Previous series of ‘Dare to Dream’

‘Dare to Dream’

 

Each session has a similar framework to follow.

We are encouraged to read the accompanying resource and then follow the reflections which come with the video. Each new video and reflection will be available on the Friday before each Sunday.

Taking this time to reflect will enable all of us to contribute more fully to the conversations that every deanery will be having to discern how we grow our parishes to be places of mission, serving the poor and responding out of our abundance to the needs of the local community and the wider world.

Resources for ‘Dare to Dream’

Please use these documents to guide you through our Autumn series and our latest version of ‘Dare to Dream’ They will also explain how to approach the videos each week.

Dare to Dream PDF

The music used in these video reflections is courtesy of Dexter Britain www.dexterbritain.com

Introduction to Lenten Reflections
Week beginning 14th -19th February 2021

 

‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.’ Luke 1:38

For our introductory session we focus on Mary and the life-changing decision she was asked to make when the angel came to her with a message from God. Whilst in Scripture it seems that her decision was made instantaneously, the likelihood is that it took her sometime before she could respond. In the end it was possible because Mary lived a life rooted in prayer with a desire to do the will of God. Her eyes were consistently on God and her ears open to hearing what God was calling her to.

Video: The Call to Mission – Discerning the Way Forward

Watch and listen to Fr. Tom Smith on the right of this page

Now please read this PDF as it will guide you through this weeks Reflection: Dare to Dream – introductory session

Introduction to Lenten Reflections Fr Tom Smith:

Lent Week 1 – The Time has Come
Week beginning 21st February 2021

 

Before you begin the prayer…

The season of Lent is one of metanoia, of transformation and of a movement towards new life. It is the journey we take which leads from where we are to somewhere new, from being trapped or enslaved to new life. When we talk about metanoia, the journey we are taking is one that may lead us to a change of heart, of mind, self or way of life. As a diocese we are being invited to take such a journey, to allow ourselves to be transformed, not only personally but communally. If our diocese is to flourish we will need to make the journey, a journey that will not be easy but one that does have the potential to be rich and rewarding. As it does each year, the Lenten journey begins with an invitation to enter the desert with Jesus.

It might feel that, with all that the past year has given us, we are not entering the desert, but are already in the desert, parched, fearful of the unknown, weary and just a little lost. it is well-known that when we find ourselves feeling like this it is much easier to fall foul of temptation. Jesus was no exception. He faced temptation. He struggled and he overcame. What can we learn from the experience?

In our efforts to move forward as a diocese, there will be a need to overcome temptations, not just three but possibly many, beginning with the temptation to put our head in the sand and imagine that someone, somewhere will sort it all out for us and we do not need to think about it. This is something that none of us wants to happen, so it is a temptation we need to overcome quite quickly. There are other, more subtle temptations which may come our way and in these first reflections we are encouraged to consider them. Henri Nouwen, the great spiritual writer, identified them in his book ‘In the Name of Jesus’. These include the temptation to be relevant – we can’t change because it will stop us from being needed, the temptation to be spectacular, when we seek popularity rather than ministry and the temptation to be powerful, when who I am is more important than anyone else. All these temptations can subtly play their part when we are in a process of discerning a new way.

In any form of team ministry, the ‘team’ will be made up of different personalities who potentially have different goals. The aim of the discernment process is to come to a shared vision, a shared approach and a shared commitment. The transformation which will lead to this may be challenging and at times painful, but ultimately can lead us to be life-giving and flourishing communities witnessing in faith to the love of God as modelled by Jesus. He is our role model, our rock and our hope.

Video: The Call to be a People of Hope through Lent
Watch and listen to Fr. Tom Finnegan on the right of this page

Now please read this PDF as it will guide you through this weeks Reflection:  Dare to Dream – Lent week 1

Lent Week 2 – A Vision to Behold

Week beginning 28th February

Week Two: A Vision to Behold

Our Gospel for the Second Week of Lent is always the account of the transfiguration of Jesus. During this episode in the life of Jesus, he takes Peter, James and John to see something that they could never have dreamed of or imagined. The experience comes after Jesus has taken them up a mountain, a journey which most of us can appreciate may not have been easy. Walking up a mountain can be a struggle even for those of us who consider ourselves to be fit. The journey requires stamina, the willingness to persevere, even when we don’t know what the outcome might be. Jesus has a reason for taking the disciples on the journey – they go with him because they trust him, they might even have been intrigued. Jesus invites us on that journey too – both personally and communally. The outcome is a vision which gives us a way forward. The disciples are given a different perspective.  If we have the courage to trust the Lord and make the journey, we will encounter something new, something which offers us life, and we will be able to say with Peter, ‘It is good for us to be here’.

