“This is what we can do for one another here on earth: We are not the basis of confidence, it is true, but with the trust we give, with the love in us, we can awaken, call out, & cause to grow in the heart of another so much of the trust & love that God has put there that no power on earth can kill it again. For in us dwells an eternal life. & Christ is right: There will never again be a moment, not even in death, not even in the collapse of our earthly existence, when we must feel ourselves abandoned. God will always be with us, & wherever we accompany one another, we make tangible the certainty that we have in faith that points us to the ultimate basis of our whole existence. The question remains how much the image of the good shepherd applies to our relationships with one another. The fourth Gospel presents us with two possibilities. There is the bitter word of the prophet Ezekiel on the shepherds of Israel, “The wind tends my flock,” & the cynicism of the ancient rulers of Rome, who were also called good shepherds. The one group ruled with indifference & the other with violence. We are always in danger of letting our relationships get into that same swing of the pendulum, either making tyrannical demands on others or turning away & declaring them unworthy of further notice. But this art of finding our way to the centre of another human beings heart - & so to the centre of the world, the heart of God – that is the whole art of living. If someone were to ask us what our existence was all about, what we have done & why we lived, we will certainly have to list all the ways we have failed out of weakness, cowardice, ignorance, laziness, & how we have fallen short in this & that. But let us hope that we can also answer that we have tried, at least tried, to live something like the image of the good shepherd for those around us. For we are all sisters & brothers in the hand of the eternal, divine shepherd who goes before us & whom we follow in every work of sisterly & brotherly love.” (The Open Tomb; Eugene Drewermann)
Please keep our First Communion candidates in your prayers in this last week up to their First Communion next Sunday at our 10am Mass. With their families joining us, some from a distance, it will be a fine occasion to celebrate the Body of Christ welcoming with great joy our young disciples into full Communion with us for the first time. There will be a short celebration in the Parish Hall after Mass & I hope many of you will be able to stay to share this special moment for us all.
A fortnight this 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 will have a Novena to the Holy Spirit, which will begin this coming 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
You are all well aware of the difficulties we have been sharing alongside the Monastic Community at Ampleforth as revelations of our Community’s failure to protect the young & the vulnerable in our schools & parishes have come to light, & we have been praying in the Parish specially each weekend for the victims & for those working & praying alongside them in a long journey towards some form of healing. The Community have wanted to express their profound apology, & have worked & prayed for some time in trying to put into words its deep sense of sorrow & remorse. A Prayer Card has been printed, with copies for all those in the Valley, in our schools & parishes, & the many others who feel a strong sense of belonging within our Family, who come to us on retreat or as visitors. I could have invited you to take a copy of the Card as you leave Church: however, at this important moment when we seek a forgiveness we do not deserve, I would like to hand a copy of the Card to each of you personally at the end of Mass, as a gesture which combines both sorrow for the past, & a gratitude for your walking & praying alongside us in this, our shared journey through this painful time towards, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an eventual restoration of trust & confidence. With my love & prayers, Fr Bede.