Ampleforth Abbey

14 December 2017

Echoes of the Word, 13th October 2017

Echoes of the Word is an occasional newsletter from the monks of Ampleforth Abbey, featuring reflections on the readings, feasts and seasons of the Church's year and the journey of discipleship. Click here if you are interested in subscribing.

ABRIDGED WEB VERSION

St Edward the Confessor

Edward the Confessor - secondary patron of this monastery - is in some ways, a downbeat exemplar. Lacking an heir, his reign marked the close of the Anglo-Saxon era. In a sense, his reign was a waiting room for the death of one world and the emergence of an as yet unknown successor. Perhaps, however, that very sense of the contingent, of the fragility of worldly trappings and achievements, is what makes him such a suitable model; and not only for monks or nuns. Monasteries, like individuals, have at times forgotten that we have here no abiding city. Our world is, of course, radically different from mid-11th Century England. However, human nature remains unchanged. Ambition, jockeying for position, fear of the future, and a corresponding urge to store up treasures against uncertain days, remain current realities. We cannot read Edward’s mind as he pondered the future. However, we might draw comfort from the fact that when our own unforced goodwill is not enough to prompt us to act well, sometimes circumstances prod us along the right road. Edward appears to have attained a degree of detachment from material concerns; perhaps aided by his awareness of how much was beyond his control. And perhaps – with all due attention to necessary planning – we might seek to imitate him in this.

Fr Philip Rozario OSB

Commentary on Luke 11: 15-26

The Gospel reading for St Edward’s day is the first part of St Matthew’s account of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, the beatitudes: happy, or blessed, are the poor in spirit, the gentle, the merciful, the pure in heart... At first glance they are very comforting, but, when we look harder, we see that they are challenging too. Yet it may help us to rise to that challenge if we regard the beatitudes not so much as a list of qualifications for entry to the kingdom as qualities of those who belong there, fruits of belonging to the kingdom. If we are in any measure poor in spirit or gentle or merciful or peacemakers or pure I heart, like St Edward, we are so because we already belong to the kingdom: the kingdom, as John the Baptist said, is present; the king, the Messiah who came to establish the kingdom, is here and he lives in our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit. God calls us to let that same Holy Spirit bring the gifts of the kingdom to perfection in us, so that we will grow into the fullness of knowledge of the kingdom, of God’s love, which St Edward already enjoys.

Fr Alban Crossley OSB

 

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