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Holy Saturday - 11 April 2020

Please see the end of this message for Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday Mass links

and also the link to Melchior's guided meditation at 6pm on Easter Sunday.

Jesus in the Tomb

There is this moment in between the crucifixion and the resurrection which is neither.  When we are not sure we can distinguish between them, where one ends and the other begins.  That time in the tomb when silence reigns, no activity. Where everything stops.

Maybe it's a moment for all of us to look again at suffering, but this time to feel the light of the world beginning to shine through it.

We thank you, Lord, for this old woman who had such sad eyes.  Her body now in her 'narrow cell forever laid.'  Thank you for our old ones.  Thank you that this virus has perhaps made us look again into the eyes of our elderly, to see their suffering, and to value them and be much more sensitive to them.  Alleluia. The day I met this woman was both hilarious and profoundly sad.  The nun I was with was calling out, 'Bonjour' to an empty bed.  I thought the nun was going a bit nuts.  But then, from under the bed, first a hand appeared, then a leg, then her face, one of her eyes being completely blind.  She always lay under the bed where the tiles kept her cool.  Her 'lowly bed' was even more lowly than Gray had imagined in his Elegy.  This beautiful old one died a few days later, while we were there.

Lord, let this time help us to relook at suffering humanity.  Help us to just plain care.  Help us to see that we can be the light of the world.  Alleluia. These men were dockers.  When they saw us at the docks they immediately dropped everything and came to help us. They commandeered an old bashed up lorry and immediately began the huge task of getting everything from the ship to the Home.  There were literally tens of thousands of bottles and vials of medicines.  In moving it all, there was only one casualty, one solitary bottle of cough medicine got broken.  The 'woods' may not have 'bow'd under their sturdy yoke', but hundreds of boxes of medicines did as they lay across the boxes stacked high and expertly, on the lorry. Thank you, Lord, for our men.  We get such a hard time in the Passion of Christ, always behaving in such a dumb way.  But maybe it's time we look again at all our husbands, fathers and grandfathers and appreciate everything they are, especially their 'useful toil.'  (Pam, please don't make a typo here or I'll be going to live in Algeria.)    Alleluia!

This photograph again reveals something hidden.  In the background is the Home's trash dump.  If you look closely you'll see mattresses which were discarded.  These mattresses had been covered in urine, many of the old folk suffered incontinence.  We brought new mattresses and hundreds of yards of rubber matting.  Have you ever been sick and enjoyed the pleasure of a clean, newly changed bed?  And think of what you all did by transforming the dormitories into single rooms?  It's one thing to suffer incontinence, quite another to suffer it in public view. Out of all the boxes that the nuns opened the one which made them jump for joy the most, was a box filled with hundreds of black, plastic bin bags.  Getting rid of rubbish was such a problem for the nuns.  The guy that gave me them had, eh, 'disappeared' them from his work, in Kilsyth, Scotland.  He explained to me when he turned up at the church door with them, that he had no money or nothing really worthwhile to give.  What a gift it turned out to be.  It also tickled me pink every time I passed the dump, to see these bags bulging with refuse, marked on the side - Property of Kilsyth and District Council. Lord, thank you for that man - the good thief - and all those who clean up our mess behind us. Alleluia.

"Late have I loved thee,  Beauty so Ancient and so New."  Not as late as me, Augustine!  Indeed he was a 'heart once pregnant with celestial fire.'  Those of you who have a connection to the Augustinians will know that their emblem is a heart with celestial fire brimming out the top of it. Many have criticised Augustine's theology on sexuality.  We should give him a break.  After all, in his day, there was no such thing as a 'Send it to Sue...' page in a tabloid newspaper to guide him. Thank you, Lord, for St Augustine and especially for teaching us 'To be still and know that I am God.'  He called it 'interiorisation.'  Alleluia.

This 'sequestered' man covered his face every time he prayed - which was a lot. It was a mark of reverence.  So Holy was God to him, that his name must not be uttered without covering his mouth.  He knew who 'I AM' is.  He also rubbed a large black stone while he prayed, a bit like a gigantic rosary bead, perhaps.  After decades of devotion, the stone was now flat and shiny. Lord, we thank you for every human being who turns to you in prayer, regardless of creed or colour or practice.  It is ALL Holy.  Alleluia.

What a beautiful image for Good Friday.  A woman who devoted her entire life to Christ, carrying oil.  Every single day, with her entirety she put soothing oil on the wounds of the sick and anointed them in death, 'strewing a Holy text' wherever she went. Lord, thank you for the women of our community, for the mothers and grandmothers who are always there to heal wounds and bring comfort.  I asked my own mum last year how she ever managed to shop every day for eight of us, cook, clean, wash endless piles of laundry, while also attending to all of our 'catastrophes' as we grew, with such attention (and probably having to keep a straight face too!).  She said - "Love."  For all of you ladies, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Fr Steve

Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday Masses:

Melchior's Easter Sunday guided meditation, live at 6pm:

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