We have been tracking Fr Donal O’Leary’s “be-attitudes” in Outreach for the last few weeks, & now we reach the final one “ the sacrament of compassion” “compassion moves outwards. It will not be trapped into individual soul-saving. It grows only when given away & it can only happen in community. It is a “reaching-out” kind of virtue that is ever purified in the sharing. It enriches the giver, because there is a sense in which our redeeming compassion is directed towards ourselves. We are a part of everything & everything is a part of us. This is another glimpse of the amazing revelation of incarnation. “blessed are the compassionate for they themselves shall attain compassion” writes St Matthew, & St Thomas Aquinas adds “to be compassionate is to have a heart that suffers from the misfortune of others because we think of it as our own” “our brief as priests is in the area of prophecy. God has always sent prophets to speak to the needs of the age. The prophets do not add more noise to the predictable frequencies of their time; they are fine-tuned voices that call people to the deeper, if not spectacular issues of life. Not everything in life is big strong & sensational. Maybe what makes the deepest impression on us, what is most valuable, are not the spectacular, but the little things that take place between the role of the clowns between the big scenes of the circus; they relax us, they remove the tension. We are called to be with people, to rejoice with them, to walk with them, to stay with them, to suffer with them, to be the embodiment of God’s compassion for them. In this busy world, to be the one who has time; the world is full of experts who interpret the money markets for us, & our business career prospects. But we are here to interpret the mysteries of life for the community; when a child is born, & this may being a sacrament of compassion when a Downs Syndrome baby arrives; when people fall in love & get married, when people die & their loved ones are inconsolable; the agent of compassion is there to unravel the dilemma of illness & disability, those deep issues which often happen between the major events of life’s relentless & urgent unfolding.” To hold that God is compassionate is to imply that God continues to suffer with us; that God still suffers. There is an inadequacy in the traditional assertion of divine impassibility towards the world, because God is pure relational. To state that is to state that God is in communion with the world. This kind of relationship of real love is always reciprocal; & God’s relationship with the world is always one of true love. Does this love entail suffering in God? yes, in so far as love always includes an openness to the other. Love includes a vulnerability to the other. It includes an empathy & a solidarity with the loved-one.”
Our parish community gathered in Our Lady & the Holy Angels in Gilling have for some months struggled with the loss of their 9am Sunday Mass, with the replacement being an alternate Sat evg 6pm Mass twinned with Our Lady & St Benedict’s in Ampleforth. With the lockdown on 20 March 2020 all Masses ceased. Since the gradual re-opening of Churches & with more than adequate provision in Ampleforth & Oswaldkirk for those wanting to return to Mass, as well as another five weekend Masses in the locality, Our Lady & the Holy Angles has remained closed. With due authorisation from the Diocese & the Abbey Trustees, we re-opened the Church for Mass last Sunday at 4pm, moving the covid period afternoon Mass from Ampleforth to Gilling to restore a Sunday Mass for parishioners in the Village & locality. With careful seating plans, we were able to have 17 at the Mass, which proved safe & much appreciated, & this will continue through the covid period. It is a joy to be back there to celebrate Mass. With such limited capacity it is even more important to book in advance please.
Two more class bubbles from St Benedict’s RC PS are coming to Church; Class 1 last Wednesday, & Class 4 for Mass this coming Monday; later that day & next Wednesday we will be introducing each bubble to lectio divina [ divine reading ] where we help the children to read pray imagine & speculate on the gospel stories, as we bring them alive into real life October 2020 in the face of a pandemic, & our Good Shepherd’s track & trace which is for a lifetime.
All Souls Day is on Monday 2 Nov & Remembrance Sunday is the following Sunday 8 November. The covid restrictions on numbers in Church preclude a celebration in Church this year, given with the loss of Rev Catherine Reid, we will be welcoming parishioners from St Hilda’s to join us for Remembrance. I would like to propose a short service in the graveyard on both days; All Souls Day at 12noon, to pray for our deceased loved ones, specially those buried in our graveyard, at which we will light, as is our tradition, a three day candle which provide a moving remembrance after dark, as 30 or more candles witness to our unity with the Faithful Departed. I will come round to each grave to offer a prayer with a relative or friend. On Remembrance Sunday we will gather at our Crucifix & memorial at 10.50am for a shortened Remembrance Service, given most who come are elderly & find standing difficult. Both Services on Mon 2 & Sun 8 Nov will go ahead regardless of the weather, so do come well prepared with suitable clothing.
Many of you receive our Outreach via email on Thursday evenings, & this week at 6pm we will be receiving Paul Moore’s body into our Church to rest overnight before being taken to the Abbey for Requiem Mass on Friday morning at 11am, followed by burial back here in our graveyard. Sadly numbers in each Church are restricted to 30; they will be representing many hundreds more, including many of you, who, in normal times, would have filled the Abbey Church. Please keep Maureen, Emily Oliver & Daniel particularly in your prayers; we now have our very own whistleblower in heaven, who for sure, will be continuing to share the truth & faithfulness of our faith which he shared so fully with us. He knew the secret.
As the economic situation worsens, & many who were being furloughed find that their work is in jeopardy, could I remind you of our Food Initiative in the Village, where it is possible to approach Ray & Deb in the Village Shop, & quietly ask for a bag of food essentials which will be delivered to your door?. This has been working well since the lockdown began, & it could be more of us in the Village will find themselves in ever deeper need of help, & we would encourage them to ask..it isn’t charity, it is basic good bread & butter Christian discipleship which, at such times of crisis, is asked of us in our plenty. Across the Village there is deep appreciation for the good-natured generous service given by Ray & Deb throughout the crisis, who regularly go the extra mile for us. Food donations to Middlesbrough Food Bank via cash in envelope to Parish House or direct via firstname.lastname@example.org With my love & prayers. Fr Bede