News for Sunday 18th December: Fourth Sunday of Advent

News from St Mary the Virgin, Kenton on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th December 2022: The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Dear friends,

The first three weeks of Advent seem to have flown by, and we find ourselves now facing both the fourth and final week of Advent, as well as its liturgical “second-half”: the days between 17-24 December are known as “Sapientia-tide”, because the prayers at Mass and in the Divine Office each day begin to incorporate a series of special titles for Christ, the first of which is “O Sapientia”, or, “O Wisdom of God Most High”.

These seven special titles feature in the well-known Advent hymn, “O come, O come, Emmanuel”: each verse of the hymn uses one of the titles – O Wisdom (Sapientia), O Leader of Israel (Adona├»), O Root of Jesse (Radix Iesse), O Key of David (Clavis David), O Radiant Dawn (Oriens), O King of Nations (Rex Gentium) and O Emmanuel. These titles express our longing for Christ's coming, for he is the one who will dispel ignorance, lead his people forth into freedom and unlock the chains of sin: he is the sun rising after the darkness of night, the flower blooming after the lifelessness of winter.

These titles also then form an acrostic, with each of the first letters in Latin spelling out a further phrase: reading backwards from Emmanuel, these letters spell E R O C R A S – and this is the Latin for, I will be with you tomorrow! In this way, our prayers of longing reveal Christ's response to them: He is coming, and He will be with us soon!

This weekend coming, and on Monday next week, I have a very special reason personally to rejoice, as I will be celebrating my tenth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. A dear friend of mine, Canon Owen Beament, will be with us to preach on Sunday at 10.30am – and after Mass I invite you into the Hall to share a glass of vin santo, a fortified sweet wine traditionally drunk in monasteries on each day of Sapientia-tide, with a piece of sweet almond biscuit (cantuccini) dipped into it! This little foretaste of the sweetness of Christmas should whet our appetites for the festivities to come!

On Monday next week, 19 December, the day of my ordination anniversary, I will be offering a special Mass at 9.30am, to which all are welcome. Although we do not usually have any public services on Mondays, I hope you will nevertheless be able to join me, and for a glass of something sparkling, and a slice of cake, afterwards! I feel very honoured to be celebrating this special occasion with you at St Mary's, and I thank God for His faithfulness, and His guidance in leading me here.

With my love and prayers,

Fr Richard