“Simone Weil, the reknowned Jewish thinker, was a great lover of Christ. Yet she never entered the church, although her writings are filled with wisdom & a great love for God. She says “if I had to choose between loving Christ & loving the truth, I would choose to love the truth, convinced that if am truly seeking the truth, I will eventually fall into the arms of Christ.” In her lifetime “I have seen far too many people who love Christ but do not love the truth. Therefore I question if they really love Christ.” The Christ such people boast about is largely a projection of their own imagination. They say they love Christ, but it becomes gradually more apparent that they are worshipping a totem called Christ but their personal & cultural agenda are really running the show. Truth, by contrast, demands a constant surrender of the self. We know we have met a great Christian who loves the truth if he or she is willing to sacrifice self & jettison personal & cultural prejudices for the sake of the truth. The words “Lord, Lord” are being shouted far too casually in our time. “Jesus” has become a common word on cable television. It is not countercultural in America to be for Jesus, it is quite fashionable in some circles. The kind of civil religion in which there is hardly any difference between culture & “Christ” has few credits to show for itself in all of history. Instead it produces holy wars, anti-Semitism, crusades & inquisitions. Even today it is hard to find the Christ who stands apart from culture, & easy to find the Christ who identifies what everybody else is into; law & order, & scapegoating of the problem people. We use the image of Jesus to hold together a disintegrating culture instead of following Jesus to build a new one based on justice & truth. It means nothing to speak of the name of Christ. What counts is the reality of the mystery of Christ, which is sometimes understood & lived better by those outside the fold. Thus the Jews praised King Cyrus; Jesus praised Phoenicians & Romans, & we are humbled by the Christ mystery in Mohandas Gandhi & Nelson Mandela” [& Noujain Mustafa, a 16yr old migrant with celebral palsy, who crossed 3500miles of Europe in her wheelchair in search of truth.. remember?] [“Job & the Mystery of Suffering”; Richard Rohr]
Although lockdown restrictions preclude the celebration of Mass until further notice, Our Lady & St Benedict’s Church is open for private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament on Sundays & Thursdays between 230pm & 330pm; there is no need to book; we have had between five & nine at our prayer-times thus far. You will be asked to sanitise your hands, keep strictly to social distancing, & record your contact details for track & trace. Opportunities for Confession, or to meet me for any reason, continue, so do please make contact through my email address or telephone on the heading of the bulletin.
The latest lockdown restrictions allow me to visit St Benedict’s PS only once a week, & that to only one bubble [one Class]. Last week it was Class 2 for stories & prayer, & this week Class 3 for some sharings on Islam & St Hilda of Whitby, & what unites them! We are blessed to have such a fine School with dedicated staff & eager cheery students.
The replacement external lighting in the Graveyard was installed last Thursday, & there have been a number of expressions of gratitude for the safe lighting they give for those in the Village who use the graveyard as a convenient & necessary access route after dark. We hope the new low energy light fittings will be installed in Church next week, giving significant savings on our energy bills & providing a brighter cleaner light which perhaps we have needed for some time, particularly for those of you with sight difficulties. We are grateful to Stewart Forbes, who has been our trusted electrician for some years & has done a fine job for us on these projects.
One of you was in touch last week, to ask, as we look towards replacing our boiler for the Church heating, if we might consider a more eco-friendly system & fuel. I was grateful for the question as it allowed me to give a comprehensive response as to why, for various reasons, we couldn’t wait to do the necessary investigative work, when such works were not being implemented in lockdown as it isn’t deemed essential works. I include with the Outreach this week my reply to the enquirer, which I hope will put the proposal into context & confirm its urgency. In the absence of a Parish Council, Finance & Fabric Committee, I bring the project & the costs to you now for your consideration & hopefully your understanding & financial approval, so that I can give BATA permission to proceed as soon as possible. A detailed technical specification on the boiler & related works is being formulated; however, I did ask for the overall cost to be relayed this week so that I could put the sum before you for your consideration as soon as possible. The overall cost incl vat is £7,454. I have asked BATA to take out the old boiler this coming week, & if we approve the new installation, subject to boiler delivery, the new works should begin week commencing Mon 7 Dec 2020. Do address any queries or advice to me, & please email or phone in your permission to proceed.
In relation to the possibility of Village Carol Services in Ampleforth & Gilling, & after speaking with representatives from St Hilda’s & Holy Cross, I contacted the Bishop’s Secretary whose advice is that we await the end of the lockdown & information from the Govt & Bishops on which tier we will be placed in. This will allow the Bishop to offer his advice to us on the possibility of Carol Services, numbers to be authorised & the shape & content of Services.
Our Parish continues to provide food through the Food Initiative at a cost of £200 a month. I hope those in our own Village who may be struggling to provide food for their children either in the holidays, or indeed at any time in this ongoing & increasing crisis in health & in the economy, will be encouraged to benefit from our Food Initiative, 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 will find themselves in ever deeper need of help, & we would encourage them to ask..it isn’t charity, it is basic good bread & butter Christian discipleship which, at such times of crisis, is asked of us in our plenty. Across the Village there is deep appreciation for the good natured & generous service given by Ray & Deb throughout the crisis, who regularly go the extra mile for us. Food donations to Middlesbrough Food Bank via cash in envelope to Parish House or direct via firstname.lastname@example.org This week we are sending £365 from our Parish.