Personal Reflection on the Virtual CPW 75th Anniversary Week

  • Nicholas Postlethwaite CP

To all my friends at CPW!

What a wonderful week which I am sure must have been totally exhausting for all of you who put so much into it! But how so worthwhile it has been for all of us privileged to be part of it. Thank God for people of vision in 1945 who set in motion such a wonderful "CPW Way" for our continuing re-discovery of the beauty and wonder of Him who walks shoulder to shoulder alongside us. This week has been a truly "HUMAN" experience of authentic Incarnation embodied in a Zoomed week in which young and old have celebrated together.

I don't know how Tim or other participating "ordained" priests feel about taking part in the week. But if I can speak personally, I never feel so much able to be myself - both as me (as David Wells would put it) and also as "me" an ordained priest - as when I feel the "embrace" of the CPW community. CPW makes me feel so at home because palpably we are in a place of truly shared priesthood. We all participate in the one priesthood without break or distinction. Whether we are appreciating priestly leadership as in "wild" Lala's declarative question to us all - "Am I a woman?!!" Or whether we are experiencing it through the vibrant (I never know in advance what is likely to happen…!) liturgies led by young CPW members challenging us to examine whether we are abusing our planet instead of learning the rhythms nature herself teaches us. This is all surely incarnational Eucharist in rainbow colours and songs that make us want to dance - even on Zoom!

We were challenged to ensure we are moving towards ever more adult forms of faith. Along the way we looked more closely at the history of art and symbols to see Jesus who leads us wonderfully as women and men towards unity rather to difference - as Teilhard interprets "Union Differentiates". Along the way, we were also challenged (and I was personally scared) by thinking of the nonviolent protests of those - like Martin Newell, my radical Passionist brother - who are prepared to climb on trains and risk arrest - following the radical vision of Dorothy Day - but whose faith was deepened as a result and who were prepared to risk being disowned by their families!

I am sure those first few inspired individuals who decided to set the vision of CPW in motion could only have dreamed of what we have experienced together in its culmination, 75 years on, in our wonderful Zoomed shared engagements. Thank God CPW never invested in premises! Thank God that (despite its inherent terror) Covid -19 has interrupted normal CPW preparations for the week and led to something that - albeit with limitations - was perhaps so much more all-embracing.

I think I heard, towards the end of the week, someone asking a rhetorical off-microphone comment: "Is it possible to suffer CPW Blues even at home?!" You must all be completely exhausted. But thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in your vision (never a vinegar face in sight) in committing to being long-distance runners, (from nappies to old age and beyond) and may the good wishes which Cardinal Vincent expressed at the beginning be an opening for him personally and his leadership for the rest of our church to see how, with imagination and creativity, new models of church are already emerging - with CPW as ever in the vanguard.

Great though the achievements have been and which we have celebrated this week, CPW is still only in the foothills. So much further to go and so much more to be achieved - led probably by all those wonderful young people who led our liturgies in such meaningful ways. Helping CPW combine the two essential roles of being both "undertaker and midwife"! (A mother and daughter playing the violin beside each other - a parent discovering down the M6 that his 14-year-old son is in love). That is incarnation! That is CPW.

Enough for now. Much to be analysed - much to be pondered - as she whose feast was central to us on 15 August and today - might say.

There is a wonderful poem by R S Thomas called 'Kneeling'. It is my favourite. In it he describes being alone in his church in Aberdaron but that in the silence there is a great throng surrounding him - worth reading if you don't know it. For me, the poem came alive so many times this week. Its final punch line is: "The meaning is in the waiting…."

Thank you, renewed birthday greetings to CPW and prayerful good wishes for many happy returns of the day.

It is a privilege to be counted a friend of CPW, with so many other good friends

Nicholas Postlethwaite is a Passionist Priest.

Tags: Catholic People's Week, CPW, Nicholas Postlethwaite

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