Video:  ‘This is my Son, whom I love, listen to him’ – the call to discernment

Listen and watch the video – Fr. Christopher Whitehead

Now please read this PDF as it will guide you through this weeks Reflection:  Lent Week Two

Lent Week 2 – A Vision to Behold

Week beginning 28th February

Canon Christopher Whitehead

Lent Week 3 – Embracing our Deepest Longing

Week Beginning 7th March

Week Three:  Quenching our Thirst – Embracing our deepest longing

 A woman is going about her own business, getting on with her daily life, when Jesus interrupts her. Jesus probes her desires – he engages with the woman against all protocols. He acknowledges her thirst, even before she can see it for herself. She is focused on the practicalities of her life.  Jesus offers her something greater.

In our reflections so far, have I/we been focused on the practicalities? Have we allowed Jesus to offer us something greater? ‘If you but know the gift of God.’ During theses times of reflection and of discernment, what gift is God offering us? Do we have a thirst for what God is offering us now or are we like the dry weary land without water as expressed in Psalm 62? This week we are offered the opportunity to reflect on the living water being offered to us and to discern what this might look like as we strive to become a Church of disciples rooted in mission.

Listen and watch the video – Fr. Matt Anscombe

Now please read this PDF as it will guide you through this weeks Reflection: Lent Week Three

Lent Week 3 – Embracing our Deepest Longing

Week Beginning 7th March

Fr Matt Anscombe

Lent Week 4 – Seeking the Light

Week Beginning 14th March

The Gospel offered for this week’s reflection comes from Year A, so is different from the one we will hear in our parishes unless we have parishioners on the threshold of becoming full members of the Church. This gospel offers both the image of being at the gate – and the question are we going in or out? It is part of the journey to making a choice – of learning to see things differently. We do not do this alone, we are accompanied.

As a diocese we are on a threshold – as parishes and deaneries we need to make choices. Covid-19 has had an impact, but we do not necessarily know what that impact will be. Can we work together to share our resources, to manage our parishes better, to run our programmes, to reach out to others. Is anything blinding us from moving forward? These are just some of the questions we might need to reflect upon and eventually discover some answers. In his book, ‘Let us Dream’, Pope Francis speaks of three elements that can stop us from moving forward:  narcissism – when news is only good when it suits our personal need or bad ‘because you are its chief victim’ (page 16), discouragement which leads us to complain about everything, so that we no longer see what is on offer to us, but focus on what we might be losing, again ultimately leading us to a place where we cannot see anything beyond ourselves, and finally pessimism, which Pope Francis defines as, ‘a door you shut on the future and the new things it can hold; a door you refuse to open in case one day there’ll be something new on your doorstep.’

These three ways can paralyse us and cause us to focus on what can stop us from moving forward.

Video:  Dare to Dream – the call to cross a threshold

Watch and listen to Canon Bosco on the right of this page

Prayerfully read this passage from the Gospel of John 9:1-41

Now please read this PDF as it will guide you through this weeks Reflection: Lent Week Four

Lent Week 4 – Seeking the Light

Week Beginning 14th March

Canon Bosco MacDonald

Lent Week Five – Dying and Rising

Week beginning 21st of March

Week Five: Dying and Rising – Embracing New Life

There are many, including Christians, who struggle to believe in the resurrection and yet it lies at the heart of our faith. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead as a powerful sign of the new life offered to us in faith. Jesus, himself, rose from the dead and we too have the experience of rising to life in baptism. The eternal life continues to grow within us. Why is it then that sometimes we choose not life but death? Sometimes it is simply a case of avoiding difficult situations, being unwilling to face the reality in which we find ourselves. When we do this, we can become more dead than alive. Our reflections this week offer us an invitation to emerge from the tomb of all that keeps us imprisoned. If we can do this, who knows what freedom it will bring us.  Who knows what amazing life we many encounter as our parishes and our diocese flourish and grow abundantly!

