Blogger recipients may have noticed that the blog site has changed since last week. It is possible to go directly to the new site by using – but there is also a direct link from the Parish’s main site: – just click on ‘Fr. Jonathan’s Blog.   Before going any further, I would like to thank Tim, who looks after our website, for the hard work he has put into getting this ‘up and running’, and Socius, who is a companion with me, in writing these blogs. It is truly amazing how people are so generous with themselves and their time, given freely for the Church and the Kingdom of God. Within the new blog site, we now have a facility for people to comment on the blog, in addition to them being able to read its content; you will see also many other things of interest within the site’s pages – ‘twitters’ and links to other websites, including some to the Vatican, itself – the wonders of modern technology!   The ultimate idea of all this is so that, hopefully, we can share our thoughts, and ideas, to the mutual benefit of Parishioners and people beyond our boundaries. Many such already share in the blog – some from as far away as Australia. Those who already receive the blogs, automatically, should now be transferred to a system that sends them a newsletter informing them of new additions to the site. There they should be able to read at their leisure. The old site is now no longer accessible.  



‘We three’ have had a lot of fun – and hard work, getting the new blog site set up, but now, there are also ‘Twitters’!  Pope Benedict has said that the Church – Priests in particular – should be ‘up to date’ with modern methods. I wonder if Pope Benedict ‘twitters’? It would be good to have a daily thought from him; he seems to have so much wisdom to impart   

Pope Benedict XVI


Freedom, fun and hard work – I suspect they go well together – that they are very much intermingled. There is often a great deal of fun, mixed with people who are working hard together, and when somebody is having fun, they are also, essentially, free.  Time passes quickly when hard at work, when having fun, and freedom is so important in all of this.   

Manual Workers Making Steel


Freedom – liberty, lack of restrictions, that certain independence, a sense of choice and free will and freedom from fear – all of these – is associated with Advent. The very first antiphon, at Mass, for the first Monday of Advent reads:  

“Nations, hear the message of the Lord, and make it known to the ends of the earth: Our Saviour is coming. Have no more fear.”  

In the Benedictus, the prayer of Zecheriah, John the Baptist’s father, he says:  

“He (God) swore to Abraham our father to grant us, that free from fear and saved from the hands of our foes, we might serve him in holiness and justice all the days of our life in his presence”.  

Freedom does not come automatically and it is not to do with the self-dominated attitudes of ‘cutting all ties and just following my own desires’. In fact, that course of action leads to the deprivation of other peoples’ freedoms and on to slavery.  In any examination of complex and difficult concepts, it is helpful, I find, always to look at the ‘opposite of something’ as this often helps us to understand more clearly. In our Rite of Baptism, when talking to parents, the priest uses that ‘un-popular’ word ‘responsibility, when he reminds them that: “You have asked to have your child baptised. In doing so, you are accepting the responsibility of training him / her in the practice of the Faith”. Now this may sound like a constraint – the Church telling us what to do – once again. In fact, it is quite the opposite! At Baptism, the parents invariably answer: “We do”, without hesitation, when asked if they clearly understand the ‘responsibility’.  

To look at this another way, we can picture all those many parents who feel sad, disappointed and without a purpose in life, when they discover they cannot have children! Do such people feel they have lost an aspect of their freedom? Not necessarily!  The choices we have made appear to limit us, but actually, they are the way in which we find our freedom. We all need a context in which to live.  

The worst enemy of our human existence is fear. God takes fear away: and that is a message of Advent.  

The Nativity and the Second Coming of Jesus

The Nativity by Rogier van der Wayden (1400 to 1464) and the Second Coming of Jesus by Jean Cousin the Younger (late 16th Century)  

In our today’s way of thinking, we do not picture Jesus coming to us just at Christmastide, or, indeed in terms of the certainty of His ‘Second Coming’; rather, the Messiah, himself, is with us now, today and everyday, throughout the whole of our lives.  

Now follows a story told by Father Ambrose at Mass, last Sunday.  With acknowledgement to him, I now repeat the ‘tale’, because of the apposite lessons it contains:  

Tintern Abbey - The Interior


A famous monastery fell upon hard times.  Once it had teemed with young monks, so that the church rang with prayer and singing, but now it was nearly deserted.  Visitors no longer came there to pray and seek spiritual guidance.  Only a handful of elderly monks shuffled disconsolately about its silent and gloomy cloisters.  

       Now in a hut, in a nearby wood, there lived a holy old rabbi.  The monks had a very high regard for him and felt sustained by his prayerful presence.  One day the abbot went to visit the rabbi and opened his heart to him.  The rabbi received him warmly.  It was as though he had been expecting him for a long time.  

       They sat down and talked for some time, each shedding tears at having discovered one another.  Then they sat on in silence.  Eventually the rabbi said: ‘You and your brothers are serving God with heavy hearts.  You have come to me seeking a teaching.  I will give you a teaching, but what I am going to say, I will say once, and only once.’  

       Then the old rabbi looked at the abbot and said:  ‘Tell your brothers that the Messiah lives among them’.  The abbot could scarcely believe what he had heard.  He wanted to ask many questions, but the rabbi said: ‘Go now.’  And the abbot left without even looking back.  

       The next morning he called the monks together and told them that he had received a teaching from the old rabbi, that he would say it once, and no one was to repeat it, or ask questions.  They looked at him full of expectation.  Then he said: ‘My brothers, the rabbi said that the Messiah is among us.’  On hearing this, the monks were overcome with surprise and joy, and they asked themselves: ‘Could it really be true?  Could Br. John be the Messiah?  Could Br. James be the Messiah?  Could I be the Messiah?  

       They were deeply puzzled, but no one asked any questions of the abbot.  As time went by, the monks began to treat one another with a deep and genuine reverence.  There was a gentle, warm-hearted, human quality about them now which was hard to describe but easy to notice.  They lived as men who had finally found something.  And yet they prayed and read the Scriptures as if they were still looking for something.  

       People soon noticed that something unusual had happened in the monastery, and visitors began to stream to it.  From far and wide they came to be nourished by the prayer and charity of the monks, and young men were soon asking to join the community.  And once more the church rang with prayerful music, and the cloisters filled with life, so that the monastery became a centre of faith, hope, and love for all who lived in that part of the world.  

Yes, the Messiah has come.  He lives within us and empowers us to live as he lived.  Each one of us can make a real difference.  All our words and actions can spread love – or argument and jealousy.   We must turn away from anything of which we would be ashamed, remembering that God sees and knows us, through and through.  Every day, we draw nearer to the time of our death and the end of the world.  We must be ready for that great moment, for God’s judgement is completely just – and final. He loves us and longs for us to be with him for all eternity, where we will then exist in perfect freedom.