The church is open all day from dawn till dusk. Tea and coffee are served after the 10.00 a.m. Mass on Sunday.
Today’s Gospel: One of the finest Rock Musicals of the 1970’s is ‘Godspel’ meaning Good Tidings. The curtain opens with the spotlight on a lone figure ringing out his one-liner ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord’. The oddly dressed prophet brings his clear invitation to a rousing crescendo. It’s a perfect Advent anthem quarried out of a sure knowledge of Isaiah’s comforting clarion call of some 800 years earlier. The Christian Community Bible publishes a special title for this section of Isaiah naming it ‘The Book of Consolation’. Evidently both Mark the Evangelist and John the Baptist were enthused by its double mention of community consolation and its joyful messenger. This is a valuable double for ourselves too in the desert of our own life and times. Note the Lord coming in the most caring of ways as understood by Isaiah and beautifully immortalised in the lines of the modern hymn ‘Like a Shepherd’ taken directly from our first reading. Today’s opening Advent Prayer begs God to ‘open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy’. John the Baptist says it’s time to clear all obstructions to his entry into your heart so that you ‘become one with him when he comes’. Perhaps your very best Christmas present this year is to be at one with God, self and others – remember always atonement or at-one-ment follows true repentance.

Rest in Peace: Fr. Arthur Dutton, with whom I spent five very happy years from 1978 until 1982, died on Tuesday November 22nd aged 74. Arthur served at Corpus Christi on Spring Bank from 1965 until 1976 and was also the chaplain to the Canonesses of St. Augustine in Park Grove. In 1978 he was appointed as parish priest at St. Bede’s, Marske where he remained until he died. He suffered from cancer these past few years but kept working until very recently. There was a service on Wednesday evening at St. Bede’s for his family and parishioners to which I went and the church was filled to overflowing. His Requiem was at the Cathedral on Thursday at noon which again was nearly full. Afterwards Arthur was cremated and buried alongside his parents in Thornaby outside Middlesbrough.

Rest in Peace: Ron Smith’s brother Angus died on Thursday in Hull Royal. He is survived by his wife Dorothy. Angus lived in Anlaby. Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Amen.
And on Friday, our oldest parishioner Celia Galloway died peacefully in Hull Royal. She was aged 99 years and 10 months and we were all so looking forward to her 100th Birthday celebrations in the New Year. She had lived most of her life in California and had returned about five years ago to live with her niece Terry Beckett (a Mercer). Two years ago she moved into The Old Vicarage care Home in Skidby where Gerry Baker brought her Holy Communion every Sunday morning without fail, and for which she was most grateful. Her husband Ralph died in the States about 16 years ago. They had no children but a very big extended family here in Hull. Celia’s Requiem Mass will be on Friday at 9.30 a.m. followed by cremation at Haltemprice at 10.30 a.m.

Elsie’s Funeral: I was devastated to learn of Elsie’s death when I got back in the early hours of Wednesday morning. I’m just so glad that I managed to visit her along with Jean and Barbara on her birthday, just a few weeks ago. And she so enjoyed us singing Happy Birthday to her over the phone during Mass on that Sunday morning! Aren’t we so lucky to have Fr. Tony and Fr. Bill there when we need them? The reports of the service were wonderful and Elsie’s family were so moved by the obvious love and affection we all held her in. May she rest in peace. Amen.

Parents – A Fable of Aesop: “The Crab and his Mother.”
A crab lived with his mother at the bottom of the sea. The mother crab was very proud of her son, but she was always nagging him to do better. One morning she noticed her son scuttling across the sea-bed in the sideways motion that crabs have. “I wish you would walk forwards,” she grumbled. “It would look much nicer.” “I will, mother, if you show me how,” replied her son. The crab tried, but found that she could only walk sideways.

The Church Floor and the Woodworm: The contractors hope to start work on Monday which means that the church will be closed for the rest of the week. Hopefully the work will all be done in that time but we’ll not know for sure until they have taken up the carpet. During the week our Masses will be in The Garden Room at the usual times. After Mass this morning we’ll need volunteers to move all the seats and benches into the Priory Room area of the church. It has a concrete floor and, hopefully, no woodworm!

CWL Christmas Appeal: Thank you ever so much for your usual generous response to Elizabeth last weekend (she certainly knows how to milk people!). So far we have raised over £600 with quite a bit more to come in through the envelopes etc. If you weren’t here last week then feel free to make a donation this week!

Wedding Bells: Congratulations to Fiona Christine Irvine and Christopher Ian Stell who were married here on Thursday of this week. It was a lovely, intimate service with just a few guests. And didn’t the bride look radiant, brightening up a rather dull morning! We wish you all the best for the rest of your lives together.

