Laetare Sunday..Mid Lent Sunday ..day out from our Lenten penances & resolutions a day for flowers in Church/ organ music / pink vestments [thankfully we don’t have any!] ..a day to be thankful for all we have rediscovered about our real selves so far this Lent ..three areas of our monastic family life we monks have been working & praying on in Lent so far, one each week..we might use them as our examination of conscience..
Wk 1 ; silence..to listen again to the divine whisper.. ; Lord have mercy Wk 2 ; to be on time..to respect the moment the event & the person.. ;Christ have mercy Wk 3 ; to see good & Christ in others ..to stop complaining & finding fault.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..perhaps most overused & underrated gospel in whole of scripture..a story of sinners for sinners, which is why you & I are so at home with it..define a sinner “a sinner is a saint-in-the-making”..1st sentence sets context & tone “a man had two sons” he lost them both, one to a foreign country Bradford, the other in living room of farmhouse behind facade of self righteousness; elder son contrived without leaving home to be as far away from his father as ever his brother was in his pig sty..young son left in search of a real life, stable relationships & a first taste of family life of his own..why have we been led to believe for so long he was a reckless spendthrift?..yes it went wrong for him & us, bad choices cheap shameful friendships as his money & self esteem were leeched away..meanwhile his brother asked for nothing, desired nothing, enjoyed nothing..a sour workaholic earning his inheritance that would come to him at his despised fathers death..self centred dutiful, incapable of forming & maintaining relationship & intimacy..three men in a house unfamiliar [un-family-like] hostile or indifferent, where conversation centred on the farm price of wheat, which field to plough next; & story so far is sadly coldly familiar is it not? “smell the sheep” said Pope Francis; get close enough to each other..smelly socks of last weekend & smell of you-know-what in pig sty this weekend..mid Lent Sunday; a moment to face & smell truth of our own prodigal son moments, where we recall memories of home comforts & security once heedlessly enjoyed & now forfeited..our place in family sold for 30 pieces of silver..”not I Lord surely?” shocking us in this our Pope Francis “now” moment into an examination of conscience which admits to our foolishness steeling us to make a similar admission of guilt to our father..& tragically at this stage like prodigal knowing too little of our father to think in terms of forgiveness & restoration..it took the enormity of his fathers welcome, interrupting his carefully choreographed confession & lack of self remorse to make him realise what he’d never realised before..what it meant to be his fathers son..what it means in this “now” moment to appreciate we are our fathers beloved sons & daughters..he/we expected to hear a cock crow three times & instead we got a first in a lifetime glimpse of a kingfisher..if you come here weekly you’ll make the the divine connection..it was back on home soil in his home parish on holy ground that he began to realise all he had been seeking was here all the time..his fathers love in real time divine summer time..his clock his heartbeat & his relationship synchronised..a father who for all their shortcomings, loved them both..loved even more, not in spite of, but because of, their/our lostness indiscipline & infidelity..he/she came back for one reason or another & found themselves at home for first time in lifetime..Our Lady & St Benedict’s Church Ampleforth 30/31March 2019; saints-days no longer April fools-days.. I shared with you 3 weeks ago story from R4 programme on Holding Fast..of two boys finding themselves again on Holy Island..remember?..”coming to their senses” 2 days without using word boring, not using their ipads..offer you another passage “we were listening to the lost son coming to his senses. He told of his grandfather who said prayers then ate. & after they had eaten he said more prayers. His whole body lit up as he told us of this warmth of the past, his face became young again & the corners of his mouth raised in a smile, filled with innocence. But then he told us of the “dark side” a filthy alleyway in London & the heroine & crack, & the fear & the fighting for money & the next fix. His lip quivered, as though his face was about to crack open like the shell of a fragile egg. “I realised this was no fun” he said “it was destroying me. I had to get out, it was the memory of my grandfather’s prayer, somehow I had to return or I would be in this darkness forever. It will take all my strength, it will take years to get back to where I was.” & I am sure everyone in the room as they listened, like me [& you/me here “now” ], were longing for him, willing him [& you] to return, praying that this new born man [beloved parishioner] emerging vulnerable from their shell, would make it back, & be clothed again..& dwell in their grandfather’s love forever.” welcome home now.. [ 4thSunLentYrC; Lk15.1-3.11-32]