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A tiny child is born, who is a great king. Wise men are led to him from afar. They come to adore one who lies in a manger and yet reigns in heaven and on earth. When they tell of one who is born a king, Herod is disturbed. To save his kingdom he resolves to kill him, though if he would have faith in the child, he himself would reign in peace in this life and for ever in the life to come.
Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage. To destroy one child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.
You are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers and fathers mourning the deaths of their sons, nor by the cries and sobs of the children. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong you own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself.
The children die for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourn for the death of martyrs. The Christ child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to himself. But you, Herod, do not know this and are disturbed and furious. While you vent your fury against the child, you are already paying him homage, and do not know it.
To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory. - from a sermon by Bishop Saint Quodvultdeus about the Holy Innocents
Almighty God, who through your apostle John unlocked for us the hidden treasures of your Word, grant that we may grasp with fuller understanding the message he so admirably proclaimed. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
Ann and I have both been under the weather for the last week or so; we seem to have caught a virus which won’t seem to go. You think you are better and then lo and behold, it’s back again. Still despite it, we’ve managed to keep going. I preached at Midnight Mass to a full house and we had an excellent congregation for the Mass of the Day which I celebrated. If you are interested you can read full reports here.
After Mass we went to our daughter and son in law’s for Christmas Dinner and to enjoy seeing to of our grandchildren opening the huge number of parcels they had. We had a lovely time; we will be seeing our other grandchildren on Wednesday
Today after a very lazy morning and brunch we drove to Broxbourne for a walk along the River Lee, a favourite pastime of ours. There’s always something interesting to see especially the many different species of birds. If I had enough money one of the places I would love to live is in one of the beautiful houses which line the banks of the river but that I’m afraid will remain in the realms of a pipe dream.
In a report The Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has said: “there were a ‘number of real scenarios’ during August’s youth uprising where greater force and the use of water cannon and even the use of firearms may have been appropriate. It says that if a building or property is subject to an ‘arson attack’ then ‘possibly firearms’ can be used.Situations arising include ‘Barricades and missiles used’, ‘petrol bombs thrown’, ‘Violent attacks on the public in the presence of the police’, ‘Arson attacks on buildings’ or ‘Threats to fire and ambulance’ which can all be responded to by use of water cannon or ‘possible AEPs’.”
Most readers of this blog, will I suspect, have been horrified at the deaths in Syria and Egypt caused by the use of firearms against the people of those countries. Are the Inspectorate of Constabulary really suggesting that police should shoot people in the UK? I really hope that action will be taken to prevent this ever arising; I don’t want to live in a police state where the local police chief can decided to shoot members of the public. I am the first to condemn the riots and the rioters but I’m glad they weren’t shot and hope the situation never arises where that could be the case.
God our redeemer, who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son: grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour, so we may be ready to greet him when he comes again as our judge; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Purify our conscience, Almighty God,
by your daily visitation, that Thy Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself;
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Lord, fill our hearts with you love and as you revealed to us by an angel the coming of your Son as man, so lead us through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, oneGod, for ever and ever.
who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary
be the mother of the promised saviour:
Fill us your servants with your grace,
that in all things we may embrace your holy will
and with her rejoice in your salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord
“My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time —
To let the punishment fit the crime —
The punishment fit the crime”
Over the last year or so many local churches, under and over ground trains, graveyards, cemeteries, war memorials, street and road signs, lightning conductors and many buildings have been targeted by unscrupulous metal thieves. In one local church enormous damage has been done not only to the roof but, by letting water in, to the very fine organ which will be very expensive to restore. And this church has been targeted several times and for a time members of the congregation slept in the church to deter the thieves.
Little seems to be done to apprehend the criminals who, up and down the country, commit this despicable act but perhaps even more important, what about the reprehensible scrap metal dealers who are happy to buy the metal “no questions asked”. If there were no scrap metal dealers prepared to accept stolen metal there wouldn’t be a problem.
But what punishment can be imposed on those who are guilty that might fit the crime and the misery it causes? One might have thought that War Memorials would be sacrosanct. What sort of penalty or punishment would fit the stealing of the brass plates commemorating those who gave their lives in two world wars? Or what would fit those totally heartless scoundrels who desecrated the local cemetery taking the brass markers from graves and cremation plots or those who are accessories in this crime by receiving the stolen plagues.
Perhaps the guilty should be made to compensate the bereaved, to pay for the restoration of the organ and so on but the problem is they will probably never be caught and if they were how could they make any payment as most of the thieves don’t work. Presumably the dealers could do so out of their ill-gotten profits. It seems to me that regrettably this is a low priority crime.
