Liberation theology issued a very important challenge: to read the gospel with the eyes of the poor. Its proponents called for scripture & witness of the tradition to be read from the standpoint of the poor, as a message for the poor, which can be understood authentically only by those who are themselves poor or who demonstrate active solidarity with the poor. And in that spirit they proposed a fresh examination & reinterpretation of the theology as a whole. Yet we can now offer another, different hermeneutic rule, another key to a fresh understanding of scripture & the Christian message: it is necessary to read scripture & live faith also from the standpoint of our profound solidarity with people who are religiously seeking &, if need be, with those who experience God’s hiddenness & transcendence “from the other side.” We must hear Jesus’s call “with the ears of Zacchaeus”! We must look at him from the viewpoint of Zacchaeus’s hiding place& distance – which is also, however, a place of observation & expectation. This new “theology of liberation” ought to be a theology of inner liberation – liberation form “certainties” regarding religion, whether these are the certainties of an atheism that does not question itself or certainties of a religiosity that has similarly petrified on the surface. Paul Tillich maintained that the main dividing line runs, not between those who regard themselves as believers & those who regard themselves as nonbelievers, but between those whom God leaves indifferent – whether “indifferent atheists” or conventional Christians - & those who are existentially concerned by the “question of God” – whether they be passionate seekers after God (such as Mystics), people “wrestling with God” (like Nietzsche), or people who thirst after faith but are unable to find a place in any form of religion they have so far encountered. (Patience & God; Tomas Halik)
You will have heard or seen in recent days the media attention directed on the Abbey & College after the publication of the IICSA Report last Thursday. The highest standards are expected of us as we preach & practise the Gospel message of loving inclusivity, particularly towards the weak & the vulnerable, & we have fallen well short of those expectations. A leader in the Methodist Church, who I have shared retreat ministry with for a number of years emailed “I have no wise words, but just wanted you to know that the candle is lit & my prayers for healing both within the Community & for those who are affected by the news, in whatever way.” Last Thursday happened to be the Feast of St Benedicta of the Cross, a Carmelite Sister, a convert from Judaism, who was arrested by the Nazi’s on 2nd August 1942 & died 7 days later in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. A quotation from her which I shared at Mass that morning seems appropriate; “the entire educational process must be carried out with love, which is perceptible in every disciplinary measure, & which does not instil any fear, & the most effective educational method is not the word of instruction but the living example, without which all words remain useless.” At this time of profound regret & remorse, I would ask your continued prayers for our Community, & particularly for those who have been hurt or wounded directly or indirectly. In the spirit of my Methodist sister in Christ, & to witness to our solidarity with all those who have been affected, we will light the Paschal Candle at Mass for the next month in reparation, & in faith, that the Risen Christ will bring healing & redemption to each & every one of us.
On Data Protection progress, thank you to those of you who have completed a Consent Form since the legislation was introduced on 25th May 2018. There has been ample opportunity for others to respond. I would continue to encourage you to ask members of your family who do not attend our Parish, or who attend elsewhere, to consider being registered with us here? We hold pastoral responsibility for all baptised Catholics who live within our parish boundaries, & it is vital for the spiritual, administrative & practical well-being of the Parish that we are fully aware of those to whom we owe the love & duty of care. As the summer holiday period continues, certainly for those of you who are tied to College & School terms, I would like to thank you for your faithful service to our Parish over this last year, to those of you who serve in various ministries, & particularly to those who support us with their regular attendance & steady prayers. We wish you safe journeys & happy times. We welcome those who are on holiday in the locality & are joining us for our weekend Mass. It can be a source of concern to some who find it difficult or impossible to meet their Sunday Obligation whilst on holiday. In such genuine circumstance, please consider transferring your Obligation to a weekday Mass of your choice within a reasonable period of your return. To miss the moment is to miss the grace, rather than to incur a penalty. With love & prayers, Fr Bede.