“a crisis forces you to move, but one can move without going anywhere. In lockdown many of us left the house or apartment to shop for essentials or walk round the block to stretch our legs. But then we went back to where & what we were before, like a tourist who to the sea or to the mountains for a week of relaxation but then returns to her suffocating routine. She has moved, but sideways, only to come back to where she started. I prefer the contrasting image of the pilgrim, who is one who decentres & so can transcend. She goes out from herself, opens herself to new horizon, & when she comes home she is no longer the same, & so her home won’t be the same. This is a time for pilgrimages. There is a kind of walking ahead which just puts you ever deeper in your shell, like the labyrinth of Greek myth which Theseus enters. A labyrinth doesn’t have to be just a physical space where we go around & around; we can create a labyrinth out of the future in our minds. Juis Luis Borges has a short story “the Garden of Forking Paths” in which diverse futures & outcomes are all possible, each leading to another one, where nothing is ever resolved because nothing excludes anything else. It is a nightmare, because there is no real possibility of a way out. You come out of a labyrinth only in two ways; either by going up, decentering & transcending, or by allowing yourself to be led out by Ariadne’s thread. The labyrinth is where the world is right now, & we’re going around & around, trying not to get eaten by various “minotaurs” or we’re moving ahead but along forking paths of endless possibilities that never get us to where we need to be. The labyrinth might be our assumption that life will go back to “normal”. It might reflect our individualism, our not-seeing, our wanting things to go back to how they were, ignoring the fact that we weren’t that fine before. In the Greek myth, Ariadne hands Theseus a ball of thread to track his way out. The ball of thread we have been given is our creativity to move beyond the logic of the labyrinth, to decentre & transcend. Ariadne’s gift is the Spirit calling us out of ourselves, the “twitch upon the thread” it is others who, like Ariadne, help us to find a way out, to give the best of ourselves. Once we feel the “twitch on the thread” we realise we belong to each other in a mutual relationship, that we are part of a people, & that our destiny is a shared one. “certainly the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions” wrote Edith Stein [ St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross “& we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed” they are the ones who are able to pull on our thread. Let yourself be pulled along, shaken up, challenged. Maybe it will be something you read, maybe through a group of people you’ve heard about, or that you know about in your village. When you feel the twitch, stop & pray. Read the Gospel if you are a Christian, or just create space inside yourself to listen..open yourself..decentre & transcend..& then act; call up, visit, offer your service. Say you don’t have a clue what they do, but maybe you can help. Say you’d like to be part of a different world, & you thought this might be a good place to start.” [Let us Dream ; Pope Francis]
On Tuesday evening the Government won by 35 votes a motion to cut overseas aid to 0.5% of national income from 0.7%, amounting to £4bn of cuts. Aid to Rohingya muslim refugees in Bangladesh is cut from £321m to £180m; support for Medecins Sans Frontieres is reduced; WHO global polio eradication programme cut from £110m to £5m; aid to Yemen from £139m to £87m, & in Pakistan education for 11,000 girls in rural areas will stop. Please keep the victims, as well as the aid agencies & our politicians, in your thoughts & prayers.
Three sources of inspiration for you this week on-line;
A deep spiritual resource, the Diocese of Derry website, with some remarkable opportunities. Bishop Donal McKeown was an auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Down & Connor when I lead their Clergy Retreat in Larne in Nov 2009..do listen to his wisdom.
Our Parish has continued throughout the pandemic to provide food through the Village Food Initiative at a cost of £200 a month. [£4,000 since the pandemic began, a vital, appreciated & willing contribution in spite of our current significant Parish financial deficit]. I know those in our own Village who have been struggling to provide food for their children in this crisis in health & in the economy, have been deeply appreciative of the benefit from our Food Initiative, where it has been possible to approach Ray & Deb in the Village Shop, & quietly ask for a bag of food essentials which was delivered to their door. This has been working well since the lockdown began, & now, as the lockdown is being lifted, it seems an appropriate moment to bring the Initiative to a close. I have ensured that there are no families involved who could be facing difficulties during the long school holidays with the absence of school lunches. Across the Village there is deep appreciation for the good natured & generous service given by Ray & Deb throughout the crisis, as they have regularly gone the extra mile for us, & those we have helped. Thank you for agreeing to fund this critical need from our Parish funds, & please keep those still in some financial difficulties in your prayers.
As the numbers of covid cases in the UK steadily rise again, please do read & pray about the issue of vaccine charity, which we have spoken about in Outreach over several months in terms of “vaccine nationalism”, & which is discussed in some detail in Mgr Vincenzo Paglia’s address from the International Round Table on Vaccinations organised by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life.
Next weekend you are invited to share Mass with Abbot Robert in the Abbey Church on Sunday 25 July at 330pm, followed by tea & a Parish meeting/discussion. Do please let Julia Brooke, our Delegate for the Parishes, know if you are coming; email@example.com or O1439 766700. For those who are unable to be with us, there will be Mass at OL&SB at 6pm on Sat night & 10am on Sunday morning; no 4pm Sunday Mass at OL&HA. With my love & prayers. Fr Bede