I READ wrrn deep interest and compassion the article by Joe Jenkins, "The Pastoral Life on the Front Line" and Piers McGrandle's comments on the debate of Rev Christopher Gray as a martyr or not (Catholic Herald, 23 August). Both articles seemed very poignant to me at the time as I live in an arca once described "as a no-go area"on a small, (in parts) rundown council estate. I read your articles after coming round from an exhausted fitful doze one Saturday afternoon. The first time in months I had had five minutes to myself.
In these areas one has to "live with" (not get used to) the 'unexpected'. Children arriving at the door with a broken nose, in tears, sometimes hungry and just frightened or mostly because of being bullied. I have no television, no telephone and only one door to the flat. It is quite true, as the London nun said, that you take a risk when you open the door especially late
at night, and as in the Parable
of the man who disturbs his neighbour at midnight, when one lives in these areas, such an incident is often the case.
Ironically I too have found that when I leave my door wide open, in the day-time with the lights on and sometimes the windows open, it does act as a deterent. In fact I think it helps others in the area to feel secure.
I truly love the people and children in the area. My real protection is my prayer life. One cannot survive, without being truly exhausted all (itals) the time, without the "spiritual dynamo" of the prayer life and the Sacraments of the Church. For me, I find the Divine Office, the Rosary, Divine Mercy, two hours meditation early morning and evening, weekly/fortnightly Confession and Daily Mass are the only means of "serious ammunition" in "the front line"; eclipsed with total trust in God's Mercy. As Fr Birch (in the article) said, it is indeed a tightrope between "gentleness and firmness" in dealing with every situation which we have to tread. When nerves arc fraught I too find Walsingham a haven to recharge my spiritual and physical batteries. Never before has tender, loving care
been so needed in our "poor,
spiritually deprived" world as it is today why else would people continually come knocking at our doors? Please pray for me. Thank you!
Sr Mary Michael Lincoln