“sometimes someone from the outside can change the self-image of an entire group. One of the most moving films I have ever seen is called “the Best of Men” produced to mark the opening of the Paralympic Games in London in 2012. Its subject was Dr Ludwig Guttman, a Jew from a traditional Jewish family, who by 1933 was one of Germany’s leading neurosurgeons. Then Hitler came to power & by 1935 all Jews were banned from their professions. Guttman continued to work at Jewish hospital until 1939 when it was too dangerous for him to stay & he came to England. In late 1943 the British government, recognising his remarkable gifts, asked Guttman to head the first ever dedicated medical facility for the treatment of paraplegics. It was based at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Berkshire. When Guttman arrived he was horrified by what he saw. The paraplegics, most of them soldiers injured in the war, were being kept horizontal in their beds & heavily sedated. They were young men in their late teens & early twenties, yet the received medical opinion at the time was that, since they would never recover & never be able to walk, the most humane thing to do was to ease their pain until they died. At that time their life expectancy was between three & six months. Guttman realised that, though motivated by kindness, this was the worst possible way to treat the men. He was convinced they had a future, & his task was to find a way to help them make it. The first thing he did was to cut back their sedatives by half. It hurt. Then he started to throw balls at them so they were forced to play catch, & this hurt. The other doctors & nurses, not understanding what he was trying to achieve, accused him of cruelty. He was called to a tribunal “these are moribund cripples, who do you think they are?” Guttman looking his fellow doctors in the eye said ”they are the best of men”. Eventually he got the paraplegics out of the ward in wheelchairs into the hospital garden & the fresh air. Then he got them to start to play games. He had the brilliant idea of placing some of the doctors into wheelchairs as well, & having them & the paraplegics compete. Not surprisingly, used as they were to wheelchairs, the paraplegics won. For the first time Guttman saw real excitement on their faces; he realised that sport was the way give them back their passion for life. He organised more games, then a national competition, & finally in 1948 an international contest to accompany the Olympic Games In 1968 his efforts were rewarded when the International Olympic Committee recognised the Paraplegic Olympics, & by 2012 when the Paralympic Games came to London, they had grown to 4,302 participants from 164 countries. Why did it take an outsider to see what none of his fellow doctors could see? There are times, not always by any means, but sometimes, when help comes from the outside in, rather than from the inside out. The paraplegics found their own way back to life & hope & self-respect. But it took Guttman to open the door; a prisoner can’t release himself or herself from prison.” [Morality; Jonathan Sacks]
He had to see the door first before he could open it. How many of us have never seen the inside of children’s hospice [ Martin House at Boston Spa ? ] or the inside of a classroom [ in St Benedict’s PS ] to help a struggling child with reading practice 2 hours a week? when we created “together” our Parish Vision Statement 3yrs ago, one parishioner wrote on one of over 400 cards “if Fr Bede is so keen on us getting out of Church to help others, why doesn’t he lead by example & get started?”..I would have wanted to gently explain that I did just that in Sept 1980, not for 2hrs a week, but for life..& I would have wanted to ask if they & the rest of us, have got a problem with spiritual cataracts?.. treatable, with gentleness & compassion, & by appointment, & not at Specsavers..
Pope Francis in his Apostolic Letter of 8 Dec 2021 “Patris Corde” [ “with a father’s heart” ] designated this as the Year of St Joseph. We began a Novena to St Joseph on Wednesday of this week 10 March which culminates on the Feast of St Joseph on Friday 19 March when we will have specially a 930am Mass in OL&SB. I am leading a Home Retreat day this Saturday from the Abbey at 11am with a 20min session looking at the depiction of St Joseph in the painting “Geburt Christi “ by Bicci de Lorenzo, & leaving retreatants the time later that day to “watch pray & see” & meet their own Joseph in person. You are very welcome to come on-line; details on Service Times on our Abbey link; ampleforth.org.uk/abbey/service-times or email@example.com or 01439 766889.
At this time of the year we would normally be receiving an invitation for our Ministers of Holy Communion [MOHC] & Ministers of the Word [MOW] to go to the Spa in Scarborough for an Inspirational Day led by a guest speaker. Covid understandably prevents it this year; however, the Bishop is encouraging all MOHC & MOW to reconnect with your fellow ministers through an on-line morning on Saturday week, 20 March 2012 from 10am to 12noon via zoom. To book a place please email; firstname.lastname@example.org Those of you who have gone to Scarborough speak highly of the opportunity, so I hope many of you will take up this invitation & find some spiritual food & encouragement.
Bishop Terence Patrick has written to us with some early advice on the shape of our Holy Week Services this year, with continuing covid restrictions curtailing our usual richness of celebrations. With the need to accommodate as many of you as possible in our Services, 730pm Maundy Thursday evg Mass, 3pm Good Friday Liturgy, & the Sat evg Easter Vigil will all be celebrated at OL&SB, with the possibility of Stations of the Cross on Good Friday at 7pm & Easter Day Mass at 4pm at OL&HA. Details to follow, once I have consulted our parishioners at OL&HA.