by Sr Tamsin Mary Geach o.p.
As at Bethlehem the star
Led the wise from country far
As they bowed with praises meet
At their infant Saviour's feet
So we bow before him here
Serving him with holy fear
Is it worth it? All the fuss and the packaging and the tree and the turkey (or goose if it's my family)? Is it worth the risk of family rows? Is it worth the travelling the expense, the stress? Well, you have not travelled so far as God travelled, from eternity to time; you have not three-and thirty years of emptying yourself so as to fill everyone else; If you are looking at this, you are unlikely to have travelled as Mary did, pregnant and uncertain of where in the end she would lay her head, trusting in God that it would be indoors not outside in the street when the child was born. And all of this was done so that you could have joy, and life and peace. And it is worth it because, because of that journey and that birth, men of goodwill in every place rest and give each other good cheer, even if many have little concept of why they do this - that A Saviour HAS BEEN BORN TO US WHO IS CHRIST THE LORD!!! Happy Christmas.
Every year in mid-November or thereabouts, in my role as a university chaplain, I begin to wrestle, along with my colleagues and those to whom we are privileged to minister, with some tricky questions: given that the Cambridge term ends either at, or even before, the beginning of Advent, and the students won’t be back in town till some time after Epiphany, when and how should we decorate our church and our social spaces for Christmas? Should we sing Hark the Herald as well as O Come O Come Emmanuel in our carol service? Is it wrong to break out the mulled wine and mince pies before we have even lit the first candle on our Advent wreath? What are we to do when we know it’s Advent, but the world around us is determined that it’s already Christmas?
We might be inclined to think it would be better to keep the demarcation line between Advent fasting and Christmas feasting tidily un-blurred, that we would provide a better witness to each other and to the world at large if we were to maintain the purity of our Advent longing, unsullied by the clamour for instant gratification of the culture that surrounds us, resolutely ignoring the pulsating
By Sr Rose Rolling
He will light up all that is hidden in the dark and reveal the secret intentions of men’s hearts.1 Cor. 4-5.
My former workplace, before I entered the Order, encouraged its staff members to undergo unconscious bias training, a rather contentious initiative which has seen its rise and fall. We are a generation preoccupied with causation: we want to know why people act, or think, the way they do; why it is they are poor, or cruel, or Christian. There is faith in the existence of a reasonable explanation, and explanation induces empathy. We know that there is more to understanding a person than meets the eye.
I didn’t attend the training, and whatever you think about such initiatives, one principle we can all agree on – and one that is highlighted
by Sr Tamsin Mary Geach o.p.
‘Christmas will be cancelled’ was a headline that was running around a week or three ago. Startled at the media warning I looked further only to find that what was in danger, not of cancellation but of some diminishment, was the tide of tinsel and plastic toys, made by slave labour in a country that has barely heard of Christ, reaching our shores this year.
It is a well-worn trope that Catholic Christmas is a different matter from this (so easily cancelled) semi-pagan version beginning somewhere in November, and finishing on New Year’s Day at the latest: Christmas for us begins on Christmas Eve and ends on 6th of January, and what the secular world is pleased to call Christmas barely coincides.
But what are we supposed to do in this season of Advent instead? The reading asked for no passing of premature judgement, and perhaps we should endeavour for no passing of premature Christmas. Instead, the wisdom of the Church says that we wait.