“Of course we cannot ignore the fact that in last week’s passage the questions God poses with regards to our life also have to do with the founding of the Church. The dialogue on the shores of Lake Gennesaret takes place after Jesus’ death & resurrection, at the original scene of his work& his discourses. In a sense it is a late, mysterious, sweepingly visionary language on which the Church is founded. But then it is more than astonishing, it is a reversal of everything we know, when as the fundamental question, the legitimation of everything that is known to us as a Church & as the Church’s leadership, we hear: “Do you love me?” every other human group is founded on the strength of its leaders. The leader is the one who, by the influence of sheer power, is most persuasive in uniting the largest possible groups of people under the leaders’ orders. Powerful, effective, clever, confident planners & is in the human heart. Then they do not follow some stranger, but themselves , & that is what the Church should be. As long as we are young, we are active, busy accomplishing things, having our way. The more we mature in the things of Christ, the fainter are his questions, to the point that we can scarcely hear them; but at the same time our life becomes more & more sensitive, & obedience begins to ripen from within. This balancing process is a type of guidance, just as the sun guides when it floods the flowers, leaves, trees, & the eyes of human beings. It is more powerful than any force on earth; it raises things up, lifts them to the light, opens them to its warmth, & the energy that encourages development is the only guidance there should be in the Church of Christ. Jesus’ question “Do you love me more than these?” is the one that Peter cannot answer. He will always & ultimately with his whole being, have to say: “Lord, you alone know what I am.” It would be the greatest happiness on earth to be able to know ourselves as God knows us.” (The Open Tomb; Eugene Drewermann)
This coming week I am leading the Hexham & Newcastle Diocesan Clergy Retreat in Newcastle from Tues14th to Fri 17th May. There will therefore be no Mass here from Tues until Fri morning this week. There is daily Mass at Stanbrook (9am) & at the Abbey (12.45pm). My apologies to the little band of 10/12 of you who do come regularly to our daily Mass. I would ask you to pray for the priests on Retreat with me this week, that it may prove to be a profound moment of renewal & recommitment in their ministry & in their personal faith journey. Should there be an urgent need for a priest during my absence please contact Fr George (766712) or Fr Abbot’s office (766700)
This weekend we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday a day of Special Prayer for vocations to the priesthood & religious life. Thankfully in recent years, the intention has widened to include the other specific vocations into which we are each called, with one of the most notable being the vocation of marriage, from which all our vocations emerge. Bishop Terence Patrick has written a Pastoral Letter to us which speaks of this wider understanding of vocation, & Bishop Peter Doyle, Chair of the Bishop’s Committee for Marriage & Family Life, has also written on the universal & individual call into holiness. Both letters are available for you to take home to read & to pray please. As a Parish, we are blessed to have so many threads of vocation presently being woven into the spiritual tapestry from which the divine image gradually emerges. This weekend we celebrate Susan & John Sargent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary, understandably delayed from Good Friday. We have recently celebrated Rosalie & Christopher Wilding’s 50th, & Kit & Caroline Dollard’s 40th Anniversary. On Easter Tuesday Hannah & Ashely Boyle were married in Longhorsley in Northumberland. Bishop Terence Patrick will Confirm at the Abbey this weekend Charlotte Owen & Mary Lawford-Davies, & this week I am leading the Clergy Retreat in Newcastle for 60 priests. Next weekend our 11 young disciples celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time, & still we pray for the repose of the soul of Anthony Shepherd, whose Requiem Mass we celebrated here last Friday week. All this provides a fine insight into the ongoing growth in various vocations within our faith community. Please continue to pray for them as they indeed pray for us. Given such a fertile moment in the life of the Parish, I suggest we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday this weekend, through this next week & complete next weekend. With my love & prayers, Fr Bede.