Street Passion Play in Bedford

Caiaphas+Annas

A Street Passion Play was enacted in Bedford on Holy Saturday 26th March 2016. Our very own Michael Simmonds, of the Bedford fraternity, portrayed the character of Caiaphas (see image above). A splendid evangelisation opportunity! Good work, Michael! An idea for another enterprising fraternity.

Michael tells us:

The drama began in Church Square with the Last Supper in the presence of a large crowd of onlookers. After the Supper, Jesus was arrested and dragged along the road to Caiaphas and Annas [picture] where he was found guilty of blasphemy and was then dragged up Silver Street to Pilate. Here Jesus was condemned and had to carry a heavy cross-beam down the High Street, with the two thieves, to Castle Mound, where he was realistically crucified on a full-sized cross in the presence of a huge crowd, possibly 1000 people. After his death on the Cross, the crowd moved down to a lower area where Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleophas went to the tomb on Easter morning. They went to the disciples and they were all wondering at the death of Jesus and his missing body when he walked in among them. They were full of wonder and excitement and joy! The Salvation Army played an Easter hymn and some doves were released behind Jesus. Many people commented on how moving it was and tears were shed at the suffering of Christ. The play lasted about two hours. Evangelisation!
The only professional actor was the one playing Christ – all the rest were members of different Churches in Bedford.

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The Loving Mercy of God

Brother Francis

Fr. Francis Dor OFM Cap celebrating the mass at the OFSGB national elective chapter at Wistaston Hall last autumn.

The life of St Francis of Assisi was transformed when he recognised the loving mercy of God in
his life and this led him to desire that everyone might experience God’s mercy. Perhaps the “The Holy Year of Mercy and our Franciscan Response” weekend in Cardiff starting this Friday is for you. Francis Dor OFM Cap, our Capuchin General Spiritual Assistant, will be coming from Rome, where he is based, in order to be with us. If you would like to join us, do contact Angela Bradley. There should still be places available. See here for details, a booking form, and the programme.
Another option is the And I showed Mercy to Them weekend “Exploring the Richness of God’s Mercy” led by Paula Pearce, our National Minister at Pantasaph Retreat Centre from 6th to 8th May, 2016. A Pantasaph booking form can be found here.

Brothers & Sisters: Building Bridges (Pope Francis on Lesbos: 16/04/2016)
Pope Francis’ five-hour visit to Greece on 16th April ended with him offering safe passage to Italy to 12 Syrian Muslims, half under the age of 18. The Vatican will assume financial responsibility for the families, who will be assisted by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio.
“Wake us from the slumber of indifference,” the pope prayed, “open our eyes to their suffering and free us from the insensitivity born of world comfort and self-centeredness.” In his prayer Pope Francis insisted “we are all migrants, journeying in hope” toward God in heaven.
Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and all Greece stood with Pope Francis and they, too, offered prayers.
Poe Francis praised the people of Lesbos for showing that “in these lands, the cradle of civilization, the heart of humanity continues to beat; a humanity that before all else recognizes others as brothers and sisters, a humanity that wants to build bridges and recoils from the idea of putting up walls to make us feel safer. In reality, barriers create divisions instead of promoting the true progress of peoples, and divisions sooner or later lead to confrontations.”

Being a Resurrection Community: ‘Straining forward to what lies ahead’
Continuing the theme of Mercy and also referring to divisions in brotherhood, some of you may have missed this powerful call to an evangelical life, to being a Resurrection community that was made by Fr Michael Perry OFM in his Easter Letter of the Minister General 2016
“There should not be any brother in the world who has sinned, who after he has looked into your eyes, would go away without having received your mercy.”(Letter to a Minister, 9) Yes, brothers, as Pope Francis urges us: “it is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. Mercy is the force that awakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.”(Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 10)
Fr Michael says: In a particular way, this jubilee year of mercy is summoning us as Franciscans to transcend the divisions in our brotherhood that have arisen over our long history.
He quotes Biblical scholar Gerhard Lohfink: “[Being] a Resurrection community means anticipating that at every hour the Spirit of Christ will show the community new paths, expecting new doors to open at any moment, counting on it that at any hour the Spirit can transform evil into good, hoping that every hour the impossible will become possible, and never saying “later!” but always “now!”

At a Cinema near You: RISEN. Some said that he is risen… What if it is true?
RISEN was released in UK cinemas on March 18th. The Capuchin Franciscans of GB, on their facebook page, said: “A film worth watching. We travelled 80 miles to see it. The tomb is empty… and it is awesome!”
The film is an account of Jesus’ resurrection as seen through the eyes of an unbeliever. It follows Clavius, a high-ranking Roman military tribune and his aide Lucius, who are instructed by Pontius Pilate to ensure that Jesus’ radical followers don’t steal His body and claim resurrection. When the body goes missing within days, Clavius’ mission is to find the body, dispel rumors of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem. You will find a trailer here, here a review, and here a list of cinemas across the UK which will be showing the film. Note that “These listings are correct at the time of being published”, which was 14th March.

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The Tender Pelican – an Easter message from OFSGB National Council

Althofen_-_Pfarrkirche_-_Hochaltar_-_Pelikan
Is there a pelican in your parish church? Have you ever wondered why this strange bird often appears above the tabernacle? I have encountered some striking examples recently and have discovered the following history.

Around the time of St Francis descriptions of the natural world became very popular. Animals, birds and even rocks were described and illustrated in ‘bestiaries’. Every part of Creation was thought to contain a meaning or a moral lesson and a long tradition of symbolic representation developed. Many of the creatures and their stories came from older sources including the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. Many of the descriptions were drawn more from imagination than science.

The pelican is one of the creatures that appeared in Greek legends and medieval bestiaries. In Greek mythology the pelican was associated with violent death and rebirth – the parent bird killing their chicks and reviving them, after three days, with their own blood. Christian writers in the 13th century found a symbolic connection with the death and resurrection of Christ.

From observing the bird with its large, heavy, red-tipped beak resting on its breast, writers mistakenly described the pelican piercing its own side until blood flowed onto the dead chicks. So the pelican symbolizes Jesus’ self-sacrifice at Calvary. ‘Through his wounds you have been healed.’ (1 Peter 2:25) Jesus is the devoted parent reviving us with his life-giving blood.

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Jesus continues to feed us with His body and blood in the holy Eucharist. “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28)

Pope Francis encourages us in this Year of Mercy to experience God’s parental care as ‘a “visceral” love. It gushes forth from the depths, naturally, full of tenderness and compassion, indulgence and mercy.’ (Misericordiae Vultus 6) May we all know an immersion in this love during these days of Easter and be revived with the new life of His Resurrection. Alleluia!

Helen ofs
Palm Sunday 2016

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