..next Sunday we celebrate 1st Communion of five of our young disciples at the age of 8..
can we really expect them to fully realise the depth of such a calling & a relationship?
..to receive Christ in bread & in person..
..today is feast of that belief..Corpus Christi..the Body & Blood of Christ..in bread & in person..
when..at what age..did you suddenly realise it is the extraordinary & real presence of Christ in ordinary bread & wine?.
“..remember how the Lord your God led you 40yrs in the wilderness..” ; Lord have mercy
“..he humbled you ..he made you feel hunger..” ..for the real thing.. ; Christ have mercy
“..he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known..”
; Lord have mercy
May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life.
“I used to be stone deaf. I would see people stand up & go through all kinds of gyrations.
They called it dancing. It looked absurd to me..until one day I heard the music” words of Anthony de Mello “music to the deaf”..”what did Fr Bede say?..” I used to have no sense of taste. I would see people stand up & come forward for Holy Communion. They called it receving the Body of Christ. It looked absurd to me..until one day I tasted the meal of a lifetime”..when did you first hear the music..or face the music in acknowledging in yourself that you are still waiting for that one day & the real thing?..”how can this man give us his flesh to eat?” an understandable common sense question which they tried, bless them, to argue out among themselves..not in a political question time debate but a genuine search for an answer & the truth..& to simplify the beautifully poetic response John’s Jesus gives them into plain Yorkshire dialect..”if you don’t get up off that pew, with an appetite & a thirst to meet me in person, in seeing loving & serving me in person, then it will all remain the mystery of faith you voice every time you come to Mass, when I attempt to show my real self to you, & hunger & thirst to become my real self to you & in you in bread & wine”..deaf & well fed, & we wonder why our safe protected life in this corner of paradise has to await a tragedy in Manchester Borough Mkt or Kensington before we begin to hear & taste the difference “take this all of you & eat of it..this is my body”..on your tv screens & in this privileged upper room with couches hymns & readers all ready & prepared..”do this in memory of me” a meal a moment a memory of service..a story of a servant, of her eucharistic service..a Minister of Holy Communion..many of us monks got to know & to love Sheila Frank in a hidden little room off the Abbey Church called the Boys Sacristy..it is the glory hole of the Abbey Church, the spiritual kitchen where the candles are trimmed, the candlesticks polished, the smells & bells stored, & the sound system in Church activated..an engine room..like the “below stairs” of a stately home..every Sat afternoon the youngest monks [novices] had to do sacristy work in there, as rest of Community & world entertained itself in sport or retail therapy.. it was a place of escape, of self expression, well away from the control & critical eye of Novice Master, & in there each Sat afternoon, the novices would meet Sheila, who came to arrange the flowers for the Abbey Church week in week out..she spent hours among us artistically arranging huge displays, expressions of her skills & her life story..proclaiming weekly episodes in colour style & variety..imagined thought brought to life prayerfully & magnificently..no one arranged flowers which told the truth as well as Sheila..& all done in warm hearted conversation with young monks, wrestling with their own life stories & indecisions over life in Community & all that it entails, demands & eventuall bears fruit within..she too free in there to be her real self..where reality met, person to person..she
got to know us well & never forgot..friendships which endured throughout..she would ever ask, when infirmity took over, with her pursed lip & polished accent “..& tell me how is..?” or even better if you were to say to her “Fr Philip Fr Francis asked to be remembered to you”..she’d beam like a Cheshire cat..a mind of her own, you could tell who was on her cool list when you said “Fr so & so asked to be remembered to you” & there would be a pause, a set face & then she’d say “& tell me how is Fr Edward?”..she came to us as a novice, she became part of us & remained part of us..she leaves us richer for all she taught many of us about how to cope with setbacks.. how to accept the Cross, how to patiently endure injustice with humility & patience, & thereby know & know how to redeem failure..our mistakes & failures healed by Sheila..she too used to be stone deaf & well fed..until one day she heard the music & tasted the real thing..a gifted artist, a gentle disciple, a suffering servant & a beloved part of our Community & our parish..”do this in memory of me”..Pope St Leo had wonderful prayer he’d voice as he gave Holy Communion to the deaf disabled unable eager & hungry “become what you receive, the Body of Christ”..one real loaf..food to go & to die for.. [Corpus Christi Yr A Jn 6;51-58]