We are approaching the end of the liturgical year, and before we know it, it will be Advent and then the run up to Christmas. Now that we have Halloween and (in the UK) Bonfire night behind us, the commercial outlets will go full throttle for their marketing of Christmas. I am fully expecting at least one story in the media to the effect that some busybody somewhere has protested about the inclusion of a Christian element in the Christmas story – indeed in a sense I almost want it, as it would be a sign that someone, somewhere, is still plugging the reason Christmas exists. It may be just me, but I tend to find that the run up to Christmas has less and less to do with our religion every year – and yet the Churches do fill up at Christmas, if not, I have tended to notice, on Christmas day itself.
The end of the liturgical year provides an opportunity to reflect, as one tends to at the secular New Year, on the events of the past year. For Catholics it has been an unusually tough one, not least because of the plight of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Although their fate seems no longer of interest to the media, it should be in our prayers, and among the most touching pictures I saw this year was one of a makeshift church in the ‘jungle’ at Calais (pictured above). It is a reminder that whatever troubles most of us have, we need to be praying for those from whom everything has been taken – and, if we can, donating to those trying to put into practice Christ’s injunction to care for the poor, the widow and the orphan.
This liturgical yeat began with the fall out from Synod 14, and had continued with that from Synod 15, and swirl of rumours (well caught by Geoffrey) shows no sign of stopping any time soon. This is not good for the Church, but in an age of social media and 24 hour news, it is hard to see what the alternative is. Some bishops and priests and others clearly do not agree with the ancient teaching of the Church, and whether the Pope agrees with them or not, it is better to have these things in the open than not; one can only hope and pray that the faithful will not be weakened in their faith. I cannot see that anyone with a living faith in Christ would be over concerned, because either what we believe about the Church is true – which is that not even the gates of hell will prevail against it – or it is not; if not, then there is as little point in being worried as if one believes.
On one final note, for those of us at AATW this is our first year without Jessica. She is recovering, and now well enough to be contemplating her future, and she sends her best to all those here who have been kind enough to hold her in their prayers. We miss her touch, and for me, their is need to express my gratitude to those others here who have helped me pick up the labouring oar, not least Neo, Dave Smith and the inimitable Geoffrey, not to mention the musical excellence of quiavideruntculi; but a big thank you to everyone who has contibutted a piece, or a comment – or just read us. Everyone is welcome here, and I hope the next liturgical year will be a good one for us all.