A very merry and holy Christmas to you all and, on behalf of Fr. Wingerden and myself, thank you for all your kind expressions of affection at this holy time. Don’t forget there are still half of the twelve days left at the start of this month and so, just as we tried to maintain the Advent spirit for the full period, now is the time for celebration culminating in the feast of the Epiphany on the 6th.
Last month, indeed, was mainly taken up by Advent which this year saw Rorate Masses being held in Edinburgh. This practice of celebrating a votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin (traditionally by candlelight) became very popular as the season went on with the final Mass having 21 people honouring the blessed Mother at 7 in the morning! Perhaps we shall be able to do the same thing in Glasgow next year.
But now is the new civil year. The custom of “redding” or cleaning the house which was originally a Christmas tradition in Scotland was moved to the first of January after the Reformation. Giving the house a good cleanout, even to the ashes from the fireplace is still an abiding secular tradition even outside Scotland, albeit symbolically. Preparing for the Christmas Mass (or, nowadays, I suppose, the Octave of Christmas, the Feast of the Circumcision—in many places still a holy day of Obligation) finds a secular expression in the customs of redding and even that of paying off one’s debts from the old year. But, as Catholics, we shouldn’t forget the true spiritual meaning behind it. A good confession and pious reception of Holy Communion is both clearing out the bad and strengthening a new year’s resolution. Not going to the gym or giving up smoking, which is as far as the secular custom goes, but resolution in its sense of firm purpose of amendment as expressed in the Act of Contrition. A firm purpose to avoid all sin, but particularly serious sin, especially if it has been habitual up to now is the foundation of new year’s resolution. It may also express itself in a new commitment to a Christian life by practical means. There are many ways our parishioners can give a new impetus to parish life in our two churches: joining the choir, volunteering for a regular cleaning team (perhaps once a month) for the church building as well as a more frequent assistance at Holy Mass, particularly during the week. It is understandable that after so many years where the same people have generously given of their time and efforts that others feel nervous at “butting in” or “treading on people’s toes” but, at least in my experience, those faithful souls who have done the bulk of the work in the material upkeep of our lovely churches are only too happy (and not a little relieved) when younger hands offer themselves to help, especially when the “old guard” are still fit and able to help and encourage with any new recruits and show them the ropes, as it were. A happy and blessed new year to you all!
With every good wish and blessing.
Rev. Sebastian Wall (Prior)