Madonna House

Notes from Near and Far: England

by Cheryl Ann Smith

The wind blows wherever it pleases; you hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit (Jn 3:8).

As I reflect on the 3½ years I’ve been in England, this is the quote that resounds in my heart. The Spirit has moved in so many surprising ways that we’ve had to learn to just follow and be amazed.

Before I arrived here, it seemed the Spirit said in my heart, “I want the house to be one of consolation for priests.” Then we watched in amazement as the Lord brought priests and seminarians from all directions, for anywhere from a week to a month of retreat, renewal, or discernment. This was a new development for our house.

The Spirit blew in lay people as well, and our mysterious connection with Scotland continues. I’ve given talks to two different groups in Scotland, and we in turn have had several guests and retreatants from that lovely area. We couldn’t have planned or organized any of that; we just followed the Wind!

This past year the Wind shifted, as the Spirit seemed to want to bring Madonna House staff members here for consolation—again, anywhere from a few days to a few months. For much of this year, we’ve had someone from another house of MH with us.

But what of the times when the Wind seems not to be blowing—when nothing seems to be happening and the house is still and silent?

As we always do, we gather twice a day in our chapel for silent adoration and shared prayer. The Lord is always there, awaiting our presence.

We come into the tranquillity and beauty of his Heart to lay before him all the needs, desires, anguish that have been entrusted to us by others. In the stillness of that holy place, we place all who come to our house and all the people of this area before the Heart of Jesus and allow the Spirit himself to express our plea in a way that could never be put into words (Rm 8:26)