Monday 7 August

It’s Tuesday night now but I’m going to tell you about yesterday as well so that I catch up with myself. Our second ‘horribly early start’ yesterday was because the official photographer was going away so we had to be up and breakfasted by 8.15 am for the Assembly photo which was taken before morning prayer.

Then we had a marvellous session with Fr Sosa, who spoke very movingly about hope and, for me, made a bit more sense of the English version of the Assembly theme which has been translated as ‘discerning paths for hope’. I have been pondering this off and on for a while but Fr Sosa spoke of paths of hope and that makes much more sense to me. I’m not going to try to tell you about it as we now have an English text. Here’s just one extract: “We put our cell phones in ‘airplane mode’, but Ignatius invites us to put ourselves in ‘hope mode’. If CLC lives the grace of hope in Christ, it will be what it is called to be.”

Michelle writes eloquently about this, saying: “It’s been an amazing time so far and Fr Sosa has been everything I imagined him to be. The dialogue he had with us was such an inspiration and an affirmation of our lay apostolic vocation.

“We also have a very gifted comical sketcher following the process, who is capturing the moods and events very well to lighten up the atmosphere in light of the heavy work that needs to be processed. And Fr Sosa talked about fine tuning our music so that we can sing together to create an amazing symphony. This is what the sketcher came up with 😂.”

You can watch an interview with Fr Sosa. Though it’s in Spanish, it does have helpful subtitles.

After coffee we approved four new national communities. It was a very moving session as each Godparent community explained their relationship with the new community and the new community responded. There was so much joy in the room! I was particularly touched by the story of New Zealand who were Godparented by Australia and who paid tribute to Pat Kane’s role in establishing CLC there. I’ve been promised the text of the story and will add it here when I can.

After lunch we had some fun! Picking up on what Fr Sosa said in the morning, we went back into our spiritual conversation groups to share on where our hope was anchored in our CLC community. I was already more comfortable with the idea of three rounds of sharing, though it takes discipline not to use up too much time and the group went very well. After the third round we were asked to make a visual representation of our sharing and to post it on the wonderful Assembly app which the French have created and which is making life so much easier. The plenary which followed gave us a chance to reflect on the different images which were displayed on the screen for us and which we presented at the Offertory of our before-dinner Eucharist.

Before Mass we had time for questions about the ExCo report which had been presented to us a few days ago, in particular the different budget options on which we will need to vote before the end of the Assembly. There was a lot of discussion about that but, putting the budget question aside, we accepted the ExCo report, voting very easily and simply via our wonderful app!

My car has crashed

Telling the tale of the day is somehow the tip of the iceberg. I don’t have time to share much about deeper content or some of the other interactions which are constant as we queue for meals, chat over meals and actually talk to each other at every opportunity. The timetable looks as if there is space but by the end of yesterday, Monday, when I went back to the auditorium for the final session of the day, I was shattered. Sarah led our session very simply, moving us into silence in preparation for today, Tuesday, which was a day of silent retreat. At one point she asked us to reflect on what gear we were in and all I could think was that my car had either stalled or crashed completely! Alan Harrison has been great, sending us daily emails and yesterday he said: ‘Just to hope that yesterday went spiffingly too and that you are not too exhausted by the maelstrom of people, events and conversations. I recall from Lebanon and Buenos Aires retiring to my room just to have some time alone to reflect and recover.’ It’s such a relief to know that it’s not just me!

I have been so caught up with the Assembly app that I neglected the website but it’s great. You can see some of our prayers there, photos and also a wonderful daily diary by Igny. Here is today’s and as soon as I can, I’ll go back to the other posts I wrote to add the links there too.

Tuesday 8 August

Today was a very personal day with the focus: What is God calling us to? We had a prayer sheet and were invited to be silent until we went into our harbour groups for personal sharing at 4.30 pm. For me, it has been a very restorative day. Although I set the alarm to be sure I was there for the 9.00 am morning prayer (which was wonderful, simple and non-verbal and which I may well use in the forthcoming regional meetings), in fact I woke naturally, which was so much better than the rude awakenings of the last two days. By mid morning I felt as if my feet were touching the ground again and I was myself. It was a good place from which to begin to pray. It was also good to share my prayer with my harbour group which gave me so much. One insight from the group: A mission discerned is a joyful thing.

We came out of the silence together with a circle dance which was accompanied by a lot of laughter as we stepped and twirled and tried not to crash into each other. Then our Eucharist was from Europe, a Mass for peace as we remembered Ukraine in particular. At the offertory we brought up a cloth from each national community and arranged them before the altar. Michelle was the creative genius behind ours, a simple cloth cut into the shape of England and Wales.

And we are now up to date and I must go to bed. God bless, everyone. Keep praying for us. Read what Igny says about the day.