Video: Rising from the dead – the invitation to new li

Watch and listen to the video – Fr. Anthony Paris

Prayerfully read this passage from the Gospel of John 11:1-44

Now please read this PDF as it will guide you through this weeks Reflection: Lent Week five

Lent Week 5 – Dying and Rising

Week Beginning 21st March

Fr Anthony Paris

Easter Day – Do not Cling

Week Beginning 4th April

Sarah Adams, Director for the Department of Adult Education and Evangelisation, begins our new series of ‘Dare to Dream’ for Eastertide. Along with the videos there are reflection sheets for individuals and groups to use with the videos.

 

Before you begin the prayer…

Letting go can involve a real struggle. When Jesus dies on the cross his disciples were full of different emotions, confused, angry, frightened, and guilty.  During our seven weeks of Eastertide, we will encounter the different disciples and their response to what has happened. We will journey with them on the road to Emmaus, totally flummoxed by what they have witnessed and how they just do not understand. We will experience the fear of the apostles as they hide away and the insecurity of Thomas who, needs physical contact with Jesus to find his way to believing. Then there is Mary of Magdala, paralysed with sadness and grief. Into the lives of each of these comes Jesus, reassuring, offering peace and showing himself in the food that he eats and in the bread that he breaks. . He demonstrates his love and forgiveness, even though the men abandoned him, afraid to be seen with him.

Each of us has had to experience the death of someone very close to us. And all of us have experienced ‘death’ in some form: in the loss of important relationships, ministries, etc. We feel like half our Spirit has died with them. We don’t feel whole anymore. Our hearts are torn apart. Like Mary, we wonder how we will go on.

What do these Easter accounts of the Risen Jesus have to say to us today? Can we relate to the individuals? How do we respond to Jesus who consistently tells the disciples to ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations’ and in turn commands us to do the same?

Video  – Watch and listen to Sarah Adams

Prayerfully read this passage from the Gospel of John 20:11-18

Now please read this PDF as it will guide you through this weeks Reflection: Eastertide – Introductory Session

Easter Day – Do not Cling

Week Beginning 4th April

Sarah Adams

2nd Sunday of Eastertide  – Embracing Uncertainty

Week Beginning 11th April

 

Before you begin the prayer…

The period of Eastertide gives us seven weeks of opportunity to reflect upon the experience of the disciples as they come to know that Jesus is alive, that he has risen and what it means for us as people of Clifton Diocese

In our introductory session, we experienced Mary Magdalene, paralysed with grief wondering where her Lord has been taken. On this second Sunday of Easter we find the disciples still fearfully huddled together in a room with closed doors. Despite Mary telling them, they are still full of anxiety! Only when Jesus is standing in their midst do they truly believe and then they can rejoice. Jesus offers them ‘Peace’ – a deep peace.

Thomas, however, is not there on this occasion and it is only a week later that he encounters the Lord. Thomas is at a different stage in the journey from the others. He has missed out on the experience of the other disciples, but his uncertainty is not so different from the uncertainty we can experience – about all kinds of things, even in the existence of God. Or we can doubt that there is any kind of problem. When we reflect on the pandemic and how we responded, did we fully believe that it was going to have the impact that it has? Ultimately, Thomas experiences transformation from doubt to belief. His doubting is just the starting point. We all have our starting points and the starting point for us will differ from the person next to us. Whatever we are dealing with be that joy or pain– this is the place that Christ enters.

Resurrection is not just a one-off event or idea. It is a way of being and living. As we hear in the gospel – not everything has been written – it remains an open book and we have an opportunity to contribute to the story. As Pope Francis reminds us, ‘We are called to become living waters of the Gospel, heralds of the Good News to all men and women today.  We can ’doubt’ that our Diocese is facing huge challenges and bury ourselves in the sand or we can ‘dare to dream’ of a future that we can write, we proclaim and we live, with Christ at the centre.

