Pope Francis’ prayer intention for May is for Deacons in their calling into ministry..so close in apostolate to your calling, your vocation, in these extraordinary times as, like many in this time of crisis, you are called up onto the front line in this moment of emergency “in the service of the Word & of the poor” ..to talk, well & convincingly, about our faith in good healthy conversation, & to feed the poor; who is the poorest most vulnerable in your street, & vitally in your home in lockdown?..& in my monastery in our lockdown? ..this mornings 1st rdg from Acts of Apostles describes the establishment of the diaconate ..us & them..us & you..all of us in need of service from one another.. “..a complaint; in the daily distribution their own were being overlooked” ..left out & left to spiritual communion.. ; Lord have mercy “..select those of good reputation, filled with the Holy Spirit & with wisdom..” ..you..chosen for the front line.. ; Christ have mercy “..continue to devote themselves /yourselves to prayer to service of the Word & to the poor” ..prayer feeds first, then bread feeds second.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“..how can we know the way?”.. “growth on the journey centres on the struggles we experience at the various stages in our lives. In journeying, from resistance & denial, to anger & bargaining, until we reach the moment of acceptance; we travel from that place of wilderness, where nothing satisfies our drooping spirits, to coming home to that place of peace, where we experience a deep sense of “God-is-with-us”. It is the journey where I learn to leave behind the pharisaical attitude that “I am self sufficient, & able to go that place where I hear the Lords’s invitation to adopt the heart of the Publican who realised his deep need for God. It is a pilgrim journey deeply blessed.” [ Words of Sr Raphael Considine a Presentation Sister ] “..how can we know the way?”where does this gospel, so often chosen as the text for Requiem Masses, sit in context of Jesus’ life & ministry?..I looked it up in my bible & it came alive anew..”do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God still & trust in me. You know the way to the place where I am going.” It could, it has so far to me, sounded safe, confidently supportive, from Our Lord himself, who had proven in lifetime of obedience, self sacrificial love & service that he had all the answers “trust in God still & trust in me” ..I wonder, as he said it, if he looked steadily into their eyes with a “knowing” self conviction, or if his moment betrayed a hesitancy of fear self doubt & divine doubt?..I wondered..& then read his life experiences of that very moment; he’d just washed Peter’s feet & he hadn’t understood; shared a last meal with them & identified a betrayer within group ; a new commandment instituted “love one another as I have loved you“..it’s no coincidence it came just moments after Judas had walked out, his seat still warm; by this love you have for one another, every one another, including, especially, your Judas, then “everyone will know you are my disciple”..& Peter signs up to the school of waverers & wobblers “Lord, where are you going?” & Thomas; “Lord, we do not know where you are going so how can we know the way?” rich coming from Thomas who was to walk out without telling anyone where & for how long..& Philip “let us see the Father & we shall be satisfied” the disciples bless them were picking up Our Lords own anxieties fears & wobbles; he’d read/prayed the psalms which predicted suffering death & resurrection for the Messiah, & as he got closer there was no escape; the realisation in him, if not yet in others, that it was him; to be voiced by Judas “the one I kiss; he is the man” a fully divine Jesus taking a lifetime right up to & into his death, learning how to become fully human; the ultimate self sacrifice in his death was to love his enemies “to death” as my grandma used to say to me..Judas Peter the criminals on their cross, his mother & beloved disciple; each & all had failed him & he in them, in his familiar family life & relationships..& here he was, coming to terms with his own final struggle, to live up to all he had taught so well & convincingly..”if only you knew”..a new commandment still being learned in his own heart..I see now for first time, how this gospel fits so well to the loss of a loved one, a rite of passage as Jesus finally came to terms with his own approaching death “do this in memory of me” “journeying from resistance & denial, to anger & bargaining, until we reach [he reaches]the moment of acceptance”..from ”Father, take this cup of suffering from me” in his Gethsemane & ours..to “into your hands I commend my spirit” & as we bring coffin of a beloved loved one of ours into Church for a Requiem Mass, the body still warm to us in our broken hearts, we remember Jesus himself wrestled right to the end with a struggle for an answer..his cry like Mary’s & our own “why me?” “why have I been dealt this hand?” an answer that would only emerge after his death, his Holy Saturday in tomb, our loved ones & their longer Holy Saturday in a grave of silence..in our lockdown a new experience for me is to be in the monastery refectory for meals; meals eaten in silence with one of us taking it in turns to read from a book; last Friday the book finished “a Scots Song; a life of music” by James MacMillan ; deeply moved by the last chapter “the accompaniment of silence” having heard it, when meal finished I wanted to learn more about it; by time I got to the reader to ask, two monks had beaten me to it..I was heartened to think these two fine monks had been moved as deeply as I was by it..& thoughfully one offered to copy final chapter for all three of us..googled it later by title of last chapter, & lo & behold, next entry below it on the page is the Rule of St Benedict & family “the accompaniment of silence” “prayer & fraternal meetings in family changes their lives”..coincidence or the work of the Holy Spirit?..you decide..you “know the way” as disciples of Jesus & now as disciples of St Benedict “you know the way to the place where I am going; if you know me, you know my Father too [from this moment 9/10 May 2020] you know him & have seen him” extraordinary from this very moment, in midst of such world crisis & turmoil; the loss of our last supper, being locked out of our Church. The wrestling with relationships in each of our families, cabin fever for you, cloister fever for me, as we learn to live & to love together more fully, less humanly more divinely, than ever, & in it, to seek some time out to be alone..our alone time is our monk time..with all our fears about how long, & how will it end & will life & faith ever be the same again?..never..”why go on?” asks Sr Raphaels poem “why venture further on strange paths, risking all?..why not return by the known road? why be a pilgrim still? a voice they knew called to them saying “this is trasna, the crossing place, choose! Go back if you must, you will find your life easily by yesterday’s road..you can pitch your tent by yesterday’s fires, there may be life in the embers yet. If that is not your deepest desire, stand still, take your life in your two hands while you search your heart’s longing..what am I seeking? what is my quest? when your star rises deep within you, you will have light for your steps; this is trasna, the crossing place; choose ! this is trasna, the crossing place; come!” [I will enclose poem for you to read & pray, & recognise yourself in it ] Jesus says one word, to himself first & then to us “believe” “you must believe [ just as I Jesus had to come to believe ]..believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason”..a Sunday afternoon last weekend the like of which I’ve never experienced before ..to find this believe me was deeply moving..or did it find me?..was it not like all servant discipleship, given on loan, to be seen & to be believed..& to be passed on..ingredients for our journey to the Fathers house “together”..including always your own Judas..take some time out in silence, a Holy Saturday moment, to ponder on it all..the last word goes to the Rule of St Benedict & his learned wisdom for the Abbot, the one who serves/leads in your family & my monastic family; “the Abbot will always have before his eyes the final perspective of union with God, the accompaniment of silence, prayer & family meetings changing their lives..” ..you know now the way to the place where we are all going..together.. [ 5th Sun Easter YrA Jn 14;1-12 ]