“Person to Person — P2P”
Letters to the Editor of St Benet’s Beccles Website
One early comment from a reader.
“I think if you are going to open up the discussion then you should decide on a policy re anonymity. I wonder if people would be more ready to respond if they knew their name wasn’t attatched to it?
Our policy is now anonymity for all – except for your Editor’s replies and/or comments. (Well, fair’s fair, isn’t it? I know who you are, after all!)
The Two Great Commandments
As part of “A Reader Writes” for “All Saints Day” there was a reference back to the previous Sunday’s message to:-
“Love God … AND thy Neighbour as thy Self.”
And adding the comments:-
- Okay, loving God is the right thing to do.
- Yes, we can all love ourselves; who is more deserving?
- BUT – loving our neighbour? That is where it gets difficult!
On Monday, I received this reply
Oh, it’s such a pleasure to read the “Reader’s Writing”, thank you.
Though I don’t agree on one thing – just something I wanted to share.
I don’t think it’s easy to love yourself.
I think one of the huge sadnesses in the world is the number of people struggling with low self-esteem, who think they have no value. That makes them less than fully themselves and means that it’s so much more difficult to give love and forgiveness to one’s neighbour.
Jesus came to make us whole, didn’t he?
He came so that we could know how much we are loved by God and how precious we are. So many individuals feel worthless and feel that their lives make no difference. These are the people He wants us to reach out to because knowing God must surely make us value who we are, and give us a sense that we can contribute something?
So, for me the three are equally important (and difficult)
Love your Neighbour,
Love your Self.
That is a particularly important point, and very well made.
I know that I am not a victim of low self-esteem – I wouldn’t do this if I was! – but you are right that we should all remember that others may not share our good fortune.
I think the Writer addressed that concern – at least in part – by drawing our attention to the Gospel for “All Saints”.
The Writer says,
“The Gospel really sings out with joy as Jesus lists the rewards that will come in the next life, for those who have suffered torments and difficulties in this one.
What do you think?
Replies to firstname.lastname@example.org are welcome and, if appropriate, will be published anonymously.
A Request that we all “Think of Others”
As editor of the website and E-News, I was approached by two different parishioners last weekend. Both asked that I put a request into the E-News asking for us all to think of the “at risk” parishioners in these times of Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines. Below, I paraphrase the comments they made, with some of my own added.
We are all delighted to see a good number of regulars now attending our Masses, (and a number of visitors from other locations too,) in spite of – or should that be “because of” – the procedures that have been put in place to ensure the safety of all participants.
However, we do have a large number of parishioners who are in the “at risk” category – either because of age, under-lying medical conditions or other circumstances. Many of them have been in “Lockdown”, or “Shielding” or “Self-isolation” since the pandemic started and they are extremely nervous about returning to the “new normal” behaviour that the rest of us are enjoying.
The request made was really quite simple.
“Please, can we all take that little bit of extra care and continue to “follow the rules” as fully as possible?”
It is easy for the younger and/or fitter to feel perfectly healthy, and to believe that they will not be badly affected, even if they do contract the virus. (I must admit that I am arrogant enough to think like that, even though I am pretty close to the “at risk” category, on two counts.) And I share the view that the frequent changes to the rules do not make adherence exactly easy!
But, it is in our own interests to do everything possible to keep the virus at bay. And, if we do think of those who are more “at risk”, we must strive to avoid any chance of passing it on to them.
Our obvious adherence to the rules will help others to take their own cautious steps to return to normality, and I am sure we all wish them well on their journey.
And isn’t it a sad commentary on the situation we are all in, that the best way we can show we “Love Our Neighbour” is to keep at arm’s length from them?
Please, keep safe and look after each other.
A Personal Message of Love and Support
I wonder if it’s possible to put the link to this song, “Abide With Me”, on the website for Anne Ronald? And to say we are praying for her, knowing she is now walking in the light and out of pain.
She’s the only person I know who didn’t just feel sorry for homeless and marginalised people but actually did something for them. She was a very kind and generous woman who cared for anyone she came into contact with.
Rest happily Anne.
Copy of Email received – with two queries
I was pleased with my Missal purchase but was a bit stumped when Fr Martin announced he was using a special Eucharistic Prayer to be found in an appendix in the new Missals. Sadly my new missal has no such appendix!!. No great matter, that will hopefully be only an occasional situation.
However it would be really helpful to me and every one else returning to missal use after years of being spoon fed with a specific weekly missalette if the chosen Eucharistic prayer and Preface of the day could be included in the bulletin alongside the Sunday number . Any chance you could do that?
Many thanks in anticipation
And my replies as Editor
I share your concern about the use of the “Additional” Eucharistic Prayers – the supplementary ones are not included in my missal, either – but they are in Barbara’s and both were published in 2011. And to be honest, I wasn’t even aware such things existed until I found we were about to use one of them last Sunday!
I think the publisher’s choice comes down to giving us something that meets most of our needs, is a realistically portable size, and is at a reasonable price. And as you say – that isn’t a very frequent problem.
As a personal aside, and as a really simple sort, I sometimes wish we could just have the same prayers for every Mass – but then there are so many wonderful, meaningful, prayers that may be highly relevant to a particular Day, or Mass Intention, or Season of the Church Year. It would be a shame not to use them, so I just have to use sticky labels on the various pages/sections of my missal. (If you would like to see my method, just ask – I’ve done it for Barbara’s missal, too.)
This is the first week we have published this information – and I think we are still learning what is wanted. At the last minute, – after the Newsletter was printed – I was able to put some of the info you refer to into the E-Bulletin, and I saw that Fr M posted it on the front Hymn Board in St Benet’s – but I agree we all need it, and we will try to get it into the Paper Newsletter as well.
Again, many thanks for the feedback – and I am glad your new missal is helping.
In this week’s mail bag, I received this message. As always, it is posted anonymously.
I totally agree that the website is a great way to get people talking and thinking, doubting and encouraging. That’s a very exciting idea.
God is shaking us all up in these strange times and it is difficult to feel the confidence and comfort we have often looked for in our faith. I actually don’t think faith should be comfortable, I think we should always be ready to look hard at a situation to see the truth in it and the truth might not be comfortable to us.
The problem, of course, is how to discern the truth from the nonsense! That comes down to prayer.
I think that the attention to constant daily personal prayer is something missing in the Catholic liturgy; it is all too easy to rely on the Mass to do the job for us. Our faith should be hard work, a daily attention to God and his will – certainly not something I am very good at!
Then we can be ready to take on the difficult situations (and difficult people!) who come our way.
Your comments will be welcome…
In my email with Sunday’s E-Bulletin, I, as editor, included the following reminiscence:
I recall when our frigate was in Hong Kong, we were sent to sea to ride out a typhoon that was heading our way – rather than risk being damaged in harbour. I was on watch at the height of the storm, in tumultuous seas, when we were thrown onto our “beam ends” – and lay over at an angle of 47 degrees. To stand upright we had to have one foot on the deck and the other on the “vertical” bulkhead. I was sure we were going under and cried out “God help us!” – not so much in fear or anger but more as a genuine plea for help. And help we got. Somehow, the ship seemed to shake herself free of the huge weight of water on deck, come upright and we continued the battle until the storm abated. Two days later, I thanked God, when we made it safely back to harbour.
NO! it was not a miracle. As my career as a sailor progressed, I learned that it was the operation of the laws of physics. The Centre of Gravity, the Centre of Buoyancy and the Metacentric Height between them, inter-reacted as they were meant to.
What makes this relevant? Well, it seems as though I was a bit like St Peter!! I didn’t understand what was actually happening; I was definitely scared; I did not know what to do; I said a prayer. And “someone” helped me survive the experience.
I have received two replies, (which, as always, are posted anonymously)
I was moved by the personal story you shared with us with your latest E-bulletin but I feel that the conclusions you came to were somewhat wide of the mark.
You state that your being saved from disaster was NOT a miracle. I beg to differ.
All of our life and being is a miracle of God’s love for us, yet you give credit for being saved from disaster to the fundamentals of natural law (created by God) and not to your faith in Him. Peter made that same mistake and yet he was saved from drowning by God’s love and mercy.
Why did God save him? To show his almighty power to the rest of the disciples but also because he still had work for him to do.
Same for you! Our parish family is being tossed in the storm of this Corona virus and he has work for you to do to help us ride this storm – as you are currently doing with love for Him and his children.
YOU are a miracle of God’s love, just as is his miracle of creation.
Please have more faith in Him and his love for you and for us all.
With God’s blessing.
And this one:
“I do think that the response you had to your storm prayers was a miracle. I believe we experience miracles often without recognising them for what they are. I have heard so much from my mother, whose home was a sailing barge for the first 7 years of her life. She used to talk of waves higher than the mast and the prayers they all used to say for deliverance and the sense of the ship responding and climbing up the wall of waves. They had such faith, despite the difficult life.”
Many thanks to the two writers. Their comments certainly gave me me something to think about over the weekend.
What do you think?
Many thanks Terry.
Hope all goes well tomorrow. We’ll certainly be thinking of you all as we join the Dominican Sisters for their live stream Mass and we do truly thank you and others of the team for all you have done/are doing to ensure the safety and well-being of those attending Mass at St Benet’s.
