Ampleforth Abbey

25 February 2018

Echoes of the Word 2nd October 2016

Commentary on Luke 17:5-10

At first sight the two themes of this little passage seem entirely unrelated, the need for faith and the strict and unyielding behaviour of the slave-owner. But it is of the very nature of faith that it involves perseverance and patience. Jesus sometimes has a way of stating his point in a way which seems to us exaggerated! Cutting off a hand or foot which offends is surely not Jesus’ literal intention. The rich are not excluded from the Kingdom of God quite as strictly as the camel from passing through the eye of a needle; this is only a way of issuing a dauntingly strong warning. In the same way, the image of the mulberry tree is only a way of stating with maximum strength that there is nothing that faith cannot achieve. Not all parables are allegories. The difference is that in an allegory each point of the story has a meaning of its own (as in the parable of the wheat and the weeds), whereas in a parable it is necessary to have only one point of comparison. So we need not think of God as the severe and unappreciative slave-owner who comes home and demands his dinner from the already exhausted slave. The point is the need for endurance if we are to serve God as he should be served.

Fr Henry Wansbrough OSB

Our Lady of the Rosary

As summer wanes and autumnal shadows lengthen, the Church sets herself to express particular honour towards Our Lady of the Rosary to whom the month of October is traditionally dedicated. The old title for this Feast was ‘Our Lady of Victory’ since it commemorated the great battle of Lepanto (1571) when the Christian West faced the Muslim East in a decisive engagement to determine the fate of the Mediterranean as key point of access to the West. The ‘instrument of war’ used by the Christian armies in this crucial conflict was the holy Rosary, the chaplet of Our Lady given to St Dominic in the thirteenth century, which Pope Pius V ordered should be prayed throughout the length and breadth of Christendom in preparation for the battle. The Christian victory was decisive and memorialised through the Feast which was to be kept on 7th October throughout the universal Church and to be known as ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’, as stipulated by Pope Clement XI exactly three hundred years ago in 1716. Two hundred years later, Our Lady of Fatima, in her last appearance there on 13th October 1917, said: ‘I am Our Lady of the Rosary. Continue to say the Rosary every day.’

Fr Alexander McCabe OSB