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WORLD SERVICE IS THE NAME WE ARE GIVING TO A WEEKLY SUNDAY SERVICE AT 3PM. ITS PURPOSE IS TO PRAY FOR THE NEEDS OF THE WORLD. EACH WEEK A DIFFERENT WORLD PROBLEM WILL BE HIGHLIGHTED AND PRAYED FOR. THE SPECIALLY CONSTRUCTED SERVICE WILL TAKE PLACE BEFORE THE BLESSED SACRAMENT EXPOSED. IT WILL LAST ONE HOUR.
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
30 November 2014
They gave him a standing ovation and the clapping went on for ages, even though their applause had already interrupted him frequently during his speech. Thus the members of the European Parliament responded to the Holy Father’s words to them on Tuesday.
Settling down to watch it on BBC News 24, I had to switch over to EWTN on my computer, as the BBC (not surprisingly) gave it but five minutes. In fact, as far as I could ascertain, it gave greater coverage throughout the day to what Nick Clegg had to say about Europe (gainer of less than one-percent of the latest by-election poll) than to the Pope (leader of Europe’s majority religion). His message was superb, as the appreciative reception it got from the parliamentarians showed, and to cut it after five minutes was deplorable. If you can’t get EWTN on your television, find it on your computer or tabet; it will give you straightforward and unbiased reporting of what is really going on in the worldwide Catholic Church. Listen to what the BBC says about the Church and you will be perplexed and depressed; listen directly to what the Church is actually doing and saying and you will be delighted and elated.
As today is the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new year of grace for each and every one of us. I thought we could do no better than spend this lovely season reflecting on the Holy Father’s words. They and the message of Advent are closely intertwined. “In addressing you today” he said near the beginning of his speech, “I would like, as a pastor, to offer a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe”. Advent is the Season of Hope and Encouragement. The Pope spoke as a pastor to the parliamentarians before him and to the entire citizenship of Europe, seeing himself as Pastor not only to the Catholics of Europe but to everyone else, be they men and women of faith or of no faith at all.
“It is a message of hope,” he said, “based on the confidence that our problems can become powerful forces for unity in working to overcome all those fears which Europe – together with the entire world – is presently experiencing. It is a message of hope in the Lord, who turns evil into good and death into life.
It is a message of encouragement to return to the firm conviction of the founders of the European Union, who envisioned a future based on the capacity to work together in bridging divisions and in fostering peace and fellowship between all the peoples of this continent. At the heart of this ambitious political project was confidence in man, not so much as a citizen or an economic agent, but in man, in men and women as persons endowed with transcendent dignity.”
Notice how the Holy Father tells us that problems can become a force for good if handled in the right way. He is speaking of international matters, but his message also applies to each one of us individually to whom he is speaking. Which one of us does not have his problems? Well, look into them this Advent and see how they can become a force for good in your life. See your problems not as problems but as challenges and opportunities. This is what hope means: confidence in God who knows how to turn evil into good, and the wisdom which sees that He is always doing so.
Advent is the season when we focus on the coming of the Messiah, born like us into a human family. Son of God though he was/is, he was born as a man. His sharing in our human nature has enormously uplifted our dignity even though we were already created in the image and likeness of God. The Pope is encouraging us to see through the uniforms and badges we all like to wear, through the categories we like to impose on ourselves and others, and see everyone in the dignity that is theirs not only as creatures made in the image and likeness of God but also as individuals redeemed by the Precious Blood of the God-Man Jesus Christ. What a different take we would have on the world were we to carry this into practice! So there you are: two lines of action to take during the season of Advent, two new ways forward, two messages of hope and encouragement.
The Car Park is finished and the properties are painted. We have done a lot in the course of this year. I would like to thank John Dennison very particularly for seeing this car park project through. It was not a question of just dumping a load of tarmac and running it over with a steamroller. There was much else to negotiate; the Diocese had to give permission and guarantee a loan, the Council had to be consulted, the architect to draw up the plans, the parish priest to be kept happy (!); there were the foundations to consider; the levels to get right, the drainage to sort, the parking-bays to be mapped out and painted and the gates to be repaired. It has all been done in a thoroughly professional manner, and we are indebted to John for giving us the benefit of his considerable managerial experience.
I mentioned (somewhat tongue in cheek) in last week’s newsletter that maybe some rich and generous parishioner would come along willing to pay for the passageway alongside the church and the area in front of the house, to finish the job off completely. This is the only way in which it can be done, for the Diocese will not give us a further loan in a hurry nor allow us to spend further on the grounds, unless it is with money specifically given. It should cost about £15,000. Or, should I say £14,000; for one generous benefactor has already come forward and set the ball rolling with a thousand pound donation. Should contributions continue and that sum be reached, I trust John Dennison would continue his good, most thorough and greatly appreciated work!
Coming back to the Season of Advent, I have some good news for you. The Chamber Choir and Orchestra, Amici del Canto, whom we have often enjoyed performing in our church, will be visiting us twice more during this holy Season. They will be conducting a Christmas Concert for us on Sunday 21 December (details later) and leading the Carol Service before Midnight Mass. We are very grateful to Nigel Shaw, their leader, and to all the members of Amici de Canto.
Till then, dear Parishioners and Friends, have a joyful and wonderful Advent.
God bless you, Fr Antony
PRAYERS FOR ADVENT
Lord Jesus, our Advent Season takes our minds back to the days before you came among us. A Christless world. There was no hope of eternal life then. There was no meaning to life, no real direction. Only a question of making the most of things, eating and drinking and trying to forget the harsher elements of life…
And then you came. Light in the darkness. Hope in despair. Joy in deepest sadness. Spring in the depths of winter. With what joy and excitement the early Christians welcomed you!…
But, Lord, how we in this generation have closed our eyes. Closed our eyes to your light! Turned our back on all you have to offer, preferring the way things were! Preferring the darkness. Preferring the winter. Preferring the despair! Preferring a Christless world to a world full of hope and meaning. How can our society behave so foolishly, ignoring you, the greatest gift God can give?…
Yet, Lord, even as we go our own unheeding way, you are there in our very actions. There in our giving. There in our loving. An unseen presence. Always with us. Always faithful…..
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to this your presence among us. Make this Advent a season of grace for us. Help us to recognise with contrite hearts just how much we need you, just how much we have neglected you, just how blind we have all become……
And may Mary, who welcomed you with so much love, pray for us now. Hail Mary…
CALLING ALL PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS
The Preparation for Confirmation Classes begin on Tuesday 11 November. They are held at 4pm every Tuesday at Stella Maris for Years 7 and 8.
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