The flowering of faith
Lay Chaplain Kay Dodsworth explains how faith has been flowering at the Senior School in the run up to Easter.
The magnolia tree at the heart of the school has been especially prolific this year and its abundant flowering brought to mind a saying by Martin Luther, ‘Our Lord wrote the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.’ At this time of year, the same rhythm is apparent in the Church and nature.
At one of the masses before school which take place every Wednesday, in his brief homily Fr Simon commented that, ‘Fruits need roots’. The reason trees produce leaves in springtime and bulbs produce flowers is because they have deep roots from which they derive nourishment, and this is the same with faith. Our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are ways of strengthening those roots.
In school we have been ‘strengthening our roots’ together. We began on Ash Wednesday with a liturgy of distribution of ashes as a sign of repentance and recommitment to the gospel. In addition to our usual times of prayer, a small group has been gathering in the chapel on Mondays at 1.20pm to pray for the intercessions of students and staff which have been written on labels and hung on a small tree as a symbol of our hope in the idea of resurrection in all aspects of life.
Our communal family fast day was held on Ash Wednesday when most of the students and staff opted for a simple lunch of soup to express solidarity with those who struggle to find enough food for themselves and their families, and to give the money saved to the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD).
Almsgiving continues in a number of ways, for example, Smarties tubes have been distributed to everyone and we are all invited to fill the empty tubes with small change to contribute to the Tear Fund Toilet Twinning initiative. There always seems to be an enjoyable aspect to our fundraising and our Lourdes fundraising fortnight is well underway and providing much entertainment. The students are very inventive and in addition to the established traditions of the Dog Show, Sponge the teacher and Staff Netball match, this year we have had face and nail painting, raffles for enormous stationery hampers and Pet Treats hampers, as well as a Talent Show for teachers. All the money raised will go towards funding a trip to Lourdes for disabled or sick children.
We hope that our Lenten practices will bring new life to ourselves, continue to nourish us as a school body and bring the hope of ‘resurrection’ to people struggling with poverty and disability, bereavement and sickness.
In our assembly on Friday, 22 March, our guest speaker, Jo Cruse, told us about her experience of personal ‘resurrection’. She told us about difficulties she had encountered from personal loss, anxiety and failure. Her account of how she faced her fears and difficulties by embarking on a journey round the Americas was very inspiring. Her joyfulness and honesty was a delight to see and I was reminded of a quote of Mary Ward that we should ‘be such as we appear and appear such as we are.’ Jo gave us an example of someone who embraces the truth and lives a life of integrity, as well as an example of someone who embodies faith in the possibility of resurrection.