Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Time, Christmas Space

Sermon for the Sunday in the Octave of the Nativity.

Do you lose track of time between Christmas Day and the New Year? It's almost as if Time loses some of its meaning. We forget which day we're in and lose some of the rhythm of the week.

It is this period of time where it is the date that matters and not the day. Christmas Day is followed by St Stephen's Day, then by St John's Day, the Holy Innocents and St Thomas Becket. The Sunday in the Octave - today - can fall anywhere and even coincide with these feasts. It's a day when people are most likely to forget to come to Church and in which the clergy are trying to get their heads around all these feasts.

Today seems like a befuddlement.


If you think about it, the date is a fixed part of the year, and so is determined by our position relative to the Sun. The days of the week are not. They are determined by our position relative to the Moon. Christmas Day is fixed according to the Sun and Easter with the Moon.

Before you worry that we are going to fall into the sin of astrology, it's worth pointing out that our understanding of time is determined by the Sun and Moon. The mystery of the Incarnation is how God, who created Time, Sun and Moon, allows Himself to become subject to them by being born in Time.

How the great Eternal can become Temporal is a mystery. We can attempt to think about it and come up with theories, but we cannot understand this until the Sun and Moon cease to mark Time for us. All we know is that God took our humanity into His Divinity. It seems reasonable, then, that He takes our Time into His Eternity.

What does this mean for us?


We celebrate Christmas Day on 25th of December. And we do well to do so. Yet, we cannot separate Christmas Day from any other day because Christ is always with us on every day of the year. We feel this more keenly on Christmas Day but refreshed in our understanding that the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us, we carry this throughout out year.

In the same way, we know Christ always to be present with us. We know that Presence more keenly and with greater clarity and focus in the Sacrifice of the Mass. We take that Presence with us out into our space.


Ultimately, we are promised that, upon our resurrection, we will not need the light of Sun and Moon because God Himself will be our Light. He will also be our Time as we worship Him in His glory.

This is why we need to bear Christmas and Easter in our hearts all year round, for doing do we carry Our Lord Jesus Christ with us to hallow our Time and our Space.

Blogday 2017: The beautiful feet of the Laity

And now we are 12. Blogging, apparently, is a dying form which makes this, as usual, a thing of increasing archaism.

It's been a turbulent year which has seen an upheaval of large proportions for the purpose of a greater good.

Dealing with the loss of a chapel and parish is hard, especially when that parish was established well before my return to the Catholic Church. I miss my old congregation and the freedom that I had to perform my duties as a priest.

Yet, I now have opportunities which are yet to emerge but I can see buds forming.

One thing that often does the rounds on Social Media is a rhapsody on the beautiful hands of a priest. My hands are certainly far from beautiful but I understand the sentiment even though it does lend itself too far to idolisation of the clergy. My hands become beautiful only when they bear God's grace to those who need it. They shine with the beauty of the hands crucified which obscure the hands which I have shamefully used for sin. The priest must take "the beautiful hands of a priest" with a grain of salt remembering that it should shame rather than make one feel grand. There is nothing grand about a priest in themselves: they must aspire to reflect Christ.

The hands of the priest are for washing the feet of the Laity.

And these feet are beautiful because in them we see the purpose of every Christian :

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"
(Isaiah lii.7)

Each one of us is a bearer of the Gospel. The fact that the proclamation of the Gospel is an elaborate rite at Mass reflects the earnestness and respect that we should have for proclaiming that Gospel in our lives. We walk barefoot on hard mountains with the joyful message, "repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand."

To a world which is comfortable in sin, these words burn which is why we are assaulted for bearing them. However, these words bear the reality of God's love for us generally and in particular. This is why it is an uphill struggle.

It will be a long time before the Provisional Mission of St Anselm and St Odile is up and running. It must begin with those who are prepared to invest in its growth which will be slow and difficult before it can ever hope to become a parish devoted to theological enquiry which seeks to preserve the Orthodox Faith in a changing world by instilling that Faith into hearts as well as minds.

This is where this blog may have its purpose by continuing what it has always done. The priesthood exists only for the Laity. If the Laity see beauty in their priests then they must know that this is a beauty which goes into serving them. They must also know of their own beauty which seeks to proclaim Good News to the world even if that world finds beauty offensive.

Let us strive to be beautiful.

St Thomas of Canterbury, pray for us!

Monday, December 25, 2017

... and it was very good!

