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. They 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 round, 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; shames us with its humility – we are so full of injured pride; 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.
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 encouraging those members of your family who don’t join us here regularly to come & see, & thereby season our celebrations with their presence & prayer.
St Benedict’s Primary School finished for the 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. The Service of Carols & Readings in school last Thursday was indicative of the growing self-confidence of the students as they are challenged & encouraged to bring the Gospel to life in story & action. A significant indicator of the health of the School is that we intend to open a Nursery at St Benedict’s from Easter 2018. It will provide education for children in the term after their third birthday for 30 hours a week. We already have in place generous accommodation for the facility & excellent staff. The Local Authority advisor is supportive of our plans & feels it is the right moment for our School to move forward with this. A period of consultation will begin in January 2018, & I hope you will encourage prospective parents to support this wonderful opportunity to introduce our youngest disciples into our “School of the Lord’s Service”. Please keep all involved in your thoughts & prayers.