Our first reading at Mass this Sunday from the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 31. 10-13, 19-20, 30-31) speaks of a wife who contributes to the common good through her skilfulness, hard work, and generosity – someone whose virtue is not to be found in outward show and glamour, but in inner wisdom, and prudence. Those are virtues that we should all aspire to, whatever our gender or marital status.
The image of this virtuous woman gives us a lens through which to understand our gospel reading. For in the parable Jesus tells us this morning (Matthew 25.14-30), we hear about the need to value, treasure and use the talents that God has given us.
The figure described in our first reading seems to be the embodiment of the kind of attitude Jesus praises in our gospel passage – not someone who allows boredom, sloth or fear to rule their life, but who imaginatively and joyfully receives God’s gifts and uses them to the utmost.
In both these readings it strikes me there is a connection between virtue and the imagination. All too often, I fear we think of virtue as a static, unexciting thing. Doing good is about keeping rules, being boring, or keeping out of trouble.
The Christian tradition, however, says something very different about virtue. Virtue is the presence of God in our lives helping us do the good in a way which is creative, exciting, imaginative and daring. Just like the servant who is praised in our gospel reading, we need to “trade” with the gifts God has given us, in order to contribute to the common good.
So growing in virtue is less about asking yourself how many rules you’ve kept, and more about judging how daring you’ve been for God.
Fr Peter Anthony
Lockdown and online worship
St Benet’s Church is now closed for public worship as a result of the recently announced Coronavirus lockdown. This means it will not be possible to attend Sunday Mass, Sunday School or the daily Mass for at least the next two to three weeks. We hope public services will recommence some time in December when permitted by government legislation.
During this period, the Mass will continue to be offered daily in St Benet’s by Fr Peter on his own on behalf of our whole parish, as it was during the first lockdown.
A recording of the Mass will be uploaded each day to our YouTube channel, and this includes a Sunday Mass with a homily, which will be available from Saturday evenings onwards. We hope this will be of use for all those who wish to unite their prayer with that being offered at the altar of St Benet’s during this period.
In addition, it will be possible to visit St Benet’s for private prayer on a Sunday morning. The church will be open between 10.00 am and 12 noon each Sunday. It must be noted that no form of corporate worship is permitted in the church during that time and that this is for private devotion only, such as quiet reflection, individual prayer, or lighting a candle.
If you visit St Benet’s during that time, you are asked to observe the now customary regulations of keeping a 2 metre distance from anyone else in the building, sanitising your hands upon entry, and always wearing a face mask.
Recent COVID developments have also meant the cancellation of all the Advent Carol services we had planned for early December. We still hope to be able to offer a range of COVID safe Christmas liturgies once public worship recommences in December.
Please be in touch with Fr Peter if you are concerned about yourself or any other individual, or need help of any kind during this time of lockdown and isolation.
Planning for Christmas 2020
We are attempting to plan our schedule of services for Christmas 2020, assuming that public worship will be permitted again by the end of December.
This year’s services will be made complicated by the need for social distancing and could be affected by regulations that may emerge closer to the time. At the very least, it will be necessary to book (entirely free) tickets for most of the main sung liturgies so we can predict how many people will be present in our building. We can fit a maximum of around 50 people in the church at the moment.
We aim to have a Christmas Carol Service on Sunday 20th December at 6.00 pm and Midnight Mass on Thursday 24th December 9.00 pm. There will be no congregational singing at any of our Christmas liturgies, but there will be a choir present singing for us.
Could we ask parishioners to start booking tickets NOW for the Christmas liturgies they intend to come to? Please send Fr Peter an email indicating how many tickets you need for which service, and whether those attending form the same household or bubble.
The next meeting of our online bookclub will take place on Tuesday 24th November at 7.30 pm. We will discuss The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni.
Set in Lombardy during the Spanish occupation of the late 1620s, The Betrothed tells the story of two young lovers, Renzo and Lucia, prevented from marrying by the petty tyrant Don Rodrigo, who desires Lucia for himself.
The novel includes some of the most famous descriptions of the Great Milanese Plague of 1630, and heroically portrays the Church’s response to a time of pestilential trial.
Forced to flee from their home, Renzo and Lucia are then cruelly separated, and must face many dangers including plague, famine and imprisonment, and confront a variety of strange characters – the mysterious Nun of Monza, the fiery Father Cristoforo and the sinister ‘Unnamed’ – in their struggle to be reunited. A vigorous portrayal of enduring passion, The Betrothed’s exploration of love, power and faith presents a whirling panorama of seventeenth-century Italian life and is one of the greatest European historical novels.
The purpose of the St Benet’s Book Club is to offer a forum for theological reflection, debate, and discussion so we can grow in faith. The idea is that a book is discussed each time we meet. It would be ideal to have read the book before the seminar, but if you are still half way through or just starting, don’t let that stop you joining us.
It is expected that participants acquire their own copies of the texts to be discussed. All of the books proposed are currently in print as paperbacks and can be obtained cheaply on Amazon.
Zoom link for The Betrothed seminar on 24th November is found here.