In my three previous parishes in Orpington, Ashford and Walderslade I have been aware of a great desire and even dare I say hunger from many parishioners to know more about the Faith and to find ways of building up and nurturing their own faith.
One of the resources that worked so well for me and has done so for many millions of Catholics worldwide in the last forty five years is the Life in the Spirit Seminars.
In Brockley in 1982 it played a major part in my spiritual development. Thirty years later I was privileged to witness the positive effects of the seminars on many of my parishioners at Walderslade, as well as on Catholics from outside the parish and Christians from local churches.
What exactly is the Life in the Spirit Seminars and what is their aim? St Peter reminds us that Jesus is the corner-stone and we are living stones, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praise of God, who called us out of darkness into his own wonderful light. Once you were not a people and now you are the people of God”. 1 Peter 2:4-10
So we are the living stones built on Christ. However, the building process is ongoing. The Life in the Spirit Seminars are designed to enrich our faith and to build it up. This happens when we are open and docile to the Holy Spirit who encourages and equips us to begin, renew or deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ. Many other things will flow from this: our prayer life will flourish, there will be a greater desire to immerse ourselves in the scriptures, there will be a growing appreciation of the sacraments of Baptism, the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and we will be more acutely aware of our sense of vocation, our gifts and talents and the call to discipleship and evangelisation.
These are bold statements but I wouldn’t make them if I hadn’t experienced them myself. I truly believe that if we open our hearts to God and step out in faith we can find peace, joy and greater fulfilment in building up the Kingdom of God.
We have been given so much from God but we need to find ways of fanning what can become a flicker into a flame. The seminars are one very important way of doing this and I encourage you all to come along. If you can’t make it then I would encourage you to pray for its success.
Finally, I would say that all of us should be praying and thinking about the direction of our parish after the seminars come to an end. What are our priorities and needs, where do we need to be channelling our energies and talents? Perhaps this will become clearer to us as we listen to our speakers at the seminars and as we share our ideas.
I look forward to seeing you there.
Fr Steve Wymer
I shall ask the Father,
And he will give you another Advocate
To be with you forever,
That Spirit of truth
Whom the world can never receive
Since it neither sees or knows him;
But you know him,
Because he is with you he is in you.
John 14: 16-17