“in the best of leaders, there is usually someone empowered to whisper in their ear & say No. A leader can’t be in the fray & above it at the same time. Nor can any single figure embody all the requisite qualities; a young leader may lack experience; an experienced leader may lack youth & fail to see new opportunities. There must be at least one other voice..spouse, friend, advisor, trusted colleague..because the judgement of even the greatest will fail at times. These figures are often invisible to the public; they are helpful precisely because they are discreet. Yet they are often a leader’s most important defence against disaster, & without them failure will eventually follow. A leader’s strength are his or her own, but it takes someone else to protect them from their weaknesses. Self help is often no help at all. Viktor Frankl demonstrated dramatically the transformative power of the voice-from-outside-the-self. Frankl had been a psychotherapist in Vienna before the war. He was taken to Auschwitz. It was there he realised that the most important thing he could do was to maintain the will to live & help others to do so. His book “Man’s Search For Meaning” is cited as one of the most inspiring books of the 20th century. The first thing he had to do was to reframe his whole situation. The Nazis did everything they could to dehumanise their victims. They took away all their possessions. They shaved their heads. They gave them numbers instead of names. Frankl’s transformative insight was that, although the Nazi’s had taken away virtually every freedom & vestige of humanity from the camp inmates, there was one freedom they could not take away; the freedom to choose how to respond. [free will] His first decision was to refuse to let the Nazi’s define his situation. He would not allow himself to see himself as a victim, as racially inferior, as a Jew. Instead he chose to see himself as a scientist, a psychotherapist, participating in an experiment to test what constitutes humanity. This kept his sense of freedom intact & gave him his first victory over the murderers. His next decision was to look out for others who seemed to be losing their will to live. He describes his method. He would listen carefully to their stories about themselves, & the people they had been before the war. He would then try, for each of them, to find a mission that was waiting for them, & that could only be fulfilled if they stayed alive. One of them had begun a series of travel guides, & Frankl persuaded him that he needed to live to complete the series. Another had a niece waiting for him in Canada, & he needed to survive to join her. On the basis of his experience in the death camps, he developed an entirely new method of psychotherapy he called Logotherapy; psychological healing based on man’s search for meaning. The essence of this mission had to be a call from outside the self; this was as near as he could come in secular terminology to the classic sense of mission as a call from God. He later put it; we should not ask ourselves what we want from life, we should ask ourselves, what does life want from us? The difference between the call from within & the call from outside; it is the difference between ambition & vocation. The former comes from the self, the latter from something outside & larger than the self. “being human is always directed, & pointing, to something or someone other than oneself; to a meaning to fulfil or another human being to encounter, a cause to serve or a person to love.” He called this self-transcendence, forgetting himself & giving himself, overlooking himself & focusing outward.” [“Morality”; Jonathan Sacks]
..& for us Logos is the Word..the Word of God made flesh, living among us, even living within us, the realised eschatology of St John, as we recognise our Christianity rooted in Judaism, our spirituality our search for meaning which we find personified in Christ.
In spite of the bitter conditions last weekend, 39 of you came to our weekend Masses; 30 at 10am at OL&SB, & 9 at 4pm at OL&HA. We are grateful to those who persevere, when understandably those who feel the risk is increasing are staying at home, our shared vocation as Jonathan Sacks puts it “a cause to serve & a person to love.” Church & home.
I spoke at the end of both Masses about first developments in researching the possibility of installing live streaming in OL&SB in order to include our elderly sick & housebound, as well as the covid fearful in our 10am Sunday Mass. I am grateful to those who stepped forward to help point us towards a major provider www.churchservices.tv ; if you go onto their website you can see an impressive list of Churches who use their system, click on a Church & you see the view of the inside of the Church 24x7 with a log of the time of the next Mass. A fine way to pray at any time before the Blessed Sacrament from your own home. If the enquiries prove fruitful, we will come to you with full details & costs for your consideration, with a view to providing the facility not just for lockdown periods but as a permanent opportunity for our own parishioners & others who may decide to join us from further afield.
Lent begins this coming Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting & abstinence. Mass with the imposition of ashes [in a different non-contact form this year due to covid] will be 930am at OL&SB, & 730pm at OL&HA. Please do be in touch with us to book a place beforehand. Albeit with lower numbers at Mass we can avoid any possibility of turning people away should they come unannounced, it remains the advice from the Bishop that we do book in beforehand. It surely isn’t too much to ask of us please.
With help from Kevin Kaley, Chair of our Finance Committee, & Tracey Swiers our Parish Administrator, we are compiling a Financial Statement for the Parish which we hope to get to you via email or post next week. It reflects our current financial situation, given significant recent expenditure on the Church & graveyard lighting, on insulation work to the Church & to installing our new heating boiler, our increased salary costs, & a significantly lower income from weekly offerings, due to lower attendances & lower income from those still coming. I hope it will be helpful for you to see the reality of our present situation, & the need for some urgent action in addressing the increasing deficit.
Our Parish continues to provide food through the Food Initiative at a cost of £200 a month. [£2,200 since the pandemic began]. I hope those in our own Village who may be struggling to provide food for their children in this ongoing & increasing crisis in health & in the economy, will be warmly encouraged to benefit from our Food Initiative, 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 will find themselves in ever deeper need of help, & we would encourage them to ask..it isn’t charity, it is basic good bread & butter Christian discipleship which, at such times of crisis, is asked of us in our plenty. Across the Village there is deep appreciation for the good natured & generous service given by Ray & Deb throughout the crisis, who regularly go the extra mile for us. Food donations to Middlesbrough Food Bank via cash in envelope to Parish House or direct via email@example.com Please remember the sterling work of our own SVP group in the Parish, who are there, willing & able to help anyone in any form of difficulty, or those who would value a phone call now & again in the midst of the lockdown. Do please contact Mary Borrett firstname.lastname@example.org. With my love & prayers, Fr Bede