When I went to bed last night, Twitter and Facebook were full of comments on yesterday’s vote in the Anglican synod. I don’t comment on the internal affairs of other Churches, I don’t think it’s right, but I did note the despondency of many, the jubilation of others, the gratuitous rudeness of a few, and spent some time praying for everyone involved. This morning I awoke to the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, the Dies Memorabilis of the English Benedictine Congregation, and my own clothing anniversary. The common thread? Prayer, and the reminder that God is in charge and does not see as we see.
It is easy to be so convinced 0f the rightness of our own position that we assume that we are echoing the will of God (and that holds good whatever we are talking about). In fact, discerning God’s will takes some very delicate tuning in to the Holy Spirit. We don’t suddenly become quiet and receptive, or always read the signs aright. We have to work at it and be prepared to face many hardships and apparent reversals as we begin to learn whatever it is God wants us to learn.
Our Lady’s childhood and early womanhood prepared her for the moment when she was faced with the most important decision any human being has ever faced: would she accept the role of Mother of God and thereby make salvation possible for all of us? Until that moment, she had assumed that her life would be that of any Jewish woman of her time, encompassing marriage to Joseph and children with him. The English Benedictine Congregation had but a single survivor when Dom Sigebert Buckley admitted two Englishmen to its ranks and, unknowingly, ensured its survival to the present day. At the time, it must have seemed almost hopeless, a futile gesture, ludicrous even. But Fr Buckley, old and ill as he was, saw more clearly than many of his contemporaries; and I think he saw clearly because he was, by all accounts, a singularly prayerful and devout man. When I received the habit, I was merely the latest in a long chain of women, stretching back centuries, who had lived and died as Benedictine nuns. The community I joined had known its fragile moments — indeed, one of my kinswomen, a nun of Cambrai, had died in prison during the French Revolution — and I myself had no idea that one day I would be here, in Herefordshire, my vocation taking a different shape from what I had originally envisaged. Again, prayer is the link — not so much my own prayer as the prayer of the community.
I hope that my readers will not use this blog post as a vehicle to air their views, pro and anti, what happened yesterday. There are other and better places to do that. But I do hope everyone will stop for a few moments and pray. Prayer, like love, is the one thing that can never hurt another — and never get in God’s way.