CANON PATRICK’S 104th LETTER

Dear friends,
Rogation (‘Asking’) Sunday always makes me think of beetroot. When I was an ordinand in a
Yorkshire theological college run by Anglican monks, we always used to bless a section of
the monastery vegetable garden at Rogationtide. One year Brother Damian the Gardener
selected the beetroot patch for a special benediction. We processed over there from the
monastery church singing a suitable hymn. Holy water was sprinkled, prayers were said, and
then we all went off for supper.

The result of our efforts was startling. The beetroot flourished with an exuberance that it
had never previously possessed. However, hordes of rabbits descended on the rest of the
vegetable garden and ate everything in sight (leaving, of course, the beetroot). When we
students returned from our summer vacation placements, we couldn’t help noticing that
the monks all seemed to have acquired a slightly purplish tinge. Brother Zachary, the
monastery cook, was not famed for his culinary inventiveness. However, by that time he
could almost certainly have written a book entitled 101 Things to do with Beetroot.

I suspect that the lesson that the beetroot had for our intercessions (prayers of asking) was
that God does indeed answer our prayers, but not always in the way that we expect or even
desire. Prayer is not a form of magical incantation: an attempt to force God to do what we
want him to do. God is God. He knows our needs and the needs of those around us.
Sometimes he uses our prayers to nudge us into doing things that we ought to do.
Sometimes, surprisingly, we discover that we ourselves are the answer to our own or other
people’s prayers. At the heart of prayer, however, there is a mystery. In many cases,
including some our most desperate and heartfelt prayers when faced with the unrelieved
suffering of those we love, we can only glimpse things ‘as in a mirror dimly’ (to quote St
Paul). However, we still trust that when we finally emerge into the eternal light of God’s
love for us in Christ all will be made plain. In the meantime, we continue to hold each other
in our prayers.

SERVICES: Sunday 9 May (Rogation Sunday) 9am ZOOM EUCHARIST (p.140); 11yb CYMUN
BENDIGAID yn Eglwys Crist (t.140); 8am HOLY EUCHARIST in Llangunnor; 5pm ZOOM
EVENSONG; Wednesday 12 May (Ascension Day transferred) HOLY EUCHARIST (p.142);
Sunday 16 May (Ascension 1) 9.15am HOLY EUCHARIST in Christ Church (p.145); 11am
Services in Llangunnor & Newchurch; 5pm ZOOM EVENSONG. Seats for services in church
have to be pre-booked because of limitations caused by social distancing. Please contact
ROSEMARY BOWEN (English services) & MALCOLM JONES (gwasanaethau Cymraeg) to
ensure a place.

Canon Patrick

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