FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT (B)
Sunday 29 November 2020
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Message from Canon Kristian
Today is the last day of our Church Year, a year that has been like no other for us as a community of faith. Whilst many of us have found new and creative ways to live out and nourish our spiritual lives, there have been many months when it has not been possible for us to gather together as a parish community for Mass – the source and summit of our Catholic faith – or to share in the various groups and events which usually take place in parish life. What lasting impact this will have on our parish community, and every parish community, remains unknown but, when the circumstances do permit, we will all be called to do all we can to rebuild our community life of worship, service and Christian witness, renewed and transformed by our experience of living through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Against this background, the short Season of Advent is even more important for us than ever. It is a season that speaks of eager expectation and joyful hope, of the coming of God in Christ who makes a highway for us in the desert, flattening the hills and filling in the valleys. I think it is true to say that we have had more than our fair share of “hills and valleys” this past year! So let us open ourselves totally and trustingly to God’s plan for us as a parish as we enter a new Church Year, confident that by doing so we will be led to encounter the presence of Christ in deeper and more fruitful ways within ourselves, in our community and in those we serve and reach out to, especially the poor and those who are most vulnerable. As believers in the Incarnation of God into the poverty and challenging circumstances of our world, in the birth of Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem, and in the Resurrection of Christ following the pain and suffering of his death on the Cross, we are nothing if not a people of hope and messengers of that hope to our world. No matter how challenging the circumstances we and our world find ourselves in, no matter the depth of suffering or the many “deaths” that we have had to and will have to face, God is there, God is Immanuel (God-is-with-us). And so, as we start out on this four weeks of preparation for the celebration of Christmas, let us seek to regain and renew our own interior sense of hope, to encourage those around us who need to be supported in their search for hope and, above all, let our words and actions towards those beyond our parish and Church community speak loudly of that hope.
You will have heard that the present “lockdown” will end on Tuesday night and so the celebration of public Mass will resume this Wednesday, 2 December, following the schedule that we were following prior to the lockdown. As social-distancing regulations remain in force and therefore places at Mass, especially at the weekends, will be limited, it is important that you once again contact Rosie at the Parish Office to ensure that there is a place for you at Mass. For this week only , the Parish Office will only be open from 10.00am-11.00am on Monday and Tuesday, then as usual from 10.00am-1.00pm Wednesday- Friday. The Government has classified Devon as being at high risk of infection and therefore in “Tier 2” of the new restriction classification. Whilst this has no additional impact on the way we celebrate Mass, I would ask that you are very careful to observe the social distancing requirements, sanitise your hands on entering and leaving the church and wear a face covering, unless you are exempt from doing so. Clearly, the virus is still very active in our local community and so we need to take every precaution to keep each other as safe as we can.
Although we will be able to resume our Masses, most of the other usual parish Advent initiatives will not be possible this year. However, the newsletter contains a number of different ways in which we can engage with the Season both spiritually and practically. There are many resources online to help us and some initiatives to enable us to reach out to others in greater need than we are. Although, unfortunately, we did not have enough to send to every household of the parish, many of you will also be receiving copies of the “Day by Day” and “Walk with Me” booklets for Advent in the post. I hope all these resources will provide some help with entering into the Advent journey this year. For those who don’t receive it by post, I have uploaded a copy of a “Card” from myself and Deacons Michael and Peter on to the parish website (here) which contains some brief Advent reflections and some details about Christmas Masses (but more about the latter next week).
For most of this new Church Year we will be reading from the Gospel of St Mark at Mass. I hope to be able to provide you with some further pointers and guidance regarding Mark’s Gospel over the coming weeks and months but, as a start, you will be able to hear the Gospel read, one chapter a day, in the English Standard Version, on the Bishops’ Conference website by clicking on this link.
Also, for those who are using the reflections on the Responsorial Psalms of the Sunday Masses, the reflections for December can be found here, and Monika Manser has produced a leaflet to aid with “lectio divina” (prayerful reading) on this Sunday’s Gospel (available to read or download here).
Last week’s “Coffee Morning” on Zoom on Thursday attracted more people than usual, which is really good to hear. Do feel free to pop in and have a catch-up with other parishioners if you can. The access details for the Coffee Morning this week are available by contacting the parish.
Lastly, as today is the last day of the Church Year, earlier this morning I celebrated Mass for all the names of those who have died that you placed into the November Urns in front of the altar in our two churches. During the Mass I read out the name of each and every person and family group you had written down and commended them once again to the life-giving love and abundant mercy of God on your behalf. May they all rest in peace and rise in glory.
With every blessing for the Advent Season as we await together in joyful hope
This Sunday marks the beginning of a new Church Year and the start of the short Season of Advent. As we will celebrate in the Advent liturgy, the coming – adventus – of Christ is manifold: the joyful home of the return of Christ at the end of time when all will be made new; the history-changing moment of the entrance of Christ into the gritty human reality of our world in the Incarnation to transform it from within; and the myriad ways in which Christ comes into our lives each and every day, leading us along the paths of change and conversion so that we may be transformed into “other christs”, which, after all, is what being a “Christian” means. So, much to celebrate and much to ponder over these next four weeks.