Rotary Carol Service: I’ve been compering this annual event for the past number of years, normally held at St. Mary’s College. This year we had a change of venue – St. Anthony’s on Beverley Rd. and what a success it was, once again. A nearly full house (or church!) was entertained by The Hull East Band of the Salvation Army (and Christmas isn’t Christmas without them!),The Cottingham Singers, directed by our very own (and an honoury Catholic for the night [in her own words!]) Margaret Wright, Peter’s other half, who was there to support her along with Helen, and finally the children from Endsleigh School directed by Gabrielle Ayre. It was a wonderful evening with great community singing. At the end several presentations were made including one to The Generator Fund of £178 for which we are most grateful, plus a donation of £25 to help a needy family at Christmas. Our thanks again to the Holderness Rotary Club for their generosity both to us and to CAFOD each year.

Newspaper Headlines this week:
“David Beckham earns £47,495 every day.” His income last year came to £17,335,937.00
“New York body armour tycoon David Brooks has spent £6million on his 12-year-old daughter’s coming-of-age party. He was celebrating her bat mitzvah, the Jewish ceremony that takes place on a girl’s 12th birthday.” Many acts on the bill appeared to cater more for Mr. Brook’s 150 adult guests, rather than his daughter’s 150 friends. They included Tom Petty, Aerosmith, the rapper 50 Cent, The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. Aerosmith were paid a £1.2million fee for a 45-minute set. Any disappointment the children might have felt at failing to recognise the wrinklier acts was tempered by their £600 goody bags, stuffed with digital cameras and video iPods.

CAFOD World Gifts: You have your catalogue. For the people who seem to have everything, you can be fairly certain that no one has ever given them chickens or a latrine! Do have a look though the booklet at some of the unusual and thought-provoking gifts that can change the life of someone living in poverty.

LIMBO? The Church is preparing to abolish Limbo, the place between heaven and hell reserved for the souls of children who die before they have been baptised. The Church’s 30-member International Theological Commission this week began a week-long meeting to draw up a text for Pope Benedict, which is expected to recommend dropping the concept from Church doctrine. Limbo has been part of Catholic teaching since the 13th Century and is depicted in paintings by artists such as Giotto and in literary works such as Dante’s Divine Comedy.
The commission was first asked to study the after-life fate of the non-baptised by the late Pope, John Paul II. Pope Benedict is expected to approve the findings. In 1984, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal department, he called limbo “a theological hypothesis”. “It is linked to the cause of original sin, but many babies die because they are victims,” he said. Swiss Cardinal Georges Cottier, Theologian to the Papal Household, yesterday told La Stampa: “We need to consider it and take into account the fact that many children die victims of modern evils – hunger in the world, for example, and many ills coming from huge social disorder and misery, let alone the fruits of abortion and such things.” The Church is concerned that the concept of limbo may not impress potential converts. The Church is aware that Muslims, for example, believe that all children go straight to heaven without passing any test. The most decisive modern Catholic text on the issue dates back to 1905 when Pope Pius X stated: “Children who die without being baptised go to limbo, where they don’t enjoy God, but don’t suffer either, because whilst carrying the original sin… they don’t deserve paradise but neither do they deserve hell or purgatory.” What will be next to go? Suggestions on a post card please!

“Hearts and Minds” House Group Cards: We’re really hoping to get most of them back this weekend so that we can start to plan for the New Year. If however you’ve forgotten yours, try and get it back for next weekend at the latest. The response so far has been most encouraging and I am indebted to Helen, Chris and Peter for all their time given to this. It will pay off I’m sure.

“60 Catholic Priests ordained in Vietnam.” One of the headlines in a newspaper this past week. So it’s not all doom and gloom? They were ordained in a mass ceremony on Tuesday, the first such event since Communist forces unified the country 30 years ago. Hundreds of priests packed the cathedral in Hanoi and thousands of cheering people lined the streets outside for the three-hour Mass.Vietnam’s Catholics, a legacy of French colonialism, make up around six million of the 82 million population, the second-largest known community in Asia after the Philippines. And our own Vung is one of them. Please keep her and Chris in your prayers as they set up a new life in Australia.

Prayer Circle Intention for Friday: “We pray, Lord, that the people of this parish and diocese will be inspired to a greater openness to, and reliance on, your word in the Bible.”

The Gift of Scripture: Forty years ago the Second Vatican Council promulgated one of its greatest documents, popularly known as Dei Verbum or The Word of God. The document has had a great impact within the Catholic Church and beyond. The Bishops of England and Wales and Scotland have now prepared a new teaching of document, The Gift of Scripture, in which the teaching of Verbum Dei is explained. This document is offered to us who value the ‘gift of Scripture’, so that we may be more richly nourished at ‘the table of God’s word’. I have ordered 200 copies, one for each family or person, and offer them to you at no cost, as some Advent reading in preparation for Christmas. It’s less than 60 pages long but full of wonderful teaching. It certainly will help open your eyes to the treasures in the Scriptures.

