Home > Meditations in Time of Retreat > FR EUAN’S CHRISTMAS LETTER

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

So how did you feel this year? Normally that would be a question I couldn’t answer for myself, but this year I think we all have a good idea about how we felt. Anxious, lonely, frustrated, a bit angry but not sure with whom, and so forth. One thing Covid has done for us is force us all into the same world, odd as that sounds, since Covid has done so much to separate us from each other. Yet it is a shared experience. There will always be illness, always epidemics of one sort of another, but this one will pass. Neither the good things nor the bad stay the same. When it passes, there may be a legacy. Perhaps we won’t shake hands again, probably not at Mass anyway, perhaps we will whip out the masks every winter, but we forget stuff too. Ordinary life will come back. We will get back to a normalcy of sort, but normalcy has its problems too. There are these bleak words from Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. (Book 11. vv. 779-784)

I had hope
When violence was ceas’t, and War on Earth,
All would have then gone well, peace would have crownd
With length of happy dayes the race of man;
But I was far decav’d; for now I see
Peace to corrupt no less than War to waste.

This is Adam speaking after the Archangel Michael has shown him a vision of the future of mankind. We can lose the benefits of this epidemic, which has been a kind of war, much as peace, no matter how much we long for it in time of war, can be disappointing. The care and consideration we have had to learn to show each other can be allowed to fade. The sense of unity against a great threat, can be allowed to disappear. Normalcy has its problems too, as we get back to our old lives. We fall asleep again, and much that was valuable to our humanity is lost. Remember how often Our Lord tells us to stay awake, how easy it is to forget the terrible things have happened in history, and how easy it is to be taken unawares the next time. How easy it is to forget the promises we might make in times of stress, to be a little better as a neighbour in the future, to try a little harder to care. That’s the real challenge and it is what Adam means about peace corrupting.

So we have to continue to keep each other awake. That’s what we are trying to do in our work in the Order of Preachers. The priory tries to strengthen itself by constantly being awake. Keeping up our prayers, studying, thinking, being open to each other, learning as we teach. It has been an odd year for us, as we have had to celebrate our liturgy on our own, reminding us how much our religious life is bound up with the many who come to us. That is what apostolic life means, a life shared with others who seek God, and no priory could flourish in isolation. So once more we ask for your help to continue this life here in Cambridge, where we try to offer our novices a chance to make a good beginning to their Dominican life, and try to be of service to those who come to us. So let’s look forward to a new year, and by God’s grace, let’s be a little nearer to heaven.

With Christmas blessings,

Fr Euan Marley OP, Prior

2 Comments, RSS

  • Carol Jones

    says on:
    December 25, 2020 at 4:24 PM

    Dear Fr Ewan.
    Both of us have had a pretty tumultuous time with our health this year & we have a lot to be thankful for. The comment I wanted to refer to is that “Covid” has done a lot to separate us”. I agree we may not have been able to see friends/family abroad or even in this country this year. But where I live in Impington & Histon there has been a revolution in community spirit & this goes far into greater Britain than ever before. The advent nativity windows have been excellent this year which I showed Fr Dominic a few of when he visited with H Communion. The trees are all decked in lights except mine which resembles Ebenezer Scrouge. But throughout this year I have had so much to be thankful for. An NHS that saved my life & I can’t thank them enough. I saw them doing double shifts, sometimes triple shifts as staff were either ill themselves or had small children to look after. There has been a tremendous community spirit here & also in other parts of the villages that have ensured people are getting fed, seeing a GP if necessary & posting cards & getting shopping. I’ve never experienced that before & def would not have survived without this very large army of volunteer’s.
    I am so grateful that our community & others throughout England have been filled with this DDay operation that we will survive. But I am very aware that not every community has this volunteering spirit. There are areas within our own Cambridge locality that will go without on Christmas Day. Children will cry because there are no presents or very little food to keep them smiling & safe.
    Think I got all this from watching the film “The Two Popes” & then reading Pope Francis I book. Watching him today during his ” Urbi et Orbi” sermon he is intensely & intelligently aware of the suffering so many of our neighbours suffer in so many countries. He listed so many but if during his Papacy he can make a difference in some of these countries, he will have done God’s work on Earth.
    Wishing us both a better healthy life in 2021, once the vaccine has been given to all members of society; young or old So we both have positive outlooks on life so we must keeping praying with the Brethern & Sisters that this pandemic will cease come summer of 21. With my very humble soul I am so glad that God pointed me in the direction of Blackfriars Priory in Cambridge I do pray that you

  • Carol Jones

    says on:
    December 25, 2020 at 4:31 PM

    Whoops I hit the wrong button. I just wanted to say that in 2021 you will be able to walk alongside God without a stick. Bkeasubga peace, prayers & humility dear Fr Lawrence . With much spiritual love I wish you are able to find peaceful inside yourself.

    Salutations Carol (Jones) xx

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