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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 1st December 2019 Posted on Sunday 1 December 2019

1st Sunday of Advent
We enter the season of Advent this weekend a time of new beginnings, the simple symbol of this change of season is the appearance of a wreath and we mark the passing of the four weeks with lighted candles.

Advent summons us to look forward in hopeful anticipation and also to wakefulness. Hope because we prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s first coming at Christmas. Wakefulness because it invites us to live in the confident expectation that the Lord will come again. ‘Salvation is nearer now than when we were first converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon. Let us live in the light and let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.’

While everything around us in society and even by some of the external events in the Cathedral are trying to rush forward and anticipate Christmas we are encouraged to find some time to ponder and be still, to prepare spiritually to make a way for the Lord who comes amongst us. We very easily lose a sense of God’s presence in our busy lives and Advent is a time to rediscover the wonderful gift of Christ’s presence among us especially in word and sacrament. We are to be ready for the Lord when he comes through acting justly, helping those in need and clearing a way in our hearts for Christ’s truth through more frequent attendance at mass and reconciliation.

Along with our weekend Masses for the First Sunday of Advent we have an afternoon service at 5pm which takes the place of the usual Choral Evening Prayer. This is a service of word, hymns and Advent music – known as the Advent Sequence- and it offers us a an opportunity to

enter into the Spirit of the season in a prayerful and reflective way. On Wednesday there is a service at 12 noon in the Cathedral – Nugent’s ‘Light up a Light’ annual service and on Thursday evening NSPCC host their annual Carol Concert at 7.30pm in the Cathedral and on Saturday there is the Annual Christmas Concert by the Cathedral Concert Society in the Cathedral.

The Cookson family and Cathedral Clergy are grateful for all the cards and messages of sympathy that people sent at the death of Monsignor Peter – the numbers of people and priests at the funeral service last Monday was a testimony to the regard in which he was he held and it was a very moving celebration. We also heard last week of the deaths of two other people who had associations with our Cathedral. The artist Stephen Foster, who died recently, was responsible for the carvings in the St Joseph Chapel and the sculpture of Christ and the Children in the Children’s Chapel. His work, from the 1970s until recently, can be seen in numerous Cathedrals and churches including Allen Hall Seminary, Northampton Cathedral, Our Lady’s Kensington and the Carmelite Monastery in Ware and his most recent work was unveiled earlier this year in Holy Cross, Parsons Green, London. Also the former director of Music for Westminster Cathedral, Colin Mawby died last week. As well as directing the choir for 15 years he was also a prolific composer and one of his commissions was a Mass setting for our Cathedral which is sung on important diocesan celebrations here.

Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean