Can we forgive, can we forget?
Heston’s Justice and Peace Retreat
At the invitation of Martin Birdseye and the parish priest, Fr Robert Ehileme of the Sons of Mary, Mother of Mercy, Justice and Peace led a parish retreat at Our Lady of the Apostles, Heston, this Lent, on reconciliation. Based around the Pax Christi Peace Icon, on the altar from the start of Friday Mass we explored reconciliation in the context of society and the environment. The small pictures inset into the larger icon gave us stories to reflect on.
The Woman at the Well helped focus not only on our basic need for water, but on our true ide the fact that our identity consists in relating to Christ the living water. The Jacob and Esau picture, showing the dramatic reconciliation of the brothers, gave an opportunity for discussion of conflict issues around the world: ethnic groups, civil wars, rich and poor, nuclear powers versus the rest , and so on. We realised that it is all too easy to forget the injuries we do to others, and Fr R cited the example of what the colonial powers had done in Africa, which has been quickly forgotten, yet young Africans are learning about their own history in universities, without anyone mitigating the bitterness this inevitably arouses. A good example of where we shouldn’t forget!
The Mass was concelebrated with Fr Francis, assistant SMMM priest, and the Confirmation group joined our ‘Creation walk’ around the parish grounds and the Green, based round the Canticle of Brother Sun of St Francis (another mini-icon), meditating on Brother Sun, the stars and space exploration, Brother Wind, air pollution and the adjacent M4 motorway; Sister Water, at the lovely water feature outside the church, scarcity, drought, Shell petrol’s pollution of the Niger Delta (Fr Francis had firsthand experience). Very handy that you could see the Shell service station just outside the parish wall! Then Brother Fire, fossil fuels, nuclear weapons, as we saw the planes coming in low to land at nearby Heathrow, with a powerful reflection from Martin who is a longtime campaigner for the ending of nuclear weapons.
The Peace icon, the central image being that of the risen Christ our Reconciliation, is now installed in the Church beside the 14th Station, next to the Risen Christ altar.