“but Christians do not just grieve for their dead, & go beyond their grief in rejoicing that their death is a union with Christ’s death & so with his resurrection. They also pray for their dead because they are our friends; for our tradition has yet more to say about death than this. We are also in solidarity with them in what may be a difficult & painful transition. They have to lose themselves in Christ in order to be really themselves. Whenever we sin we not only turn away from God’s love, we also turn towards ourselves & get more wrapped up in ourselves. The major evil here, the turning away from God, is paradoxically the easiest thing to deal with; for God is besottedly in love with us that we have only to ask for forgiveness to find him eager to restore us to his friendship. The other part, our obsession with ourselves & our own will, is not so easy. For sin is a health-hazard. We build up an addiction to our self-flattering illusions about ourselves, a habit that is hard to kick. We can work at it, & that is what penitential practices, designed to make us realistic & humble, are for. All sin involves a kind of self-indulgence, & growing out of this infantile condition, groping towards reality, is painful. It involves a kind of practicing for death [we sometimes call it “mortification” making ourselves dead] Most Christians have recognised that people generally die with unfinished business in this respect, not getting rid of sin, but in abandoning the humourless self-importance in which sin has left us. We have some growing-up to do, some self-abandoning, before we can be sufficiently our real selves to be ready for our resurrection into glory. In this matter we can help each other, for Christianity is all about coming to God in & through our friendship with others. When those we love have died we can still be with them & help them with our prayers. This is what purgatory is about. We pray for the dead in purgatory, not because we doubt that they are being brought to share in Christ’s risen life, but to help them in their painful process of being stripped, not of sin & guilt, but of the hangover of sin, of their illusions & addictions. It is useless to try to envisage or imagine purgatory as it is to envisage heaven. We ought not to be speculating about an afterlife. What we know is that we have been buried with Christ “by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” [Romans 6;4] & we know that “if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” [God, Christ & Us ; Herbert McCabe OP]
Just before half term, Class 2 of St Benedict’s RC PS, who are currently studying baptism, brought Miss Smith to Church for a full service of Baptism, with two child-parents & two child-godparents taking a full part, together with Constance Mutton’s doll Annabel who was renamed for the day Ellie & was duly baptised. You may want to ask one of the children from Class 2 what Fr Bede’s secret is to make sure the baby never ever cries… Could I alert you please to their Open Afternoons next week on Tues 3 Nov & Wed 4 Nov between 4pm & 6pm, when parents of children eligible for starting School in Sept 2021 are warmly invited to look round the School from Nursery right through to Year 6?. To book a place please contact; email@example.com or 01439 788340.
Could I remind you of our Services for the Feast of All Souls this Monday 2 Nov please?. There will be Mass for the repose of the souls of our loved ones at 930am & 730pm. Due to Covid restrictions & the usual high number of you who would normally come on All Souls Day, could I remind you please it is important you book beforehand, preferably direct to me as the Parish Office will be closed from lunchtime this Friday. For those of you who have yet to venture back to Mass since the lockdown was lifted on 11 July 2020, we will have a short outdoor Service in the graveyard at 12noon. At each of the three gatherings, we will have three-day grave lights which can be placed on the grave of a loved one, & I will come round to bless the grave & offer a prayer alongside you. On All Souls night it is a moving experience to see 30 or more gravelights shining in witness to the enduring love & connectedness with our beloved brothers & sisters who have gone on before us on their journey to Heaven. ** we will have to handle the grave lights really carefully this year, given the sanitiser we have to use for Covid best practice is highly inflammable. The lights will be lit for you this year & handed to you individually.
Next Sunday is Remembrance Sunday, when a short Village Remembrance Service will be held at our Crucifix & war memorial starting at 10.50am & lasting 15mins, as we gather to pray in memory of, & in gratitude to, the Fallen. Do try to come please, as it is one of those important shared moments we celebrate alongside our brothers & sisters from St Hilda’s Church, with our thoughts & prayers with them specially this year, as they come to terms with their loss of Rev Catherine Reid, now Chaplain at York University.
Given the current debate over the provision of meals to our children during school holidays, & the unhelpful & emotive response from our own MP over the situation, 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. Food donations to Middlesbrough Food Bank via cash in envelope to Parish House or direct via firstname.lastname@example.org With my love & prayers. Fr Bede