Birthday Girl: Annie Everitt celebrated her *th Birthday during the week. She also hosted a Curry Evening to raise funds for the Orphanage at Bo in Sierra Leone. Our annual “Smartie Tube” Appeal for the orphans will arrive soon! All you are asked to do is to take a free tube of Smarties from Church, eat them and then return the tube – filled with coins! It’s that simple! If they’re not here this week they’ll be here next weekend. Something to look forward to.

November Dead List: The number of sheets this year was the largest yet and we’ll give them out this weekend for you to take home and now and then remember them in your prayers. Some of them you might
know and others you won’t. But they’ll know your praying for them.
Parish Council Meeting: Tomorrow, Monday, here in the house at 7.45 p.m. and if you have anything for the agenda, please let me have it beforehand. Observers are always welcome to come along.

Generator Fund: There will be a sale of new and nearly new clothes (of excellent quality I am assured) after both Masses this weekend in The Garden Room. Why not pop in for a look. I think that they’re all ladies clothes. Sorry lads! But maybe you’ll find something for the light of your life? Who knows?

Apostleship of the Sea (Hull): Parishioner Patrick Brittain is the Port Chaplain and he would be grateful for any soaps/toiletries/after-shave etc. which can be given as small presents to seafarers over the Christmas period. He will put a box in the porch for these offerings. Meanwhile he would like to thank those who privately donated money so that he can give out free phone cards to seafarers away from their families and homes over Christmas.

Anniversaries this coming week:
Saturday – James Rodgers (Elizabeth’s father) and Laura Thomson (Fred Hodgson’s mother).
Sunday – Michael Rozenbroek (donor of the bell).
Monday – Irene Elvidge (Mary Pidd’s sister) and Martin Murphy (Elsie’s husband)
Tuesday – Donal O’Reilly (Peter’s father), Daniel Devlin (Anne Land’s father), Annie Pike (Chris’ grandmother) and Thomas Fowlston (Lilian and Peter’s brother)).
Wednesday – Ernest Royce (Phil Jackson’s father-in-law) and James Parkhill (Joan William’s father).
Thursday – Catherine and Walter Laughton, Beatrice Porter (Joanna’s mother-in-law).
Friday – Helen Turnbull, Eileen Patterson and Frank Gallagher (Teresa’s husband)
Saturday – Denis Rowlands (Jean’s husband) and John Andrews.
Sunday – Francis Abel (Ann’s father) and James McMillan (Marian Hall’s father).

Mass Intentions for the coming week:
Saturday – 6.30 – Margaret Gallagher
Sunday – 10.00 – Thomas and Doris Hirst
Monday – 9.00 – Elsie Murphy and Martin’s anniversary. (Eliz. R.)
Tuesday – 7.00 – Rodolfo Mettler
Wednesday – 9.00 – Corry Family intentions
Thursday – 9.00 – Eve Travers (RIP)
Friday – 9.30 – Requiem Mass for Celia Galloway
Saturday – 9.00 – The Parish
Saturday – 6.30 – Eileen Murphy (RIP)
Sunday – 10.00 – Mary and Freddy Gorman (A)

Please remember in your prayers our sick and housebound including Terri Riddiough, Gerry Doherty, Willy Parker, Dorothy Hood, Harold Ward, Alice Sinclair, Anita Marshall, Edna Swindell, Ivy Behan, Betty Eagan, Peter Price, Lilian Fowlston, Michael Pinder, Fiona Kilkenny, Mary Rowe, Stuart Buchan, Paddy Falvey, Roy Caley and Ursula Stainton.

City-wide Service of Reconciliation for Christmas: This will be at St. Charles’ on Monday December 19th at 7.00 p.m.

Thanks from Pakistan: Agnes Cuthbert (Allahditti) has passed on to me a letter from her sister and her husband, Angelina and James, thanking us for our thoughts and prayers during the recent earthquake in the region. Keep on praying for them and for all who will have a cold and sad Christmas in that area, without food or shelter.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor’s decision to spend Christmas in Sri Lanka ruffled a few feathers at Westminster Cathedral when it was first mooted. He had intended to fly out on Christmas Eve on a visit to look at some of the aid projects run by Cafod’s partners. “What, no cardinal at Midnight Mass?” lamented auxiliary bishops and cathedral worthies. Such a thought was inconceivable. A sleepy cardinal will now fly out at 10.00 a.m. on Christmas morning.

Parish Cook Book: We hope to have about fifty copies available in the next week or so. A first for the parish and possibly a collector’s item. I am not responsible for any illnesses caused by the proposed recipes!