Sermon for the Feast of the Nativity at Midnight

"Heaven and Earth shall flee away when He comes to reign."

The baby is born, and nothing seems to happen. The baby is born, and Heaven and Earth remain unmoved and indifferent. The baby is born, and the man on the street says, "so what?" before putting his turkey in the oven. Heaven and Earth take no flight but remain as they always have.

Has the baby come to reign?

God becomes Man, so His Eternity is still there and hidden. His vast power concealed in His flesh. His crown covered by a baby's soft skull, vulnerable and small. His Kingdom is already here but obscured by the day-to-day business of the flesh.

At this instant of birth, Heaven and Earth cannot be the same again. Here at this birth, God's Creative power works a miracle that spreads back and forth through all Time and all Space. Here the cracks in Existence caused by the Fall are cleansed so that, from the pinnacles of Eternity, God still looks on all He has made and declares it, "very good".

The birth of this baby restores a link to the Divine that we had lost. As one umbilical cord is cut, another is reconnected, supplying the constant stream of the grace of God back into a humanity slumbering in a degradation of its own making. In this Birth and in His later death, our life begins again for all who will be stirred and admit themselves to be shaken into that life.

Heaven and Earth do flee away. They flee from the perception of souls who awaken to the Divine light and the Divine smile. They flee away from the lives of those who let them go so as to grasp the Hand of God which has become flesh precisely so that we may indeed grasp it. They flee away, because He comes to reign, not in that poor, lowly stable, but in the hearts of those who dare to have their hearts broken just so that He may enter.

His birth is the hour of our creation and, behold, it is very good.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A taste of Heaven


Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Here's the thing. Christians know what Heaven is not. We know that we don't magically transform into angels with wings and halos, playing harps just as the inhabitants of Hell have horns and hooves,  and, according to Gary Larsen, play accordions.

Yet, neither is Heaven going to be a place of do-as-you-please. We're not going to be idle on cloudy sun-loungers, supping angelic pina-coladas and watching reruns of Morecombe and Wise.

We know what Heaven is not. Do we know what it is?


There is a famous setting of the words "This is the Record of John" by Orlando Gibbons. It is most often sung with a solo by a male alto. Sometimes it is sung by a female alto, and others by a tenor.

It is beautiful music, but there are some who cannot stand the male alto voice. There are others who won't listen to it if it's sung by a tenor. If this is true, and our personal taste varies so much, how can everyone hope to enjoy the music in the presence of God?

You could say that God will only allow into Heaven those who prefer the female alto voice to sing this anthem. If this were so, there would have to be a reason why found in the doctrine of the Church. Since this anthem was written in the Seventeenth Century, and such choral music did not exist as far as we know in the Early Church, it seems unlikely that God would make appreciation of a particular music a condition for salvation. If it were, we would have known about it from the beginning.

It is clear that a matter of personal taste is not going to factor into our Eternal Life with God. However, if our personal taste is something that is part of us, an expression of who we are, how can we expect this Eternal Life with God to be something that we enjoy? We will be not be allowed to be isolated from others as demonstrated by the great multitudes who praise God in St John's Revelation. What if Eternal Life with God is full of grime music, chewing gum and deely-boppers?


This is our problem. We tend to think about Heaven, that is our Eternal Life with God, using our own experiences of life. We see, hear or taste something that makes us feel wonderful and we say, "how heavenly!" and expect Heaven to conform to it.

This makes some sense; Our Lord says that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us. God does not despise His Creation at all, so why would we expect Heaven not to be the best of what we know now.

Our personal tastes and preferences can then become an obstacle to Heaven because we believe that everyone who goes to Heaven must share the same experiences of life. How can we deal with this?


St Paul tells us, "Rejoice in the Lord alway and again I say rejoice." The reality of the Kingdom of Heaven is to allow Jesus to be the King. We ought to discipline ourselves to rein in our taste and preferences so that we can divert the energy that we spend indulging then in rejoicing in God Himself.

This means that we have to stop worrying about the hymns of the Church because of their tunes, but because of how they present the praises of God the King according to what the Church teaches about Him. It means that we have to stop worrying about the Church decor in favour of presenting a space devoted to the worship of God as we have received through the centuries.

Indeed, to see Heaven is to find the same joy in everything God has created that He does. We need to seek out that joy in what we find delightfull according to our personal taste and also, contrary to it. If God created it, then there is goodness within it.


But the world is a dark and evil place, isn't it?

