The corona virus pandemic has affected our whole world, bringing illness, worry and changed lives to virtually everyone. This Easter time we remember the words of St Peter “your faith will have been tested and proved like gold – only more precious than gold…. you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described.” 1 Peter 1:4-9
We place here information about those in our super region and we include the contributions of many:
11th May 2020 – a reflection from Abbot Martin of Prinknash Abbey.
Early on I described the restrictions imposed upon us in response to the virus as a time of grace when the world is on retreat, and that is still my view.
I have been able to use this time to reflect on the meaning and purpose of our lives in this world; something I do anyway each day as a monk. But during this period such thoughts are with me constantly. We are unable to predict when life might return to “normal.” My dictionary tells me that the etymology of normal is a carpenter’s square, a kind of right-angled ruler. I remember them from technical drawing classes at school: straight and precise, or as the dictionary says, “conforming to a standard, usual, typical or expected.” Applied to a person normal is “free from physical or mental disorders.”
I’m not qualified to tell you what life was like before the restrictions, or what it might be like afterwards. All I know is what it was like for me, and what it is like now. I feel that something has shifted in my outlook. I’m beginning to appreciate the beauty of nature again, the songs of the birds, flowers, squirrels, fresh air and sunshine. Personally, I prefer silence to noise, but I have never known it to so peaceful. I do not look forward to a full return to “normal.”
I often said during retreats, that I conducted with Sarah Richards over the past few years, that I believed something was going to happen that would bring the world to its knees. I thought it might have been a war. What I meant by this is that something would happen that would bring the world to its senses, and we would get on our knees in prayer to God. This hasn’t quite happened, but I imagine many people are asking themselves what is the meaning and purpose of life? Does God exist? Is Jesus the Saviour? Are we all beloved children of God? I expect and hope that these questions will be explored when restrictions are lifted.
We monks and the recipients of this letter have been graced with an interest in such questions, even before the present crisis, and we are heirs of the Christian and Benedictine traditions which have answers to them. When the crisis is over, I think we should explore the practicalities of sharing our knowledge and our hope with others.
Crisis means judgement in Greek. The Crucifixion was the crisis of the world; the Eastertide liturgy tells us this. The Crucifixion was God’s judgement on the world. The moment of the greatest act of love the world has ever known or even imagined! It is, as St Benedict says in the Prologue to his Rule, “God showing us the way of life:” self-sacrifice for others leads to the promise of resurrection and life everlasting.
I believe God is asking us to take stock of our lives during these weeks, to make a judgement on ourselves, and a resolve about the way we should proceed in the future. I spoke to a young, successful-in-worldly-terms, couple last week, and they told me that they do not want to return to their hectic work and lifestyles. They want to devote more time and energy to the deeper things of life. We can help such people!
How is this lecture a love letter from your unworthy abbot? It is so because I “am speaking the truth in love,” to quote St Paul. Also, the one thing I have missed during this period is the people I love, and I love all you recipients of this message, all in different ways. And I miss you. I miss sharing the faith with you, and I miss your company.
Reaching out is a good thing. It balances our tendency to self-centredness and brings joy. During these weeks I have rediscovered a joy and a freedom that I had lost; I have rediscovered a happiness I had lost. This must be God’s grace. Hope of happiness has returned because I can see now that that is what God wants for me. This time of “judgement/crisis” is not a time of condemnation. It is, like the Cross, a time when God is showing us his love – in nature, in families, in friends, in silence and peace. God is doing to us what the Prophet Hosea said: “”Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.”
God is speaking tenderly to us. He is saying what Jeremiah prophesied:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
And the verse, “This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” This is what God is like, and it is what the world needs to know. Let us play our part; let us all reach out to one another. Maybe you could share this letter with someone!
4th May 2020
The Diocese of Westminster published on their website an article by Janet & Paul DeBoo (GB Central Regional couple). Please take a look via this link: The Joy of growing closer to God and each other every day
May 2020 – from the ERI
We have prepared some news, prayers and testimonies that we want to share with you, to feel closer at this time when we cannot meet in person. You can find them with the link below.
