Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Feeling Christ's strength
I had a good day off yesterday - I went for a walk around Kirkby Overblow and Sicklinghall between Harrogate and Wetherby. The bluebells and the wild daisies in the hedgerows contrasted nicely with the vibrant yellow of the oil seed rape in the fields. I saw great tits, red kites and a skylark ascending, pouring out his song all over the surrounding countryside. Halfway round I popped into the Catholic church at Sicklinghall which is part of St Joseph's Parish, Wetherby, where I did my first curacy. Sunday Mass has not been celebrated in Sicklinghall for some years: the number of Masses has had to be reduced due to the shortage of priests. As I sat there in the quiet, remembering the many weddings at which I had officiated there in summers past, the fact of our decline as a Church struck me quite forcibly. No doubt more churches will have to close or lose the Sunday Mass in the years to come. Yet, I was also struck by our unassailable resilience. The sanctuary lamp indicating the Blessed Sacrament burned near the tabernacle in the church. Christ will not withdraw his presence from us, so we have nothing to fear. Outside I said a prayer at the attractively carved grave of Bishop Cornthwaite, the first Bishop of Leeds. He did his work then; we do ours now; Christ sustains and unites us, uses us for his purposes and draws us to himself; really, notwithstanding all our heartache, where's the problem?