God created paradise.. his pride & joy our world, & you & I, to populate it & enjoy it.. in a divine partnership Adam & Eve soured it by introducing spiritual covid..a virus called sin.. & we have been battling the virus ever since too much thus far for even God to eradicate ..in spite of the flood & Noah’s ark we keep inventing new variants of virus Lent is time of spiritual lockdown 40 days to revisit our own particular strain of the “dis-ease” like any addiction.. admit it.. self-report it..& seek help
“..I will establish my Covenant with you” ..a special relationship.. ; Lord have mercy “..my bow in the clouds shall be a sign of the Covenant” a rainbow.. sign of the divine vaccine.. ; Christ have mercy “..& so the waters [ & the virus ] shall never again become a flood [a pandemic] to destroy all things of flesh”.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..a year ago just now a parishioner of ours at Our Lady & the Holy Angels in Gilling asked me after Mass “Fr Bede, the virus won’t come into our valley & into your Community, will it?.. will it?” she wanted reassurance I couldn’t give.. I could have said “do you realise we have a far more life threatening virus/disease, rife in our valley, in our parish & in our monastic community, called sin.. spiritual covid..& those of us looking for a divine rainbow in covid pandemic watch BBC news each night, at impressive numbers being vaccinated each day; now over 15m; living up to govt targets. So what of our parish target in relation to our spiritual covid? how many of you will take up offer to come to be vaccinated in the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent, between now & Good Friday 2 April.. 36 days.. it is as simple straightforward as coming to Surgery for covid jab; anxious yet but painless.. with after effects to be felt to be believed..& when is our spiritual vaccination centre in this Church open? whenever you want.. just ring or email me.. a covenant restored, a rainbow moment.. “now it was long ago, when Noah was still building that ark which saved only a small group of 8 people by water, & when God was still waiting patiently, that these spirits refused to believe” believe in “a pledge made to God from a good conscience” says St Paul.. notice not a clear or perfect conscience, but a good, a real conscience, a conscience that realises it gets it wrong, & self-aware enough to admit it, self-report it, & seek help.. In gospel Holy Spirit drives Jesus out into the wilderness, his initiation into ministry, his own Lent; out on front line in desert on his own, a place of testing & temptation, a Lenten experience.. prayer, fasting & good works.. Jesus’ goodness at work in an encounter with Satan, “& he was looked after” divine protectionism, as we too are protected by angels, especially our guardian angel, & a good lively conscience that recognises danger, acknowledging its presence, & taking appropriate action to avoid “dis-aster” dis-grace a necessary stage in process of reformation & reintegration.. His 40 days over, & as John had been arrested & disappears from ministry of preparing ground, Jesus proclaims/shouts Good News.. a three-fold path of spiritual development then & now for our Lent; prayer, fasting & good works.. to put you in right relationship or better relationship with three key individuals.. through prayer with God; through fasting with yourself; through good works with your neighbour.. 3 questions on prayer.. do I want to pray? do I try to pray? having prayed do I think I could have done better?.. if answer to all 3 is yes then you have been praying.. on fasting, I share story from Jonathan Sacks “in making podcast with a woman, she talked of her family, concerned that her children were in danger of becoming addicted to social media. Their use of it was harming their social skills, they weren’t fully attending to others, always having half their minds on their smartphones. It was costing them sleep, & even when together for meals, still texting friends, their phones on their laps under the meal table. The situation was discussed & acknowledging, problem they agreed to deal with it together. They would have one screen-free day a week; no phones, no tablets, no lap-tops, just face to face conversation, being together. 33 centuries ago, Moses liberated the Israelites from slavery to Egypt, remembered now as Shabbat [we call Sabbath.. day with no work just time with family & community] & now young people “fasting” from slavery to smartphones.. a day of fasting & abstinence Catholicism in Lent calls Ash Wednesday.. will you agree in your family to have a Shabbat fasting day one day each week of Lent? will you?.. & finally good works.. ring an elderly neighbour in 11 month of self-isolation & tell them you have been praying & thinking about them.. I would like to suggest an impressive number of you are good at such thoughtfully loving moments.. so this Lent revisit the self-evidence of good works you already do grace-fully.. in a great Ofsted term of phraseology “embed” it.. it becomes part of your daily discipline in your discipleship.. so perhaps Lent is an Ofsted moment, to self-inspect your prayer fasting & good works self-honestly, identify acknowledge what, thankfully, deserves a rating “good with outstanding features”, & what, concernedly, needs fine tuning in this season of reformation & change, & currently rates “requires improvement”.. ..enjoy your Lent.. “what did Fr Bede just say?” enjoy your Lent.. [1stSun Lent Yr B Mk 1;12-15]