Retreat times remind us always to make the space to begin - again - &, in the midst of the cloying demands of work & family, of money-making worries& the stressors of social systems, to fix the eye of the heart on the really important things of life. In every Monastery of the Heart, there must be regular times set aside to go down into these recesses of the soul once more, alone & centred, to take another look, a new kind of look, at ourselves. Retreat, reflection, Sabbath, & soul space are of the essence of the monastic spirit – not for our sake alone but for the sake of those who depend on us to make the promise of creation new again. First, painfully aware of our own lack of steeled spirit, & full of compunction – what the ancients called the regret of the soul – we must forgive ourselves for being less than we know we can be. Second we must turn the compass point of the heart back again to where God waits for us, arms open, full of mercy, made of love, to be our own best selves – not for our sake alone but for the sake of the rest of the world. Benedictine spirituality, after all, is life lived to the hilt. It is a life of concentration on life’s ordinary dimensions. It is an attempt to do the ordinary things of life extraordinarily well. The Monastery of the Heart by Joan Chittister OSB.
Please keep in your prayers the people of Zimbabwe at this time of political & military unrest. I accompanied Fr Robert & Fr Barnabas as they began our Foundation there in 1996, & I have revisited a few times since then. They are a most beautiful, prayerful & gentle people, who have lost everything since the Mugabe regime soured & stripped the country of its basic wealth, yet they retain a deep sense of community in family & township. Do remember Fr Robert, Fr Barnabas & Br Placid, & the people of Macheke & the surrounding townships to our Monastery. The Bar Convent Sisters in York also have a presence in Zimbabwe, so please remember them too in your prayers at this anxious time.
Some weeks ago I mentioned the possibility of creating a Dementia Champion within the Parish to help us to be more aware of the scale of the illness, its effect on the sufferer, & indeed on the carer’s in family & neighbourhood. Louisa Seymour, one of our newer parishioners (husband Richard & son Alex at the College) will give an introduction to an initiative we hope to foster & offer from the Parish to dementia sufferers & their carer’s. Louisa has wide experience in advocacy & in helping sufferers. She will speak after each Mass this weekend. If you would like to join us in this important & growing ministry, or to learn more, please contact Louisa on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07486 308221, or myself on email@example.com or 01439 766819.
Pope Francis has designated today as “A World Day of the Poor.” He asks us to draw close to the poor in our locality as they seek protection & assistance. “The poor are not a problem; they are a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept & practice in our lives the essence of the Gospel.” We have many poor people in our village & locality when we notice their loneliness & isolation, where a 5/10 minute visit to them could be transformative. With my love & prayers. Fr Bede.