National Fraternity Virtual Meeting to celebrate Br Charles

National Fraternity Virtual Meeting to celebrate Br Charles

On Saturday 28th November, our Lay Fraternity day for celebrating Brother Charles ' life, there were 20 of us approximately coming in to share the morning Zoom call (one or two could only come in for a short period).

We began by introducing ourselves, saying which fraternity we were in and how long we had been associated with the Lay Fraternity itself. Some of us had been in various fraternities for a long time. However, we were particularly happy to welcome members of the relatively new fraternity of about 5 years, which Shanti runs in Berkshire/Hampshire. It was also good to see long time members, including Pam, Kathy and Louise. We also welcomed Little Sisters Catharine, Patricia, Katrina and Canh Bo.

After a worthwhile time spent sharing, we viewed the PowerPoint, entitled ‘Trasna’ which Moira had edited, originally made by Little Sister Asia, who lived in Northern Ireland before she died there.

'Trasna' essentially means a crossing point in Irish. The photography was very beautiful, and the PowerPoint showed landscapes of paths going upwards and people standing looking over precipices as well as showing stones crossing streams. Many people shared their reflections after this. Agnes had a vivid memory of having to wait on the empty roadside on a mountain walk when the others had gone on and she had to turn back, and how she eventually responded to the stillness after her initial fears. Others saw the stepping-stones across the streams as a way of moving into a different lifestyle or way of acceptance. Altogether, these slides brought out some important reflections.

LSJ Patricia had a very encouraging image for the fraternities, promoted by a slide showing a dying fire, almost covered with ashes, but with the embers still glowing and therefore able to be rekindled. This may be the situation for us in the fraternities at present, as so many of us have been in the fraternities a very long time but we are keeping the embers warm ready to pass on to the next generation, some of whom we glimpsed in Shanti's fraternity.

Despite many challenges at this Covid time, being able to use Zoom has made a big difference to those of us who are able to navigate it for fraternity meetings.

We finished our reflections with the Prayer of Abandonment as we looked forward to our afternoon session of input from LSJ Kathy McKee and then our shared Eucharist. A big thank you to Moira for agreeing to host the morning session. Hopefully, more of us, including myself, will have learned how to host for future days of sharing and reflection.

Malcolm Green had kindly agreed to host the afternoon session where those who had not been able to come in the morning, chatted for a while, until we were able to welcome LSJ Kathy McKee who showed us a beautiful PowerPoint about Brother Charles’ chapel at Béni Abbès. Kathy's talk extended far beyond describing the actual layout of the chapel itself, although the guide through the chapel was a spiritual experience.

Kathy said that this place which Brother Charles had to buy with some help from his cousin, was the first place, after many journeyings, which Brother Charles could call his own. Before that, he was in a nearby barracks containing 500 soldiers where he ministered to them as a priest. The photographs of Brother Charles at this stage, already showed the goodness and holiness shining out from him.

Béni Abbès is deep into the desert where Brother Charles felt he could now at last really pray. He used some of the columns of the disused building he had bought to create the walls and support the roof of his chapel. which he made into the shape of a cross. The nave was very narrow but straw matting on the floor of the nave made it possible to pray there.
Around the altar Brother Charles had placed niches and painted images, including of Our Lady, St Joseph, and Archangel Michael, which Brother Charles had created himself. Altogether the Chapel of Brother Charles at Béni Abbès conveyed his deep spirituality and his love for Jesus. We are so grateful LSJ Kathy for sharing this with us.

After LSJ Kathy's input, we then moved onto a shared Zoom Eucharist led by Fr. David Standley of the Priests’ Fraternity. He was joined by Father Pater Codd who read the Gospel. One striking feature was the shared homily, which some of us are used to, but the whole experience of a Zoomed Eucharist and a shared homily was novel to some people. I hope everyone felt able to participate and felt nourished by it.

We closed with the Prayer of Abandonment.

Thank you all those who made the day so memorable and who were able to attend. We did remember those who could not be with us today and also all those departed fraternity members, who we remember with love and gratitude for their witness to us, which has inspired us on our journey. In particular we named LSJ Theresa Patricia, LBJ Thierry and LBJ Sam (USA), who all died recently, may they rest in the peace of Christ.

We hope to have another day of sharing around Lent.