by John Coleby
The Old Testament and New Testament are punctuated with stories about journey: Abraham’s journey from Ur; Noah’s Journey through the flood; Joseph’s Journey to slavery and Egypt. The Israelites moved from Slavery to freedom, from Egypt to Canaan. Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem and then Egypt. We read of Jesus’ and his disciples’ journey to Jerusalem and Jesus’s journey into the wilderness, and later on, Paul’s journeys and those of the Apostles.
There are more of course, but I think it is safe to say that ‘journey’ is an important motif in the Bible. It is everywhere. In John’s Gospel Jesus is even described as ‘the Way’.
Lumen Gentium the dogmatic constitution on the Church (Vatican II) describes the Church as a Pilgrim People of God. Our Journey towards God is dynamic – always moving, inching forward, one step at a time, joyous and hopeful but at the same time painful and problematic as we are confronted by challenges that life throws at us and those around us.
Our journey through Lent is one of our journeys within ‘the’ journey. Traditionally 40 days of preparation for Easter and the renewal of our Baptismal vows; through prayer, fasting and alms giving.
For some involved with Caritas Westminster, our Lenten journey started on Shrove Tuesday, when we gathered online to think about “The Why” of Catholic Social Action. Of course, as Catholics we do not have a monopoly on social action – we share our activities of ‘service’ with other Christian denominations, other faiths and other groups which contribute to the common good.
But what we do have is Catholic Social Teaching. This teaching guides all that we do, and is inspiring us to take a new journey. During the Pandemic, we have expanded our direct provision of relief – particularly food and other essentials such as through our supermarket voucher scheme. But now, we are encouraging parishes, groups and schools to join us on the Road to Resilience – a journey which helps people who use our services to find a route out of their poverty.
The goal of this journey? – to uphold the dignity and worth of every person – the most fundamental principle of Catholic Social Teaching.
Join this journey in any way that you can – come to one of our online events, find a new volunteering role through the Caritas Volunteer Service, donate to the Cardinal’s Lenten Appeal, and above all, remember us in your prayers.
John Coleby is the Director of Caritas Westminster