“When we look back on our lives to this point & ask who we are & what is the meaning of all we have done, we will probably discover that there have been particular turning points in our development in which the real meaning of life is concentrated. These junctures & turning points are almost always those moments in which we felt ourselves most challenged, & it seems that every step in our process of maturing is identical with secret questions addressed to our being, to us as persons. That is how we should understand this dialogue between Jesus & Peter. These are stations in a chain of questions that are not posed in a single moment, but through the stages of a whole life; Peter stands as a representative of that process. The content of all the questions points fundamentally to a single one: the question of the capacity & the nature of our love. Whenever God probes us, the questions are disturbing & incapable of final answers; they beset us day & night & can never be dismissed. In youth it may still seem as if we could give relatively clear & self-confident responses to such questioning. We think that we know ourselves, we are fairly confident in our abilities, & our own education & notion of the world teach us that it is the sign of a proper man or woman that they can give a concise & conclusive account of themselves. So Peter says here, “Lord you know that I love you.” & he believes it himself. Between the statement & the person there is no room for doubt, anxiety, or insecurity.” (The Open Tomb; Eugene Drewermann)
As part of the series of gatherings to mark Mary Sturges’ 80th birthday, & to acknowledge her sterling service in the Parish in various ministries, we will celebrate the moment with coffee & cake after 10am Mass this Sunday. We offer her our love, prayer & gratitude at this special moment.
Next Sunday 12th May is Good Shepherd Sunday, a day of Special Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood & Religious Life. I still have close links & friendships with St Comgall’s Parish in Bangor, Northern Ireland, where, until recently, I used to visit for a week each Lent to give retreats both in the Parish & in their 2 High Schools. To mark Vocation Sunday, the Bishop of Down & Connor, has asked for a Novena of Prayer up to 12th May in all Parishes in the Diocese. It began last Friday & includes a profoundly beautiful reflection & prayer for each of the 9 days. Whilst we do pray for vocations at our Holy Hour each Saturday morning, this is a fine opportunity, especially given our drastic decrease in numbers in our own Community & at Stanbrook, & also in the Diocese, to pray specially & in unity with the wider Church for some of our young people to be inspired & encouraged to take up the divine invitation to “come follow me.” The daily prayer will be available at each Mass during the 9 days, & I would encourage you all to take home copies so that we can be fully united in Church or at home in this vital moment of opportunity.
One of the key initiatives for the growth of faith within St Benedict’s PS is Godly Play. Andrea Brewster is a specialist catechist in this ministry, where she relays a Gospel story among a group of children seated in the circle, into which she gradually introduces resources which help to bring the story to life. The children really do immerse both in the story & the moment. The School are keen to widen the opportunity, & given the tightness of space within school, we are delighted to offer them use of the Parish Hall on Tuesday afternoon during term time. The dedicated space allows 20 minute sessions to extend to an hour. In Week 1 yrs 5 &6 will have an hour each, Week 2 will be yrs 3 & 4, & Week 3 will be Reception, yrs 1 & 2. You will notice their resources are now stored tidily in the Hall, &, together with our wall displays charting progress towards our Vision Statement, & the sheets from our weekly First Communion classes, the Hall has come alive with our spirituality, into which we can weave our social time in such a precious space.
The week after next I am leading the Hexham & Newcastle Diocesan Clergy Retreat in Newcastle from Mon 13th to Fri 17th May. There will therefore be no Mass here from Tues until Fri morning that week. There is daily Mass at Stanbrook (9am) & at the Abbey (12.45pm). My apologies to the little band of 10/12 of you who do come regularly to our daily Mass.With my love & prayers, Fr Bede.