Sunday, 22 April 2012

An amazing week of St. John's Gospel, Catholicism, Ordination and Nightfever


This week was a fantastic week for us. Don't get us wrong... all weeks are amazing here at SPES, but truly, this week was extra special! Firstly, we welcomed Fr. Thomas from the Community of St. John (based in Canning Town, London) who shared his love, passion, and wisdom on the Gospel of St. John. Inspired by his community's founder, we looked at how St. John's Gospel brings alive the blossoming, the struggles and the initiatives of an apostolic life through Christ. Sound deep? Well, trust us, it was... and WE LOVED IT! If you've never heard of the cycle of the Lamb, cycle of the Bridegroom, seven modes of presence of Jesus, and His self-effacement during His last week, then you're definitely missing out on some wonderful Truth that would complete you just that little bit more! We've been totally inspired by Fr Thomas, who was a great witness. Even more so for the boys, who visited the St. John community in Canning Town on Thursday.

On Wednesday evening, the Catholicism series launched at St. Patrick's! Over 80 people registered for the first session, small groups were buzzing, and the energy was infectious with over-abounding positivity. Such is the joy of the Lord when people are gathered together to honour the Glory of God! Many people enjoyed the first session and are looking forward to the next session on Wednesday.

On Thursday, as the boys were trekking out to Canning Town (well... more like tubing out to Canning Town) to visit the peace and serenity of the monks' priory, the girls trekked over to the Carmelite convent in Notting Hill. The girls found the nuns very bubbly and beautiful! Since many of the community are discerning their vocations (all on different levels) the nuns provided beautiful witness and inspiration for them. Honestly, if you are discerning your vocation at all, we can't recommend more highly that you visit some convents, monasteries or priories and have a chat with those holy men and women who dedicate their life to praying for others.

Saturday was a seriously packed day, but by God's grace, it was absolutely blessed and anointed! We witnessed the first Ordination in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham of deacons who hadn't previously been Anglican priests. Deacon James Bradley, a friend of some of us students, and Deacon Daniel Lloyd became ministers of Christ on this special day. Some of us really imagined how much the heavens would be rejoicing at that very moment... especially the saints and martyrs of the Reformation, and those in heaven whose lives were so impacted by the effects of the Reformation.

Then lastly, we had Nightfever last night. This wonderful and stunning apostolate from Germany is making headway and crossing the pond to the states, as well as infiltrating mainstream Europe's Catholic Churches. Beginning with Mass and ending in 4 hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Nightfever is the occasion when the doors and heart of the Church is open to the world outside. Teams of evangelisers go out onto the nearby streets to invite people to light a candle at the Sanctuary of the Church, and to enjoy the prayerful candlelit atmosphere complete with gorgeous reflective music. 4 teams of musicians help to lead the Holy Hours over the 4 hours in the presence of Christ. This unimposing welcome into the Church means that no matter where people on the streets are at in their faith, they will be greatly impacted by the beauty and peace which smacks one in the face as soon as you cross the threshold of the Church. As something that SPES are now officially involved in, it pleases us to say that Nightfever is the perfect apostolate to draw people in from the world, into a holy and sanctified space, to experience the presence of Christ for the very first time.

Well, we are now off to Wiltshire for a mini-holiday. A time to chill and relax and enjoy each others' presence. After all, we have only 6 weeks of the school left, and that's really starting to become a reality that none of us have quite got our heads and hearts round to accepting just yet!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Divine Mercy @ SPES

Our Community and the Divine Mercy
Today is the feast of Divine Mercy (YAY!) – a feast celebrated on the last day of the Easter Octave; otherwise known as Second Sunday of Easter. For the past 8 days, the SPES community, although on holiday, have been committed to praying the Divine Mercy Novena from wherever we are. So what’s so special about Divine Mercy? In fact, let’s ask the bigger question… what IS it?

Short History and Intro to Sr Faustina

Between 1930 and 1938, Christ appeared to Sister Faustina (birthname Helena Kawalska, until she entered the apostolic congregation of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow Poland), to re-teach us the story of His love and mercy, and His disappointment in us because of distrust in His Mercy and goodness. Reminding us all that God chooses the weakest and simplest souls as tools for his great works, Sr Faustina lived a life of simple service – cooking, sweeping, vegetable gardening, porter… her closest companions never predicted what God had planned for her!
Jesus appeared to Sr Faustina many times. The first apparition, on 22nd February 1931, Sr Faustina records in her Diary “I saw Jesus dressed in a white garment. He held one hand raised in blessing and the other hand was touching his garment at the breast. From under the garment came two rays of light, one red the other pale”.

