Last weekend in my homily I shared with you Fr Donal O’Leary’s 8 beatitudes “be-attitudes” for priests, monks & nuns, & front line disciples like yourselves. This week I would like to open something from the beatitude “prophet of beauty”. “a young boy skipping down his local high street heard noise coming from a workshop, & inquisitively put his nose inside, where a sculptor was chiselling at a large block of marble. Boy watched for few moments then lost interest & went on his way. Week later passing again he looked inside & there on workbench sculptor just finishing off his work. Boy fascinated went up to sculptor pulled him on sleeve, looked up & said “how did you know there was such a beautiful lion in that cold block of marble?” we all carry a beautiful lion with us; most of us unaware, because no one told us he was there, & anyway he is asleep. The priest asks why we are not moved by our own inner splendour, by the bright divinity that makes us sons & daughters of God. There is a deep joy in revealing to people their own beauty, in discovering for them their royal lineage. It is difficult to imagine a more delightful work. Our preaching of the beautiful Word will help people discern the false from the true, empowering them with the knowledge that their own creativity, their dignity & glory. We all sorely need to be reminded about how pleased God is with us, how good we are, how extravagantly precious we are in God’s eyes. We need to be told each Sunday about how beautiful we are, our hands for healing, our eyes [especially now with face masks] for smiling, our words for redeeming, our bodies for loving, our hearts for intimacy, our souls for vision. The lion doesn’t just appear, it takes effort; the tough resistant marble of our conditioning & programming does not easily surrender. It is part of the mystery of growing; as wisdom the beautiful baby too makes a bloody & painful entrance. Without darkness there is no dawn, & spring begins in winter. Original sin & original blessing are the twin conditions of our human becoming. The beautiful must be carved out into the heart of the priest before he preaches to others about beauty. He must accept & meet the lion in himself before he can recognise the sleeping lion in those he is called to serve. In a world of viciousness & cruelty it is the love, trust & gentleness in himself that calls forth the deeply hidden echoes of these graces in others.” [ next week “ the healer of fear” ]
Whilst we re-instated our 4pm Sunday Mass, with thoughts of those returning from holidays our needing three Masses, no-one came last Sunday at 4pm; however, we will persevere with it meantime, especially now the numbers at the Sat 6pm Vigil & 10am Sunday are approaching “full”; we have Trust & Diocesan approval to have up to 20 individuals at Mass given social distancing of 2m. With family groupings, we can increase this by losing some single seats yet having the benefit of a pew full of a family. Last Saturday we had 24 at 6pm Mass, expecting another 10 who booked but didn’t come, & 21 at 10am on Sunday. Please do remember it is necessary to book in advance, if we are to avoid any unfortunate moment when we are full to capacity & we have to ask some who come unannounced to return at a later Mass. To comply with government & Church guidelines, there is need of two ministers of welcome at each Mass to book you in & show you to a seat, ensuring you sanitise on entry & on departure, & we need a small team to stay behind after Mass to sanitise the benches, for four people it is 15mins work. Save for a generous few, we have not been good at volunteering for these vital ministries, so when you do phone or email to book a place for Mass, you will be asked, given age & good health, to take on a ministry, in the hope that most will take a turn at one or the other in the weeks to come. [last Sat evg I was minister of welcome, Mass celebrant, & helped with sanitising of benches afterwards, when my permission from Fr Prior to be with you is soley to celebrate Mass & maintain strict social distancing, given our Community remains in self-isolation. ] please help.
As we look forward to welcoming back students to the College for the new academic year, with some 15 of them completing their first of week of two weeks in quarantine in what has been named temporarily St Peter’s House [ in lockdown ! ], our own St Benedict’s Primary School is to fully re-open on Tuesday 8 September 2020 for all pupils & as Parish Priest, School Chaplain & Foundation Governor, could I give parents my fullest encouragement to ensure all our children return to School on the opening day? Mr Eddy & his staff, with expert support from the Diocese & Academy, has compiled an impressively detailed & positive four page document, which went out to parents at the end of last term, giving a careful caring & clear exposition of all aspects of life in the School under current restrictions, & wise medical advice as well as government support is clear that a full return now is the safest & best way forward for our children’s health, education & wellbeing. Mr Eddy finished his document with “no longer will school be a quieter building with a smaller number of wonderful children in it. It will be what it is meant to be again, a building full of children with walls echoing to the sound of laughter & learning. I can’t tell you for how long & just how much I have waited to write that” ; a wish & a prayer to come true on 8 September, with staged drop off times for each year group.
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, particularly now the school holidays means there are no school lunches, will find the initiative helpful.
I would remind our parishioners in Our Lady & the Holy Angels in Gilling, that whilst our Church there necessarily remains closed, they are warmly welcome to join us here, especially in this in-between time for all of us, as we all find it different strange & somewhat difficult. We are poorer for your distance from us, poorer spiritually emotionally & relationally. We are to compile a Risk Assessment document for our Church there, to go to the Trustees & the Diocese, in order to seek permission to re-open the Church for Mass for small congregations. With my love & prayers. Fr Bede