Video  – Watch and listen to Fr Dominic Findlay-Wilson

Prayerfully read this passage from the Gospel of John 20:19-31

2nd Sunday of Eastertide – Embracing Uncertainty

Week Beginning 11th April

Fr Dominic Findlay-Wilson

3rd Sunday of Eastertide  –  Becoming the Face of Christ

Week Beginning 18th April

Before you begin the prayer…

It’s not enough to proclaim, “Christ is risen!” It’s not enough to believe in resurrection. At some point we have to move from the event of the resurrection to experiencing the resurrection. Experiencing resurrected life begins with recognizing the risen Christ among us.

A young woman noticed the increasing number of people living on the streets as she walked to work. Moved by compassion and a loving heart, she started to take food to those who were hungry. After a while, this community of homeless people started to ask her why she bothered with them. Her humble and quiet response, “I want to share the love and compassion that Jesus has for you.

Throughout the Gospel we hear of the many times Jesus fed the people. He sat and ate many meals, meals which would often transform the lives of those he ate with. He felt no shame in eating with the most impoverished in society; the outcasts, the sinners, the marginalised and the poor. Most notably he fed the five thousand, even when the disciples could not fathom how this could be possible. Today, the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus return to their friends (still locked in the room out of fear) and tell how Jesus is alive and had revealed himself when he sat and ate with them, breaking the bread in such a way that their eyes were opened and they recognised him.

Jesus enters the room once more and offers consolation and peace. He shows that he is not a ghost by asking for food and eating the fish they offer. When we break bread or share our food with the hungry, we are witnessing to the Risen Jesus. Christ manifests Himself through each one of us and we  become a living and breathing witnesses that Jesus has indeed risen! We become the face of Christ to others.

As Catholic parishes in Gloucester, Somerset, Avon and Wiltshire we are called to be the face of Christ in our communities. We are called to witness with joy to the truth we hold and become beacons of hope and light to all those around us.

Video  – Watch and listen to Mgr. Bernard Massey

Prayerfully read this passage from the Gospel of Luke 24:35-48

3rd Sunday of Eastertide  –  Becoming the Face of Christ

Week Beginning 18th April

Mgr Bernard Massey

4th  Sunday of Eastertide – Listen to my Voice

Week Beginning 25th April

Before you begin the prayer…

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, refers to himself as the Good Shepherd, the shepherd who is always there for his sheep. Jesus distinguishes himself from the hired hand whose interest in looking after his sheep is minimal. Rather, Jesus is committed to caring for each and every one of his flock. He will not run away when the wolves come, he will not run away when life gets tough. This shepherd is in it for the long haul, even to the point of giving his own life.

In the countryside of the Jordan, the Bedouins tend their sheep whilst living in tents. The shepherds sit and talk with one another, share their food and allow their sheep to graze. When it is time to move on it is remarkable how each shepherd can gather his own flock away from the others. He just needs to call, and the sheep follow – they know his voice. Within a flock of sheep there is no hierarchy and so they need a shepherd. They learn to hear and understand his voice, his smell, and his behaviour. The life of the shepherd is a tough one incorporating long hours, hard work and sacrifice – all because of a devotion to his flock. A good shepherd cannot afford to be afraid of anything.

If we are to be followers of Christ, we also have to be shepherds, good shepherds to one another. Pope Francis infamously said to his clergy that he wants them to have the ‘smell of the sheep’ in other words, to be really immersed in the messiness of life. But it is not just the clergy who need to do this. We all must shepherd with confidence, unafraid and steadfastly

As we emerge from the pandemic, this is even more important. We need to support those who are struggling, those who are frail, nurture those who are weak, comfort those who are afraid and lead back those who are lost. This is what a good shepherd does. This is what Christ has done for us. This is what we must do for each other.

This Sunday, we mark not only Good Shepherd Sunday, but also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations—at a moment when the need is greater than ever for more to answer the call to serve and be shepherds. As we mark Good Shepherd Sunday let us pray for all vocations—and the vocation each of us has as a Catholic Christian and a person of faith. Let us reflect on what our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, has shown us and taught us—and the example he has given us.

