In my homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi earlier this month I referred back a week to Sat evg 6 June 2020 when, courtesy of our Congregation Ongoing Formation Committee we had an hour on zoom 9pm to 10pm with monks & nuns from monasteries in the UK USA Ireland Peru, & our local Sisters in Stanbrook, listening to Fr Michael Casey, a Cistercian monk in Australia talking to us on “crisis” which then, pre the tragic death of George Floyd, centred on Covid-19. He referred to it “krisis” as the effect of Christ’s coming, speaking of us being “at a time when a decision has to be made” with the virus, the likely recession, polarisation world-wide, an expansion of superficialty [truth v fake news] & the Church being tainted/touched by sexual abuse & the abuse of power within the Church, bringing us to a point of decision “we are living in a golden age”. I shared with you on the Feast of Corpus Christi the experience of the pilot limping home across the Atlantic having lost an engine; a decision [like Covid-19] not faced before; aviate [keep going keep it in the air]; navigate [try to get somewhere in a life-giving way] & communicate [tell the crew/passengers/people on ground what is happening, inviting others to participate]. He said “morality becomes more creative in inclusivity“ &” God is dependable..we feel/experience providence of God active in our life” [my Holy Spirit moments which the world devalues into coincidence] “the present need/crisis is a key element in the remaking of the ancient foundation of monasticism”..”build up a sense of solidarity [we can get there together] building up the empowerment of the group. Real reform never comes from the top, but from bottom, where a few gather, it is convincing & others join us.” As fellow Benedictines of ours in our Community I hope you recognise yourselves alongside us, fellow disciples, in our current home-camino, hopefully soon to become a pilgrimage back into our spiritual home-space, never forgetting the spiritual home ground each of you have discovered, fostered & been fed in these last 14wks, your own cave..safe protective assuring organic spirituality in the making baking & sharing in your home Eucharist’s. Last Saturday afternoon was the second in the series of three talks, this by Fr Columba Stewart OSB from Collegeville in Minnesota who spoke on “the social & spiritual challenge of Covid-19 a few months in, of racism, & why we as monks/nuns are well placed to react to the crisis “ in line with Ch 7 of Rule of St Benedict seventh step of humility “good for me to be humbled & to learn” Covid-19 a learning moment about me in Community & with good things emerging; a gift to deal with it in springtime, to reground ourselves at a different pace; of racism being endemic, the death of George Floyd beginning a reckoning, BLM to finally reckon with our past. Our Benedictine life being in listening/hospitality/inclusion & honesty, where “all are included not just the “in-group”! Monte Cassino our ground zero “cut it back & it still grows” “why do we keep coming back?” it is because of “our ability to form sustainable communities, healing in & out” “we know how to do this & have done it time & time again.” “a very graced moment for us” “take each day as it comes, basic monastic practices [& the good monastic practices you have grown in OL&SB ] will see us “us” through”. I will share a little more with you from him next weekend.
As you will know, either by personal experience by now, or through Outreach & my recent special messages sent to you to keep you fully included in the breaking news, we re-opened OL&SB Church last Friday for private prayer before the exposed Blessed Sacrament between 2pm & 4pm, when 16 of you came, & cooperated so gently & appreciatively with our ministers of welcome. We will continue the Friday prayer times each week from now on until we receive authorisation to begin Masses again in Church. (it seems now, as we are awaiting authorisation from the Bishop, that it may be possible to resume Masses in OL&SB from the weekend of 4th/5th July 2020) Our planning group did sterling work for us, & the experience gained will seed really well into the procedures & practices we will need to implement to gain the Bishops permission to eventually celebrate Mass again in OL&SB & in OL&HA in Gilling. I mentioned in my email to you of last Tuesday 23 June I had read the 30 page document compiled for reintroducing Mass throughout the Archdiocese of Tuam in Ireland where Mass is again celebrated from this weekend. It is entitled “nothing can separate us from the love of God [Rom 8;39] & it begins beautifully with a spiritual reflection ; its summary will fit well to our hopes when the time comes to consider our strategy for the full re-opening for Mass. “we hope that many in our parish communities will be inspired to respond with generosity & energy in helping to renew & strengthen the four pillars of parish life; worship, word, community & outreach to those in need.”
St Benedict’s RC Primary School continue to work & pray on impressively, with some 20 children in School this week, working playing eating & praying in their own year group bubbles. Our Governors met via Teams last night to listen to Mr Eddy’s report on every aspect of life in School, & this is a moment to express our appreciation to all our Governors for their enthusiasm support for & challenge to our staff; the way all have come together inclusively to ensure our children are receiving the best possible standard of education, pre Covid & during the pandemic, is outstanding. “a very graced moment for us”. I copy below my weekly letter to the children, this week introducing them to a new story in our book “the ten best stories in the Bible” with this one called “family politics” in which the plight of the first Holy Family is opened, allowing your holy families & my community to read in between the lines in it & recognise people we know very well! Be it in cabin fever or cloister fever..