We send you all our love,
International Responsible Team (ERI) Latest news from the ERI – click here
Beatitudes for a Global Pandemic
We’re very grateful to Antony Denman sharing to us a link to the YouTube cartoon video “Beatitudes for a Global Pandemic”. We found many of its benedictions and prayer intentions very moving and worth passing on:
The prayer of Our Holy Father, Pope Francis to Mary in these difficult times:
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.
Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
Care for the Family are offering their 4 part Marriage Enrichment as a webinar from 11th May to 1st June. They ask for the details to be passed on – and the sessions are free; but there will no doubt be the opportunity to give a donation if you wish. The charity does superb work for all aspects of family relationships.
For details and to register click here
Daily Masses from New Zealand
Bishop Steve Lowe from Hamilton NZ is a great supporter of Teams. He says Mass every day in his little private chapel. You can follow his mass on line from the Catholic diocese of Hamilton New Zealand. www.cdh.org.nz Each mass remains on the site for 23 hours until just before the next one so you can participate at any time of your choice.
From Fr Martin at Prinknash Abbey, a reflection for Divine Mercy Sunday 2020
The first Sunday after Easter is now called Divine Mercy Sunday. It was introduced by Pope St John Paul II when he canonised in 2000 St Faustina. She was a simple Polish nun who had mystical experiences about God’s mercy, including an apparition of Jesus as he appears in the Divine Mercy image
People who have devotion to the Divine Mercy usually prepare for Divine Mercy Sunday by saying a novena using the Divine Mercy Chaplet starting on Good Friday and ending the day before the Feast. This has caused some scandal to priests who think it complicates the message of Easter Sunday, which is the high point of the Church’s year, if we do a devotion which begins just before Easter Sunday and carries on afterwards. For me, however, there is no problem with this. I think that the meaning of Good Friday and Easter Sunday are highlighted by Jesus’ appearance to the Apostles eight days after Easter, that is, on what is now called Divine Mercy Sunday. I can explain this with reference to the Divine Mercy image.
The image depicts Jesus as he appeared in the Upper Room to the Apostles eight days after Easter.See More
(Fr Martin OSB)
Gospel Passage for Divine Mercy Sunday
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
24 Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
25 So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
28 Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.
31 But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
From the CTS
Let’s Pray Together for an End to the Coronavirus
In the Gospels, Jesus assured us on several occasions that persistent prayer would be answered.
He told us:
“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
In The Tablet – www.thetablet.co.uk
Pope Francis tells Austen Ivereigh that this extraordinary Lent and Eastertide could be a moment of creativity and conversion for the Church, for the world and for the whole of creation. He describes daily life under lockdown inside the Vatican, praises “the miracle of the next-door saints” – the doctors, nurses, volunteers, religious sisters, priests, shop workers who are keeping society functioning – and laments how the pandemic has exposed the “throwaway culture” and the hypocrisy of politicians who speak of facing up to the crisis while in the meantime selling weapons. We should be preparing now for an aftermath that will be tragic and painful.
A Pandemic Prayer – from Fr Larry Tensi (St Columban Parish, Cincinnati),
May we who are merely inconvenienced
remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
remember those most vulnerable.
Tools for keeping in touch
While so many are required to be in isolation in our households, many are trying new ways to keep connected
Connection with God and Church
Daily prayers – Magnificat.com/free or https://universalis.com/
and many others eg SacredSpace
Live streaming of services https://www.churchservices.tv/churches/
Live stream from the Dominican sisters at Sway in the New Forest includes daily office, Mass at 12.15 (ish) daily but 11am on Sundays. A community of 13 sisters who sing their prayer and are gifted that Fr Richard lives in a cottage in the grounds of the priory.
For family, friends and for Team Meetings www.Zoom.us, of course there’s also Skype, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp and others.