I was asked to write a daily thought for the day, with a picture, to be emailed to members of the university throughout last week. I decided to take the theme of joy. Joy is difficult to explain. Using various works of art (inspired by Sr Wendy Beckett) I offered up a thought each day together with a sentence of Scripture to meditate upon and a prayer. I have no idea whether they were effective but the experience taught me how difficult it is to talk about something that is essentially about the life to come. While we can experience joy now, or more accurately we can enter into joy now, it is something that in a sense comes not from the here and now but from eternity, from heaven. Joy is the normal experience of heaven. As Fr Colin reminded us yesterday, joy is not the same as happiness but is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. While happiness is affected by our circumstances, joy is a gift we cannot earn or engineer.
As I think of the life and witness of St John the Baptist during these weeks of Advent, I hear the joyful word: repent. Obviously that sounds strange! Joy and repentance do not seem to go together at all. But in fact repentance is a joyful activity. Our Lord said,
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Lk 15:7)
Repentance leads to joy because by answering John's call we make steps towards heaven. We turn away from our attachment to sin, and turn towards Christ. And so we enter further into joy, the joy of the Lord.
Our mass yesterday was low on numbers due to a combination of factors, but I totally agreed with Fr Robin when he said it was just good to be there. We are a small ordinariate group and whether we have a viable future or not rests in the Lord's hands - His will be done. After all, we are focussed not on success but faithfulness. I thought the pope's simple advice to the parish in Rome he visited yesterday (Santa Maria delle Grazie) helpful encouragement. The parish had started in a "makeshift settlement" in the 1980s, now it was only a year since it had begun worshipping in its new church. The Pope said,
The community is built with the contribution that each one offers, with the commitment of all.
The Pope was talking about Christian witness, how it is every single member of the community's Christian witness that builds up the community.
Here is the video clip of it:
Next week we are privileged to welcome the exceptional choir, Voces, who will sing the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus and various motets. As a group we are very humbled that they should sing at the Ordinariate Mass. It will be on Sunday 18th at 4pm, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, using the side door from outside.
May your keeping of Advent continue to be fruitful,