A Contemplative Response to Austerity – a Meditatio Seminar
Kit Dollard, 15 July 2016
About a hundred people gathered at Teesside University, Middlesbrough on 13 July 2016 to listen to a variety of speakers address the subject of “A Contemplative Response to Austerity.” The chair for the day was the Bishop of Whitby Paul Ferguson and Fr Laurence was the keynote speaker.
Fr Laurence spoke on the nature of contemplation, and reminded that meditation is not an escape but becomes ‘a new way of seeing the interaction with what we see.’ In other words contemplation changes us and allows us to see the world differently.
Bethany Eckley, Director of Research & Policy at the Church Urban Fund presented two papers about how Christian churches might engage with communities in more effective ways. She underscored that relationships, not programmes, bring healing. Canon Derek Turnham spoke about the important role of Caritas and the Catholic Social Action Network (CSAN) in building community around the world.
There was a choice of workshops dealing with the more practical aspects of coping with austerity, ranging from healing and harmony to supporting communities and building social inclusion.
This seminar re-affirmed the absolute centrality of relationships and of love in our daily lives, and allows us to address austerity with peace, patience, maturity and wisdom.
Kit Dollard is Chair of Catholic Marriage Care, a member of the Catholic Bishops Conference on Spirituality, an author on Benedictine spirituality and a regular speaker at conferences.