Since I compiled our bulletin last Friday week, 20 March, so much has changed for us in life & faith as we face the full implications of the coming of the coronavirus into Yorkshire into our valley & into your homes & my monastery. Our Government have, in the face of some complacency, reacted strongly & definingly in ordering stringent measures in relation to our daily lives, & our Bishops followed swiftly & fully supportively in calling us to close our Churches & “to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. Are people staying at home as the Prime Minster ordered? “asked Cardinal Vincent in his statement, “taking restrictions very seriously; leave for medical needs or to see local vulnerable persons; these are rules not requests. We must all wholeheartedly play our part. Open Churches will only tempt people to travel.” The Cardinals & the Governments message are clear; it is our duty as citizens & as Catholics to fully comply. I do hope each & every one of us is doing so, & keeping the crisis very much in our daily prayers loves & thoughts. As ever in such moments of opportunity, the light of Christ emerges in person, in ordinary lives where love challenges inspires the extraordinary. Of little 8yr old Tayan from Bridgewater taking part in the Chase the Rainbow trend; the rainbow a sign of hope beyond the storm clouds. Blind since she was 22 months old & currently undergoing chemotherapy, Tayan made a rainbow she could feel. Her Mum Karen “we used paper which is put through a machine so the surface is raised so she can feel it; she coloured it in with paint sticks & her brothers helped her choose the colour; although she tells everyone it is entirely pink. She knows it is up in the window & that it is her picture & other people can enjoy it.she asked me to take a picture of it to send to family we can’t visit at the moment.” & of an Italian priest, Fr Guiseppe Berardelli  who contracted the virus & was given a respirator by his parishioners; he gave it to a young patient in the same Ward who he didn’t know until then. Fr Guiseppe died from the virus last Tuesday.
In order to protect our 14 elderly monks & those with underlying health problems, our Community has been in self-isolation since last Saturday; 21 March; the feast of St Benedict, & we will remain so for as long as is necessary. Whilst we are now all called to self-isolate as much as possible, if anyone of your family is dangerously ill & needs the Sacrament of the Sick do please be in touch with me [ 01439 766819 my 24hr number ] & I will arrange for a priest from further afield to come immediately. Meantime I would encourage you to be in touch with me on email or by phone on any issue. I am grateful to those many who have been in touch, assuring us in Community of their understanding & prayers. We will continue to send out a weekly collection of news & spirituality in the form of the bulletin, my homily & bidding prayers, & other helpful information ; this week a list of Churches which are live streaming Mass each day & other websites which offer prayer-guidance. Tracey & Teresa continue to be a presence in the Parish House now & again, working from home at other times to ensure social distancing. ..& more than 500,000 people have so far signed up as volunteers to help the NHS. I hope some of you will take the courage & faith to join them & so represent us in the crisis.
Rev Catherine Reid & I are concerned for those in the Village & locality for whom this crisis will cause food shortages, especially until the Governments assurances of financial help for those in hardship as a result of the situation will take some time to come through. We have set up what is termed the Church food initiative ; with much help from Deb & Ray in the Ampleforth Village Shop, there will bags of basic grocery items kept ready in the shop; if those in need approach Deb or Ray, they will quietly be given a bag of shopping without cost to them. This will continue weekly until the crisis is over. Rev Catherine Reid & I will source funds to meet these costs. I would ask you, now that you are aware, to sensitively mention this to those who may be in need of help. Do please keep this, & other local initiatives which are helping the most vulnerable, in your prayers, & if you can think of other ways we can help individuals or families in need, don’t hesitate to be in touch with me or Rev Catherine direct please.
The Middlesbrough Food Bank remains open; our taking of food there can’t be classified as “absolutely essential” If you would like to continue to help, would you please put a cash donation in an envelope & post it at St Benedict’s House; we will ensure the monies get to the Food Bank, where organisers will benefit from buying locally at a wholesale store. Do please keep the recipients & the teams of volunteers in your prayers.
With my continued love & prayers. Keep safe. Fr Bede
Living God, you walk alongside us & speak to us throughout the Scriptures. Your Son, Jesus Christ, listens to our hopes & fears & shows us how to live for one another. Send us the Holy Spirit to open our hearts & minds so that we may be your witnesses throughout the world. Amen. V. Your word is our path & your truth is our light. R. This day & every day. (Prayer of the Word for the Year of the Word)