“Insofar as we are disciples of Christ, we want Him to be the one whom the Zacchaeuses of today encounter. I too, even while working on this book - I am a priest after all - asked myself what it really means these days to bring someone closer to Christ, &, through Christ, closer to God. I don’t think it is quite as easy as certain enthusiastic Christians believe. A priest must not become an agitator, a propagandist, someone with pat slogans who is skilled at manipulating others. His role should be to accompany others, to “put them in the picture,” to bring them to the gates of mystery, rather than to “win them over” in the way that politicians or traders draw attention to their latest wares. This must be also apparent in the way we address others. It must be audible & discernible from the very way we speak & the language we use. After all our language is the fruit of out heart’s persuasion. If our language is not empty prattle or mindless production of clichés, it is itself a deed that can do much good. In that sense, “by their fruits shall ye know them” applies to the very way we speak. Maybe the time has come for us to abandon much of the “pious vocabulary” we use in our discourse & on our banners. It has lost its full meaning for us with constant & often careless use. Other words have become too heavy, stiff, & corroded; they have become too cumbersome to express the message of the Gospel – the joyful news. Some of our pious expressions are already like a “burst drum” & no longer capable of singing God’s praises – “incapable of dancing “as Nietzsche expected of a God he could believe in. Nietzsche, who came from a line of pastors, ruthlessly diagnosed in our sermons “the spirit of heaviness,” & above all “moraline,” the poison of pessimistic, embittered moralizing. That haughtily sullen specious gravity, betraying a lack of humour & spontaneity & an insufficient inner freedom, has always reminded me of Michal, the daughter of Saul, who scorned King David when he danced before the ark of the covenant. This kind of piety tends to be punished by barrenness, as was Michal. (Patience & God; Tomas Halik) Last Friday, the Feast of St Peter & St Paul, St Benedict’s Primary School joined us in Church for our 9.30am Mass. They served us beautifully in preparing the readings, bidding prayers, serving the Mass, welcoming us & bringing the gifts forward at the Offertory, & leading the singing. They were a tribute to their teachers & families. Sadly, in spite of it being a Holyday of Obligation, there were less than 10 of our parishioners with us, alongside some from the wider locality. At a time when we are making every effort to weave the School family into the Parish family, it is a counter-sign to those efforts & prayers when many decide to be elsewhere at such an important & fertile moment in our shared journey in faith. At our most recent Parish Forum there was a firm request for greater communication & involvement between our School & Parish, & I would hope that we could show our love & commitment towards them by taking up our shared opportunities for prayer & liturgy. On Data Protection progress, thank you to those of you who have completed a Consent Form. 10 more have come in this week, 89 have been returned to date. Please could I encourage others who may have been away recently to take home and complete the Form. We need a Consent Form for each family member over the age of thirteen. It would be helpful if you would name children under thirteen on your own individual Consent Form. Until we receive your Form we are not permitted to make contact with you, as you have yet to give your express permission. There have been 14 occasions since the legislation was introduced last month where I have been unable to make contact with individuals for whom I have as yet no consent. Could I encourage you to ask members of your family who do not attend our Parish, or who attend elsewhere, to consider being registered with us here? We hold pastoral responsibility for all baptised Catholics who live within our parish boundaries, & it is helpful for the spiritual, administrative & practical well-being of the Parish that we are fully aware of those to whom we owe the love & duty of care. Could I remind you please that Bishop Terence Patrick & the Diocese are seeking expressions of interest from practising Catholics to act as Foundation Governors, & non practising Catholics as non-foundation Governors for our new Catholic Academy Trust, under the patronage of St Margaret Clitherow. I would seriously & warmly encourage those of you who may feel unworthy, yet called by the Holy Spirit, to seek to be considered for such important positions of responsibility for the continued growth of our collective “Schools of the Lord’s Service”. I can give you a background paper on the role & an expression of interest form which needs to be returned to the Diocese by this Friday. It would be a blessing for us, as one of the smallest schools in the Diocese, to have representation on this key Body. On your behalf can I offer an early word of deep appreciation to David & Eve Cragg-James, & Mary Sturges, & indeed others who have worked tirelessly in their team to prepare every detail for the welcome of our Asylum Seekers & their families who are welcomed here this Sunday. In welcoming them, we welcome Christ himself. With love & prayers Fr Bede.