This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple in Jerusalem. We may not be in the temple day and night, but like Simeon and Anna we come here each week to acknowledge Christ as the Light of the nations, to worship him and depart in peace witnessing to his kingdom. The entry prayer for Masses today and the procession at the Solemn Mass are a way of signifying our heartfelt desire to follow Christ our light and to walk in his way.
As per normal at this time of year whenever the weather turns colder as it did last weekend, the boilers react by going on strike. We have a system of four huge boilers based down in a building at the side of the entrance to the Crypt Chapel that provides heat for the whole site including the two houses on site. These boilers have to be monitored daily with parts having to be replaced regularly but despite this at least one or other can be out of action at any one time until the warmer weather arrives whereupon they all seem to magically come alive again when the hard graft of winter is over.
The only positive out of all this situation is that it does slightly reduce our energy consumption and our carbon footprint. This is something that we are having to take much more seriously and it is expected as good practise for large institutions and organisations to have environmental policies – at present the Archdiocese is considering adopting a policy based on principles offered by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales and a recent encyclical by Pope Francis (Laudato Si). Having read through the Bishops Document it does provide a lot of food for thought but also challenge our personal and collective behaviours and attitudes.
Reducing energy use and using renewable energy sources was high on the list as well as trying to avoid creating waste but if wastage is unavoidable to reuse and recycle. We are encouraged to speak out more about environmental issues based on scripture and church teaching and offer regular thanksgiving for creation and seek the Lord’s mercy for the ways we have damaged and destroyed our natural world. We have taken some small steps to use our grounds to promote biodiversity with greenery all around our site with one or two wilderness areas and the addition of our beehives that have been here now for almost five years with further projects in the pipeline. I felt a pang of guilt on reading the clause that we should promote a plant based diet but it only lasted for a few seconds as I’m too fond of a roast dinner! The greatest challenge in all this is the call to live more simply and we are asked to reflect on how we do this in practical ways despite the complexities of modern – a call which has always been at the heart of the gospel message.
Next Friday at St Vincent’s Church there is a talk by Estelle Blake entitled ‘Stop Modern Slavery, how can we help?’ from 6.30pm – 7.30pm, this is on the eve of 8th February, the feast of St Josephine Bakhita and is the annual day of prayer for victims of human trafficking.
Next Saturday we have the opportunity to discuss proposals on the third Synod theme after morning Mass. All are welcome.
Canon Anthony O’Brien