We WILL meet again – but until then take care, all of you!
Hilary and Mike
A lovely message – which, although addressed to your editor, is actually meant for ALL those who have worked so hard behind the scenes to help maintain – and indeed build – the Community Spirit of St Benet’s, Beccles.
As we reach what is truly a milestone in our “Coping with Corvid”, I think it is only right to draw the attention of ALL parishioners to the huge amount of work and real leadership we have been fortunate to receive from Father Martin.; Deacons Tony and Mike; and our other lay office holders and volunteers.
While it might be a bit tedious to mention them all by name, I think those who are involved DO know who are the ones doing a lot of the less glamorous and more mundane jobs that keep the parish functioning.
My role – which I just LOVE doing, – is primarily for my benefit and it makes me feel good to be recognised for it. But I know I am just a front man!
All I ask now, is that we all think for a minute to say “Thank You.” to those who clean the Church; set up those beautiful flowers; keep the accounts; tend the gardens; mend the leaky roof; organise the socials; stimulate the prayers; organise the readers; wash the vestments ….. and so it goes on!!
The list is almost endless – so just THANK YOU ALL.
BUT especially Father Martin!!
This afternoon, I received this little note from a well-respected member of the Parish.
“We enjoy all your ‘newsy’ e-bulletins and do like the longer ‘Reader Writes’ but would like to know who has written it. Is there any reason why the author’s name cannot be published – especially as the readers’ names are posted on the website…and we now know it was your own offering last week!”
Editor’s reply… Updated 03 July
I know that initially we offered anonymity to encourage the “shyer” Readers to come forward – and I know I love to see the different views and styles that are expressed.
I have since contacted the “Writers” and the concensus is that, while some don’t mind being named, we should respect the right of others to remain anonymous.
So, “No Names; No Pack Drill!”, it remains!
As Editor, in my covering email with the E-Bulletin, I wrote:
I‘d had a first look at the readings for the 13th Sunday – and felt really quite sad to be reading the texts and knowing we won’t be meeting and sharing the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments together. (And the coffee and biscuits and chat afterwards!).
But then I read the entrance antiphon – which I copy for those without a missal close to hand: “All peoples, clap your hands; Cry to God, with shouts of joy”.
And so I did – and I felt much better for it. I realised I have nothing to feel sad about – and I thanked God! STRANGE! – I don’t usually feel the urge to talk to God!
And I received this reply:
“Thank you Terry for your ‘informal note’, as always!”
“Talking to God indeed – who’d have thought it?! What is prayer, anyway?!”
To which I have no clever answer. Thank you for that – I thought I’d share your comment!
And the Background to the Person to Person Page
During the present “Lockdown”, a number of parishioners have said they are missing the personal parish contacts that are so important to us all. We think a “Letters to the Editor” page might help.
Please note that while the message can be published anonymously if you wish – the real name of the author must be supplied to the editor. (This is just to stop mischievous persons posting spam messages.)
What Sort of Messages Can be Sent?
Messages could include, for instance, Requests for Prayers; Thanks for Prayers Answered; Requests for – and Offers of – Help; Condolences for Bereaved Parishioners; Reports of Activities and Initiatives in other Churches; Suggestions for Spiritual Opportunities; Inspiring Messages and Music from the Internet; (and maybe even some “church related” jokes to lighten the mood).
Really, anything to stimulate and build our parish community – and, in turn, make the website more relevant to all our parishioners, – even making it more of a two-way communication.
Below are some examples of what might be published, culled from recent replies to the E-Bulletins, in May 2020. All are shown anonymously, as they were not written with publication in mind.
St Benet’s Prayers – “Together On Thursday At Three”
Maybe we should have our own St Benet’s Covid-19, clearance prayers at the same time each week, a bit like the Thursday night clap for the NHS. Same time, same day each week. Is Three o’clock a good time?
Excellent stuff and just what we need to hear, during this time. Well done for being brave. We will be joining in on Thursday just as you suggest.
Person To Person
We value the contact and if you feel like giving a homily or pontificating on anything, that is fine by us.
I think it’s a great idea and please feel free to use my email. We’re in strange times and need to do what we can to help connect people who sadly can’t have personal contact. God bless and I hope you, your family and everyone in St Benet’s stays well.
So, what do I think? I liked your refreshing honesty. I miss Mass greatly, but through your communications I feel I am still in touch with the Church. A huge thank you.
I have been reflecting a bit too (something I don’t usually do) after seeing a programme on TV. They questioned the idea of transubstantiation among other things. I have often thought about that.