Only the Devil would want to convince you of that. Yes, the Devil's handiwork is always around us, but as we have seen these past few weeks of Advent, the time and influence of the Devil are limited. Advent reminds us of hope. Advent reminds us to rejoice in the Lord at Christmas and always.

 Tomorrow, we shall see how Heaven and Earth will effectively become the same place, and it all begins with the birth of a baby.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Ero and Vero: a cras response

In previous years, I have reflected on the Great O Antiphons of Advent - see for example, my reflections in 2013. This year it strikes me that we do need to reflect on their totality as well as their individuality.

It is well-known that, reading backwards, we have:

O Emannuel
O Rex Gentium
O Oriens

O Clavis David
O Radix Jesse
O Adonai
O Sapientia

We see the acronym ero cras - tomorrow, I shall be! I have written that our so many times before. However, this comes from my use of the traditional Benedictine office. Were I to be a follower of the Sarum Rite, like my dear friend Fr Chadwick, I would have started a day early so that I would say the final antiphon, O Virgo virginum on the 23rd. If we look at the acrostic formed by the Sarum Rite, we then have Vero cras - tomorrow indeed!

Of course, there are many who dislike O Virgo virginum on the grounds that it does not address Christ Our God as the other do. We appeal to God with us, God the King of the Nations, God the Dawning Light, God the Key of David, God the Root of Jesse, God Our Lord, God the Eternal Wisdom, and we appeal to Him for the dawning of our salvation. Does not the presence of the prayer to Our Lady pander to the idea that she is  Co-Redemptrix?

We remember that Our Lady is a redemptrix only insofar that she is an instrument, not a source, of our redemption. In saying, "be it unto me according to thy word," she has agreed to be an instrument and thus the efficient cause of our salvation in born into the world through her "yes!" to Almighty God. Given that we participate in our own salvation, we can only be regarded as "co-Saviours" insofar as we are instruments used for the purpose of salvation. The sacraments are not mine: they are issued at my weak and trembling hands, but I find myself blessed by that grace which flows from them. That is the promise of God effected in little me, and indeed in every Christian soul who is called to be an instrument and agent, but not source, of God's saving power.

O Virgo virginum is a response to Almighty God. We see Him petitioned in the Seven O's and then, we remind ourselves that we have to respond - we have to participate in the Salvation that God offers us by an act of choosing to become.

In the Benedictine Rite, God says ero cras! in response to our petition to cease being infected with sin and Evil.  In the Sarum Rite, we say vero cras! with the greatest joy, knowing that God is entirely faithful.

While, for the sake of Benedictine stability, I remain with the former rite, I am overjoyed that there are those who pray the Sarum Rite on my behalf to and assist me thereby in making that joyful response to God's promise to be with us.

A blessed Sapientiatide to all of you, whichever Rite you use!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Virtually Nine Lessons

By way of an experiment, I have put together a version of the Office of Nine Lessons and Carols. Since the Provisional Mission of St Anselm and St Odile is really in a process of formation, I thought it might be nice to share with my readers something of the late Advent, pre-Christmas season in the hope that we may all feel uplifted for the Feast of the Nativity. Perhaps you will join me in praying and enjoying music written for the glorification of God and for the gladdening of men's hearts.

Essentially, this consists of some YouTube links to carols and music interspersed with the Nine Lessons as read by yours truly. Yes, there will be mistakes and blips on my part, for which I crave your and God's forgiveness. I hope they do not detract from an approximation to an experience of which I was once blessed to be part. The readings will only be available for the next 88 days, but the moment by then will surely have passed!

Please do click on the links in sequence to get the full intended affect. You might also like to listen by candlelight as well and, if you like, sing along with the carols. If you do find this in any way complementary to your experience of the season, please have a mince pie and a cup of mulled wine on my behalf after the benediction.

Hope this works!

Organ Prelude: Noel cette Journée - Jean-François Dandrieu.

Carol: Once in Royal David's City (605 in The English Hymnal)

Introduction and opening prayers.

