As more of you are making the significant decision to return to us in Church, as we look & pray forward expectantly to the lifting of restrictions from 21 June 2021, Fr Donal O’Leary’s words seem appropriate, as we welcome you home with great joy; “there is an urgency within our domestic world waiting to be released into the church. The home is a cauldron of emotions, all now charged with redemptive presence; for that reason it is also a powerhouse of renewal within the church. The passions & prayers, the storms & whispers, the blame & the blessing, are all part of that graced energy. Everything that happens in the unbelievably complex of family life, the light & the dark of it, has God’s life-giving heartbeat within it, God’s living signature set to it..& we go to Mass to remember & to celebrate together the extraordinary revelation that no moment is “merely” human or worldly, but rather a place of grace; every threshold a door to heaven. Smiling broadly with great delight, Jesus, our only true host, sets a place for absolutely everyone at this table. He embraces every family, each with its own stories to tell him..the hurting & the healing, the sinning & the gracing. He then sits down & explains to us, amazed, how those moments of ordinary human life are his life too. His eyes are twinkling as we struggle to understand what he is telling us. Comforted, we eat & drink his words with the bread & wine of joy. He kisses each one of us before we leave. Our hearts are burning within us as we recall his parting words of comfort..our kitchens, too, are little Bethlehem’s, our breakfast tables are small altars, our whole lives, with their calvaries & resurrections, are one long consecration & communion. But now we are so slow to leave him “don’t be sad” he says “I’ll be waiting for you at home.” [Already Within; Fr Donal O’Leary]
Last weekend on Pentecost Sunday both Masses were full; 44 at 10am at OL&SB, 21 at 4pm at OL&HA, with 18 of 65 of university age & under. We have a great future in the Parish be sure, as the young clearly find in us welcoming caretakers. Thankfully, no one was turned away, though the risk assessment, agreed by the Diocese, the Abbey Trustees & our Insurers, insist we don’t exceed the agreed capacity so as to keep all who come safe under the best precautions we can provide. As more of you decide to come back to Church, we will, if necessary, celebrate a third Mass, possibly a 6pm Saturday Vigil Mass in OL&SB, up to 20 June 2021, so do please book a place in good time, so we can respond as best we can. A moment for me to express our gratitude to those who have ministered to us through this last year with such good grace & generosity; our readers, welcomers, musicians & singers, flower arrangers, & our sanitisers at each Mass.
Our weekly Outreach goes out to all parishioners & to many others in a much wider context who have spiritual & relational links with us, & who value that sense of belonging to a faith community, who we might call our “diaspora”, the scattered, the dispersed ones, our herdwicks as opposed our home-fed swaledales. This coming week I will be writing to all our swaledales to share with them the reality of our financial situation, which, due to diminished givings, lower attendances at Mass, the financial constraints many of you find yourselves in with the ongoing covid consequences, & some capital expenditure & increased salary costs, leaves us facing a deficit in the two financial years of 2019/20 & 2020/21 of approx. £50,000. There will be need in the immediate term to look at ways we can achieve a significant increase in income to sustain the Parish. I would ask for your prayers for those of us closer to home, as we look towards establishing a range of options to address the situation with urgency & good grace. With my love & prayers, Fr Bede