During these last days of Advent, the Church gives us a series of antiphons at the Magnificat, drawing attention to, & adding special urgency to, that sense of expectation which closes in on us as the great feast draws near. The address our Blessed Lord under various titles, given to him by the old Jewish prophets before the world was saved. This attitude of expectation is one which the Church wants to encourage in us, her children, permanently. Let us remember the text, ‘The light shines in darkness, a darkness which was not able to master it’. Darkness cannot overpower, cannot restrain the light. Once Christmas has happened, once we have been allowed to get Bethlehem’s angle on the world, things can never be the same again; we may try to live down that revelation, but we shall not forget it. It has been wisely said, ‘Even to make darkness visible, some light is needed. We are discontented with ourselves’. So many of us, when Christmas comes around, feel as if we had not the courage to present ourselves at the crib; it shames us with its poverty – we are so creature-loving; it shames us with its humility – we are so full of injured pride; it shames us with its faith – we are so full of hesitation & evasions. Why is it still dawn with us? Why have we never grown up into perfect day? As long as you have the grace to be thus discontented with yourself, take courage; all is not lost. Those deep shadows which chequer the recesses of your conscience are proof that the light is still there. There is head room in the cave of Bethlehem for everybody who knows how to stoop. A Sermon by Ronald Knox (Pastoral Sermons)
As we are now on the verge of welcoming the infant Jesus into our hearts & lives it is a fine moment to thank those many of you who have contributed practically & spiritually to our collective & individual preparations for Christmas. It is a blessing for us to welcome so many visitors, as well as returning family members, to our Christmas Masses, & they often speak warmly of the beauty of our Church, its decoration & our Liturgy. I hope you will, in the spirit of Advent, take courage in adventurously inviting those members of your family who don’t join us here regularly to come, to see, & to pray alongside us, thereby season our celebrations with their presence & prayer.
Thank you to those of you who are able to join us in our various Advent opportunities this last week. 11 came on Tues evening to our Advent reflection on a painting of the Holy Family. 20 of you represented us at the Village Carol Service on Wed evening at St Hilda’s, & a number of you came to Fr Aidan’s Requiem Mass on Thursday in the Abbey Church. (he was 92yrs of age: 71yrs a monk & 61yrs a priest). St Benedict’s Primary School finished for their Christmas holidays on Friday, & I would like to pay tribute to the staff & pupils for their hard work & achievement at this time of transition, growth & development in every aspect of school life, particularly its spirituality. Our Carols around the tree in Church on Friday lunchtime was indicative of the growing self-confidence of our children as they are challenged & encouraged to bring the Gospel to life in story & action. It is just a year since we announced the opening of our Nursery in St Benedict’s, which subsequently opened at Easter 2018 currently we only have one pupil & we would welcome others to join us. Please encourage prospective parents within your families & friendships to consider this wonderful opportunity to introduce our youngest disciples into our “School of the Lord’s Service” On Wednesday I delivered 12 shoe boxes to Hull to the Port Chaplain for the Apostleship of the Sea, Anne McLaren. She was to arrange for them to be given to seafarers so that your gifts could be opened at sea on Christmas Day. It was a Village Advent Appeal & we are grateful to those who a full part in the work of charity.
The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England & Wales have published a wonderful statement of unity with all EU citizens who have made their home here. It is important enough I feel to read it out at Mass this weekend & to offer you copies to take home to read & to ponder on; please take an extra copy to hand to, or to put through the letter box of a neighbour who may be an EU citizen, as a small gesture in showing how welcome they are in our country & vitally in our Parish. My Advent question to you is ….. How can we /all in Our Lady & St Benedict’s help those in our Village who are EU citizens to gain the necessary documentation to stay here? Perhaps a local EU citizen’s advice bureau? “Out of you will be born for them a new life.”
In terms of safety at our full Masses over Christmas, & in the absence of a Parish Health & Safety representative, could I explain our evacuation procedure if, in an emergency, we needed to get out quickly? All on the left side of the main aisle are to evacuate out of the Sacristy door. All on the right side to leave through the main door. It sounds odd for those on the back row on the left to leave from the front from the Sacristy, but it has to be so please, & it could cost lives if we fail to do so. Those in wheelchairs, & the infirm on walking sticks, will exit last, otherwise they log jam a speedy exit for the rest. Please don’t dismiss this as bureaucratic nonsense: we need to look after each other practically as well as spiritually, & I hope, should we need to leave quickly, that we will offer every help to each other. With my love & prayers, Fr Bede.