“hard work may need to be balanced by leisure. When we say that moderation is the hallmark of St Benedict’s Rule, we are saying that it is a text that reflects a great deal of experience as well as sure knowledge of human nature. St Benedict knows that the best recipe for perseverance in the spiritual journey is to have a moderate measure of all the virtues rather than lots of one virtue & none of another. What good is zeal without discretion or knowledge without compassion? In addition, it is probably true of most people that they pass through different seasons [Advent ?] in their life in which different virtues are called for. It is a little like what happens during sleep. We do not lie motionless during the hours of sleep, but we move about, now stretching one set of muscles then resting them. In the same way, we do not develop virtues by systematically following some sort of flow chart. What happens is that different situations call forth different responses & so different virtues are cultivated. Quiet times ask for discipline & regularity, sickness calls for patience, irritation for calm, conflict for humility & tolerance ..perceived injustice is an occasion for me to practice evangelical forgiveness. So we go through life learning to be stretched by the situations in which we find ourselves. [where literally we “find ourselves”] we never become spectacularly proficient in any virtue, but gradually, by using all the various tools of good works, we are changed & grace more often has its way with us. St Benedict, the patron saint of moderation, wishes to prescribe nothing harsh or heavy because he knows that it is by small increments of fidelity in the everyday virtues that we make most progress along the road that leads to eternal life.” [Reflections on the Prologue ; Michael Casey OCSO ; Cistercian monk]
Following the lifting of the lockdown on Wednesday, we resumed our 9.30am Mass on Thursday, & our weekend Masses return this weekend; Sat Vigil 6pm at OL&SB, with Sun 10am at OL&SB & Sun 4pm at OL&HA in Gilling. Please ensure you book beforehand through the Parish Office or me. For Christmas, we will have, as last year, four Masses, two Christmas Eve, two Christmas morning. I am afraid the early Christmas morning Mass last year in Gilling will have to move to Ampleforth, as, if we celebrated it at Gilling, our max attendance would be perhaps 25, whereas if we move it to Ampleforth we can possibly accommodate, depending on family groupings, up to 70 in the Church & Hall, & when sadly yet inevitably we will have to turn people away from all four of these Masses, we need to make maximum use of the available capacity.
We will have to implement a booking system with hopefully our little band of musicians agreeing to cover a Mass each, allowing us to have music at all four Masses please. I will also be asking for volunteers to be ministers of welcome, readers & Ministers of Holy Communion, allowing us to administer Communion in the Hall at the same time as in the Church, & sanitisers to wipe down the benches after each Mass. Do be in touch now if you can help in any of these ministries please.
Marie Podgorski died peacefully in Oak Trees Nursing Home in Alne on Wednesday morning; she had been fading for a little while. I saw her last Friday & although by then she couldn’t speak she was alert to our prayers & as I recounted some stories she had shared with me over the years a beautiful smile emerged. Another Saint of ours now in Heaven. Please remember her family & her great pal Kitty Greenley.
News came through late last Friday that the College had failed the latest Inspection, this one by Ofsted, & that the Dfe had issued an enforcement notice, preventing us from accepting new students. An appeal against the decision is to be tabled, arguing the order is “unjustified & based on incorrect information”. Please pray for the College & the Community at this anxious time for us all, particularly students, parents & our staff at all levels, & many of you in this locality who still & always feel part of our monastic family & our College. We will offer Mass in the Parish once a week for the intentions of all who learn & work at the College, for a wise & positive outcome to the appeal process.
On 25 Nov we had a usual termly Local Governing Body meeting for St Benedict’s RC PS, this time on Zoom. Mr Eddy gave a tremendous Headteacher’s Report on every aspect of school life in the midst of the pandemic, & it was evident to all of us there that our School is in a very good position, academically relationally & spiritually. Two senior representatives of the St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Academy Trust were in attendance & it was tremendous to hear how much our small School is valued within the wider Trust for our outstanding use of Seesaw, the home-learning tool we used through lockdown, & which other schools across the Trust adopted because of our success with it, & for the distinction of our teaching staff as well as the children’s performance. Please pass on such good news in the locality, particularly to parents seeking an exceptional school for their children.
The underdrawing of both towers in Church was completed this week, which should noticeably reduce heat loss out through both open towers, & the replacement internal lighting is to be completed by this weekend, & I hope you will be pleased with the results of both projects. The installation of the new heating boiler will commence on Monday & we hope it will be operational for our 9.30am Mass next Thursday. Due to Chapter & the ongoing heating works next Tuesday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Mass will be at 8am please. I am very grateful to the three sets of contractors who have carried out the works for us, & for your patience & understanding as we have been without heating since early September.
Our Parish continues to provide food through the Food Initiative at a cost of £200 a month. I hope those in our own Village who may be struggling to provide food for their children either in the holidays, or indeed at any time in this ongoing & increasing crisis in health & in the economy, will be encouraged to benefit from our Food Initiative, where it is possible to approach Ray & Deb in the Village Shop, & quietly ask for a bag of food essentials which will be delivered to your door?. This has been working well since the lockdown began, & it could be more of us in the Village will find themselves in ever deeper need of help, & we would encourage them to ask..it isn’t charity, it is basic good bread & butter Christian discipleship which, at such times of crisis, is asked of us in our plenty. Across the Village there is deep appreciation for the good natured & generous service given by Ray & Deb throughout the crisis, who regularly go the extra mile for us.