“our love is something real & active; only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth, & be able to quieten our conscience in his presence, whatever accusations it may raise against us, because God is greater than our conscience & he knows everything.” 1John3;18-20. It would be possible to develop these words into a nightmare the image of a God who knows everything; it can be used to make God an overseer who controls us, listens in on us, follows us, & is always on our track. [track & trace?]. But in truth this is our most important comfort & the source of our strongest confidence..when we do not know what to do, God will know. When we condemn ourselves, it is very seldom our hearts that do it. Ordinarily it is the arsenal of well-preserved prejudices that almost compulsively hammer at us with the same standards, the same rules, the same orders. “God knows everything!” we must add, God knows everything..how you were formed, with what burdens you have come into being, what your childhood was like, how you grew up. Most of it is hidden from you, far from your awareness, but your Creator can make a more just judgement than you yourself. God sees not merely the things you do, but your essence, your whole self. God looks at you with kindness, because God made you out of love. God looks at you patiently, having waited an eternity for you to come into existence, & God desires that you should also learn to see yourself with kind & patient eyes. Because God knows every fibre in you & every heartbeat before you are aware of them yourself, you can trust that God will never use that knowledge against you. God only wants you to mature, gradually & slowly, in understanding yourself. For the fact that God is greater than our hearts can call us to be more open-hearted & generous to ourselves, & so to all others. When we do that, we open ourselves more widely to the root & ground of our being, & our fruit ripens. We will often feel ourselves to be smaller, that we are being trimmed or clipped by some other, but this pruning is a kind of gathering of power at a deeper level, the beginning of a fuller ripening. So the reading ends with a magnificent assurance; “whatever you ask for, God will give you.” it is like a promise & a hope that one day nothing will live in our hearts except what comes from God. We pray most passionately to exist & to be just as God wants us to be. God is ready to answer our prayer!” [the Empty Tomb ; Eugen Drewermann]
Attendance at our two weekend Masses last week were 54; 36 at 10am at OL&SB & 18 at 4pm at OL&HA, both including parishioners returning for the first time since lockdown. Please could I remind you of the need to book? It is a stipulation by the Bishop to ensure we comply with covid guidelines; 4 people came without booking, & whilst we accommodated them, current numbers are almost on maximum, & when seating plans have been prepared beforehand, the late arrival of extra people isn’t helpful.
Please keep the people of India very much in your prayers as the covid pandemic there is overwhelming the health care system in an unprecedent surge in numbers. We pray also for Stani & Sangeeta Kambli, Tim & Prema Harrison & their children, as their concern for the safety of their families back home in India increases.
On Wednesday evening I was able to see Ellen Flynn in her Care Home in Pickering for the first time since the initial lockdown. The Home have strict testing procedures & I had wear full PPE to see her. Unfortunately, she has a bad knee which has confined her to a wheelchair for the last few weeks, otherwise she looked very well & we had a fine catch up in each direction. She sends her love to all of you, & I assured her of your love & prayers in return.
In spite of the lockdown, your generosity towards others continues, & for our Red Mission Box Appeal 2020, you donated £491 compared to £600 in 2019. I am very grateful to Sophie Tyrrell who continues to organise the provision of new boxes as well as emptying existing ones & sending on the monies to Missio, part of the Pontifical Mission Societies. Pope Francis’s prayer intention for April 2021 has been for those who risk their lives whilst fighting to uphold rights under authoritarian regimes & in democracies in crisis. Tragically there are many, few of which we hear about, as our media focus our attention on the pandemic close to home.
Racism & Social Media Platforms Bishop Terence Patrick wrote to us on Tuesday as follows; “this weekend [from Friday to Monday] Football Clubs across the country are temporarily suspending activity on various social media platforms [Facebook, Twitter, Instagram] in protest against racist abuse to which their footballers are subject online, & also against the perceived slowness of the response of these platforms in removing such racist attacks. During the pandemic, many of our parishes have benefitted richly for being able to livestresam & post on these media platforms. However, it is clear that they also provide an opportunity for the spreading of hate of various kinds. You may wish to consider also suspending these platforms from Friday to Monday in solidarity with the stand these football clubs are taking against racism. Our silence for those four days can also speak loudly.”
Recitation of the Rosary for the end of the pandemic At the wish of Pope Francis, the month of May will be dedicated to a “marathon” of prayer to ask for the end of the pandemic, & to ask for the resumption of social & work activities. The Pope wants to involve all the Shrines round the world so that they may become vehicles of prayer of the entire Church, so as to reach priests, families & all the faithful, inviting them to join in this prayer of intercession & hope to Our Lady. To pray the Holy Rosary each day of the month, with a prayer intention for various categories of people most affected by the plight of the pandemic. It begins from Walsingham this Saturday 1 May 2021 with the intention “for all the deceased”. The Shrines are called to promote as much as possible the participation of all the faithful, so that everyone can devote a moment to daily prayer, in the car, on the street, & thanks to communication technologies, with the smartphone, each & all of us asking for the ending of pandemic, much as that feels far more remote after the worsening of the crisis in India, Brazil & elsewhere. I include with this Outreach a Shrine List & daily prayer intentions, & would encourage you & your families to participate in this spiritual mobilisation to help renew the face of the earth.
Our Parish continues to provide food through the Food Initiative at a cost of £200 a month. [£3,200 since the pandemic began]. I hope those in our own Village who may be struggling to provide food for their children in this ongoing & increasing crisis in health & in the economy, will be warmly 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 email@example.com Please remember the sterling work of our own SVP group in the Parish, who are there, willing & able to help anyone in any form of difficulty, or those who would value a phone call now & again in the midst of the lockdown. Do please Contact Mary Borrett firstname.lastname@example.org. With my love & prayers Fr Bede