We will not be able to have the usual Advent meetings, but there are lots of resources on the internet that we can use. For example, Praying Advent (creighton.edu) which contains lots of different Advent prayers and reflections and the Advent Course (4 weeks) – Sycamore, based on four short videos:
- The Search for Happiness. The impossibility of sitting still. What is happiness? How to press the pause button;
- A God Who Speaks? The hiddenness of God. When God broke the silence. Discovering the face of God;
- The Bible. What is the bible? Can we trust the bible? How the bible can change your life;
- The Power of Prayer. What is prayer? Does prayer make a difference? How to pray.
Our parish CAFOD group has also put together a sheet of great Advent resources and ideas for us to access in their attached December Newsletter.
Tiverton Virtual Advent Calendar
Some of the local churches have got together to produce a virtual advent calendar that anyone and everyone can access. It features short 2-3 minute videos about different aspects of Christmas. Each day a different numbered door will be posted online so that anyone of any age can enjoy and anticipate the festive season. For a bit of puzzle fun, each day’s door has been photographed from around Tiverton, but can you guess where they are?
The Tiverton Online Advent Calendar is completely free to use and can be found online at https://tivertonadventcalendar.online/videos from 1 December.
Advent Prayer Intentions
Pope Francis’ intention for evangelisation in Advent is that our personal relationship with Jesus Christ might be nourished by the Word of God and a life of prayer. This Thursday, 3 December, is a Day of Prayer for Migrants, that our society may always welcome the stranger.
End of Lockdown and Recommencement of Holy Mass
The national lockdown ends at midnight on Tuesday and, although Devon has been classified as “High” risk and is now subject to Tier 2 restrictions, socially-distanced Masses can restart from Wednesday 2 December. Until then, the periods of Eucharistic Adoration and Private Prayer will continue.
Once Mass restarts, it will be necessary to recommence the booking system, so please contact Rosie at the Parish Office, either by telephone (please not the Office hours for this week on the front of the Newsletter) or by email if you would like to come to Mass from Wednesday onwards.
Both St James and St Boniface have their own QR code for use with the NHS App and these are posted at the entrance and exit of each church. We have been asked to continue to take people’s details manually as well. Thank you for your co-operation and to the stewards for their great commitment.
Daily Joint Act of Prayer for an End to the Pandemic
We are invited, together with people of all faiths throughout the country, to participate in a joint act of prayer at 6pm each day, wherever we happen to be, for an end to the Covid pandemic. Bishop Mark recommends that at this time we should pray the Angelus.
Diocesan Yearbooks 2021
The new Diocesan Yearbook, containing information about the diocese, the diocesan offices and the parishes is available for purchase at the entrance to church, price £4.00.
Sacramental Preparation 2021
Parents who would like their children (aged 7 and over) to make their First Holy Communion in 2021 are asked to fill out the Application Form and to return it to the Parish Office as soon as possible. If you are 12 or older – or have a young person of this age – and would like to be confirmed by the Bishop in July 2021, please complete the Application Form and return it to the Parish Office as soon as possible.
Message from Frank Poole
As many will know, Frank Poole celebrated his 90th birthday last Monday. He telephoned in this message:
“Thank you for all your lovely cards and kind wishes on my 90th birthday. They helped to make my day a very special day. God bless you all, Frank.”
Collection for Christmas Flowers
Next weekend there will be a second collection for the flowers that will adorn our churches over the Christmas period.
Fund-raising for the Parish and Donations to CHAT
Easyfundraising is an easy way of raising funds for the parish when buying from some of the most frequently used online sales websites. All you need to do is to sign up. Why not take a look and join other parishioners who donate while they shop?
This year’s “Canon Kristian’s Christmas Cake” will be on display at St James this weekend. You have one more week to get your raffle tickets (£1 each) before the draw is made next weekend!
Some lovely Christmas Novelties are on sale at the church. Orders for the Christmas Novelties can also be emailed to the Parish Office and Margaret Found will put them together for you ready to pick up at church. Payment can be made by cash, cheque or card via our contactless facility.
Christine Pickford has kindly offered to make bespoke face coverings in “Christmassy” fabrics, £2.50 each. Samples of the materials can be found at the entrance to St James, together with an envelope to place your order. Proceeds will be donated to CHAT. You can also donate to the CHAT Christmas Foodbank appeal and make preparations to take part in the Reverse Advent Calendar.
Private Prayer, Holy Mass (from 2 December) and Events
Saturday 28 November – Weekday
Sunday 29 November – First Sunday of Advent
- 11.30am-12.30pm (St Boniface)
Tuesday 1 December – Advent Weekday
Wednesday 2 December – St Osmund of Salisbury, Bishop
- Holy Mass at 12noon (St Boniface)
Thursday 3 December – St Francis Xavier, Priest
- Coffee Morning on Zoom at 11.00am
- Holy Mass at 6.30pm
Friday 4 December – Advent Weekday
- Holy Mass at 12noon
Saturday 5 December – Advent Weekday
- Holy Mass at 6.00pm (Vigil Mass)