New Fire Mass and Spirit Space


Here in the diocese, everyday prayer is being explored in fresh and inspiring ways by a couple of our churches that are blending Anglo Catholic and Charismatic spirituality as an alternative form of worship.

The New Fire Mass (NFM) was introduced as a celebration of the Eucharist some three years ago now in the Wigston Benefice. Combining traditional Catholic worship with Charismatic spirituality and contemporary music, the service - with bells and incense smells - has replaced the customary parish Mass held on the third Sunday of each month. After something of a reawakening of his charismatic roots, Father Trevor Thurston-Smith discovered the On Fire Mission – a network rooted in the Church of England – and was inspired to share.

“It was a major spiritual shift for me,” says Father Trevor. “I found the combination of Catholic and Charismatic totally mind-blowing.”

Having felt this had ‘happened for a reason’, and looking for ways to liven up worship at All Saints Church, the New Fire Mass was born.  

“We were determined not to just ‘side-line’ it to, say, a Sunday evening, and wanted NFM to be part of the mainstream worship of the parish, giving all members of the congregation a ‘taster’ of Charismatic renewal,” he explains.

 

The NFM got a mixed reception. A significant number of the congregation were very enthusiastic from the outset, whilst some (perhaps the majority) were curious but uncertain, and a further minority firmly opposed. “It is now a well-established and accepted regular feature of our worshipping life and most of those who were initially ambivalent have now been won over,” says Father Trevor.

“We try to offer a range of services across the benefice, so there’s something for everyone.”

To regular worshipers, the liturgy is familiar as the Lord is worshiped in the beauty of holiness, honouring His majesty and mystery in colour and ritual. The wonderful, intimate presence of the Holy Spirit is also celebrated and joy expressed for all that God has done for us.

One of the many things that Catholic and the Charismatic have in common is a sense of the importance of physical symbols and actions in worship, from making a sign of the cross, to raising an arm in the air as a gesture of praise.

 

Prayer healing ministry – the traditional laying-on-of-hands and anointing, by clergy – has been a popular element of this Mass. A number of lay people are currently training to become ‘prayer ministers’, so healing can become a regular part of NFM.

In fact, a small, but significant group of worshippers, have found the NFM has encouraged them to explore Charismatic spirituality more fully. As a result, some have attended the annual Midlands Renewal Day in Warwick, and the four day annual On Fire Mission conference at High Leigh.

“There is a clear desire here to grow in the life of the Spirit and to explore the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and that nucleus of people are now ready to step up a gear,” says Father Trevor.

This has led to a new development, planned for next year, called ABLAZE – a service that will be held on Sunday evenings, enabling those from other churches, denominations or geographical areas to attend.

“I’d describe ‘ABLAZE’ as ‘The New Fire Mass on Steroids’,” says Father Trevor. “It will be a ‘fully Charismatic Catholic Mass’, aimed at those wishing to explore further what it means to live and worship ‘in the spirit’.

 

In the centre of Leicester, ‘Spirit Space’ was launched at St Andrew’s Church in October. Fledgling in its state, but enthusiastic in its demeanour, this inclusive, Catholic, Charismatic, fresh expression of prayer and worship is a bit of an experiment for the congregation, who have been challenged to ‘cast their nets out of the boat’ and see where God is leading them.

The first ‘Spirit Space’ service included an element of Visio Divina as prayer - seeing the world as a sacred text, and dwelling in that world to see what God reveals as we go about our day.

In between monthly services, the group have been meeting every Monday evening to look at different forms of prayer that have specific Catholic Charism, including Lectio Divina, praying with Rosary and Benediction.      

 

The project is led by Revd Morna Simpson, Assistant Curate at St Andrew’s. “As a small congregation, in a large church, we’re doing something brave trying to build a new community at St Andrew’s, and asking people to come and be a seed community to support it,” she explains.  

“While Spirit Space complements our everyday prayer agenda set out by the diocese, we’re also working on everyday discipleship, by meeting with a common goal to deepen our relationship with God and learn more about some aspects of spirituality we fear, in a safe way.

“We hope there will be enough energy to continue our monthly meetings, alongside an intimate gathering who wish to try out the more Catholic and Charismatic aspects of spirituality.”




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