Message to the Society from Fr Gabriel Everitt OSB
Only a few weeks ago on Ash Wednesday, as we began the Lenten season leading to our joyful celebration of the Resurrection at Easter, none of us could have imagined that this time of penance would become such a challenging one. Even the cliché about living in unprecedented times now seems tired.
The very bedrock of our faith – attendance at Mass and receiving Holy Communion – can no longer be taken for granted and we are all having to learn the language of social distancing and self-isolation. We may have seen images of Pope Francis walking down the empty streets of Rome, and, closer to home, empty supermarket shelves. All schools are closed, no public worship allowed. The rug of normality has been pulled from under us.
But it is at times like this that we must face up to the challenge of another cliché: every crisis is an opportunity. At the moment it is very difficult to discern where God may be in all of this and there may be many whose loved ones have died, or whose financial or educational futures have been endangered as a result of Covid-19 who may be railing against him. Be assured that in these challenging times we are placing everything in God’s hands, praying each day for those who have died, for those who are suffering and filled with the anxiety of loneliness and isolation. We pray, too, for all those working ceaselessly on behalf of the whole country.
At this time the monastic community will continue to celebrate its daily Office and Conventual Mass in the Abbey Church, but, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Bishops’ Conference, these will be celebrated without a public congregation. Much as the monastic community regrets this move, the guidelines must be followed. Although private celebrations, all Offices and Conventual Masses will be live streamed and further information can be found via this link: https://www.ampleforth.org.uk/abbey/service-times
Pope Francis once said ‘To us Christians the future has a name. And its name is Hope.’ The penitential season on which we embarked on Ash Wednesday will be longer than the time envisaged in the calendar, but Easter will come. Let us together use this time of trial in such a way that we may then experience still more profoundly the joy of the Resurrection.
Prior Administrator and Acting Religious Superior, Ampleforth Abbey