donne’s poetry against the background of the absorbing tale of his religious journey, coming from a family of staunch Catholics, who suffered for their faith, yet ending his days as a respected Dean of St Paul’s.

Sr Margaret led a discussion on the theme ‘What is Art?’, inviting the group to consider whether the Reformation had shifted the way the question was answered. We also had a day out: to Stonyhurst, where the museum’s treasures included some Books of Hours and a hat that had belonged to St Thomas More. Haydn rounded off the week with a recital at our social evening on the last night and Joyce by leading a shared poetry reading on the final morning.

Stonyhurst college Stonyhurst college
Stonyhurst college

As usual the group was able to join in the regular Masses and daily prayer of the Community, enjoy shared meals and friendship, and visit the local area.

Next year we will move on to Faith and the Arts in the Seventeenth Century.
The dates are November 5th-9th 2018.

Please book early to avoid disappointment! If you have any questions or simply want more information then contact SR MARGARET

Health and Salvation week at Boarbank, 8th - 13th Jan 2018

Theme - Dignity, dependency & dementia

Health & Salvation 2018

Thinking Faith Group

Our theme for this year was Change and Conversion.

What were the highlights of this year’s Thinking Faith?

 Theme : Vocation and Fidelity, 1st-3rd December 2017

This weekend brings together a group of people interested in healthcare, whether from a professional, pastoral or personal perspective.

Getting to know you

This year we included doctors, nurses and chaplains as well as those with a non-professional interest in the world of health. The programme provided the opportunity to share Mass and the Prayer of the Church with the Boarbank Sisters, to walk in the local area and to share conversation and social time as well as personal quiet.

As always, many of the most important moments of the weekend came during the free time.

Sr Margaret introduced the retreat with a reflection on vocations of different kinds, including the patient’s vocation as well as that of the healthcare professional or carer.
The next speaker was Dr John Higham, who had worked both as an army surgeon and for thirty years as a GP in the same practice in St Helen’s.

Dr John Higham

His reflections on the differences between then and now were as thought-provoking as entertaining.

In particular, he encouraged us to reflect on the importance of knowing the patient, of experienced observance, and of long-lasting commitment. In Sr Margaret’s second talk she spoke about five virtues of fidelity, commitment, reliability, availability, perseverance, endurance, with examples from the life of Christ and the saints.

The Hope in Health group

The next Hope in Health retreat will be held on 7th December to 9th December 2018

To book or for further information, please contact SR MARGARET

A taste of this year's (2017) Thinking Scripture event

We decided to vary our approach for Thinking Scripture this year, taking a theme, ‘God in the Bible’, rather than our usual single book. We began with a shortened course, a long weekend in mid-July and followed this up with a week in October.

 Sr Margaret teaching Fr Dixie

Sr Margaret introduced the theme, emphasising the development of the understanding of God through the Old Testament.

Fr Dixie gave two sessions on Exodus 3, exploring the names of God, and the idea of the revelation of God, as well as the use of sources by historians. Sr Margaret discussed the monotheism presented by Isaiah chapters 40-55, known to scholars as ‘Second Isaiah’.

Geoffrey Turner

Dr Geoffrey Turner explored different ideas about God in the Psalms, and compared various translations of the 23rd Psalm. For the New Testament, Fr Dixie looked at the historical background to St John’s presentation of God and Christ and then focused especially using the vine imagery of Chapter 15, while Geoffrey explored on the Christology of Colossians.

As always, we included a cultural element, with a musical meditation presented by Geoffrey, including settings of the Psalms by Bach, Allegri and Arvo Pärt.

Participants in June were also treated to a concert during the social evening by pianist and participant Haydn Lee, and were able to watch the Wimbledon final on the big screen, as well as enjoying together the film version of Don Camillo.

Thinking Scripture

In September we watched The Long Journey, a moving documentary about a Community of Austrian Franciscan Sisters who had to close their convent.

We also made the most of the local area, with participants visiting Cartmel and the Lakes, and a small group enjoying a longer walk in the lovely and little known Rusland Valley, a hidden gem on our doorstep.

 Rusland Valley  Rusland Valley
Rusland Valley

The group were also free to participate, of course, in daily Office and Mass. Thank you to Fr John W., Fr John M. and Fr Dixie for presiding and preaching at these.

Next year’s courses, two full weeks as usual, will be on the theme of Wisdom Literature.

Book early to avoid disappointment!

The dates are 2nd-9th June and 22nd-29th September 2018.

Please contact SR MARGARET if you think you would find this course interesting.

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