Dear friends in Christ
Advent begins with the reminder to us that time is short and that the end of the world may come unexpectedly. Starting this Sunday we begin, over the course of these four weeks, to trace the origins of our salvation through the Prophets and stories of the Old Testament, through to the coming of St John the Baptist and the Birth of Our Lord. How will we each use this time of Advent, of solemn preparation? Will it be in a material and worldly way, through excessive spending and dissipation, or more reflectively, simply, in a spirit of watchful prayer? Only we can make this choice. Without withdrawing from the world that offers us much to enjoy and rejoice in, we can still strive to live this season of joyful expectation by the appropriate means. In planning our Christian celebrations, we could be thinking how, by practical charity, we can aid our Christian brethren who are struggling for survival, driven from their homelands by war and religious hatred; by keeping any Christmas giving to family and friends to what is not superfluous. Sending only Christmas greeting cards that convey the true meaning of the celebration (Royal Mail have produced lovely Nativity stamps this year which we ought to use!) and in all of the other details of our preparations for Christmas, keeping a calm and sober mind as St Peter reminds us.
Last Wednesday evening, together with the Architect of our Parish Centre and the Contractor, I attended the Southend Council Design Awards Presentation at Porters. This Award has been given in recognition of the outstanding achievement that is our Parish Centre. The Award is received on behalf of all those who had any part in this project and once again I want to record my gratitude to all those who have supported and contributed to, this magnificent building.
The inauguration of Advent will be celebrated this Sunday afternoon in Brentwood Cathedral with a ceremony of Vespers and Advent Carols at 4pm; I invite you to join with me and the Bishop for this start of the Church’s year together. Also remembering that soon the special Holy Year of Mercy will commence with a Concelebrated Mass on Tuesday, 8th December at 7pm in Brentwood Cathedral. On the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception (Monday 7th) in our own church at 8pm, there will be a service of Marian Devotions, Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Benediction. Each year this Solemnity of Our Lady reminds us that we are under the special protection of Our Lady in our Parish, and the token of our prayers and offerings to her is an annual reminder of how we need her patronage and care especially in these days leading-up to the celebration of the mystery of the Incarnation. May God bless you!
Msgr Kevin Hale