Apostleship of the Sea – Lenten Journey

For this year’s Lenten audio series, we’ve teamed up with Apostleship of the Sea, the bishops’ agency that looks after the practical and pastoral care of seafarers to bring you insightful weekly reflections from port chaplain Father Colum Kelly. Father Colum’s based out of Immingham – a port on the south west bank of the Humber Estuary near Grimsby.

Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, falls on 1 March. Pancakes will have been digested and various achievable and fanciful promises of abstinence will have been made.

For this year’s Lenten audio series, we’ve teamed up with Apostleship of the Sea, the bishops’ agency that looks after the practical and pastoral care of seafarers to bring you insightful weekly reflections from port chaplain Father Colum Kelly. Father Colum’s based out of Immingham – a port on the south west bank of the Humber Estuary near Grimsby.

As you might expect there’s a maritime theme and we’re pulling anchor and heading out to sea for a Lenten voyage.

Week One

The first week invites us into the wilderness. We read in the Gospel of the anguish of Jesus in the wilderness and all the uncertainties and trials that came his way in that bleak place.

“What do we need to do before setting off on this voyage?” Asks Fr Colum. “Before any ship leaves port there are a lot of checks that need to be carried out to see that our vessel is fit to make the planned voyage and also to make allowances for any unexpected twists along the way. Check cargo. Importance of our being ready and prepared for what we might face. We need to check that we have enough fuel and provisions to last us; but not too much for that will slow us down. We mustn’t carry anything unnecessary…

“…But for now, once we are sure the cargo is sorted, let’s cast off from the shore and voyage together into the vast wilderness of the sea and allow ourselves to be tested, just as Jesus was in his wilderness.

“The ropes are stowed, we have clearance from marine control and the sea will be our common home for the next six weeks.”

Week Two

As we head towards the Second Sunday of Lent, port chaplain Fr Colum Kelly continues to lead ‘Our Lenten Voyage’. We’re currently anchored offshore and our status is ‘At Sea, awaiting orders’.

“I like that phrase,” says Fr Colum. “It sums up how we spend a lot of our time, not just as seafarers but in many aspects of life. In times or worry or doubt or faced with a problem that is way beyond our capabilities, we wait for guidance.

“We wait for someone we trust to steer us in the right direction. And of course the right direction might not always be to our liking but if we trust someone, and if that someone is the voice of God guiding us in prayer then we are more likely to take notice.”

Week Three

For the third week of Lent, we join Fr Colum Kelly out at sea, tired after a particularly difficult night watch. Our reflection focuses on the Gospel of John and the story of Jesus meeting a woman at the well.

Jesus talked to her about her life and of the things God could offer her – even though she had a very poor opinion of herself because of the life she had led.

“The Captain said that in churches all over the world people would be hearing the same reading and in some way, even though we were miles from anywhere, this reading connected us… Some things stuck with me and I’ve been thinking about them.

“The woman at the well was alone. Usually getting the water was a social occasion when the women would meet and spend time chatting and catching up. Children would often accompany them and a vibrant almost family-like atmosphere would fill the air before they made their way home.

“But this woman was not allowed to be a part of the group. I wish we had a name for her but there’s no mention of one so we have to refer to her as ‘the woman at the well’.”

 

Week Four

We’re at the halfway point in our Lenten journey and we’ve been out at sea with port chaplain Fr Column Kelly for three long weeks.

Things are happening all around us on this busy ship but have we missed the obvious in all the hustle and bustle?

There’s a definite ‘sea blindness’ at times:

“John tells us so many stories of blindness – the disciples on the road to Emmaus who don’t recognise Jesus; Mary Magdalene in the Garden after the resurrection – she thinks Jesus is the gardener.

“At sea our eyes have to be sharp and focused. Our eyes need time to adjust to different light. When I take over a night watch on the bridge I ask the leaving watchman to stay with me for a while, until my eyes can re-focus and adjust to the darkness.

“Perhaps I need to make a resolution in this voyage of Lent. I need to pray that my eyes will not be blinded by prejudice or suspicion. Lent is a process of having our eyes opened to see, hope and love as Jesus does. Lent’s about re-forming our seeing, our hoping and our desiring.

The invitation of Jesus to the man born blind is clear and it’s the same invitation to each of us – Go… wash… see.”

Listen to the fourth maritime-themed podcast in our 2017 Lenten series.

 

 

Official website for Apostleship of the Sea: apostleshipofthesea.org.uk