The First Lesson

Adam Lay Ybounden - music by Boris Ord

The Second Lesson

Carol: Wake, O Wake! With tidings thrilling (12 in The English Hymnal)

The Third Lesson

The People that walked in Darkness from Handel's Messiah

The Fourth Lesson

Carol: O Little Town of Bethlehem (15 in the English Hymnal)

The Fifth Lesson

I sing of a Maiden that is makeless - music by Patrick Hadley

In the Bleak Midwinter -  music by Harold Darke

The Sixth Lesson

This is the Truth sent from above - music by Ralph Vaughan Williams

The Seventh Lesson

Carol: A Great and Mighty Wonder (19 in the English Hymnal)

The Eighth Lesson

There shall a star from Jacob come forth - music by Felix Mendelssohn

The Ninth Lesson

In Dulci Jubilo - music by Robert Pearsall

Carol: Lo He comes with clouds descending (7 in the English Hymnal)

Collect and Benediction

Carol: O Come, O Come Emmanuel (8 in the English Hymnal)

Postlude: Toccata on Mendelssohn by David Wilcocks

Hell on Biscuit Barrel

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent

You are enjoying your favourite biscuit and then one of your friends comes along and tells you not only how many calories are in it, but also what else it contains including which parts of the sheep have been used in cooking it.

Suddenly, the biscuit changes. No longer is it a joy to eat, but rather it becomes an object of disgust.
However, nothing about the biscuit has actually changed. It is still the same biscuit that you used to enjoy, but now it's a horrible thing which you are very tempted to bin. Can the biscuit be saved?

What would it take to bring the biscuit back?


It is a peculiarity of many Christians to deny the existence of Hell and the Devil on the grounds that they are unjust or superstitious nonsense. That is something the Devil truly loves because without knowing what is Evil, we cannot fully know what is Good. If the writing in a book was the same colour as the page, what use would the book be? In order to know where Germany starts, we need to know where France ends. 

We can only truly know the truth of our salvation once we know what it is we're being saved from. If there is nothing to be saved from, what is the worth of salvation. Why bother to suffer on the Cross if it doesn't really do anything?


The fact that Jesus suffers and dies for us on the Cross shows us first that there is something that we need to be saved from - something truly terrible, something that God hates. Secondly, it shows us that God believes that we are worth being saved from this terrible fate. He is not indifferent to what happens to us when we die. This means something important that we often forget: each human being is created inherently good. If we are worth saving, then our fall from grace through Sin does not destroy that inherent goodness. 

We can still see that today in this world. There are so many people, often unknown to the media, who are living lives trying to demonstrate the goodness that God gives us in our creation through acts of charity and mercy for no other reason than they just enjoy doing good for other people.

Satan will come along and show us our sins in the hope that we will hate ourselves, hate other and hate God and abandon hope. He seeks to suck the joy out of our existence as being truly human by convincing us that we are merely a shadow and that we should just please ourselves in order to enjoy a dark and dull life. Should we fall for this (and we all do this somewhere along the line), then we actively reject God and turn away. If we do not think that there is anything to be saved from, then we stand in danger of never knowing God, and thereby can never live with God.


Here is the importance of Christ's Cross, and indeed, through His Cross, our own personal crosses and suffering. In recognising sin in ourselves, we can choose to be transformed. We can beg for God to make us better, to heal us, to stop us from being just a pale shadow of what He wants for us. We can beg God to give us a sense of what is good in us so that sin does not reign any more in us. And God will give us what we want, because He is a good Father to us.

Alternatively, we can accept ourselves as we are. We can choose to try and change the world around us to fit what we want it to be so that what is wrong in us disappears because we say that it is right. The consequence is that we lose our vision that we are not our own but God's. We lose sight of the True Good in favour of our own personal "good" which is nothing but our own will. And then, the sin that is hidden from us through our own blindness becomes part of us. Because we demand to be accepted as we want ourselves to be, we find ourselves separated from the vision that God sees in us and wants for us. How can we be saved then, if sin actually becomes part of who we are?


What, then, is Hell?

Forget the medieval paintings of devils poking people up the bottom with pointed sticks. Hell is worse than that. Like the biscuit, Hell is life as we know it, but with no joy, no purpose, no light, no love, no meaning and, crucially, no death. The person in Hell still retains the same goodness that comes with being human, but it is a goodness separated from God, that hungers for God and yet cannot know Him because it will not know Him. It is this hunger for God that burns within the Hell-bound. It is this hunger that produces the agony because it can never be filled. 

And that is the true terror of Hell. 

This means something crucial. If Christ dies a horrible death to save us from Hell, then it must be truly horrible indeed. Yet, if we are truly to love our neighbour as ourselves, then it means that we have a duty to live our lives so that we, too, can help people escape Hell. This is why the Church has such an important mission to bring the Faith, Hope and Love of Christ into a world that is both dark and light at the same time. Our duty is to help people see the light.


