Since we began to celebrate Mass again in Our Lady & St Benedict’s Ampleforth three weeks ago, I have been sharing a few lines from Sr Joan Chittister’s book “the Time is Now” from chapters entitled “risk” “audacity” “authenticity” & this week with the gospel of the loaves & fishes “faith” “we only have five loaves & two fish” really?.. “good people starve for want of impudence” [John Dryden] it is a prophet’s mantra. Prophecy is a matter of nourishing bold faith in human ability to make God’s message come true, an excursion into the desert of courageous leadership. It is fascinating & demanding that it is God’s way always to send the weakest among us to do what must be done. Moses, to save the Israelites from slavery; Esther to save the Jews from King Ahasuerus; little David to fell the giant Goliath. “ [& a small boy with five loaves two fish to feed 5,000 ] & we ourselves now, to complete the work only begun by the Creator but forever threatened with failure without us. Those who would otherwise do little or nothing about social imbalance find themselves, in the face of the gap between the human & the humane, between the divine will for humankind & the human failures to achieve it, impelled to take a stand. There is no choice now; something has to be done & someone must do it, & that leaves us, leaves me. Faith leads us from the dregs of despair to trust again in possibility. It takes the fear that comes from insight & turns it into the conviction that the world must change, that I must change, that I must have something to do with changing it. Faith in God takes us from the fear of public recrimination that grips us to the courage it takes to do God’s will for the common good. Tomorrow is the gift we are given to create for ourselves. In that awareness, in the depths of that faith, lies the energy, the reason, for prophecy. Because we know the will of God for us, the prophet must demand it. If something is to be done, we will have to be the people who do it. Consciousness commits. The problem now is determining how to lead a group that does not want to be led. The answer is to sound the message as clearly, as non- judgmentally as we can, & then refuse to go away. The prophet simply refuses to quit. The prophet does not ever go away.. ever. The voice of the prophet, silent or sure, has the eternal life given by an eternal God. [Sr Joan Chittister OSB]
Our three weekend Masses again drew encouraging numbers, given many are still anxious to return to Mass this soon, albeit those who do come report how safe they feel & blessed at being back; 49 of you at our Masses including 20 of our young disciples, bringing the bread & fish of their real presence.
Our private prayer Friday afternoons finished last week, as numbers dwindled as Mass returns. I am grateful to Marie Willis & Maureen Moore for being ministers of welcome & cleaners/sanitisers for those precious moments. Marie & David Willis move away from us early this coming week to their new home in County Wexford in Ireland. They will be deeply missed for their gentle cheerful presence in the Village & their generous servant discipleship in the College & in our Parish, “good & faithful servants.” We wish them every happiness.
Bernard Walker retired from his bellringing service to us here some months ago through ill health after 60yrs of ringing our bell for Mass. His ministry, as well as calling us to Church, meant such a lot to many others in the Village, reassuring to those who don’t come to Church yet looked forward to hearing it each week, & one who, though feeling distanced from us for painful reasons, remained one of us through the tolling of the bell. In thanksgiving for his service we have bought Bernard a bench for he & Marie to sit out on, inscribed “Bernard Walker in thanksgiving for 60yrs of bellringing“. Please keep Bernard & Marie in your prayers. We enclose a photo of the bench, and others are on our website.
As the economic situation worsens, & many who were being furloughed find that their work is in jeopardy, could I remind you of our Food Initiative in the Village, 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, particularly now the school holidays are beginning & there are no school lunches, will find the initiative helpful.
The St Vincent de Paul Society [SVP ] both nationally & at our Parish Conference level are offering additional support to the elderly & disadvantaged during the Covid crisis, with a national emergency fund as well local help; they are gently doing great work; you can gain more information from the national website www.svp.org.uk from our Parish website or direct to Mary Borrett firstname.lastname@example.org
Please remember in your prayers our parishioners in Our Lady & the Holy Angels in Gilling as our Church there remains closed. I hope they will feel warmly welcome to join us here, especially in this in-between time, which will be, for all of us, different, strange & somewhat difficult, feelings we will share together, cradled inspired & encouraged by our patrons, Our Lady, St Benedict & the Holy Angels. With my love & prayers. Fr Bede