Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Shhhhhh . . .

Shhhhhh . . .

Silence is not only the absence of noise, it is essential in order to listen to God's word. Unless we are able to 'block out' the ever-increasing messages of social communication and mass-media, it is virtually impossible to hear the word of God or indeed reflect on it in a prayerful manner and therefore we are unable to act on it in our daily lives.

Silence is necessary for all of us in church. We need to preach the Gospel in word and action and so we must make room for silence in order to welcome God's word and discern what we are called to do as followers of Christ.

St Joseph is the Patron Saint of silence, foster-father of Jesus and husband of Mary. In the Gospels he does not utter a word. He listens . . . He reflects . . . He acts.

St Joseph welcomed the Word of God into his heart and mind. He welcomed Jesus, God's only Son, the Word made flesh into his family with fatherly care. The silence of St Joseph speaks louder than words.

If we wish to encourage vocations to the priesthood, the religious life, to marriage and the single state, we need to help men and women to find times and places where they can switch off the noise of today and tune in to the silence and peace of God.

'Be still and know that I am God.'

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Advent Wreath . . .

The Advent Wreath may be of any size and is made of evergreens. There are four candles, one for each week of Advent; it is traditional that three of the candles are purple and one is rose.

The rose candle is lit on the Third Sunday of Advent since this colour symbolises and anticipates the joy of Christmas which is announced in the first word of the Entrance Antiphon: 'Rejoice' from the Latin 'Gaudete'. The third Sunday is also known as Gaudete Sunday and rose-coloured vestments may be worn.

The Advent Wreath originated in Europe, in what we now call Germany; there was a tradition there among the pagans to light candles on a wreath as the December darkness fell and the days became shorter and colder.

Eventually the Christians evangelised these people and converted them, but the people still held onto the tradition and so the Church 'Christianised' the practice.

Every year in Advent we wait once again in darkness for the Lord's coming; His historical coming in the mystery of Bethlehem; His final coming at the end of time, and in between, His special coming in each and every moment of grace.

The most important part of the wreath is the flame which symbolises Christ, the light of the world and our yearning for the light and warmth of his love which is everlasting, as is symbolised by the evergreen wreath which never loses its 'green-ness'.

It would be great to have a wreath at home and gather as a family each day and light the candle together (not forgetting to extinguish it!!) and pray for a few moments. This will help us to pray as a family which is the most important thing that you can do as a family.

It will also help you to prepare for Christmas in a real Christian way and focus on Christ rather than wrapping paper and long shopping queues. It will help us prepare spiritually for Christmas so that Christmas may be that Holy day it's supposed to be and God wants it to be for us.

Ultimately God wants each of us to be that candle reflecting His light to our world that so much needs to see Him.

The photo at the top of this post shows our new Advent Wreath already for its 'début' on Sunday. If I can obtain a better photo I'll come back and replace this one!

Update: I hope you approve of the 'improved' photo!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Why was Fr wearing white at Mass today . . .?

I gather from one of our parishioners that her eagle-eyed young son had commented on the white vestments I was wearing at Mass on Sunday.

First of all, I'm always delighted to hear that our children are taking such an interest in what is happening at Mass and secondly, I'm also always very happy to do my best to answer any queries so do please let me know if your children have posed any similar questions during or after Mass.

So, to the answer . . .

At different times in the Church's year, the priest will wear different coloured vestments to indicate which season it is; for example for most of the year, in what we call 'Ordinary Time', the priest will wear green vestments.

It is not only the priest's vestments that will be green, the tabernacle 'veil' (cover) will also be green and if there is a Deacon present his vestments will also be green.

Here is a simple list which gives the 'liturgical colours' and when they are used:

Green: Ordinary Time

White/Gold: Feasts; Christmas, Easter, Weddings, Baptisms etc.

Red: Feasts of the Lord’s Passion, Blood and Cross; Martyrs;
Holy Spirit (Pentecost, Confirmation)

Purple: Advent, Lent, Penitence, Funerals

White with blue: Feasts of Our Lady

Rose: Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent) &
Laetare Sunday (4th Sunday of Lent)

Sunday was the Solemnity of Christ the Universal King. A 'Solemnity' is a very special feast and so white vestments are worn, or sometimes even gold.

Next Sunday is the beginning of Advent which is also the beginning of the Church's year and the colour of the vestments will change again. I hope all our young people will be watching carefully to see which colour it will be!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Fr Edward Dockery . . .

I took this photo the other day. I apologise for the quality but I only had my phone with me at the time.

It shows the gravestone of Fr Edward Dockery, the first Parish Priest of St Ann's. Although Mass was being celebrated at St Ann's before Fr Dockery was appointed, there was no presbytery and the parish was served by local priests from Epsom overseen by Canon Christall.

With the building of the presbytery in 1936 came the possibility of a resident priest and in September of that year, Fr Dockery was appointed as the first rector of the parish, taking up residence at the beginning of October.

Fr Dockery died in 1940 as a result of an incendiary bomb whilst travelling in his car. He was just 37 years old. May he rest in peace.

Fr Dockery was buried in the churchyard of All Saints Church (Anglican) Banstead which is where I took this photo.

In your charity, you might like to pay a visit to Fr Dockery's grave and say a prayer for the repose of his soul.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen.

Incidentally, as you can see, the gravestone is looking rather the worse the wear. Therefore we have arranged for the stone to be professionally cleaned so that the site will provide a fitting memorial to our very first Parish Priest.