..In the last few weeks in Outreach we have been sharing extracts from Fr Donal O’Learys book “ New Hearts New Models”, a spirituality for priests, which weaves well into the vocation we each share as front line disciples. We are looking at his 8 “be-attitudes” with this weeks entitled “the weaver of wholeness”. “to be a weaver of wholeness for others I must always try to weave a wholeness into my own life. The priest must first look at the fractured reality of his own priesthood; it presupposes a courageous examination of the priest’s personal & most secret thoughts & feelings. I find myself desperately resisting this challenge; there is a part of me that I do not wish to explore. I have sins in my life that I dare not reveal. There is a cellar in my life that is out of bounds. I find it more comfortable to be a functioning cleric rather than a transparent priest. The priest’s function is within the Body of God’s people, in the service of the reign of God, but not in charge of it; the function is not mainly administrative organisational or even liturgical, it is about pastoral leadership. The parish is a community of ministers with talents recognised & developed; the priest notices, gathers, co-ordinates the God-given graces & potentialities of others, recognising fostering & promoting the sacred dreams & energies of other parts of that same Body. He is called to inspire, to draw out, to draw upon & to draw together into one flow of power, the healing saving ministry entrusted to every Christian by virtue of the incarnation & of the sacrament of baptism. Bishop Zipfel takes up a story having heard Fr Tony de Mello in his book “the Song of the Bird” refer to “music to the deaf” Bishop Zipfel says “I used to be stone deaf. I would see people stand up & go through all kinds of gyrations. They called it dancing. It looked absurd to me.. until one day I heard the music.” The priest is the one who searches for the rhythm that puts the dancing into the seemingly unconnected actions of people’s lives. He is the one who plays back to often-distracted people the music of their lives; he is the one who turns round the painfully worked stitches & threads of a meaningless conglomeration of effort on the back of a fabric, to reveal the jaded & bored artisan, a picture of rare quality & symmetry. He is the one who reassures people that the disparate jigsaw pieces of the stories of their lives can be put together into a life-transforming wholeness. A journalist interviewed two men on the same building site about the nature of their work. One replied he was a bricklayer; the other said he was a builder of cathedrals. Both worked with bricks on the same project; their perception of what they were doing was so different! The woven web becomes a place of reconciliation, where each person & every creature feels carried by the others & in turn carries them. It becomes a network of friendship & compassion for those who know that they are weak, but know too that they are loved & forgiven. Community is therefore a place of celebration. [next week “voice of the silent”]
Paul Moore died peacefully in the ICU of York District Hospital early on Monday morning. I had precious time with him last Saturday afternoon & though very poorly then, we spoke & I assured him of our fullest support in love & prayer. Please remember him in your prayers, together with Maureen Emily Oliver & Daniel, & his devoted medical team. He will remain a prophetic voice among us, speaking truth to power, speaking out for the marginalised.
St Benedict’s RC PS continues to flourish as it settles to the challenges of Covid restrictions & work play & prayer in their bubbles. I am in School this week to meet all four classes separately, in the next fortnight each class will come up to Church to celebrate Mass, & the week before half term we will be introducing each class to a form of lectio divina [spiritual reading..reading & imagining between the lines]
I mentioned in last weekend’s Outreach two possible initiatives in the vineyard; to offer to write perhaps fortnightly to one of our five parishioners resident in care homes, giving them a vital link into our parish, to which they will always belong & be needed for their persistence, prayers & loving concern for us. No one has offered to connect so far. Also in my homily the challenge, at the end of the summer, to offer your tent to a migrant waiting in Calais to risk their life crossing the Channel into our land of milk & honey, & if we found enough tents, to ask four of you to take them to Calais for us, & yes in the midst of the pandemic with all the additional risks that would entail. Imagine the risk assessment document we would have to prepare for such an adventure..imagine it as mission impossible?..or write it into gospel reality? I tried to put it into context by sharing story of Noujain Mustafa, the 16yr old migrant from Syria, who crossed 3500 miles of Europe in her wheelchair, hoping for a home & of studying to be a psychologist. She “a keystone rejected by the builders “ in the UK & welcomed into Germany as Christ in a wheelchair. “he expected it to yield grapes, but sour grapes were all that it gave.”
We have a much valued outreach towards Stella Maris [known until recently as the Apostleship of the Sea] & each Advent St Benedict’s PS take part in the woolly hat appeal where woolly hats are knitted taken into School & “filled” with essentials & small treats for seafarers ; at the same time we & St Hilda’s parishioners take part in the shoe-box appeal sourcing a shoe-box & filling it with essentials & treats, all of which are taken to the Stella Maris Port Chaplain in Hull, Anne McLaren who, with her volunteers, deliver our gifts to seafarers who have a gift & its prayer from us to open at sea on Christmas morning. Stella Maris is sharing its Centenary Mass this Sunday, which will celebrated by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow at 3pm, & streamed live; we are invited to link in at www.stellamaris.org.uk/centenarymass
A fine initiative from the Spirituality Committee of the Bishops Conference of England & Wales is to offer a reflection, in this Year of the Word, on the responsorial psalm for each Sunday of October. I enclose a copy which centres this weekend on Psalm 79; one point of reflection “when things are not so good, do we turn to God honestly? “
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. With my love & prayers. Fr Bede