In the same way that the church must shed ostentation in order to undertake missionary activity in the world of the socially poor, it must shed many of its certainties if it is to enter the world of religious insecurity. It must get rid of not only the outward signs of baroque triumphalism – as the last Council encouraged it to do – but above all the inward monopolistic triumphalism of being the sole repository of the truth. I also think it useful or even essential at the present time, when various kinds of commercial religiosity offer their wares so attractively, to take seriously the fact that God is not so “readily available.” If we can understand those who are confronted with a silent, hidden, or distant God – including those who have been led to reject religion because of that experience – it can help us achieve a more mature form of faith than the naïve & vulgar theism that is rightly criticised by atheists. In the same way that Latin American theology introduced the concept of “sinful structures” into theology, even into papal documents, so also our theology of liberation should highlight the ”sinfulness” of certain structures of thinking & speaking , as well as the many “religious stereotypes” that damage faith & result in isolation from God from the naïve “proving God” to a certain kind of theodicy (“justifying God” in the face of evil& misfortune), which, in the words of J.B. Metz, tends to have the effect of an attempt “to reach agreement with God behind the backs of the suffering members of humanity.” (Patience & God; Tomas Halik)
You will have heard or seen in the media the attention directed on the Abbey & College after the publication of the IICSA Report last Thursday week. It is important that we keep the victims & their families, & our Community, to which you each & all belong in that special relationship so valued & beneficial in each direction, in thought love & steady prayer. As you read the following from last weekend’s bulletin, again or for the first time, you are seasoning the wounds of sin & division with sadness & loving concern, as we each struggle to come to terms with what continues to emerge.
The highest standards are expected of us as we preach & practise the Gospel message of loving inclusivity, particularly towards the weak & the vulnerable, & we have fallen well short of those expectations. A leader in the Methodist Church, who I have shared retreat ministry with for a number of years emailed “I have no wise words, but just wanted you to know that the candle is lit & my prayers for healing both within the Community & for those who are affected by the news, in whatever way.” Last Thursday happened to be the Feast of St Benedicta of the Cross, a Carmelite Sister, a convert from Judaism, who was arrested by the Nazi’s on 2nd August 1942 & died 7 days later in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. A quotation from her which I shared at Mass that morning seems appropriate; “the entire educational process must be carried out with love, which is perceptible in every disciplinary measure, & which does not instil any fear, & the most effective educational method is not the word of instruction but the living example, without which all words remain useless.” At this time of profound regret & remorse, I would ask your continued prayers for our Community, & particularly for those who have been hurt or wounded directly or indirectly. In the spirit of my Methodist sister in Christ, & to witness to our solidarity with all those who have been affected, we will light the Paschal Candle at Mass for the next month in reparation, & in faith, that the Risen Christ will bring healing & redemption to each & every one of us.
We welcome those who are on holiday in the locality & are joining us for our weekend Mass. It can be a source of concern to some who find it difficult or impossible to meet their Sunday Obligation whilst on holiday, & in such genuine circumstance, please consider transferring your Obligation to a weekday Mass of your choice within a reasonable period of your return. To miss the moment is to miss the grace, rather than to incur a penalty.
We were blessed to have a full Church for Yvonne Fosters Requiem Mass last Thursday week. The retiring collection, which Yvonne & her family wanted to be shared between the Hannah Memorial Academy in India & Marie Curie Nurses, amounted to £979.80. With love & prayers, Fr Bede.