We are told "Keep thy mind in Hell and despair not." As Christians, we must recognise the existence of this terrible place and remember that it is ultimately our own choice and our own fault to  end up there, because we create it ourselves. All we need to do is to turn to God our Father, and, through His transformation of our very selves, we will find the joy that He promises.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hooray for the Day of Judgment!

Sermon for the Second Sunday in Advent 

Which is worse for you, the fear of dying or the fear of what comes after death?

Let's face it. Many people today think that death is the end and that all life stops there. One wonders whether many people do not believe in life beyond death precisely because they are actually afraid that there may be something there - something that is permanent and means that they might not escape everything left behind in this life.

If there were no life beyond death, then what would good and evil mean? We've seen men and women who have committed terrible acts and enjoyed committing those terrible acts who then commit suicide and thus escape justice. They die in their glee in the belief that they will never be brought to account before men.  They die in joy while their victims die in pain and misery.

If there is no life beyond death, then how can we blame them? They get exactly what they want and do not suffer for it. If there is no life beyond death, how can there be any form of good and evil? We can make up the rules as we go along and die without consequence. Good becomes whatever makes us happy, evil whatever makes us sad. If our rule in life is that everyone should be happy, then this means that we have to allow people who enjoy committing horrible deeds to do them so that they can be happy.

How can there be good and evil if there is no life beyond this one?


As Christians, we strive hard to believe in the Resurrection wholeheartedly. The acts of evil in this world do test our faith, sometimes almost to breaking point. Nonetheless, there is historical evidence for Our Lord's Resurrection in the Gospels and in the testimony of the Church from the very beginning. The existence of a Church that will suffer and die for faith in the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ is evidence of that Resurrection. Our Lord Jesus Christ is very clear that He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

And this is what causes many to fear and cry out that there cannot be a resurrection of the dead. It is the fear of being judged for our sins.

However, if the murderer cannot escape justice for his sins by suicide, how can we expect to escape justice for ours. Resurrection means that we will be in the presence of God and where He is, no Evil can be. We will be judged. We don't have a choice.

And that's fantastic news!


As Christians, we know ourselves to be sinful. We are affected by sin and we commit sin. Every sin takes us away from God. It is because we are beginning to know God that we know that we are sinful. The more clearly we see God, the more clearly we see our sins that separate us from Him. If we truly want to be with God then we need to open ourselves up to Him to be transformed in Him so that our sins are blown away.

What does the Christian have to fear from judgement?

Shame, yes! But Shame shows us and God that we truly recognise that what we have done us sinful.

Grief, yes! But Grief shows us and God that we are sorry for our sins.

Hatred of what we have done, yes! But that is the goodness that God has put into us becoming pure and free from evil.

While we fear grief, shame and loathing, they are not eternal but are signs of our ever-growing closeness to God. We must accept them and have the hope that lies beyond them. This is the hope that Holy Scripture possesses. This is the hope the Church professes.


God's judgement gives us justification. In Him we are made right and made righteous. In letting go of our evil, we embrace God. But whatever happens to us if we do not? We must look at that next week.

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Conception of Our Lady 2017

This feast seems to provoke much disagreement between the various Catholic groups, and yet, it is a truly wonderful thing to celebrate.

Today, we celebrate the beginning of the life of a human being whose simple "yes" allowed her to become the instrument by which Almighty God could change the world. Is this Conception Immaculate?

If one doesn't ascribe to the doctrine of Original Sin as an inherited guilt, then we are all immaculately conceived and there is no peculiarity.

If one does ascribe to a form of St Augustine’s view that we all bear Adam's guilt, then there is a case to answer. Certainly, the Church Fathers do present a clear case for the sinlessness of Our Lady. How far back into her life this sinlessness can be traced must remain something of a mystery.

Like anyone else, if the Blessed Virgin has sinned, then her sin would be something that must remain between her and her Creator. She needs salvation from the Fall that fractures Creation whether or not that Fall infects her internally. This Immaculate Conception cannot therefore be a belief necessary for salvation. It is a belief that we are free to hold or reject as our Christian conversation with God dictates.

Why bother with it, then?

We bother with it because it is a sign of hope. If Our Lady can be sinless, then so can we - not by our own effort but rather through the Grace of God given to us to use in our lives.