Message from Fr Bede Hello to you all!
..to you, to your brothers & sisters, your Mummies & Daddies, & to Mr Eddy & all your teachers, who keep asking to be included in my weekly letters to you. We are now back into the flow of this unusual term, with some of you again working in School, & more of you still working hard from home. We continue to think about each other don’t we? & pray for each other, looking forward to the time after the long summer holidays when we will all come together in School for a new start together. Meanwhile, well done all of you & your teachers & families as we continue to work hard & do our best. You will know that my favourite football team is Leeds United, & they went back to playing football again for the first time in 14 weeks last Sunday, playing away at Cardiff City, & they sadly hadn’t learned from your example & they didn’t do their best, & they lost 2-0..so Fr Bede has a Mr Glum face on this week. One of the most important things to learn in life is how to lose well; it is easy to be a smiley good winner but more difficult to be a smiley good loser, to thank whoever has beaten you, & to say “well done!” & mean it, & then to learn from our mistakes for the next time. If only the Leeds manager was as good a leader as Mr Eddy, I think Leeds would easily be top of the league!
The story we have been sharing for some weeks has been of Noah & his family in their Ark as they escaped from the flood; we thought it fitted well for us in our families in lockdown in our Ark [our home ] as we tried to keep safe from the coronavirus. Each week I shared some of the story with you & asked you three or four questions about each chapter. We got some terrific answers & us grown-ups really enjoyed reading what you wrote. I want to thank all those who got involved, & their mummies & daddies too, in seeing how the story of Noah fitted so well to our lives here & now. So, well done to Constance, Ryan, Arthur, Albert, Evelyn, Lexi, Daisy & Matilda who all sent in great answers. One early question I asked was “if you could take any animal into your Ark with you, which would you take?” & one reply was “I would take a dog because they are really kind & I like them” a good answer, & then they thought a little more a little deeper & said “actually I would take two dogs, one kind & one mean, because the kind one is an example to the mean one to be kind to others.” Wonderful, a lesson for each of us either in school, at home or in my monastery, to help others to grow to be good by our example.
I thought we might enjoy another story from my book “the ten best stories from the Bible” so I will share with you each week part of a story called “family politics” & it tells the story of someone you know very well, a baby born in Bethlehem into a family where there were all sorts of things going on for them. You will see yourselves in it, & I hope you will enjoy it. I will send the first five pages with this letter to you.
Three questions for you to attempt if you would like to, & then send your answers to me through your Mummy or through Mr Eddy in School please.
 when Joseph & Mary were on the long hot dusty road from Nazareth to Bethlehem, what kept Joseph going was such happy memories of his happy times there as a boy. What special memories do you have of life in your family & among your friends?
 Joseph had a dream & he hoped & prayed it might come true. What do you think his dream was? Have you a dream I wonder? You may want to keep it a secret but if you would like to share a little bit of it, I would love to hear it please.
 when Joseph arrived at last at his Aunt Ruth’s home in Bethlehem, expecting a lovely warm welcome, she was sour-faced & had been arguing & screaming. What do you think might have made her bad tempered? What makes you bad tempered? & who suffers because of your grumpiness? & how do you put it right with those you hurt?
I hope you are remembering to be really helpful in your Ark at home, keeping your room tidy, & generally being a good smiley crew member, where we all have a job to do for our family..& always remember to tell your Mummy & Daddy the three key words at least three times each day…….[ the special three words “I love you” & watch for the smile ]
With my love & prayers to you all. ..& a fist bump from me! Fr Bede
Do listen out of for our Church bell at 10am on Sunday, ringing out through the Village our unity as the Body of Christ this weekend, & in unity of thought love & prayer each Sunday with Rev Catherine Reid & our brothers & sisters at St Hilda’s & at Holy Cross in Gilling. Friday is the feast of St Thomas “doubting Thomas” who got much more than the other ten, because he was absent the first time the Risen Christ appeared, & to make up for it, totally at odds to the penalty the so-called faithful ten expected him deservedly to receive, he got not just to see but to touch the wounds. When wounded met wounded.
On Saturday next, 4 July 2020, I am leading the Home Retreat day from the Abbey with a 15min talk at 11am; you can find it on https://ampleforth.org.uk/abbey/service-times with the theme “the frailty of the young” taken from Ch 37 of the Rule, & my continuing ministry among the young over the last 20yrs. You will be most welcome, with resources left on line for you from me for the rest of the day.