“As we progress in this way of life & in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, & our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.” Benedictine Spirituality is not a spiritual practice that waxes 7 wanes, comes & goes, as we grow& change& mature in the spiritual life. It is a way of life, a free standing & stable model of the God-seeking human enterprise that is based on age-old traditions& ancient wisdom. Nor is it a goal unto itself. It is, as the Rule says so directly & simply, “written for beginners.” This is the life that introduces us to a lifestyle, not to a set of prayer practices or even any defined ministry. It is not a work that can be accomplished in any given period & then forgotten. It is the work of a lifetime. It roots us in scriptures & prayer. It immerses us in the work of co-creation. It stresses justice as the way to peace. It does away with classism, racism, sexism & ethnocentrism. It sees differences as the enrichment of any community, rather than a threat to society. It urges us to immersion in the Word of God, respect for study & reflection, & regularity at prayer. & yet, Benedictine spirituality calls for “nothing harsh, nothing burdensome.” It leaves to each of us, as individuals & groups the task of determining in every community, of every era, what is necessary to fulfil these values & attain the riches of this life. The Monastery of the Heart by Joan Chittister OSB.
On your behalf could I thank those of you who came in support & prayer to Margaret Firth’s Requiem here last Tuesday at 10am, & Fr Francis Dobson’s Requiem at the Abbey at 12 noon. The presence of many from the Village of Wass at Margaret’s Requiem, & the many hundreds of past & present students, as well as retired & current lay staff, at the Abbey reflected the love & esteem in which they were both held. The funeral of Mary Gray’s niece’s son, Vincent Feghali, was held last Friday in France. Tricia Walker’s funeral will be in Private on Tuesday 30th January. Richard Gilbert died last week. He was in touch with me just before Christmas to ask that his name be taken off our sick list. Part of my reply read “You have been included for some considerable time at the request of someone who knew you were unwell & asked for you to be included. It is often said it is harder to get a soul out of Purgatory than to get your name deleted from our sick list! With my gratitude for all you gave to us in teaching at the College, never forgotten.” Please keep each of these special individuals, each a beloved member of the Body of Christ, & part of our close & wider family, in your thoughts & prayers, alongside their own families.
We held our Unity Service last Thursday evening at Stanbrook Abbey, with half an hours silent prayer at 7.45pm, followed by Compline with the sisters at 8.15pm. Understandably, given the inclement weather & the isolated location, we numbered three, Rev Catherine Reid & her Lay Reader Susan House, & myself. There was a profound sense that the few were representing the many, & I hope that many of you were with us in thought, love & prayer at that special moment for our local faith community, when St Hilda’s, Our Lady & St Benedict’s, the Stanbrook Community & the Ampleforth Community came together to pray that, in “kairos time” (divine time) rather than “chronos time” (clock time), we may all be one body sharing one meal together. It will come for certain when the Holy Spirit feels we are ready. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity finishes this Thursday on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul.
We began a daytime Alpha Course last Wednesday, which will continue each Wednesday at 9.15am to 11.15am enabling young parents with children at school, & the elderly among us to have the opportunity to enjoy exploring some questions in life & faith in a relaxed & informal setting. It has been a promising start, & we are grateful for the Alpha Team for their hospitality & experience. With love & prayers, Fr Bede.