Morality, at its core, is about strengthening the bonds between us, helping others, engaging in reciprocal altruism [self-sacrifice, & understanding the demands of group loyalty, which are the price of group belonging. One significant contribution of religion today is that it preserves what society as a whole has begun to lose; that strong sense of being there for one another, of being ready to exercise mutual aid, to help people in need, to comfort the distressed & bereaved, to welcome the lonely, to share in other people’s sadness’s & celebrations. These moral responses haven’t disappeared; we see them whenever there is a communal tragedy, a shooting, a terrorist incident, or a major accident. People come together to give help & support. Our well-springs of altruism have not run dry. They are a large part of what makes us human, but we tend not to exercise them on a day to day basis. That is what we have lost in society at large, but what can still be found in religious congregations. That availability of collective strength that we find in strong communities held together by moral bonds is an important source of resilience that we will need as face the kind of uncertainty that seems to be the mark of the 21st century thus far. [written pre Covid] it is easier to face the future without fear when we know we do not do so alone. We have lived through an extended period during which the “I” has grown stronger at the expense of the “We”. The result, as American sociologist Robert Bellah puts it, is that our “social ecology” has been damaged by “the destruction of the subtle ties that bind human beings to one another, leaving them frightened & alone.” In the long run, that is unsustainable. The human condition is overwhelmingly about relationships..about faithfulness, staying true, loyal & committed to one another despite all the tensions, setbacks, misunderstandings, backslidings, & all the multiple ways in which we fall short. It is about consecrating the bonds between us. It is about transcending our solitude. The over-emphasis on “I” & the loss of “We” leaves us isolated & vulnerable. It is not good to be alone.” [Morality ; Jonathan Sacks]
..remember the invitation in last week’s Outreach? “..will you phone a friend neighbour or parishioner please in the person of Christ?..now?” ..& did you on our behalf?..& now will you please? in Covid “our communal tragedy”..
Last weekend, the first under the new arrangements of having just the two Masses, 42 of you came: 28 at 10am at OL&SB, & 14 at 4pm at OL&HA. We are grateful to those who persevere each weekend, keeping the flame of faith alive in both Churches, with a deep sense of being fully united with the majority who feel the risk is increasing & are staying at home. “a sense of collective strength & an important source of resilience in fearful times.”
“the strong sense of being there for one another, of being ready to exercise mutual aid” My second request last weekend, having tried in the autumn, for two or three of you to be ready to investigate the installation of live streaming into OL&SB, to allow us to provide Mass for our sick & elderly on a permanent basis, has again disappointingly failed to bear fruit. The lack of “that availability of collective strength leaves [me] frightened & alone.”
Our Parish continues to provide food through the Food Initiative at a cost of £200 a month. 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.
Do 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 email@example.com. With my love & prayers Fr Bede