Community Solitude, a sometimes romanticised & often exaggerated element of the contemplative life, has its own struggles, of course. But the desert monastics imply, when we choose solitude as the kiln for our souls, the temptation can be to gauge spiritual development by a lesser standard than the Gospel describes. When a person lives alone, the ancients knew, it can be very beguiling to confuse practise with holiness. If the measuring stick of spirituality is simply rigid physical asceticism & fidelity to the rules, the fasts, the routines, then spiritual ripening is simply a matter of some kind of spiritual arithmetic. We count up what we’ve done, what we’ve “given up,” what we’ve avoided & count ourselves holy. The problem, these great masters of the spiritual life knew, is that such a measure is a partial one. To claim full human development, total spiritual maturity, outside the realm of the human community is to claim the impossible. The real contemplative does not have to withdraw from life to find God. The real contemplative hears the voice of God in the voice of the other, sees the face of God in the face of the other, knows the will of God in the person of the other, serves the heart of God by addressing the wounds, answering the call of the other. “The most valiant monastics,” the Rule of Benedict, insists, “are those who live in community…Let permission to live alone be seldom given.” St Basil, an early leader of Eastern Monasticism, asks pointedly, “Whose feet shall the hermit wash?” the implications are clear. It is human community that tests the spiritual grist of the human being. “Illuminated Life” by Sr Joan Chittister OSB.
In preparation for the Volunteer Recruitment meeting for our Dementia Hub this coming Monday in the Village at 7pm, an impressive group from both OL&SB & St Hilda’s completed a mail drop of information flyers through each letter box in Ampleforth & our surrounding Villages last Mon & Tues, & we hope for strong numbers who will come to learn more & to commit to helping in some way within the Hub. Please do come & encourage others to join you. Our Parish Pastoral Council met last Tues & in advance of our Parish Forum on Sun 25th Feb we would like to encourage you to submit any issue you would like to see addressed in relation to practicalities or Spirituality within the Parish. Please submit any issues before 23rd Feb either by email or by post to Fr Bede. With Ash Wednesday falling in our School’s half term this coming week, we celebrated early in St Benedict’s Primary School with Mass & the Imposition of Ashes at 10.30am last Friday, where we were joined by a group of Sixth Form students from St Benedict’s College, Bradford, who were here at the Abbey on Retreat with Fr Bede. It was a delight to see two sections of our Benedictine family come together for such an important moment in our Journey in Faith. The future of our Catholicism is in good hands & warm hearts when we experience the joy & eagerness of our young disciples as they caringly grow on the seeds of faith entrusted to them. With love & prayers, Fr Bede.