Image of Divine Mercy and its power

Jesus said “paint a picture according to the vision you see and with the signature, Jesus, I trust in You, I desire that this picture be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the whole world”. Later Sr Faustina’s Spiritual Director told her to ask Jesus what the rays signified and Jesus explained to her;
“The rays represent the Blood and Water which gushed forth from the depths of my Mercy when My agonising Heart was pierced on the cross. The pale rays symbolise the water, which cleanses and purifies the soul: the red rays represent the blood, which gives new life to the soul. These rays will shield the soul before the justice of My Father. Fortunate are those who live in this shelter, for the justice of God will not reach them there. Write, the greater the sinner, the greater the mercy. Summon all those to confidence in the incomprehensible depth of My Mercy for I desire to save all. The well of Mercy was opened wide with a lance on the Cross, for all souls. I do not exclude anyone. Know, my daughter, that My Heart is Mercy itself. From this sea of mercy, graces pour out upon the whole world. No souls that come to Me depart without being comforted. All misery vanishes in My Mercy: and every grace, redemptive and sanctifying, stems from this source. Tell ailing mankind to draw close to My Merciful Heart and I will fill them with peace. Mankind will not find solace until it turns with confidence to My Mercy and love. I promise that the soul who will venerate this image will not perish. I further promise to that soul victory over enemies here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself, shall defend that souls My own glory…”

Chaplet and Novena

On September 13 1935, when Sr Faustina was graced with the presence of an angel who executed the wrath of God, she begged the mercy of the angel, a manifestation of the Holy Trinity who gave her words to appease the wrath that the angel intended to mete out. You can find them here. “This prayer is given to appease the Wrath of God. You will recite it for nine days on the usual part of the Rosary (five decades) in the following manner. First say one ‘Our Father’, ‘Hail Mary’, ‘I believe’. Then on the large beads say the ‘Eternal Father…’. On the smaller beads you are to say ‘For the sake …’. In conclusion you are to say the ‘Holy God…’”.
Our Lord further taught Sr Fausina “During these nine days (starting on Good Friday), to “lead souls to the fount of My Mercy, in order that they may draw from it strength, refreshment, and all the graces they need in the trials of their lives, especially in the hour of death. Each day you will lead a different group of souls and immerse them in the sea of My Mercy. Each day you will beseech the Father through my bitter passion for graces for these souls.”

Edna’s testimony

On this feast day, Jesus asks us to see this celebration as a refuge and a shelter for our souls. He said “The very depths of My Mercy will be opened on that day. I will pour out a sea of graces upon those souls that will approach the fount of My Mercy. Let no soul fear to come to Me, even if its sins be as scarlet. This Feast emerged from the bosom of My Mercy and is founded in the depths of My Mercies. I desire that it be celebrated with great solemnity on the first Sunday after Easter.” Our coordinator, Edna, gives testimony to Jesus’ offering of a new “baptism” and shares how the tender love and mercy of God has impacted her life.

“Jesus always mentioned to Sr Faustina “FEAR NOTHING. I AM WITH YOU”. Reading this in Sr Faustina’s diary, it spoke a lot to me about trusting in God and in listening to Him. To be open! The time I visited Poland and went to the concentration camp Auschwiz, I was speaking to Fr. Angelus who taught me how to read and understand this really big book, which was the Diary of Saint Faustina. I decided to read it because I thought it would be good for my vocation. Her relationship with Jesus and the way they speak with each other is really like spouses! It has taught me a lot about religious life, and through that, God shows me how to pray for the Holy Souls, how to pray for conversion of sinners because if I reflect on my past, my history, my life, I realise how God did exactly the same. He poured out his mercy and that’s how I learned how to love Him.
One paragraph I read the other night spoke so deeply to me: ‘I’m fulfilling your holy will and desire to fulfil it as faithfully as possible throughout my life and in my death. Jesus with You I can do all things. Do with me as you please only give me your merciful heart and that is enough for me’ (Para 650). What really makes me understand my calling, my vocation for religious life, is how Jesus asks Sr Faustina in her visions, for her obedience to spread out the message of His Mercy.
You really have a sense that God’s talking to you when you read her diary. I said to my Spiritual Director that at one stage I stopped reading for 5 days because God was speaking SO MUCH! Jesus is SO ALIVE. He’s THERE! I see Sr Faustina as very obedient and humble in the way she responds. Sometimes she is confused, but she’s never afraid to ask Jesus when she has doubts. She seeks that confirmation that a message has really come from Him.”

