“relentlessly returning to re-gather along the horizon, Tonn Cliodhna, the white horses of the sea, in froth & fury, come driving fiercely towards me, only to vanish, like a breath, into the sand at my feet. This is the strand in Owenahincha, a tiny toe touching the warm skin of the Atlantic. To the east lies Inchadowney, to the north Reenascreena. Close your eyes & the place names will bring a smile to your face. It is easy here, in this hidden haven of the south coast of Ireland, to swing & sway to the summer winds & the rhythm of the sea. It is retreat time. I’m here with a group of people for whom the tension & intensity of their daily lives are almost too much. They are not alone. As we gather here in the last week of June, three newspaper articles have caught my eye. The first informs us that one in three British men turn to drink to drown out their job stress, especially those working in banking, the legal profession, medicine & education. Another, the government’s recently published Depression Report by Professor Richard Layard, sets out a New Deal for restoring peace of mind to a nation in which one in six people [one in three families] suffers from chronic anxiety disorder. Just before that, the Department of Health’s White Paper revealed that the second most popular service people wanted was one that brought mental happiness. Reflecting here between our sessions, it occurs to me that too many of us are suffering from a new virus..the virus of alienation from our roots. Like swans on dry land, we are unsure & unsteady. We are no longer in our element. There is a deep disorientation because the compass that reveals to us our place in the grand scheme of things is out of true. We forget we are part of a wider web. All ground is holy ground. The land we stand on is sacred; we are connected to it & part of it. All we need, in our fretting & worrying, is to realise this truth, to be intensely aware of the connectedness of all things. It is in this connectedness to all things & creatures that we are connected to God. That is when we find a deep peace & freedom, when a profound joy fills the wells of my being. Keeping those wells clear, clean & fresh is the work of contemplation..of stilling the disturbing thoughts, of staying free of the anxious images, of becoming quiet enough to find a whole new perspective on all that is going on in our lives. It is more like a dropping downwards, a sinking below the conscious waves of tumult, than a desperate conflict at the level of endless mental arguments. When we breathe into our restlessness & dis-ease, there is an immediate shift in our self-awareness. It can happen quite quickly. This is an experience of tangible grace; it is the inner place to which Jesus went when it all became too much for him. Jesus was forever trying to overcome his fear of his demons. Not all of us try so hard. We carry a fear of depth. Many would rather perish on the surface than explore the unknown within.” [Already Within ; Fr Donal O’Leary]
Last weekend, in all three Church’s in the Parish, we read & gave out copies of Fr Abbot’s letter to us all inviting us to a Mass for the whole Parish on Sunday 25 July 2021 at 330pm in the Abbey Church, followed by tea in the former Tea Room [the old Monastery Refectory], & a parish meeting/discussion, as he would like to hear from each of us about our hopes & fears as we look forward to the future with hope. It is a liminal moment for our future, & I hope as many as you as possible will be able to come along & will contribute wise advice to Fr Abbot.
On Tuesday we celebrated the feast of St Peter & St Paul with a Mass in OL&SB for the Parish & Class 3 & Class 4 from St Benedict’s RC PS, the first time since Ash Wednesday 26 Feb 2019 just before the first Covid lockdown that we have been able to come together again, a great moment, & a step along the way towards the easing of all restrictions from 19 July 2021. Our School is going from strength to strength with pupil numbers increasing this academic year from 52 in Sept 2020 to 74 currently, & with a Reception Class arriving in Sept 2021 of 9 registered children. Please spread the very good news that we have an exceptional School with the last Ofsted inspection findings “Good with some Outstanding Features” now continuing to improve even further.
On Sat 24 July 2021 three members of the teaching staff at St Benedict’s RC PS are to compete in a triathlon at Castle Howard starting at 845am. Sophie Smith is do the swimming leg of 750m [she used to be a competitive swimmer], Ryan Jacobs is to cycle 23km, & Clare Lally is to run the final leg of 5km. They are well into an impressive training programme. As well as witnessing to our children the importance of healthy living, they are also raising money for two good causes; WaterAid to help provide & sustain clean water in poorer countries, & to help our sustainable woodland project in the School grounds. They hope to raise £1,000. If you would like to help with the funding please donate through the following Crowdfunding Page ; https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/st-benedicts-beauties?utm_id=1&utm_term=qX6y3RPwp
On Sunday 4 July 2021 the Postgate Rally will take place at Ugthorpe with hymns from 230pm & Mass at 3pm celebrated by Bishop Terence Patrick. You are warmly encouraged to go, to sit in socially distanced groups of up to six, or in family bubbles. Track & trace details will be taken on arrival; take your own refreshments. Mass will be outside & there will be no provision of Mass inside in the event of rain. A moment to remember our own Peter Walker & his great devotion to Bl Nicholas Postgate & his ministry on the Moors.
The Bishop has written to us to alert us to a DSJ webinar in collaboration with Living & Dying Well & the National Board of Catholic Women on Mon 12 July 2021 730pm to 9pm on zoom. Bishop John Sherrington will open the evening, Baroness Ilora Finlay & Robert Preston will present from their book “Death by Appointment; a rational guide to the Assisted Suicide Debate” all linked to the Meacher Bill on “Assisted Dying” currently awaiting its 2nd reading in the House of Lords. https://www.cbcew.org.uk/e/death-by-appointment-a-rational-guide-to-the-assisted-suicide-debate-/ The Department of Social Justice of the Bishops Conference with allied organisations, is working to defeat the Bill. Please keep this vital issue in your prayers.
Justice & Peace If you currently do not receive emails on J&P activities & areas of interest & you would like to see occasional reports on refugee welfare, Zimbabwe Education Fund, Palestine, lendwithcare & other areas of interest, please contact Anthony Glaister at; email@example.com a good moment to thank the J&P for their continuing concern, practical & spiritual care for the most vulnerable, locally & internationally. With my love & prayers. Fr Bede