Video  – Watch and listen to Fr. Colin Mason on the right of this page

Easter 4 Fr. Colin PDF

A Prayer for Vocations Resource for Parishes

4th  Sunday of Eastertide – Listen to my Voice

Week Beginning 25th April

Fr Colin Mason

5th  Sunday of Eastertide – United in Faith

Week Beginning 2nd May

Before you begin the prayer…

‘I am the vine, you are the branches’ is a beautiful image of closeness. Jesus is speaking of the intimacy we are invited to have with him. Jesus was speaking not long before his death and not long before his disciples would scatter and abandon him in when the soldiers came.

In California giant sequoia trees line many roadsides. What is interesting is that the sequoia tree has roots just barely below the surface. We might think that this would be impossible for such large trees. Normally we think of roots growing deep into the ground so that strong winds will not blow the trees over. The sequoia tree, however, only grows in grooves and their roots intertwine under the surface of the earth, so when the strong winds come, they hold each other up. It could be said that the Christian community is like the giant sequoias. When life gets difficult the community will hopefully reach out to those who are struggling and offer the support that is needed to hold a person or people up in the face of adversity.

Vine trees only produce good fruit when the branches are strong. The branches can only be strong when they are connected to the vine. Each feeds the other. It is the same in the Christian community. To function as a community of believers we need the strength of Christ at the centre of our lives. We depend on Christ so that we may have the life within us that leads us to not only acknowledge the presence of others but to reach out to them in their need. The mandate given to the disciples just before Jesus ascends to the Father was to ‘Go make disciples of all the nations’ This is our mandate too; given to us at the end of every Mass; ‘Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.’ We, as a community of believers, united in faith with one another, are sent outwards to share the good news and to witness to it in our lives

Video  – Watch and listen to Mgr. Liam Slattery

Prayerfully read the passage from the Gospel of John 15:1-8 in this PDF: Easter 5 Mgr. Liam

6th  Sunday of Eastertide – Bear Fruit

Week Beginning 9th May

Before you begin the prayer…

A story was once told of a king who knew he was dying. He longed for a son to be his heir so that his throne could be passed on and so he advertised for one. He invited young men to apply to be considered for adoption into his family and ultimately to become the heir to the throne. To qualify all they had to do was to love God and their neighbour. A poor peasant saw the notice but thought that he would stand no chance because he only had ragged clothes to wear. He decided to work extra hard and saved the money to buy some new clothes. Once he had these, he set off to the palace to present himself to the king. On his way there he encountered a cold and vulnerable beggar. Feeling sorry for him, the young boy took off his new clothes and swapped them for the ones that the beggar was wearing. Although he thought that it was now pointless to continue his journey, he decided to go on as he was so close. When he arrived the palace courtiers laughed and jeered him. Nevertheless, he was admitted to meet the king. The boy felt that there was something vaguely familiar about the king and suddenly realised he was wearing the clothes that he had given the beggar. The king stepped down from his throne and embraced the boy warmly, saying, ‘Welcome, my son.’

The young boy had given everything he had to care for the ‘beggar’ on the road. He had shown his love and his generosity. He had fully lived the commandment to ‘love one another’ and his reward was a place at the heart of the King’s home. We often think in terms of the ten commandments, but at the heart of all are the great commandments to love God and to love one another. When we love, we receive love. When we love, others grow in their own capacity to love. Today we are being commissioned like the disciples to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last, the fruit of love. As a Church our mission is to witness to this command – how well are we doing?

Video  – Watch and listen to Fr. Frank Wainwright

Prayerfully read this passage from the Gospel of John 15:9-17 in this PDF

Ascension – Go and Proclaim!

Week Beginning 16th May

Before you begin the prayer…

‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation’. Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord’s Ascension into heaven and his mandate to the disciples to go and spread the Good News to every nation.

There is a story that comes from the Hassidic tradition. In the days of the Baal Shem Tov, the saintly founder of the particular tradition of Hassidism, would take his disciples to a quiet spot in the forest. There they would make a fire, and dancing around the fire the Baal Shem Tov would lead his disciples in deep prayer. After the death of the saint, the disciples continued to go to that spot in the forest, to light the fire, to dance. But they could not remember how to pray, and their excursions were not the same. Overtime they forgot to dance and later they no longer lit the fire. Eventually even the place of encounter was forgotten. An era had passed and an experience was lost.