Many of the quotations that originate from Sr Faustina’s Diary found in this blogpost can be referenced here: And

We ask that you also proclaim the message of God’s Mercy to all you encounter, and become real warriors for the most Merciful Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Holy Week 2012 @ St Pat's!

PASSION SUNDAY Holy Week started off with Passion Sunday, aka Palm Sunday... the day was beautiful, the square outside was beginning to pick up in numbers of people passing through it, and it felt only too right that our Church would fill it with the proclamations of "Hosanna! Hosanna!" as we processed round the circumference of Soho square! As you can see, Fr. Alex celebrated this wonderful Mass, and we were there with our palm crosses ready for blessing! With the opening of the stunning Church now, we're beginning to see more and more people learn about this haven of peace and prayer, and coming to Sunday Masses here. In fact, on this Sunday, we were blessed to be able to welcome back Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir, who will, hereon in, be leading music worship every FIRST SUNDAY of the month!

On Tuesday, we went to show our support to the priests at the Diocese of Westminster Chrism Mass. We heard there were about 350 priests there... and boy, was it spectacular. As you'd expect the Cathedral was jam-packed. The people were on a high! This was the Mass where our leader, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, would renew and refresh the hearts of our priestly ministers. As you probably already know, priests have a very busy and in some cases, burdened life. They bare the Cross of Christ on their backs daily... and come to think of it, when you have accepted the responsibility and mission of Christ to bring souls to him, in the end, it is a massive burden to carry. So in support of our priests, for the witness they give to us daily, for the love they have of all souls, and for the ministry they actively pursue in order to bring about the Kingdom of God here on earth, WE SALUTE YOU! And we thank you with all our hearts that you continue to be our local shepherds, leading us as your flock to the eternal Life which Christ Himself pours out for us in His Great Mercy and Love!

On Maundy Thursday, we were so blessed to be so involved in the Mass of the Eucharist and Priesthood! On this day, we remembered the humility of the Messiah. One who came to serve, not to BE served. On this most subliminal occasion, we remembered our service first and foremost to God - to His glory and will. We also remember our service to each other in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Tatiana did a great job of gaining 12 men to have their feet washed by Fr. Alex. As they all got up onto the sanctuary, many of us in the congregation must have wondered at the humility it must have taken to accept this special gift of service. You probably wouldn't notice that 2 of our community were Altar serving that night: Carmelo and Laurie. Sometimes, we forget the small acts of charity given during these times of real witness, and we'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those who really wash the feet of our souls in helping run the different liturgies and activities that SPES in particular are involved in: Edna, Deanna, Michael, Stefan and the musicians, all the Altar servers, Janette Moira and Liz for the teas and coffees after Mass every Sunday. This Mass led to a watching at the Altar of Repose which really brought to life the sadness and pain of Gethsemane. We grasped the real need for preparation before Good Friday and the call to prayer during this very solemn time of the Passion and Death of Jesus.

We began this day with Stations of the Cross around the streets of Soho. It was a very solemn yet impactful procession, which attracted a lot of attention, and pray was an opportunity for many passers by to reflect at some point during the day, the question of why we Catholics would carry a Cross around Soho and 'sing weird songs'. For us, there was a real sense of what it meant to follow the Cross of Christ whilst meditating upon His passion, bearing witness as St. Paul encouraged Jesus' followers in the early days of the building of His Church. After Stations, we dashed speedily over to Trafalgar Square (about 20 minute walk from St. Patrick's), to watch the famous live enactment by Wintershall Estate of the Passion of Jesus. As you can see by some of the photos, the performance worked up a mighty crowd. It was a very pleasant surprise and a real blessing that Archbishop Vincent Nicholls gave a small speech at the end of the performance. To finish off the day in our community, we helped with the Good Friday service and Veneration of the Cross.

