In the last four issues of Outreach, since we began to celebrate Mass again in Our Lady & St Benedict’s, Ampleforth, I have been sharing a few lines from Sr Joan Chittister’s book “the Time is Now” with chapters entitled “risk” “audacity” “authenticity” “faith” & this week, with Peter getting that sinking feeling “failure”. “in biblical times, prophets were often run out of town. In today’s society, they are usually defined simply as “eccentric” or “unrealistic”, “quaint”, this era’s odd person out, a socialist, a communist, a feminist..a label. Most aren’t persecuted, jailed, executed or shunned..they are simply ignored. Marginalisation is a dangerous thing because it appears to consider a panoply of new ideas but in reality doesn’t. It simply finds them faulty before finding them debatable, ideas not to be addressed at all. A total waste of time. So the old world grinds on, no better than before, more deeply deficient than ever. When the discussion is real, there is at least a chance that some hearts will warm to the possibility, to the imperative for change. Yet, when the ideas are simply ignored, when no sparks fly at all, when, without a word, the public move back to the tried & true, the old & empty, the irrational but familiar ideas that have long ago failed, the apparent defeat is complete. The people lose interest, they withdraw their support, the number of those faithful to the continuation of the conversation dwindles. All the signs were there to support the prophet’s warnings, but the people knew better. The story of the biblical prophet Isaiah is illuminating; aware that few listened anymore to his warnings, that his concerns were not noticed, withdrew to train the next generation of prophets. Isaiah builds for the long haul. It is a deeply spiritual moment for public truth-tellers. When our work doesn’t succeed externally, it is time for the internal work of the Spirit to become more important than ever. It is time then to double our efforts for spiritual depth. This is the point at which to remind ourselves that this reading of the Gospel in the face of the circumstances of the time is God’s work, not ours. This is the moment at which we are being called to trust God alone.” [“Lord, save me!” ] Sr Joan Chittister OSB
Our three weekend Masses drew fewer numbers, perhaps with the holiday season & with the re-opening of St Aidan’s in Oswaldkirk & an 1130am Mass at the Abbey; 30 in total [ 50 for the last two weekends before then ] & with no one for the 4pm Sunday Mass.
Pondering on our 1st reading this weekend from the book of Kings, where Elijah, searching for God, spent the night in a cave on the mountain of God & awaited a message ..two of our many blessings in the three Churches in our Parish are the significant numbers of the wise & elderly, & the eager & young among us. Some of our elderly have been in their “cave” for 19wks now, five of them in care homes, & I wonder if some of our young angels might be prepared to send a message to some of our elderly wise seniors, in the form of a letter? To introduce yourself as a fellow member of our parish family, tell them a little of your own family story & journey into faith, how it has been for you so far through the Covid lockdown, the surprises as well as the difficulties..& ask after them, how they have been coping, who has been helping them, what has been the most valuable things they have discovered, & invite them warmly to write back to you, & assure them you are thinking of them & praying for them…& would they pray for you. Half an hour from you which could leave them feeling so good as if they are walking on water. Please think about it & be in touch with me firstname.lastname@example.org & I will put you in touch with someone. Mums & Dads, grandparents, our youngsters may not read the Outreach, but if you do, would you think of encouraging your youngsters to be in touch with me please?
This last week three of our parish stalwarts, Jenifer Smith & Marie & David Willis moved away to new homes, Jenifer into a flat in the same complex & adjacent to the care home where Clare Jennings now lives, looked after by the Grace & Compassion Benedictine Sisters in Sussex, Marie & David to their new home in Co Wexford. We blessed them & their futures last weekend, & I enclose with the bulletin the prayer we shared, from Benedictus by John O’Donohue. Please keep them & Clare in your prayers.
As the economic situation worsens, & many who were being furloughed find that their work is in jeopardy, could I remind you of our Food Initiative in the Village, where it is possible to approach Ray & Deb in the Village Shop, & quietly ask for a bag of food essentials which will be delivered to your door. This has been working well since the lockdown began, & it could be more of us in the Village, particularly now the school holidays are under way & there are no school lunches, will find the initiative helpful.
Under the title “Caritas Middlesbrough” our Diocese have compiled an impressive compendium of caring & helping agencies throughout the Central Region of the Diocese which includes us & the greater York area. We will post it onto our website under the Coronavirus heading, & do view it for yourself, & vitally, refer others you know who may be in any form of need, particularly at this time, to it.
Please remember in your prayers our parishioners in Our Lady & the Holy Angels in Gilling as our Church there remains closed. I hope they will feel warmly welcome to join us here, especially in this in-between time, which will be, for all of us, different, strange & somewhat difficult, feelings we will share together, cradled inspired & encouraged by our patrons, Our Lady, St Benedict & the Holy Angels. With my love & prayers. Fr Bede