“why do we keep coming back?” it is because of “our ability to form sustainable communities, healing in & out” “we know how to do this, & have done it time & time again” I shared with you last weekend some of the talk given to our Community two weeks ago by Fr Columba Stewart OSB from Collegeville in Minnesota, talking to us on zoom about the challenges of Covid-19 & racism, & how we as monks are well placed to react to the crises. He spoke of the early response to lockdown, a time of quiet & withdrawal; like grief we felt tired overwhelmed lethargic; the pace of life & faith slowed as we pushed through a wave of sadness, a call back to the wellsprings of our being; the far different yet powerful Easter liturgies stripped back, the doubting Thomas struggling to believe, unconvinced by heresay, when his faith was total & adventurous. The need for patience with three key sectors of our Community life ; those in the Mon Infirmary, the main Community & the extern monks, those in exile away from us, as we taste something of their lockdown exclusion & distance. What effect will the “virtual Church” of live streaming, zoom, apps, have on our Church in the cloister & on our mission? At the time of re-opening for Mass, our greatest anxiety will be “will they come back?” how can we build a more inclusive community?..& because we are Benedictines, non-hierarchical so less threatening, could that make us more likely to reach out [across to, rather than up to or down to] the lowly & the privileged? Every crisis is an opportunity; use this time well” Br Colman O Clabaigh OSB of Glenstal Abbey in Ireland is to speak to us this Friday.
Last weekend we received news of the Governments agreement to our resumption of communal acts of worship in our Catholic Churches with effect from 4 July 2020. The Catholic Bishops Conference, & our own Bishop Terence, have issued documents detailing advice & best practice in every aspect of our return to Church for Mass in this still critical period for all of us. I have asked our planning group, who did such great work in helping us meet expected standards in re-opening our Church for private prayer a fortnight ago, & this continues Fridays 2pm to 4pm with prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, to take forward the necessary documentation for our resuming Mass again in Our Lady & St Benedict’s Church as soon as possible, hopefully, if we can gain Fr Prior & his Council’s permissions, on Sat evg 11 July 2020 at 6pm, fittingly on the Feast of St Benedict, with 10am Mass on Sunday 12 July 2020, & possibly a later Mass on that day if numbers expected to come warrant an additional Mass. The need for social distancing means that, with the continuing 2m stipulation, the safer option to the more recent “1m plus” which would require other more stringent precautions, we will be able to welcome up to 30 parishioners to each Mass, & with our Churches in Gilling & Oswaldkirk remaining closed for the time being, we must plan our provision carefully given potential increased demand from a wider locality, alongside the reality that for some of you, for all sorts of reasons, a return to Mass in Church at this early stage will be as yet too soon. As we firm up on the details of Mass provision, asking you to tell us if you intend to return to Mass with us, & seek help from parishioners to take on some familiar or new ministries for us at Mass, I will be in touch with you again early next week.
At this first stage of planning for the celebration of Mass again in Our Lady & St Benedict’s from 11/12 July or soon after, please could I ask you to give me some initial information, from which our planning group will work to make you as welcome as possible?. The simple-fact finding sheet is sent along with this bulletin. Please complete it soonest via email, by post or posting it through the letter box of the Parish House.
I hope you will share with me, & with those who have come to Church for private prayer so far, a deep sense of thanksgiving that we are now able to return to our beloved holy ground to pray, & now to celebrate Mass, in a necessary interim & less than comfortable way for the time being. It is a welcome step along the way!
We hope to resume our weekday Masses, initially on Tuesdays & Thursdays for the time being, from Tuesday 14 July at 930am when, given the set aside of Sunday Obligation, some of you, particularly those of you retired or furloughed, may want to make a weekday Mass your weekly observance, when, with help from our ministers of welcome, we could accommodate up to 30 parishioners on Tuesdays & Thursdays. Bishop Terence has also issued guidelines for the celebration of Confession, & once we are in a position to meet those requirements, we will give details & timings for the resumption of the celebration of the Sacrament. Please pray especially for the parishioners of Our Lady & the Holy Angels in Gilling & St Aidan in Oswaldkirk as their Churches remain closed. They will be most welcome to join us at Our Lady & St Benedict’s in this in-between time, which will be for all of us different strange & somewhat difficult, feelings we will share together.
Do listen out of for our Church bell at 10am on Sunday, ringing out through the Village our unity as the Body of Christ this weekend, & in unity of thought love & prayer each Sunday with Rev Catherine Reid & our brothers & sisters at St Hilda’s & at Holy Cross in Gilling. We hope it will now be very soon you will hear it calling you all back to Church for Mass again. Please pray specially for June Nicholson who died peacefully in her Care Home in Haxby early on Wednesday morning after a short illness. She was wonderfully cared for in the Home, one of only two throughout York to go through the lockdown with no Covid-19 victims. Remember please June’s sister & brother, Sue & Ivan. On Sunday 5 July 2020, Fr Edgar celebrates 50 yrs of Priesthood, so please keep him & his parishioners at St Aidan’s Oswaldkirk in your prayers.
This Saturday, 4 July 2020, I am leading the Home Retreat day from the Abbey with a 15 min talk at 11am; you can find it on https://ampleforth.org.uk/abbey/service-times with the theme “the frailty of the young” taken from Ch 37 of the Rule, & my continuing ministry among the young over the last 20 yrs. You will be most welcome, with resources left on line for you from me for the rest of the day. It remains on line for some days if you want to link in at a future date.