Father Philip Writes...
November is traditionally called “the month of the dead”.
In the first epistle of St Peter, Ch 3 v 19 we are told Christ himself ‘in the spirit went to preach to the spirits in prison’ and in Ch 4 v 6 we read:
The Mass is the eternal sacrifice of Christ made present to us under forms of bread and wine.
The priest, as he extends his hands over the bread and wine prays:
In November we pray many of our Masses for the dead; these Masses are called ‘REQUIEMS’. On All Souls’ Day (2nd Nov) we pray for ALL the dead. On Remembrance Sunday for those who have died in the two World Wars and since. On other occasions for departed benefactors of our church; for all who have been forgotten; for all whose anniversaries occur in November and for those who have committed suicide. We pray they will experience the Light of Christ, hence the number of candles lit for them.
We also have our third annual service for families of children who have died – the Service of Light – at 2.30 pm on Saturday 23rd November.
I conclude these notes with prayers that I hope will help in visits to graves or to the Holy Cross Chapel in our church, where we especially remember the departed:
Christmass is the day we celebrate the entrance of the all-powerful, ever-present, all righteous and glorious God into our world. And where was he?
He was lying in a manger.
So God entered the world in a place no-one cared about – in a manger, probably in a cave in Bethlehem. He came to a decidedly hostile world which was full of mankind’s sinfulness. We would expect God to be finished with us, but he lived physically among us as one of us for 33 years. He approached lepers with a touch; he healed with compassion and fed the hungry with concern. In the past it had always been ‘God over us – God above us – God in the mountain – God in the cloud’ – but never before ‘GOD WITH US’.
I often feel we can be like a wild animal stuck in a river. All attempts to rescue it are unwelcome, for the wild creature sees any attempt to save it as a threat and as a result the animal kicks, bites and hinders any attempt to save it. I fear we are no different. The Christmass Day Gospel says:
This Christmass please consider afresh – God was made flesh in Jesus for you and me.