HOLY SATURDAY Holy Saturday for us began with 10am Tenebrae at Brompton Oratory. It was absolutely stunning. Half in Latin and half in English, it was a heavenly experience of meditation upon God's Holy Word. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed in the Church, but believe us when we say, the prayer was extremely reverential, and it really did feel like a tomb in the Church with none but the Altar candles lit. Claz absolutely fell in love with the choir who sang superbly and really brought to life the Word in expression and harmony. After that, we were very kindly treated by Della, to a coffee at the nearest Pattiserie Valerie. It was a great way to socialise. One thing we've really noticed is that even though you spend all day together as a community, we still learn so much from each other when we are together willingly (and not out of obedience; although we are not disapproving of it!!) in a social setting and really just chilling out. We don't get very much opportunity to do that, so we are truly grateful when the opportunity does come! So once again and as always, THANK YOU DELLA! The Lord can never be outdone in generosity, and we trust so much that the Lord will pour out generously and abundantly His grace and mercy upon you! The Easter Vigil was sublime. Long… but sublime. As you can see one of the photos is pitch black… that's because that's really how the Church looked when you first entered it coming in from the street. This night is a beautiful reminder of the spiritual war of light against dark; good over evil. We all know the story. Death in sin is conquered by the Eternal Life of our Lord Jesus Christ. The highlight for many of us was the Baptism of Joia-Maria, not to mention Ciara's near #fail at lighting the bonfire! It was also a near miss on the Baptism front to begin with, as initially, Fr. Alex didn't have anyone to Baptise during the vigil. That's just clear proof that God really does provide!

EASTER SUNDAY Fr Richard Nesbitt was so kind as to treat us all to a Polish Resurrection breakfast (minus the meat!) in the morning. The Mass, as always, was beautiful. And we finished the day off with a Paschal feast! All in all, it was such a blessed Triduum, and we've found such joy and consolation in being of service to the Parish these past couple of days. So to all our blog readers (because as you can probably tell this post is getting REALLY long and actually... I'm getting pretty tired!), a most blessed and joyful Eastertide! ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Catholicism-DON'T MISS OUT!!!

Catholicism – An adult’s study formation programme in the Catholic Faith.
Wednesday evenings starting 18 April 2012 at St Patrick’s Church in Soho running for eight consecutive Wednesday’s from 7.00pm – 9.00pm. There will also be one Saturday session in May. We will start to gather from 6.30 pm for light refreshments, giving us a time of fellowship.
Catholicism is a programme of 10 films made by Fr Robert Barron from the Archdiocese ofChicago as part of the “Word on Fire” on-line ministry of Catholic evangelisation ( Fr Barron presents a modern-day pilgrimage to places across the globe where God has touched the earth and revealed something of His mystery.
Do you want to understand your faith better? Do you want to equip yourself to explain it to friends and colleagues? Do you want to discover the relevance of your faith in daily life? This study programme will help you to do just that. Sessions combine DVD, catechesis and group discussion to help you understand the Faith thoroughly and apply it to your everyday life.
You are warmly invited to register for the Catholicism series and bring a friend! Please get in touch, for further info and registration, contact: Deanna at or on 0207 434 9965.
Watch the trailer for this series here!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Another COOKATHON over!

Yesterday, we had a cookathon... YES our infamous cooking marathon where we cook dishes en-masse for a month or so to freeze. After dividing up all the food cooked, we counted up 375 portions of yummy food to be consumed out of this batch of cooking!

Ciara came up with the idea of cooking colcannon! Claz cooked a Thai vegetable curry for Fridays. Carmelo was on the meatloaf and burgers, and Tatiana on pasta tuna bake! Laurie made some totally mouth-watering and attractive cupcakes for the tea social after Mass this morning, as well as Moroccan chicken... mmmmm! The chicken curry was cooked by Anne-Marie. So you can probably tell, we have a great time preparing the meals that we share together.

Of course, we could never do it without the awesome DELLA!! She is the mastermind (along with Deanna) on the cookathon - we're so grateful to her for giving up her Saturday and evenings leading up to the cookathon to help buy the ingredients and provide all the cooking equipment we needed. Neither could we do it without the generosity of parishioners and wonderful benefactors who support the school financially for us to be able to buy the food with! So to all of you guys... THANK YOU!!

What started at 9am in the morning, finished at 3pm... so for all you potential students interested in the school, get ready to test and share your culinary skills with each other, spending the day in fun (and funny looking aprons)!