Cooperators from Chertsey, Cowley, Battersea and Streatham were invited and the day started with coffee and tea etc at 10am, followed by Prayers and Praise by Ken Greaney.
The first of two talks by Fr David was followed by Marian Devotion led by Barbara Greaney. After lunch, Fr David gave us his second talk with the theme'LISTEN', which was followed by Holy Mass of Pentecost in St Anne's Church.
All of the Cooperators had a wonderful experience especially with such a beautiful sunny Spring day and Fr Davids very inspirational talks were the highlight of the Celebration.
The day concluded with tea and cakes, plus a raffle, the proceeds of which will be sent to Salesians in need around the world.
Bernard O'Neill shares insights on listening, prayer and the centrality of Mary, gained from Fr David's talk, in this extract from "Bern's Blog".
Over 60 cooperators, including all the current enquirers), joined the hosts from Chertsey at this Marian preparation for the feast of Mary Help of Christians. This is the 9th year of this annual event.
Fr David O’Malley introduced his session on listening with the oldest of Jewish prayers, the Sharma, asking God to grant the power of listening. He explained how to listen by blocking out all surrounding noises/sounds; preparing our body in the correct comfortable posture; stabilising our breathing – all to enable us to listen to God. No-one can teach us how to pray, the relationship with God is unique to ourselves, like the relationship of a mother and son.
Can you believe that only 4% of our reality is of a solid nature that you can see and touch, the remaining 96% is in the imagination! Because there is no God of a solid nature, it’s our desire and perseverance that creates the connection with him in prayer – when you fall, start again and eventually that wide gap between God speaking and you listening will shorten. We need to put distractions aside and create the environment to talk to Jesus.
Fr David ended this session by quoting the author of The Cloud of the Unknown – “Keep on trying, no matter what and you will achieve your objectives”
In his afternoon session, Fr David referred to the rosary which we said as part of the Marian devotions just before the lunch break, stating that this is one of the most powerful prayers in our Church. It was started by St Dominic in the 13th century, although it is not certain that beads were used from the beginning, although it is possible, as beads are used by most other religions as a prayer aid, and help us to concentrate.
Fr David played an American Indian song to illustrate that the slow pace (walking) and repetitiveness track how prayer is not just limited to kneeling in Church, but can take place anywhere, anytime. Life can be your prayer in words, thoughts and actions.
Mary should be the focus of our prayers to assist the ear of God Listening to us granting our requests and assist us Listening to God.
The last part of Fr Davids second session was introducing us to an aspect of Salesian Spirituality – Quadrophonic listening - which is especially important in listening to young people in the tradition left us by Don Bosco, Home, Church, School and Playground. (We will share another blog extract soon with more on this).
And finally, before celebrating Mass on the feast of Pentecost, Fr David looked at Mary as the model of prayer. On this feast of Pentecost, Mary was present with the disciples in the upper room when the Holy Spirit descended on them with His powers as He did in conceiving Jesus 33 years before. She knows those powers and will assist us by LISTENING to our prayers, through her, to God.
Pope Benedict observed, “there is no Church without Pentecost.” And, he added before the Marian prayer, “there is no Pentecost without the Virgin Mary.”
She was present in the Upper Room when with the disciples when the Holy Spirit descended and, as she is in all places and times. "Among us we always have Mary, the Mother of God", he said. "Wherever Christians join in prayer with Mary, the Lord offers them his Spirit and I now invoke her aid for the Church and its ministers, so that the Gospel message may be announced to all peoples.”
Thank you to Ken and the Chertsey Cooperators and Fr David for this fantastic day of celebration for the feast of MHC. I confess it is my 1st time at this annual event but will not be my last!! See you next year. It has certainly thickened my blood type – DB!!!
All pictures taken by Robert Hinchen, Cowley Cooperators