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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, December 09, 2011
3rd Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) 11thDecember 2011
Pretty in Pink

The introit (entrance antiphon) today begins with the instruction, “Rejoice!” As I said last week, Advent used to be called St Martin’s Lent, a 40 day fast leading up to Christmas. But as during Lent, on one Sunday the organ playing an instrumental, more colourful flowers and the wearing of rose-pink vestments were permitted. Indeed, in Rome the stational Mass of the Bishop takes place in St Peter’s today marking this as the most significant day of the season.

Throughout Advent, the scriptures refer to the Lord’s second coming but today there are additional signs of gladness: not only are we to adore the Lord who is to come but we are called to worship and hail with joy the Lord who is close at hand. St Paul calls us to rejoice too and prepare to meet the Saviour with prayers and thanksgiving. And St John tells us the Lamb of God is now in our midst though we do not know Him. Thus, today penitential exercises are suspended to remind us of the joy in our redemption which should always be in our hearts.

However, that doesn’t mean that it stops being a penitential season. The reminder is still there that we are preparing for the historical coming of Christ and his coming at the end of time. Therefore we need to ensure that we are ready and that is why confessions are offered after all the weekend Masses and will be offered after every Mass celebrated in the week leading up to Christmas. I encourage you to make use of this sacrament and to rejoice in the grace of God freely offered.

On a practical note, it would be very helpful over the coming weeks if you could try and come to get Mass cards signed and Mass intentions booked when I can guarantee that there will be someone more competent than me here to do that for you - on a Monday between 10am and 3pm and a Thursday between 10am and 2pm. Of course I’ll try doing it for you if I’m around but I probably won’t be as I don’t spend all day in the house twiddling my thumbs. Well, not all day anyway!

In the meantime, carry on rejoicing. Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:02 pm

Tuesday, December 06, 2011
2nd Sunday of Advent – 4h December 2011
Minced Words

Football managers are renowned for their loathing of the press. Sir Alex Ferguson refused for many years to even talk to them but he was outdone by Joe Kinnear, a former manager of Newcastle United, who made the headlines for his incredibly colourful comments about the press in a live interview. Now I’m not suggesting for a moment that St John the Baptist would swear, but since he doesn’t mince his words and “tells it like it is,” I suspect we would be tempted to sanitise his message which zeros in on the weak points of our lives.

Bur how is it that he is such a credible preacher? John heard, experienced and lived God’s word in the desert and therefore his life and message were one because there was nothing to distract him. Throughout history, other people have gone into the desert to see more clearly and to listen attentively for God’s voice. But for us, our words and actions are often not coherent because the distractions, temptations and cares of this world lead us into a life of duplicity.

The Hebrew word for wilderness is midvar which contains the root davar meaning “word” or “message.” Therefore, the notion is that the wilderness is a holy place to go where God’s Word is unbound and completely free to be heard, experienced and lived. In so doing, all the prophets who experienced this shared intimately in God’s anger, sorrow, and disappointment but also in His compassion and sensitivity for His people.

I suspect that most of us will not have the luxury of a week’s retreat in the wilderness of Judah or the Sinai desert before Christmas. However, we would do well to carve out some time in the midst of our activity to look at whether or not our lives are the pointing fingers of living witnesses who demonstrate that Jesus is near and that He can be found. While John gave powerful witness to this truth, for the people of His time who had missed this truth he offered an experience of forgiveness and salvation – do we allow others or even ourselves to experience that when we identify that duplicity of life?

Blessed John Paul II said, “When we go down on our knees in the confessional because we have sinned, at that very moment we add to our own dignity. The very act of turning again to God is a manifestation of the special dignity of each person, of their spiritual grandeur, of the personal meeting between each person and God in the inner truth of conscience.”

Why not enter the desert, see how things are and then just tell it like it is?

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:21 pm