I am very grateful to one of St. Augustine’s congregation for sending me this. Apparently the White House referred to Christmas Trees as Holiday Trees for the first time this year which prompted CBS presenter, Ben Stein, to present this piece which I would like to share with you. I think it applies just as much to the UK and many other countries as it does to America. If you like it why not copy it and e-mail it to your friends
The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are, Christmas trees.
It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a crèche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God ? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.
Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?' (regarding Hurricane Katrina).. Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?'
In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbour as yourself. And we said OK.
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said okay.
Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Are you laughing yet?
Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.
Pass it on if you think it has merit.
If not, then just discard it.... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.
My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,
The problem is the majority of the public view Christmas as an excuse for a party where excess is the order of the day. This is so very far removed from the Christian view of the great Festival of the Birth of Jesus. That great Christian martyr of the 20th century, Oscar Romero expressed the Christian view like this:-
On this night, as we Christians have done every year for 20 centuries, we recall that God’ reign is now in this world and that Christ has inaugurated the fulness of time. His birth attests that God is now marching with us in history, that we do not go alone and that our aspiration for peace, for justice, for a reign of divine law, for something holy, is far from earth’s realities. We can hope for it, not because we humans are able to construct that realm of happiness which God’s holy words proclaim, but because the builder of a reign of justice, of love and of peace is already in the midst of us.”
We come together at Christmas to celebrate that Birth all those years ago, when Jesus came into the world as the baby of Bethlehem. For Christians Jesus is the main part of our celebrations and without him Christmas is pointless and futile.
4 I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
THE NEXT MEETING WILL BE ON MONDAY 17th DECEMBER AT ST. AUGUSTINE’S CHURCH, RUSH GREEN.
MASS 7.30 P.M. FOLLOWEDS BY SEASONAL REFRESHMENTS.
IT IS HOPED THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO ANNOUNCE DATES FOR MEETINGS IN 2012 BY THEN
PRAYER FOR ADVENT 3
Stir up thy power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be honour and glory, world without end. Amen
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
On Thursday I went to New Rush Hall School for their theatrical production “A Christmas Cowell”. It was quite brilliant and very funny; a shame that after all the hard work by staff and pupils there was only one performance.It was written by one of the staff who also took a leading role.
New Rush Hall is a special school for young people aged 5 to 16 years who have behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. Pupils attending the school have a Statement of Special Education Needs which outlines their behavioural, emotional and social needs as well as any learning difficulties.
Friday and some of the other Governors were entertained to lunch prepared by the pupils. . They have to devise the menu and cost it, send out invitations then do the purchasing prior to cooking it. We enjoyed home made Leek and Potato Soup, a buffet main course with turkey, smoked salmon, honeyed chicken salad, delicious finger sandwiches, and mixed salads. Then on to profiteroles, fresh fruit, mince pies, coffee or tea. After lunch we enjoyed a cabaret by a very talented magician who was one of the children who had prepared lunch and who had taken part in the previous day’s production.. The average age of those who prepared the meal was 13 – quite brilliant.
Today it was the Birthday Party for two of our Grandchildren in St Augustine’s Church Hall. They had a splendid time with their friends and to make the event special Father Christmas (Father Martin) came at the end and gave every child a present. Some very tired and happy children went home and some even more tired grandparents and parents, then tidied up before they went home totally exhausted.
O Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and my Mother, from thy sublime height turn upon me thine eyes of pity. Filled with confidence in thy goodness and knowing full well thy power, I beseech thee to extend to me thine assistance in the journey of life, which is so full of danger for my soul. And in order that I may never be the slave of the devil through sin, but may ever live with my heart humble and pure, I entrust myself wholly to thee. I consecrate my heart to thee for ever, my only desire being to love thy divine Son Jesus. Mary, none of thy devout servants has ever perished; may I too be saved. Amen
Prayer of Saint Ephrem the Syrian,
O pure and immaculate and likewise blessed Virgin, who art the sinless Mother of thy Son, the mighty Lord of the universe, thou who art inviolate and altogether holy, the hope of the hopeless and sinful, we sing thy praises. We bless thee, as full of every grace, thou who didst bear the God-Man: we all bow low before thee; we invoke thee and implore thine aid. Rescue us, O holy and inviolate Virgin, from every necessity that presses upon us and from all the temptations of the devil. Be our intercessor and advocate at the hour of death and judgement; deliver us from the fire that is not extinguished and from the outer darkness; make us worthy of the glory of thy Son, O dearest and most clement Virgin Mother. Thou indeed art our only hope, most sure and sacred in God's sight, to whom be honor and glory, majesty and dominion, for ever and ever, world without end. Amen.
Yesterday I had the great pleasure of having 60+ children aged around 6 from the local primary school visit St. Augustine’s Church. I talked for a little about St. Nicholas, we made a Christingle, put together a crib, burnt some incense, had a walk round the church and sang “Away in a Manger”. It was a delightful time with some really delightful children.
Then it was over to Barkingside for H. L. Hawes Ltd annual Pre-Christmas Drinks. Hawes, an old established, well known and respected local firm of Funeral Directors holds this event every year for clergy and others and a very pleasant evening it is. When we leave every one is given a Christmas Hamper and a year's calendar.
In an article on the Catholic Herald Blog, by Father Alexander Lucie-Smith, he accuses some Anglican priests of practising deception when he writes: “Moreover the persons attempting to celebrate Mass are not recognised as priests by the Roman Catholic Church. In short, the visitor from France or Italy may see what looks like the Mass, but what is in fact not the Mass. Now, a question: they would clearly be deceived in thinking that what is going on before them is a Roman Catholic Mass. But is this because they have deceived themselves, or is it because the vicar has deceived them? Does the vicar tell them that they are in an Anglican church? Or does he leave them to assume that the church is, somehow or another, “Catholic”?
Over the years many “Roman” Catholics have worshipped where I have been the Vicar. I have never deceived them and have tried to make it very clear that we are part of the Church of England, practising the Catholic faith. We are not “Roman” Catholics but “Anglo” Catholics pointing out that whilst we are not under the jurisdiction of the Holy Father we pray for him as well as the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Archbishop of Canterbury etc. We had one family, from Italy, who whilst temporally living in the UK, regularly came to Mass. Their Italian priest, in charge of one of the leading churches in Rome, was well aware of the fact that we were an Anglican Church. He asked me to prepare one of the children for their First Confession and First Communion, which was to be made at their home church, which I willing did. In another instance an RC came to Mass, fully aware we were Anglicans, eventually deciding to go back to a local RC Church. She stayed just a few weeks before returning as she felt so unwelcome with little or no fellowship in the RC Church.
Fr. Lucie-Smith also comments: “the persons attempting to celebrate Mass are not recognised as priests by the Roman Catholic Church.” To which my answer is: am I that bothered? As far I am concerned my ordination is perfectly valid and the fact that Rome doesn’t recognise it is sad. It is one of the reasons that I am still debating the Ordinariate. As I have said many times on the Blog, it is a very generous offer from the Holy Father and one which I fully support and would like eventually to be able to take up but the question I have to resolve is, am I willing to deny that everything I have done previously is invalid and consequently of little or no value……..something I can’t believe……that the Sacraments I have celebrated, including the Blessed Sacrament, Penance, Ministry to the Sick and Dying etc. are totally valueless. If I accept the arguments advocated by Fr. Lucie-Smith that must be the case.
O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness we are grievously hindered in running the race that is set before us, your bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, to whom with you, and the Holy Spirit be honour and glory, now and for ever. AMEN
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN
Yesterday was Ann’s birthday, so after a late breakfast we made our way by train and tube to the National Gallery to visit the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition. We bought our tickets several weeks ago and paid the cover price but we gather that such is the demand that for the daily tickets people are queuing from 6.00 a.m. for up to 3 hours to get one of the few daily tickets available. On E-Bay today I saw tickets being offered form £125 to £300.
I have to say that the exhibition is just wonderful and to see, in the same room, the two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks, one owned by the Musee du Louvre, the other by the National Gallery is just breath taking. I doubt whether it will ever by possible to gather together again such a collection of da Vinci’s works. For me the highlight was The Burlington House Cartoon where the Virgin is pictured seated on the lap of her mother St. Anne with the baby Jesus and the infant St. John, drawn in charcoal and white chalk.
It was also interesting to see Christ as Salvator Mundi which has recently been restored and acknowledge as a da Vinci masterpiece. We then went to the separate exhibition in the Sunley Room which featured “The Last Supper” which within 20 years of painting was judged to be ruined due to the technique used by Da Vinci. Fortunately a full-scale copy was made by a sympathetic pupil prior to the original deteriorating and this was a great help during restoration work which was carried out in Milan over a 20 year period from 1978 – 1998 and is now available to view by pre-booked tickets.
We both thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition and after a brief wander round the Constable pictures made our way to Oxford Street for a little shopping and then to Spaghettis House for dinner.