Well, I wonder how you are doing in your preparation for Easter? I know that I have kept to my Lenten penance thus far, no alcohol for me – not even on St Patrick’s Day – but as we all know, it is not just about keeping off something that we enjoy. That is the physical aspect, but the internal, the Spiritual aspect is much more important. Have we been keeping in touch with our heavenly Father, with Our Lady?
As we find ourselves in Passiontide, let us renew, again, our resolve to keep saying our prayers and, more importantly, listening to God.
Today, I found myself approving the booklets for our Fraternity’s celebration of the Easter Triduum next week. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening, the Solemn Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord on Friday afternoon, and the Easter Vigil on Saturday night are three long services, but they are important. They remind us, of what our Lord did for us on each day. I know that I am looking forward to celebrating this major Festival with my brother priests in the FSDM. In a week’s time, we will be together, and will probably have said Compline before bed after travelling from our different residences. I pray that God will watch over all travellers in the next week.
Two thousand years ago, we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, but we did still all have the same feelings of friendship, kinship, and love.
As we rush about today, as I am sure many will be, let’s really take the time to say to those that we love, that we love them. And remember the ‘reason for the season’ is that our God became a little baby born in Bethlehem so he could grow to be the man that paid for all our sins on the Cross at Calvary. Without the Incarnation, none of this would have been possible.
So remember, tonight, for those who don’t do it as a personal devotion (or attend Extraordinary Form Mass regularly) remember at Midnight Mass
Genuflect at the words of the Incarnation in the Nicene Creed.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
And I hope that we all have a very peaceful and blessed Christmas, and I will be remembering many friends at Midnight Mass this evening.
The first of the Great O Antiphons1 today gives us the sign that in Advent we are drawing closer to Christmas.
Looking at today’s Antiphon, O Wisdom, we find a translation
O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High and, reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.2
Prudence is not something we hear about very often, it’s not a word that I encounter on the streets of the city. Yet it is one that would be useful for us all to remember. Prudence is ‘the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason.’
I pray that we all will use the reasoning that our God gave us, as we discern our paths in life.
In the Rule of St Benedict chapter 48 the Abbot is instructed to give each monk at the beginning of Lent “a book from the library, which shall read be through consecutively” from cover to cover, during the days of Lent.
While the Ceremonial of Bishops is not a book that I would readily give to a monk for his Lenten reading, but it is a work which if read from beginning to end will provide valuable insights. Such an undertaking might appear to be a rather daunting task and the fact that the Ceremonial of Bishops has been presented as a resource book for those responsible for planning and directing the liturgical ministry of the Bishop, has also contributed towards deterring anyone reading it from cover to cover.
Bishops and other prelates are permitted the use of a mitre.
Abbot Johnston explains about how ceremonial is important not just for Bishops but for all in the Church. Although he was suggesting that the Ceremonial of Bishops would not be quite a book he would give to a monk for Lenten reading, it will probably form part of my reading as we prepare for the great Feast of Christmas and for the whole new liturgical year that comes after it. As a simple priest, I thought that it didn’t really concern me—but now, as Ordinary of FSDM, I am told that it does. For although I am not a bishop, in some respects I look after my confrères in the way that a Bishop looks after his flock. Some things are allowed to me. These external things are merely pointing towards the internal, that of caring for, and being responsible for the Fraternity. The sheep elected their shepherd. I must act — and look — like one.