Advent is coming

Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas, starts Sunday 2 December.

Let’s make sure we are “prepared for our preparation” in good time.

* Groups are starting during the week beginning Monday 26 November to follow “Journeying towards Jesus” by Fr Denis McBride CSsR. To join a group contact the leader direct – for Monday afternoon tel. Tess Evans on 2075 5528, for Monday evening email Esther Mahoney, for Wednesday afternoon Sheila Roberts and Thursday afternoon Nigel Tuck. (note contact email addresses are shown in the downloadable newsletter pdf)

* And now, something new for us for Advent – “Reverse Calendars”! Instead of marking out the days by taking out of a calendar more chocolate or sweets to guzzle (as if Christmas wasn’t enough), why not instead put insome food each day into a box or bag that can then be brought along and given to the homeless or hungry. We want to run this between the first and third Sundays of Advent – 2nd and 16th December, in order for the proceeds to be distributed in time. More details in the newsletter.

* We will hold a Reconciliation Service at Christ the King on Monday 3 December at 7pm. Several priests will be present to help your spiritual preparedness.

* This year we will bring Carol Singing out into our 3 communities. You are invited to gather at one or more of our 3 Churches at 7pm on the following days. We will then visit surrounding streets singing carols, not to raise money, but purely to help to bring the Christian message of Christmas peace and joy into our neighbourhoods.
On Sunday 9 December we will be at Christ the King, Wednesday 12 December at St Paul’s and Sunday 16 December at St Brigid’s. Come to any or all, whatever is possible for you!

* Closer to Christmas itself we will then have our 3 Churches Carol Service, this year at St Paul’s on Wednesday 19 December. Put this in your diary, and be sure to invite someone along with you – there will be mulled wine and mince pies!

So – plenty to pray, think and do in this lovely season that is fast approaching. How will you mark Advent 2018, and how will our children and grandchildren know it is so important? It’s up to us all…

Fr Matthew

Joining the journey

Have you already begun your preparations for Christmas? How about making some space for that inner aspect of Advent which can so easily get forgotten, the inner journey to Bethlehem… This year in our 3 Churches we have an opportunity for some excellent quality spiritual preparation for our celebration of the Birth of Christ.

During the week starting Monday 26 November we will start a series of groups gathering to follow a book, much like we did earlier in the year with the successful “Do You Love Me?”. This time the resource is called “Journeying towards Jesus” and is written by the very respected Redemptorist priest and scripture scholar Denis McBride CSsR. As before, groups will gather at different times on different days, but this time round we invite you to choose your time and contact the leader direct – their details are below – to find out exact time and location of your chosen group’s gatherings. Friends who followed “Do You Love Me?” might well want to make this journey together too. Each group goes at its own pace, and doesn’t have to finish by 25 December!

The book is very well produced and illustrated, and packed with commentary, reflections, and material for us to think and share about. One group in the parish already has used it and recommends it highly. The title “Journeying towards Jesus” reminds us of the travels of the Shepherds and the Wise Men, but challenges us also to join them and journey closer to Our Lord. Who is this extra special Baby, how close to him really am I, and what does he mean for my life?

Monday afternoon Tess Evans 2075 5528
Monday evening Esther Mahoney
Wednesday afternoon Sheila Roberts
Thursday afternoon Nigel Tuck
+ another one or more, details to follow

I invite you to get involved in this project. You will get so much from it, and, who knows, almost certainly you will be able to give so much to it!

Fr Matthew

Their angels rejoice

Many of my most memorable moments as a priest – and as a human being – have been in the context of a death. Anointing the seriously ill, comforting and working together with a bereaved family to prepare a funeral, and of course celebrating the funeral itself – these are extraordinary moments that touch us to the core, and I remember very many of them.

And very often in the midst of all I sense the presence of Another, a man young but infinitely full of experience, love and wisdom. I’ve called on him so many times when faced with difficult situations, and without fail he is there, hidden but profoundly real. The Man who quietly slipped out of his own sepulcher one Sunday morning, is now available to all of us, when we open the door of our sometimes broken hearts, and invite Him in.

Fr Matthew

Some asked for the words of the Malcolm Guite sonnet I used on the Feast of All Saints, so here they are:

A Last Beatitude

And blessed are the ones we overlook;
The faithful servers on the coffee rota,
The ones who hold no candle, bell or book But keep the books and tally up the quota, The gentle souls who come to ‘do the flowers’, The quiet ones who organise the fete,
Church sitters who give up their weekday hours, Doorkeepers who may open heaven’s gate. God knows the depths that often go unspoken Amongst the shy, the quiet, and the kind,
Or the slow healing of a heart long broken Placing each flower so for a year’s mind. Invisible on earth, without a voice,
In heaven their angels glory and rejoice.

Malcolm Guite, from “Sounding the Seasons”, Canterbury Press