The Holy Ghost Parish, Balham, hosted the Youth 2000 New Year Festival from Friday, 29th December, until Monday, 1st January. Nearly 200 young people slept in the school while many others stayed in their homes or with friends and came in for the daily programme. The festival, named resolution@balham, gave the opportunity for a mix of talks, workshops, time for quiet prayer, socialising and the sacraments. Each night there was all night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Archbishop Kevin joined them to celebrate the inaugural Mass and give the homily.
Virgo Fidelis Convent School, Upper Norwood
Virgo Fidelis Convent, a Secondary School for girls which specialises in Mathematics and Computing, continues its eco-friendly agenda. Planning permission has been received from Croydon for a 40ft high wind turbine which it is hoped will provide a substantial proportion of the electricity for the new classroom block.
This is not their first green initiative as they already have solar panels on the roof. The programme has the support of staff and students who want Virgo Fidelis to become an 'eco-school'. Sister Bernadette, Headteacher, said: 'In addition to the solar panels and the wind turbine we already run our own recycling facilities for things like paper and clothes.'
Recognising that Christmas is a particularly difficult time for those in prison and wanting to share with them something of the joy and hope of the Incarnation, each of our auxiliary bishops offered Mass on Christmas Day in a prison in his area: Bishop John Hine at HMP Swaleside, Bishop Paul Hendricks at HMP Wandsworth and Bishop Patrick Lynch at HMP Belmarsh.
Adoration of the Shepherds
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 - 1682)
Museo del Prado, Madrid
Recently I read Claire Tomalin's new biography of Thomas
Hardy. In it she reflects on Hardy's loss of his Christian faith, which she
describes as a "melancholy process". She quotes Matthew Arnold's poem "Dover
Beach", which describes a world without faith as having
"... neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain."
Loss of faith involves a loss of hope since faith and hope are inextricably connected. Christmas is the birth of hope: "a child has been born to us, a son is given to us." (Isaiah 9:5) Because of Christ we have a future and we have hope. At this time of year we both celebrate the birth of Christ and look to the future with confidence: confidence in the Holy Spirit's presence and action in our lives, confidence that the Jesus who died for us will come again in glory.
It is in the light of that hope that we make our prayers this Christmas. We pray for the people of Darfur, of Iraq and of the Holy Land where Jesus was born. We bring before God tragedies nearer home like the terrible murders of women in Ipswich. And we bring to the Lord the suffering and travail that may be part of our lives or those of our families or those we serve and for whom we have responsibility. We know there can be no quick or easy solution for the problems of our world, marked as it is by the sign of the cross. But the feast of Christmas enables us to see things in perspective, to see them in the light of Christ, believing and proclaiming that "on those who dwell in a land of deep shadow a light has shone." (Isaiah 9:1)
I wish you a very happy Christmas and blessings in the New Year.
Archbishop of Southwark
Archbishop Kevin celebrated Mass at Midnight and the Family Mass at 10:00 am in the Cathedral on Christmas Day. After the Family Mass he encouraged the children to visit the Crib where he gave each of them a bar of chocolate.
In his Advent Pastoral Letter, read on 3rd December, Archbishop Kevin "initiated a process of reflection and consultation ... to share ideas about the future life of the diocese". This will take place during Lent next year and will be based on his paper Towards a Vision for the Diocese. The Archbishop invites all in the diocese "to think generously and creatively in complete openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit".