Each day we live stream our Conventual Mass [10.30am Sundays and 8.45am weekdays] and Home Prayers at 10am each weekday morning, and the Rosary at 4.30pm. It is accessible on ampleforth.org.uk/abbey/service-times
I led home prayers on Wednesday 8 April 2020 & on Thursday 23 April 2020 & on Thursday 4 May 2020 & on Thursday 21 May 2020 and my reflections are below;
[introduction] ..this is spy Wednesday.. where gospel of today recalls story of Judas betraying Jesus, with interestingly, one of the deepest expressions of family life and belonging.. a kiss.. not a nod or a pointed finger but a kiss..
..some years ago Mother Teresa by then a frail and elderly Missionary Sister of Charity won the Nobel Prize for Peace.. at award ceremony in front of all World leaders, she was asked if she could give then a piece of wise advice in the world quest for peace.. ..she thought for moment, smiled and said “go home and love your family” ..essence of love within family is forgiveness; forgiveness sought and forgiveness offered ..remember a remorseful Judas sought forgiveness from those representing Judaism and got short shrift “what is that to us?.. that is your concern” no mercy no pardon.. hours later his beloved Master prayed on Cross “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.. “they” includes Judas, and you and I too we are so like Judas, yet thankfully different in one crucial aspect; when we remorsefully return, courageously humbly in search of mercy from the author of forgiveness, he runs down the road to meet us.. and with a kiss.. ..this a week made holy as we meet Christ in those we love most and so often hurt most.. ..our family..
[end after the blessing] _____________________________________________________________________________ “stay at home, in the days of the holy weeks to come, and love your family” .. feast of St George Patron of England soldier martyr.. traditional depiction on horseback slaying forces of evil personified in dragon: full suit of armour and visor, cumbersome yet life protecting; it shines and it shields allowing him to do what he does best.. fight.. and as a soldier of Christ, fight because he loves, his Master and those he fights to protect.. even to death; martyrdom, in footsteps of Christ himself.. I would like to thread this to fight against coronavirus, and opening of the latest Nightingale Hospital in our own Harrogate this week; a conference centre where thousands came to confer, now a place where thousands of lives will be fought for.. and an artist Tom Croft, well used to painting portraits of the famous, had just completed portrait of an A&E nurse in full PPE; identical to St George; on her visor advert for its manufacturer; “Guardian” and next to it on visor, a circle and in it a cross.. her face mask and blue overall betray only one feature of her.. all you can see of her is all her patient, her loved one she is to fight for, the means by which she her patient and colleagues see Christ in person, is.. her eyes.. a look to me which searches reassures understands and gives everything in the quest for healing.. because she loves.. a love which says it all in title of book of spirituality; “costing not less than everything”..
.. and it took me back to gospels, to our own guardian himself, as rich young man had asked him in his dis-ease “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” and Jesus went through spiritual check list with him, much as an A&E nurse does as she starts a new 12hr shift.. rich young man doing really well; 19 questions asked, and one to go.. he thinks he will be awarded place in heaven.. until final question in critical self care “there is one thing you lack, go, sell all your own, then come follow me”.. frightens most of us to death.. however, one crucial sentence just before question which transforms moment and his everlasting future .. and.. ours.. “Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him” ..a look, a steady look of love, like that of our A&E nurse in York DH or Nightingale Harrogate.. the eyes, the look of Christ, that loves the critically ill to life.. ..life with applause of a Thursday evg outside our homes, and in an A&E unit as recovered patient is wheeled out, a battle won.. or life and a battle seemingly lost, but with the look of love and compassion of Christ himself, as he welcomes his beloved home into paradise, with the cross of the Resurrection, a welcome home from the guardian himself..
..never underestimate the power to love and to heal you hold, on loan from Jesus himself, in your own steady eye contact in your own family this morning..
“..together we will get through.. bringing us close..”
..feast today of one of our local monastic saints, St John of Beverley.. a Yorkshireman.. monk then Bishop, Archbishop & finally for last 4yrs of his life, founder of a monastery in Beverley.. his spiritual credentials deepen & warm to the heart of any Yorkshireman.. firstly a monk of Whitby under Abbess Hilda, she then the most important leader of the Church in Northern England & a woman.. as Bishop of Hexham, he ordained the young Bede, first deacon then priest, went on to become Archbishop of York & then returned to cloister in Beverley to die..
..a reading from revelations of one of his great friends, Julian of Norwich, continues to give me great encouragement in my monastic & parish life.. a short extract from her, & do listen please very carefully to the surprise moment.. In one of Gods revelations of divine love to Julian she says; “God mentioned that, in his young & tender years, he [ John ] was a very dear servant of God, loving & fearing God very greatly. Yet God allowed him to fall, though in his mercy he kept him from perishing, & from losing ground. Afterwards, God raised him to much greater grace, & because of the humility & contrition of his life, in heaven God has given him many joys, greater even that those he would have had had he never fallen.”
..it means that when you & I get it wrong, often & badly wrong, in family, in monastic community or parish, when we realise it & remorsefully make for home into the kitchen or cloister, to face the truth in front of those we have hurt most, we receive grace, loving grace & compassion, more than ever could be estimated or believed.. a greater love & a deeper relationship than we would have had had we never sinned.. ..try to get your mind round that, & it is mission impossible..put your heart into it & it’s the best of good news you could ever hope to hear & to believe in.. & remember, you heard it first of a Yorkshireman from a Yorkshireman .. ..can the day & your faith get any better ?..
Monk of Whitby, who had father & mother in Christ, that man & woman of God, St Aidan & St Hilda, you became Bishop & Archbishop, you ordained the Venerable Bede; St John, good shepherd of the spiritual sheep, beseech the Lord to have mercy on our souls. Amen. [7 May 2020] _____________________________________________________________________________ Welcome to Home Prayers this morning on the feast of the Ascension.. 40 days since Our Lord emerged from the tomb, 40 days of appearing to his followers so intent on prolonging their lockdown & its safety in Upper Room..& now at last seeing tasting touching their conviction, he leaves for home, Heaven; handing on the baton to you for your leg of the relay of evangelisation.. our “at home” camino..
“when they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated”.. a wonderful day to celebrate the place of both the witness who saw & understood, & crucially the place of the hesitant among us.. if those of you who are spiritually fit & able get to the gate of heaven before the rest of us, Our Lord is going to ask you “where is Bede & the rest of the hesitant?” as Pope Francis said to youth of the Church “when you arrive where we have not yet reached, have the patience to wait for us” thanks be to God for the hesitant.
“go therefore, make disciples of all nations”.. our faith thankfully often betrays an alternativism; seeing feeling tasting facets of life differently, with a divine perspective… take the R number.. to keep the virus under control the R number has to be kept below 1 ..meaning the spread of infection is contained.. 0.6 0.8 is fine.. if it gets above 1 to 2.5 the alarm bells begin to sound because infection rate doubles trebles.. the one person who had the disease last week has infected eight more & they in turn have infected another eight each, so the infection from the one carrier two weeks ago now infects 64 who in turn in another two weeks becomes 4096.. ..now if we take the gospel imperative to “go out to all nations” the alternativism in spirituality is that, if our spiritual infection rate of goodness & grace is alive & active, & our R number reaches 2.5 & then we can, each of us, bring the good news of our faith to 4096 prospective believers.. the hesitant, the disillusioned, the seeker.. all within two weeks.. through the gift of all gifts Our Lord has left us to grow on & live out.. belief .. “whoever believes in me, will perform the same works as I do myself.. he [you ] will perform even greater works”..& all through your choice not to spiritually self distance, infecting evangelising no one, but to spiritually join together.. as they say when speaking of closeness between two people “it is as if they are joined at the hip”.. rephrase it from this morning please.. “it is as if they are joined in the heart” enjoy your day..& your camino.. [21 May 2020 ; the Ascension]