As you know from my email & posted copy of earlier this week, we celebrated Mass again in Our Lady & St Benedict’s Church last weekend for the first time since 20 March 2020, with impressive numbers of you keen to take the risk & receive Holy Communion again after so long. All who came seemed to understand the need for the safe distancing & hygiene practices we had to implement, & each of the three Masses proved different restorative gentle & prayerful. I hope others, listening to those who did come, may feel safer now, & will in due course, decide to return to Mass. In the bulletin last weekend I shared with you some of a chapter entitled “risk” from Sr Joan Chittisters book “the Time is Now”, & this week I would offer you a few lines from the chapter “audacity” [bravery boldness courage]. “two women, both prophets themselves ; Catherine of Siena said “proclaim the truth & do not be silent through fear.” & Dorothy Day “don’t worry about being effective; just concentrate on being faithful.” Prophetic witness isn’t about aggrandisement of the self or winning awards or being accepted socially. The prophets of our time are singularly & exclusively about being fearlessly true to the Word within. A real follower of Jesus the Prophet is faithful & forever endures. No new idea, however right, however much the essence of goodness, overgrows old ideas easily or quickly. It took over 200yrs to abolish slavery” [or is it still here among us?] more years to abrogate segregation, & now it seems, even more years to extinguish the racism that is at our historical roots. The Western white has enslaved blacks, dominated indigenous peoples, subjugated women, driven Muslims out of Catholic Spain, & persecuted Jews. Nevertheless, the prophetic promise of a world of equals never died out. The hopes of the human heart once aflame were impossible to extinguish. Generation after generation of prophetic people rose up century after century to speak a word of justice. The fact is that in our own time we must do the same. In us grows the seed of God’s new hope for a world technologically united but spiritually, socially at odds. The prophet’s motto, I think, must be “if not for us, because of us.” The prophet does more than denounce evil. Prophet spirituality envisions a world in which justice & equality, peace & community, are the norm rather than the struggle. It is the prophet of our time who leads the way to the development of an alternative vision of life by imagining a new normal. They prepare for the reconstruction of society by imagining the achievable & drawing others to see it as well. Vision is the first step towards change.” [ Joan Chittister OSB ]
Two interesting editorial leaders in last weekend’s Tablet, one on the threat from China, the other on the effects of Covid on our Catholicism. I include both for you to read, to ponder on, & to pray about please. The “Covid reveals hidden truths” leader mentions the distinction between the “practising” & the “lapsed”, essentially the non-practising. “not all those who were once practising” [pre coronavirus ] “will return to weekly Massgoing. That does not mean that they no longer live by the Gospel.” In my Home Retreat from the Abbey on 4 July 2020 I referred to my retreat work sharing 48hrs with 55 Yr 11 students of whom 4 or 5 perhaps would be weekly Massgoers, but listening to their stories as they wrestle with real live issues in life & faith, it is clear that each & every one of them [ & us ] is “practising”. The leader concludes “all these glimpses of truth & many others have been uncovered by the coronavirus earthquake, & remain to be collected & used. It would be a shrewd move by the Bishop’s Conferences of these islands if they were to commission research into this episode & the effect it has had on the faith of the People of God, knowing that Providence leaves nothing wasted, even disasters & their consequences.”
We have the Bishop’s authorisation to resume the Sacrament of Reconciliation, & some of you have expressed the wish to celebrate the Sacrament again as soon as possible. Given I am understandably having to be very careful to maintain fullest social distancing as I return from celebrating the Sacraments among you back into a Monastic Community still in self-isolation to protect our elderly & those with underlying health problems, we will begin the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation from next weekend 25/26 July 2020. Initially it will be on Saturday mornings from 10.30am to 12.15pm, & Tuesday evenings from 730pm to 9pm. You will need to book a time through me only please, on 01439 766819 or through my own email address, & not through the Parish Office. The normal option of anonymity, through the use of a screen in the confessional, cannot be re-introduced yet, as we have, for track & trace purposes, to record the names & contact details of all who come to Church for any reason. The Church itself will become the Confessional, allowing priest & penitent maximum use of safe space & options on how you want to celebrate the Sacrament. Initially, as there could well be a significant number wanting to come, there will be 15 minute periods of time for you to be in Church, so please, you will need to come spiritually prepared, to be on time, & I will unlock the Church to let you in, & you will have to offer your prayers of thanksgiving afterwards on your way home. You will be asked to sanitise your hands on entry & again as you leave. I will need time between each penitent to hygienically wipe down the area we have used. I look forward to gently welcoming you home.
Joachim de Araoz [Max to us] Requiem Mass will take place in OL&SB next Wednesday 22 July 2020 at 2.30pm followed by Cremation in Scarborough. Numbers attending are strictly limited to 20 as authorised by the Bishop for our Church, & the immediate friends of Max will be arranging for those attending to be registered with the Parish Office, along with their contact details, to comply with track & trace due process.
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 beginning & there are no school lunches, will find the initiative helpful.
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