Prayer is an important part of the life of Hope Community. It gives us the time and space to reflect on why we are here and what we are doing. It brings meaning to our role in Heath Town, sustaining us in our work. God gives us the strength to support those most in need.
Christ calls us to himself, to share in his life and unite ourselves with his mission. He invites us to follow him in the ways he chose in his Incarnation, and to recognise him today in the poor and the ‘little ones’ with whom he identified. “In so far as you did this to one of the least of these, you did it to me.”
(Mt. 25:40) (B.I.4)
‘Different species of trees produce different kinds of fruit. We must not look for cherries on a plum tree. So it is with people’ – Blessed Nicolas Barré
Blessed Nicolas Barré (1621-1686) was a Minim Friar and Catholic Priest who founded The Sisters of the Infant Jesus in 1675. During the 17th Century, France suffered greatly from the ravages of war and plague. Nicolas became very aware of what was happening around him – especially among the most destitute – and he felt called to make some response. He deplored what he considered to be ‘the most lamentable of all evils: the lack of learning and education.
Whilst in Rouen in 1662 Nicholas Barré asked two young local women to assist as helpers. They taught reading, writing and practical skills, but their primary purpose was to give religious instruction to children, young people and adults, especially those most in need. The child was the primary focus. Through reverencing children and leading children to God, the mother was reached through the child and the father through the mother. He conceived the idea of a Charitable Institute for those who had no access to any form of education, and were generally neglected by society.
Nicolas was insistent that those who wanted to be of service would do so without taking vows and acquiring the status and security which being a religious sister gave. They were to share the insecurity of the poor who did not have a guaranteed income. In this way they would be in solidarity, visiting children in their own homes to see their family circumstances and the reality of their lives. To live a life of solidarity Nicolas expressed that ‘Our neighbour is another self, for whom we cry as we would for ourselves.’
Nicolas Barré encouraged people to deepen their relationship with God through prayer. He had a gift for drawing people to a place where they could be touched by God, and for encouraging them to respond in a way that was unique to each person.