“Lord, we pray that when people come to the church, they may not find us following meekly the dictates of the powerful, like reeds swaying in the breeze, nor concerned with fine garments, like people who live in palaces. May they find a prophet & more than a prophet, an institution that will show up the false values of our society & so prepare the way for your chosen ones to carry out your work in the world. “One day our grandchildren will visit each other & wonder what all the pain & bloodshed were for. & perhaps they will be proud of us, that we foresaw the happy future which they will take for granted.” (An Israeli woman writing to an Arab friend.) Lord, help us, like John the Baptist, to play our part in history, content in knowing that what we have worked hard & suffered to achieve, the least significant of the next generation will enjoy as a matter of course. Lord, Mary is that noble part of ourselves, bearing your Son Jesus who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit- our generosity, the ability to sacrifice ourselves, & to give all to a cause. That part of ourselves frightens us: we would prefer to deny that it is there at all, to remain with our mediocrity & our compromises. Send us your angel to reassure us that we must not be afraid to take Mary to ourselves, so that through us, your Son Jesus may be born into the world.” (Celebrating Advent: Michel de Verteuil)
Our Advent Shoebox Appeal for the Apostleship of the Sea closedlast week, & we have sent 9 boxes to Anne McLaren, the Port Chaplain at Hull Docks, who will ensure that they are given to seafarers who will open your gift on Christmas morning. Thank you to all who responded to the invitation to help. In St Benedict’s Primary School last week we had our KS1 Nativity Play on Monday, our Advent Reflection on Wednesday, & our Carols round the Tree on Thursday. It was a treat to be involved in such simple, joyful & profound Christmas moments, where our children took fullest parts in each of the sacred moments. We very grateful to Mr Eddy & the staff, as well as the PTA who have done sterling work in School throughout the term. On Thursday evening we held our Village Carol Service in Holy Cross Church in Gilling, another opportunity for our faith communities to come together, & we are grateful for the hospitality given to us by Rev Catherine Reid & her parishioners. Please keep her in your prayers as she too takes forward the Christmas celebrations with the people of the Benefice.
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, although the many are becoming less, 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 & its call to take the prophetic lead, take courage in adventurously inviting those members of your family, or indeed a neighbour, who don’t join us here regularly, to come, to see, & to pray alongside us, thereby seasoning our celebrations with their presence & prayer.
It was last Advent when our Catholic Bishop’s Conference published a wonderful statement of unity with all EU citizens who have made their home here. My question to us then was “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.” Could it be a Parish New Year’s resolution for 2020?
In terms of our safety at our full Masses over Christmas, 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 up the main aisle & out of the Sacristy door. All on the right side are to leave the benches from the graveyard end & then exit through the main door. It sounds odd for those on the back row on the left to leave from the front through 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 the 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.