Just over two thousand years ago a motley group of disciples were given the daunting task of continuing the dance that Jesus had danced for them. It wasn’t going to be easy but the fact that the Church still exists today is testament to the tremendous zeal and commitment that they had to fulfilling their mandate. Unlike the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, Peter, James, John, Paul and all the others did not forget the dance. Jesus may have ascended into heaven, but his presence continued in their hearts and minds. They did not forget the place of encounter instead they became the place of encounter for others to come to know Jesus.

We might ask ourselves – will the Church still exist two thousand years from now? We can be sure that the challenging times that the original disciples lived in were no less challenging than they are now. In the early days of the Church there were those who had known Jesus personally, people who had encountered him, people who had initially rejected what he offered. Today the world will only come to encounter Christ by the witness, the prayer and the love of our desire to share it for as St. Teresa of Avila once prayed:

Video – Watch and listen to Fr. Tony Pazhayakalam

Prayerfully read this passage from the Gospel of Mark 16:15-20 in this Ascension – Fr. Tony

Pentecost – Be filled with the Holy Spirit

Week Beginning 23rd May

Before you begin the prayer…

Pentecost a day for new beginnings. Normally we tend to think of a new start at the beginning of the year when fireworks abound and there is excitement and anticipation. Resolutions are made and the desire for change is characteristic of the moment. At Pentecost there were fireworks of a different kind. A rush of wind so strong blew through the room where the apostles had been hiding. Tongues of fire hovered over their heads and suddenly they were filled with a new energy and enthusiasm. It was a transforming experience which brought about a change in them and ultimately a change for the world. Unlike our half-hearted efforts at the start of a new year where resolutions quickly dissolve, the fire in the disciples did not go out and so we find ourselves, today, still able to celebrate the feast of Pentecost.

At that first Pentecost the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. The same happens for us when we are baptised – the Holy Spirit enters our heart. As babies we may not be aware of this but as life progresses we are encouraged to reflect on the role of the Holy Spirit in our own lives. Do we live our life, guided by the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth and love and wisdom?

The world we currently live in has many challenges. People are struggling with the impact of the pandemic which we continue to live with. People are grieving from the loss of loved ones, the loss of employment, the loss of security and more than anything the loss of freedom. It will take time for us to recover, to regain a sense of equilibrium, to find a new direction.

The Church has also has its challenges; how to support and provide for the needs of parishioners and the vulnerable. How to enable people to at least ‘watch’ Mass when they could not attend.  Along the way people have been neglected and declining mental health has had a profound impact on many people. Throughout this last year many might have been asking, ‘where is the Holy Spirit in all this?

The Gospel speaks of the Advocate as the Spirit of Truth. Jesus knew that for us to live in love and truth we would need an advocate, someone to guide us in knowing which path to take, when and how. In the noisy and chaotic world in which we live it can be very difficult for us to know how the Holy Spirit may be speaking to us or what the Holy Spirit is asking of us but when what we do brings life and joy to others we can be sure that the Holy Spirit dwells within our actions. Pentecost is a time to rejoice for all those who have worked tirelessly through the centuries to share the love of Christ with the world and allow the love of God to burn in the heart of believers.

Video  – Watch and listen to Mgr. Jeremy Rigden

Prayerfully read this passage from the Gospel of John:15:26-27,16:12-15 in this PDF

Introduction to Lenten Reflections
Week beginning 14th -19th February 2021

 

‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.’ Luke 1:38

For our introductory session we focus on Mary and the life-changing decision she was asked to make when the angel came to her with a message from God. Whilst in Scripture it seems that her decision was made instantaneously, the likelihood is that it took her sometime before she could respond. In the end it was possible because Mary lived a life rooted in prayer with a desire to do the will of God. Her eyes were consistently on God and her ears open to hearing what God was calling her to.

Video: The Call to Mission – Discerning the Way Forward

Watch and listen to Fr. Tom Smith on the right of this page

Now please read this PDF as it will guide you through this weeks Reflection: Dare to Dream – introductory session

Introduction to Lenten Reflections Fr Tom Smith: