“This is how we shall know that we belong to the truth & reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts & knows everything” (1Jn 3:19-20). It would be possible of course, to develop these words, too into a nightmare, the image of a God who knows everything. It can be used to make God an overseer who controls us, listens in on us, follows us, & is always on our track. But in truth this is our most important comfort & the source of our strongest confidence: When we do not know what to do, God will know. When we condemn ourselves, it is very seldom our hearts that do it. Ordinarily it is the arsenal of well-preserved prejudices in our super-ego, that almost compulsively hammers at us with the same standards, the same rules, the same orders. We are seldom capable of accusing ourselves in our hearts. & when it happens that we feel inwardly that there is a great deal in our past of which we should be ashamed, this very impression of a heart that condemns itself is often, humanly considered, the greatest thing we can see. It is really not possible to deprive someone else of this, because the reasons for the shame may truly exist. But the fact that another possesses a heart with which to condemn himself or herself is something we can highly value, & for the most part it is something we should admire. It is just that the feeling of shame should never reach the point of accusing the persons whole existence & declaring it guilty. There are also excesses of good that are not thereby better, but worse. It may appear to us that our whole life has been shredded & penetrated by every possible evil drive. When we have that feeling, we should think of these words from the first letter of John. How little we really know about our lives! How little we understand ourselves! Even when we think we can almost touch the wrong in us with our hands, rarely is the language of accusation also the language of truth. “God knows everything,” says this magnificent passage from 1 John. We must add, God knows everything - how you were formed, with what burdens you have come into being, what your childhood was like, how you grew up. Most of it is hidden from you, far from your awareness, but your Creator can make a more just judgement than you yourself. God sees not merely the things you do, but your essence, your whole self. God looks at you with kindness, because God made you out of love. God looks at you patiently, having waited an eternity for you to come into existence, & God desires that you should also learn to see yourself with kind & patient eyes. Because God knows every fibre in you & every heartbeat before you are aware of them yourself, you can trust that God will never use that knowledge against you. God only wants you to mature, gradually & slowly in understanding yourself. For the fact that God is greater than our hearts can call us to be more open hearted & generous to ourselves & so to all others.” (The Open Tomb; Eugene Drewermann)
We celebrate with great joy & thanksgiving the First Communion of our 11 young disciples at our 10am Mass this Sunday. They have been a credit to their parents & school in the way they have excitedly immersed into our Saturday morning classes over the last 15 weeks, & the depths they have reached reflect the work done at home & in class by word & example. We welcome in particular those who have travelled some distance to be with us in full support & in prayer. Please pray specially for these families in the hope that they will commit to a deeper sense of belonging among our Parish family: we need them & their freshness of faith to season our weekly celebrations & our ongoing journey in faith as part of the Body of Christ. We will have a brief celebration in the Hall after Mass with a cake to mark the occasion, before they all depart for their own family celebrations.
Next weekend we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, when we relive that precious moment when the Holy Spirit came down on each of the disciples, empowering them for their ministry in helping “to renew the face of the earth.” In preparation we have a Novena to the Holy Spirit in progress, which began last Friday, the feast of the Visitation, & we will have special prayers at Mass each day up to Pentecost. Please try to join us from home or your work place by reciting the prayer to the Holy Spirit. “Come O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, & enkindle in them the fire of your Love. Send forth your spirit & you shall recreate the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of your faithful, grant that by the same Spirit we may be always truly wise & ever rejoice in your consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen”
We are blessed to have a number of gifted musicians & singers within the Parish, who come together for special moments such as Christmas & Holy Week. Understandably, due to College & family commitments, they are unable to join us every week. However, with the loss of Andrew Carter who has now moved to Scarborough, it is perhaps a Holy Spirit moment to look forward & to consider forming a small choir/music group who would meet regularly for practise & enjoyment & who would take on an occasional Sunday Mass. Could I suggest that those who may be interested meet after Mass on Sun 16th June; you don’t have to be skilled either in music or song, we will be delighted to have you learn alongside us. (We hope to arrange a Sunday morning moment soon, convenient to both Anne & Andrew Carter, & Bernard Walker, to mark the sterling service they have given to the Parish over many years, Bernard 60 years as our bell ringer.)
I am grateful to all of you who were at Mass here last weekend, & who graciously received a copy of the Prayer Card which tries to put into words the deep sense of sorrow & remorse felt by our Monastic Community, following our failure to protect he young & the vulnerable in our care both in our schools & parishes. I feel it is important to hand you a copy personally, & given this is a weekend of profound celebration for us all, I will resume offering the cards next weekend.
Next Saturday, 9th June, I will be attending a Bishops Study Day with 2 delegates from the Parish looking towards the future as missionary disciples in missionary parishes within a missionary Church. We will report back. Fr Columba, who has been covering Sunday Mass in Gilling since Fr Matthew had to step down, is away on holiday for the next 4 weeks, so I will be celebrating a 9am Mass at Gilling before coming on here for our 10am Mass.Love & prayers, Fr Bede.