3rd December 2023

And so we enter Advent once again. I’m almost breathless at how quickly we seem to have arrived at this point. Not alone does it seem two minutes since I was moving into St Paul’s Presbytery on a hot summer’s day in August (one of the few!), but it doesn’t seem two minutes since I was negotiating the overt celebrations that attend a Californian Christmas!

Recently, I revisited one of my favourite films of all time, Dead Poet’s Society, starring the late, great Robin Williams. If you haven’t seen it, you must. Somehow, its story seems to suit this time of year. In a very quirky introduction to the study of English literature, Mr Keating (played by Williams) has his students (a class of teenage boys) read the opening lines of Robert Herrick’s poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”. They read: Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying; and this same flower which flowers today tomorrow will be dying. Now admittedly, Herrick is giving blunt advice to 16th century maidens about the need to get themselves a fella, and quick. In the film, Mr Keating broadens the theme with the aphorism Carpe Diem (seize the day) and this become the central premise of the film. The film demonstrates the need to ‘seize the day’ and that whilst a great price may have to be paid in the act of seizing, a much deadlier one (of a living death) is paid by not taking those important decisions/risks & gambles/opportunities that come our way. Some of us already know what that feels like.

Holy Mother Church, in fidelity to Her Saviour, invites Her children to do the same again and again throughout the year, but it seems most keen at this time of the year as we begin anew the liturgical cycle. Our ‘carpe diem’ isn’t the rash grasping of a teenager, though; rather, it’s the steady reflection on the past and a determined moving forward – even if that makes us anxious – all the while confident that Christ moves along with us at each step. Whilst we can do this as a community, we must also acknowledge that our community determination is a collective reflection of our individual determination; and this is secured for us Catholics through the reception of the grace of the sacraments, especially the sacrament of reconciliation (Confession). If we’re not prepared to embolden our Faith by the power of Christ’s forgiveness, then we cannot move forward. And if we deprive ourselves of that power then we deprive the wider community and our families of its power too. Charity begins at home, the say. It does, it begins with you and the Lord looking under your own stairs first. Do not be afraid. CARPE DIEM!

Last laugh: The plumber asked the lady: “So where’s the drip?” She replied, “He’s in the bathroom trying to fix the leak.” Tommy Cooper.

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