Our Lady is conceived as a human being possessing only human substance and human nature. Yet she uniquely presents Christ to the world through her own self. This makes her fundamentally different from the priest offering Christ at the Altar: she does not present Christ as victim for the sins of the world - only Our Lord can do that. Rather, Our Lady presents Christ as the Hope of the world. Thus we see here as an ikon of the Church. In celebrating her Conception we are drawn to the day of Pentecost and the birth of the Church.

It is through her Conception, that Our Lady stands with us in our common humanity and is thus able to offer prayers uniquely to her Son. We do her honour as befits the Queen Mother of Heaven, but her Conception allows her to stand with us and her in adoration and worship of her son Who is God.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

The difference between Birth and Death

Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent

Death will always be a difficult topic to discuss. Even at the mention of the word, we immediately think of those who have died this year, those who are dear to us and who have gone, and those who have suffered much before they have died and whose suffering we remember with pain and sorrow.

First, let us remember our loved ones who have died and remember that Almighty God is infinitely merciful and does not forget even the smallest sparrow.


Why do Christians allow death to affect us like this? If we have Eternal Life in God, shouldn't we think of death as being a minor inconvenience? Shouldn't we see it as many of the Church Fathers did as the gateway to Eternity with God?

Is it because, deep down, we don't believe in salvation? 
Is it because, deep down, we are afraid of losing everything, even our own selves?


To our friend who has lost his wife, all we seem to be able to say is a feeble "I'm sorry for your loss." It never seems enough. Death is indeed a loss. When our loved one dies, our relationship cannot continue as it once did and we miss that person in ways more profound than we ever really understand. Our relationship is bigger than the two of us, and as a result we find out just how much we loved them because we face the jagged edges of our lives from which they have been torn away.

And what of our own death?

Sometimes, that may seem easier to bear than the death of the one we love. In that case, we're the one who is not carrying on. Yet, in approaching Death, we approach the loss of simply everything and everyone we hold dear.

What will remain of us if we lose everything?


According to T.S. Eliot, one of the Magi visiting the Christ Child says, "I had seen birth and death,But had thought they were different; this Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death."

He's right. Birth is as much of a loss as Death. As far as we are aware, we lose everything that we hold dear. At the painful moment of birth, the baby loses a relationship with her mother that neither can ever retrieve. The womb, once full of life, is empty. All that sustains the baby in the womb, connecting her to her mother is cut off and discarded. The previous life is ended and the new one must begin.

In preparing for the Nativity of Our Lord, we are reminded of His procession into Jerusalem that will end with His death. Palm Sunday must always lead to Good Friday. In it, we see Our Lord pass through a series of devastating losses before He loses His life on the Cross. 

And we remember it here, on Advent Sunday!



Here, at the beginning of the Liturgical year, we face the death of the old year and the beginning of the next. We see birth and death and we wonder whether they are different. Now is the time to look at what we have lost and whom we have lost. Now is the time to think about what does remain if we lose everything.

Surely, if we lose everything, then we are nothing! We become utterly nothing.

This is true, unless God tells us that we are something. This is true, unless God shows to us that each and every human being is actually something and is capable of bearing things that are truly Eternal. St Paul tells us that there are three things that last forever: Faith, Hope and Love.

We have faith in God that, at our Death His Son shall shine as He shines now and as He has always done. We trust God whose divine life cannot be blotted out by any death. We trust Him not to forget us, nor to forget anything about us. 

We have hope in God that, at our Death, we shall find Birth that cannot be proven by the Scientific method, because this birth is a death to all that we can know and a birth into knowing even as we are known by God.

And we have Love.

It is Love that causes the pain of Death, because we lose our loved ones. It hurts so much precisely because we love. If we want the pain to end, then we may be asking for the love to stop. Rather, we need to ask to be able to bear the pain with joy in amidst our sorrow. In the midst of life we are in death and that's a good thing because the more pain we feel, the greater is our love. The challenge we face is how we are to continue in this pain and suffering whilst taking great joy in it.

And that is what Christmas is. 


As we prepare for Christ's birth, we prepare for His death. As we prepare for His death, we must prepare for our own death - death to ourselves. If we die with Christ, then we shall live with Christ. The more we love the little baby in the manger, then the more we must love the broken body on the Cross. It will be precisely this Love that will carry us through our own losses and deaths into Eternity with Him. Let us feel the pain of loss and allow it to help us find true joy in Christ.