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Inspired by producing collective worship to incorporate focus on Ramadan plus Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald’s call to accompany our Muslim brothers and sisters during this holy month, Broughton Hall’s lay chaplain, Geraldine Roberts-Stone, set herself a challenge:


Mindful of Mother Teresa’s teaching that we may not be able to change the world but we can create ripples on the water, as Ramadan got underway I decided to join in by undertaking a daytime fast on school days.  I was filled with admiration for the strength and self-discipline of Muslims, who commit to a whole month of fasting.  During lockdowns, it had become too easy to reach for food as a comforting measure.


During the process, I enjoyed some interesting and enlightening conversations with one of our Muslim pupils who was observing the Ramadan fast.  We discussed similar experiences – learning more self-control and a greater appreciation of the evening meal when we ate it.  Additionally, we felt a closer relationship with our brothers and sisters in the developing world who do not have a choice of whether or not to eat, the food is simply not there.  We also thought more carefully about the money we spend on food.  In normal pre-lockdown circumstances, a meal out at the weekend would be a regular treat for me.  However, fasting, combined with lockdown restrictions, led me to consider better uses for that money, such as charitable giving or saving towards something more lasting.


Although people sometimes perceive them to be very different, whilst preparing the collective worship, I was struck by how many similarities there are between Islam and Christianity - emphasis on mercy, forgiveness of sins, plus the call to fasting, almsgiving and additional prayer during Ramadan and Lent, respectively.  Furthermore, both faiths were simultaneously experiencing a time of special grace, the Easter season and Ramadan.  In this year’s worship themes, I have placed a particular emphasis on caring for all our brothers and sisters, in light of ‘Laudauto Si’ and ‘Fratelli Tutti.’  


Therefore, I have been keen to promote opportunities for greater understanding, dialogue and tolerance, particularly in light of the Pope’s recent visit to Iraq as a missionary of peace.  If, as faith leaders, Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani can sit down together and enter discussion, why can’t we all?


Consequently, the feast of the Ascension had an added dimension to it this year.  One minute, I was delivering the readings at Mass whilst, later on, I was tucking into a celebration curry, with all the trimmings, for Eid ul-Fitr.  This dish contained four of my five-a-day, typifying the extra thought I’d put into the preparation of a healthy evening meal after the daytime fast as opposed to cooking something convenient after work.


I feel that my Ramadan experience this year has been invaluable in terms of spiritual growth, and a step in tandem with Pope Francis’ prayer that God will prepare ‘our hearts to encounter our brothers and sisters so that we may overcome our differences rooted in political thinking, language, culture and religion.’  Amen.

Acompanying our Muslim brothers and sisters in Ramadan

During the process, I enjoyed some interesting and enlightening conversations