BARBARA KNIGHT RIP
We have lots of pictures of Barbara Knight, but for her funeral Mass booklet I chose the one which I think is most characteristic of her. It shows her in Walsingham, a place she loved, it shows her on pilgrimage, a thing she loved to do, and it shows her striding out many yards in front of everybody else. If you look very carefully at the picture you can see me at the back, holding a megaphone; and I know that I would have been using the megaphone to call out to Barbara, ‘Slow down! The rest of us can’t keep up.’
Barbara chose the Gospel reading, and almost everything else in this Mass, herself. In the Gospel our Lord gives a famous list of the blessed: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth, and so forth. Where would we see Barbara in that list? I recall that St Thérèse of Lisieux could not see herself in any of the parts of the body of Christ, or rather, she could see herself in all of them. In the same way I can see a bit of Barbara in all the blessed, except perhaps the meek; meek she was not, she will have to pass on that one.
But I think the one where I see most of Barbara is: ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness’ sake, for they shall be satisfied.’ For Barbara did not just seek to do good, she hungered and thirsted to do so. She could not do anything by halves. She performed a number of ministries for this church, and performed all of them with great thoroughness. St Joseph’s benefited greatly from that. She was our parish treasurer, and was meticulous and creative in her book-keeping. She promoted the missions, with the effect that the missionary giving of this parish exceeded that of parishes far bigger and richer than ourselves. She assisted me in founding the Ryedale Walsingham Association, and has helped to keep it alive when other branches of the Association have withered and died. And many other things she did in the parish.
But her enthusiasm was not limited to the parish. She became president of the National Walsingham Association, she sang in the Diocesan Choir, she was a Lay Dominican, often travelling down to Leicester to attend their meetings, she was active in the Old Girls’ Association of the Bar Convent School. Also, outside the bounds of the Catholic Church, she was active in Ryedale Carers, visiting the elderly and housebound. Although she had no children of her own, she had a number of godchildren, and took her duties towards them very seriously. And I know of a number of people to whom Barbara showed extraordinary kindness and generosity.
This is beginning to sound like a list of the things Barbara did. Much more important is the person that Barbara was. I remember her, as many of you will remember her, as a very good friend. She often ate at our table, and we would talk about many things, whether financial (she was our treasurer), theological or devotional (she was a good Catholic) or personal. Indeed she could keep her end up in a conversation on any topic you might propose. Nothing daunted her.
Barbara’s choice for the Gospel reading was the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Let me remind you how that sermon ends: ‘Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock.’ Barbara built her house on a rock, and the rock was Christ. During her lifetime, she had her share of rain and floods and gales, but she did not fall; nor will she fall now. The Lord is surely waiting at the gate of heaven to say to her, ‘Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.’