News from St Mary the Virgin, Kenton on the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 10th/11th October 2020
There is a distinctly autumnal feel about the place. “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” as John Keats described it in his poem “Ode to Autumn” and, of course, there are some lovely hymns of thanksgiving … that of course we can't sing at the moment … but the lyrics are just timeless:
“Come, ye thankful people, come; raise the song of harvest home” and “We plough the fields and scatter” with the chorus: “All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above, then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all his love.”
It is difficult at times, particularly during this on-going pandemic, to find the reason or the energy to give thanks. But there will be an end, possibly later rather than sooner, and in the meantime we must give thanks for all those who are doing their very best to help us through this crisis. Not just the doctors and nurses and care-workers, or the shopkeepers and delivery drivers, or those who are striving to find a coronavirus vaccine…but the people who care about us. Our family members and friends who rally round and cheer us up when we are feeling down.
Just a few days ago, Pope Francis released his latest papal letter, or encyclical entitled “Fratelli tutti” (literally means: “All brothers” – but has been defined as “On fraternity and Social Friendship”). Chapter 8 contains this powerful message:
In my fraternal meeting, which I gladly recall, with the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, “we resolutely [declared] that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood. These tragic realities are the consequence of a deviation from religious teachings. They result from a political manipulation of religions and from interpretations made by religious groups who, in the course of history, have taken advantage of the power of religious sentiment in the hearts of men and women… God, the Almighty, has no need to be defended by anyone and does not want his name to be used to terrorize people”. For this reason I would like to reiterate here the appeal for peace, justice and fraternity that we made together:
“In the name of God, who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and who has called them to live together as brothers and sisters, to fill the earth and make known the values of goodness, love and peace;
“In the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill, affirming that whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity, and that whoever saves a person is like one who saves the whole of humanity;
“In the name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized and those most in need, whom God has commanded us to help as a duty required of all persons, especially the wealthy and those of means;
“In the name of orphans, widows, refugees and those exiled from their homes and their countries;
“In the name of all victims of wars, persecution and injustice;
“In the name of the weak, those who live in fear, prisoners of war and those tortured in any part of the world, without distinction;
“In the name of peoples who have lost their security, peace and the possibility of living together, becoming victims of destruction, calamity and war;
“In the name of human fraternity, that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal;
“In the name of this fraternity torn apart by policies of extremism and division, by systems of unrestrained profit or by hateful ideological tendencies that manipulate the actions and the future of men and women;
“In the name of freedom, that God has given to all human beings, creating them free and setting them apart by this gift;
“In the name of justice and mercy, the foundations of prosperity and the cornerstone of faith;
“In the name of all persons of goodwill present in every part of the world;
“In the name of God and of everything stated thus far, [we] declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard”.
Now THAT is something to give thanks for! You can read the full document at https://rcdow.org.uk/att/files/papal%20documents/papa-francesco_20201003_enciclica-fratelli-tutti.pdf
or there are shorter summaries at https://www.cbcew.org.uk/home/the-church/the-pope/pope-francis/fratelli-tutti/highlights-from-presentation-of-fratelli-tutti/
Perhaps the authorities in Belarus need to be reminded of these matters, as it is clear that Harrow ACAT's Prayer case of the month, Marfa Rabkova, should be given the grace “In the name of freedom…” to campaign for the rights of her fellow citizens.
First Mass of the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time is on Saturday at 6.00pm. Sunday's Parish Mass at 10.30am. A reason for us all to give thanks – that we can still attend (at least, for the time being!). Take care and God bless.