A Neat Co-Incidence

By one of those co-incidences that only the Holy Spirit can manage, we celebrate today two saints with the gift of healing — St Winefride and St Martin de Porres — and read chapter 27 of the Rule of St Benedict, On the Special Care the Abbot Should Have for the Excommunicated. What could be better for the day of the presidential election in the U.S.A. and for when Austria and Afghanistan are in mourning for yesterday’s loss of life in terrorist attacks.

The real healing that takes place at Holywell is not a physical cure but an inward, spiritual one. I was completely unprepared for the impact the shrine would have on me when I first visited it. The legends surrounding St Winefride may stretch credulity, but no one can be unaffected by the sense of prayer that invests every stone. It is in truth a holy place. In the same way, St Martin de Porres, who was born poor, lived poor, and died poor, is the patron saint of racial harmony. Of mixed race himself, he understood the many and various ways in which race can be used to put people down, disparage them, treat them as ‘other’, less than human. He, too, has much to say to us today. And St Benedict? In chapter 27 he goes to great lengths to express the care the abbot must have for the weak and wayward, for those who cause him sleepless nights and infinite trouble. His is not a tyranny over the strong but service of those in need.

Today, when the people of the U.S.A. are called upon to vote for the man who will be their political leader for the next four years and the governments of Austria and Afghanistan must respond to the violence in their midst, the need for healing, for racial harmony and care of the least able members of society, has never been greater. We are in the midst of a pandemic that has shattered old certainties and exposed what we are truly made of, sometimes to our chagrin, but I think today’s neat conjunction of saints and saint’s reflections can nudge us in a more positive direction. Let us pray it may be so.

The text of RB 27 is available as a podcast here : https://anchor.fm/digitalnun/episodes/Rule-of-St-Benedict–chapter-27-The-Abbots-Special-Care-for-the-Excommunicated–as-read-in-monasteries-on-4-March–4-July-and-3-November-eg92cd/a-a2k8v2a

Below are links to some of my previous posts about St Winefride’s Well.

  1. https://www.ibenedictines.org/2015/11/03/as-long-as-men-are-mortal-and-god-mercifulrb-27-and-st-winefrides-well/
  2. https://www.ibenedictines.org/2015/06/26/pilgrimage-to-st-winefrides-well/
  3. https://www.ibenedictines.org/2018/12/12/where-prayer-has-been-valid/

7 thoughts on “A Neat Co-Incidence”

  1. Thanks for a great post.

    The need for Spiritual as well as physical healing has never been more needed. So many people are suffering from anxiety and depression, feeling hopeless and neglected, missing out on life in community, and now with the next lockdown, the spiritual consolation of the Sacraments. For many who are unable to access social media, virtual worship is impossible and despite many innovative ministers reaching out by other means, the physical presence among people is so important to many of us.

    I am fortunate, that despite the closure of churches in the next lockdown, I will be leading and preaching from Church via streamed worship to our pages on facebook, and will afterwards share the resulting video with the many who have basic email and a computer to allow them to view it in their own homes.

    Remembrance was to be an important commemoration of both the war dead, but also for us those who have died in the current pandemic, a follow up to our All Souls Service on Saturday, streamed live.

    At the moment it seem that we will be limited to myself and the Vicar in Church broadcasting a Communion Service, because actually doing the service at the War Memorial in the Church Grounds might attract a crown, who it would be difficult to control and our local authority has already made it clear that such services need to be strictly controlled, with the Rule of Six observed. Our question is how can you limit numbers in an Open Public Space (the Church Yard), without Police involvement, it would be impossible. And the Police have already said, they don’t police Remembrance apart from civic events.

    An opportunity for some to express their emotions of grief, loss in the past or “just the recent past” is denied them. Which has to be regretted. I will pray for them as much as I will pray for those who’ve died. And I hope that our worship in Church, will go someway to help them.

    • All very important points, Ernie, and it’s good to know how your parish, and you personally, are trying to meet the situation in which we find ourselves. While others have concentrated on live-streaming worship, etc, we have used more old-style teleconferencing for those who have ‘phones but only limited access to Broadband, etc. I’m mulling over a post about the latest Lockdown but I suspect many more will say whatever I want to say, but better.

  2. Wonderfully healing just to read this. St Winefride’s church in Little Neston Cheshire is where my heart is, and where my ashes will eventually rest with those of my late husband and son. Thank you dear Sister. I learn something fresh from each of your Blogs. God Bless You .

  3. Is there anywhere online where I could read the words of Benedict? I am not a catholic but every time you quote him he seems to have something to say worth listening to.
    I love to read your blog sister and am glad you found peace and rest at the shrine you visited. God Bless You.

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