First let me wish you all a very Happy season of Advent – and in church terms – a Happy New Year 🙂

One of the things that I love – at Advent – and really marks the change in season is that as we process into Chapel there is no organ playing but only the gentle tinkle of a small handbell to announce our arrival. I find this very reverant and helps to add to the inner stillness that i have – hopefully – being settling into while at Statio. Also Wednesday joins Friday in becoming slightly ‘penitential’ in that we have only bread and butter ( or low fat spread) for breakfast, a very simple lunch with no dessert and a boiled egg with a peice of toast in the evening.

We are having a series of three Advent talks at the moment, taken by priest friends of our parish priest. They are being held here for the parish so that we can also join them – otherwise we would miss out.

The first talk was taken by Fr Paul McNally who is from Oscott Hall ( our local seminary) He based his talk around the painting of ‘Christ the Light of the World’ by Hans Holbein.  We were reminded that the handle of the door is on the inside so it is up to us to invite Christ in as He will never intrude or force His way in. The message was simple and direct – that Christ loves us and will wait for us as long as we take and that there is nothing that cannot be forgiven, that it is never too late to turn to HIm and invite Him in. This is the challenge and invitation of Advent. That’s the basics of the talk anyhow.

The second talk was taken by Monsignor Pat Kilgareth, now a parish priest in Malvern, previously spiritual director and later Rector of the English College, Rome. He told us that the messages of  Advent are Joy and Hope. He asked us to think about some questions – How long have I believed? Would I describe myself as joyful?; Do I have great Hope?; Do I have a deep sense of peace of mind and heart because of my faith?; Do I realize that God loves me and will never let me go? – I offer these to you all too. Advent is wating for Christs Coming again and Father expanded on that theme. He suggested that we really think about the prefaces in the Divine Office over Advent. At the moment it is – ‘come let us worship the Lord the King who is to come ( words may differ slightly in yours) but from next week we sing ‘ Come let us worship the Lord who is now very near’. There is a progressive change from next week, it was good to have a reminder of it.

Father Pat also gave us a copy of the Great ‘O’ antiphons ( see December last year for more of these) with scripture references and things to reflect on, so here they are – it makes a big difference having some references to think about too. The Great ‘O’s begin on the 17th December – next Wednesday.

17th – ( O Sapientia) – O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most HIgh ( Ecc.24:3). You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner ( Wisdom 8 :1). O come to teach us the way of truth ( Isaiah 40:14)

18th December ( O Adonai) – O Adonai and leader of Israel ( Matt 2:6), you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power ( Jer 32:21)

19th – ( O Radix Jesse) – O root/stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations ( Isaiah 11:10). KIngs fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim ( Is 52:15). O come to deliver us, and do not delay ( Hab 2:3)

20th – ( O Clavis David) – O key of David and sceptre of Israel, what you open none can shut, what you shut none can open ( Is 22:22). O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death ( Ps 106:10).

21st – ( O Oriens) – O Rising Sun, you are the splendour of eternal light ( Hab 3:4) and the sun of justice ( Malachy 4:2). O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death ( Lk 1:78)

22nd ( O Rex Gentium) – O KIng whom all the peoples desire ( Haggai 3:4), you are the cornerstone which makes all one ( Ephesians 2:20). O come and save man whom you made from clay ( Gen 2:7)

23rd ( O Emmanual) – O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge (Is 33:22),the one whom the peoples await and their Saviour ( Gen 49:10). O come and save us, Lord, our God.

‘That final plea, : O come and save us, Lord, our God – sums up all the preceding petitions. It is a cry from the heart of the Church and , since the Church prays not only for herself but for all the world, it is also a cry from the heart of all mankind. How universak and all-embracing is this ancient prayer?” –

Thanks to both Fr Paul and Fr Pat, both evenings have been great and very much enjoyed by the sisters and the parish. Next week we have Fr Richard Walker – the Rector of Oscott Hall coming.

I hope you enjoy these and are well into your Christmas preparations as we are – we had our traditional ginger biscuits to mark the start of Advent, Madam Flack – see last year – will soon appear, gifts and cards are arriving and we are having heavy frosts that last most of the day. Thats all for now, pax sr marie-therese.

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