Dear friends in Christ
The ancient hymn composed for this feast sings of the glory of the two Apostles we celebrate this weekend: O Roma felix, quae duorum principum….Rejoice, O Rome this day, thy walls they once did sign with princely blood, Who now their glory share with Thee. What city’s vesture glows with crimson deep as thine? What beauty else has earth, that may compare with thee? Peter and Paul are the two, above all the Apostles, who have brought us the Faith we profess. Their two statues on the tower of our church stand out as a statement of their solid faith; reminders to us that it is worth giving everything for the sake of Christ and His Gospel. St Peter holds the keys of the kingdom of heaven; St Paul bears the sword of the Word of God and martyrdom. We ask their intercession for the Church, for the Holy Father, and for all the Faithful that, like them we may be prepared to sacrifice ourselves for the Truth which Christ our Saviour has brought.
On Tuesday a new Apostle - Dr Alan Williams - will be consecrated as our next Bishop in a ceremony in Brentwood Cathedral. I will be concelebrating the Mass together with the other priests of the Diocese and the Bishops of England and Wales. This is a day we have awaited for a long time and it will be a cause of great rejoicing to welcome our new Shepherd amongst us. Representing our Parish will be our Master of Ceremonies and the Headteacher of our Primary School. Others will be there too in different capacities, so we shall be well represented. On Monday evening there will be a Holy Hour in the church from 8 - 9pm at the same hour as a Vigil will be kept in Brentwood Cathedral during which our Bishop-elect will make his Profession of Faith and the Pontificalia will be blessed.
Last Monday evening I was able to give thanks to God for the gift and grace of Priesthood lived over the last thirty years. I had a few of my priest-friends here and am very grateful to Fr Hugh Allan for his amusing, challenging and sound words about the priesthood. You can read a full account and see images of the celebration here: http://marklambert.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/in-thanksgiving-for-gift-of-sacred.html
Above all, I am grateful to each and every one of you for your expressions of prayer, kindness and generosity. It is very humbling to experience, as I do so often, the real affection of the Parish Family. I feel increasingly unworthy of the gift of Priesthood - a gift on loan - by which as a priest you can effect such amazing works for God. I thank all of our families - and my own family - for the example I receive daily, of how to live faithfully the vocation given to me. In my daily prayer for you all, I ask God to grant us some vocations from within our Parish Family and to keep us all in faithful service, after the example of Saints Peter and Paul.
Fr Kevin Hale