Since our divine Saviour is near, what must we do to prepare for his coming? St John tells us in his preaching, that we must do penance. All must do this without exception, for as we are all sinners, we all have need of penance. But that is too general; let us hint at certain particular features. St John has pointed out some in the Gospel. ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, straighten out his paths’, he says, ‘every valley is to be bridged, & rough paths made into smooth roads.’ ‘Do penance’, says St John, that is to say, humble these mountains of pride, fill these lukewarm & faint-hearted valleys because salvation is at hand. Now these valleys that this glorious saint wishes to fill are simply fear, which, when it is too great, leads us into discouragement. This sight of great faults committed brings with it a certain dread, an astonishment & a fear which depresses the heart. These are the valleys which must be filled with confidence & hope for the coming of Our Lord. Level the roads, straighten those which are crooked so as to make them even. As the sailor, when he guides his ship, always has his eye on the compass to see if he is going straight to his goal, so we ought always to have our eyes open to see what acts of penance we can undertake, so that we may come to that heaven to which we aspire. A Sermon by St Francis de Sales (on St John the Baptist)
Our Vision Group are to meet next Saturday to formulate the final version of the Parish Vision Statement. They will begin the day at 9am with a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, & then, taking account of all the latest suggestions you have offered on revising the draft Statement, they will produce a final edition which will be explained & presented at a short Parish Forum after Mass next Sunday. We are aware that it will be a hectic weekend in your last minute preparations for Christmas, & yet we feel it is important that the work, prayer &inspiration we have all invested thus far should be shared & celebrated in the last moments of Advent, appreciating that the Vision Statement will be the womb space from which our future journey together will be brought to birth under continuing divine guidance, blessing & timing. I hope as many of you as possible will join us at the short Forum at 11.15am next Sunday. The draft reads:
We are a growing community which through the power of the Holy Spirit joyfully serves the mission of Jesus Christ
We are a welcoming family in which you are known by name, loved & accepted as you are, encouraged to pray, share your life & grow to become the person you were created to be
Together we reach out in love to offer the joy & hope of the gospel to others through our actions, our words & the example of our lives
You may remember that the Vision Group emerged from a Parish Forum early this year when I explained my concerns over a smaller & aging but valiant little group of helpers & ministers whose loving presence keeps the spiritual & practical life of the Parish very much alive. My own workload then was already too great, & since then I have been reappointed to the Abbot’s Council which, at this critical time for the Abbey & College, entails considerable extra work & responsibility. Such are the current demands, the Council are to meet daily at 9am after the Little Hour, which necessitates moving our daily 9.30am Mass to 9.45am. I am sorry for the inconvenience this may cause to some of the faithful band who come so regularly: however, I hope you will see it as a small but significant contribution towards helping our Community through our (shared) crisis.
Two weekends ago we launched our Advent Appeal with St Hilda’s for the Apostleship of the Sea. For the last few years we have collected shoe boxes which have been filled with small essentials & treats, which are delivered to the Port Chaplain at Hull Docks, Anne McLaren, a few days before Christmas, so that she can ensure that seafarers have the enjoyment of opening one of our wrapped shoeboxes at sea on Christmas morning. Thank you to those who have returned a box so far. I am to take the boxes to Hull on Wednesday, so there is still time to source a shoebox & bring it to Church by Tuesday night. With my love & prayers, Fr Bede.