We had a lovely Christmas Eve at Holy Cross. Erick trained a small troupe and had a large contingent of children join them in an African Christmas dance after communion. It was a little like this video by the Masaka kids from Southern Uganda: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzoGE9MUo7o
Pastor suggested kids from Tanzania are not too bad at this sort of thing:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2YmMd1bsxg

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Christmas Carols will begin at 7.00pm and Mass at 7.30pm. This will be ‘amid the trees’. You can drive down the community driveway and park on the oval. It will help if those who can bring a chair, do so, please and it would be wise to bring warm clothing and insect spray.
Some people have mentioned they have allergic reactions to some of the trees where we now celebrate Christmas Eve Mass.

We moved from the oval because facing the setting sun (on the truck) was hot and unpleasant, and the band who were spending rehearsal time in the direct sun were uncomfortable. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect. We apologise for those who suffer from allergies. There is seating available in the car park area away from the trees.

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Come Away Days – review
The Come Away team had their annual review last week. As a result of feedback received from participants, there was enthusiasm for the five days that were help. It was agreed to keep the content relevant and related mainly to significant liturgical seasons or ‘events’. The team will be a little smaller, so it was suggested the content be streamlined without excessive handouts, although some of these could be made available via email after the day as happened this year.

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I meant to include this video link below (Advent dialogue) in yesterday’s newsletter, so here is that link and some additional material.

Advent dialogue
A little over a week ago, our Vietnamese student Tri interviewed Erick and religion teacher Shane Taylor from Our Lady of Mercy College, Heidelberg on the topic ‘Where do you find Hope and Peace in the midst of Suffering’. Apart from rich insights and sharing from Shane and Erick, Tri’s expertise as interviewer and film editor, is clearly on display. You can paste the link into Google search.
https://youtu.be/QUUoqsm9RSU

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Cracked Pots – a parable
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house.

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Last Monday night Fr Tom gave a comprehensive report accounting for what the Province has done in response to the 2019 Provincial Chapter and looking ahead to the Chapter in July 2023. Our Chapter back in 2019 followed the 2018 Congregational General Chapter held in Rome. Chris Monaghan was invited to give the opening address at tat General Chapter and on Monday night Tom quoted a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, that Chris used in the address.

One ship sails East, and another West, 
By the self-same winds that blow,
'Tis the set of the sails And not the gales,
that tells the way we go.
Like the winds of the sea are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
'Tis the set of the soul,
that determines the goal,
and not the calm or the strife.

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Advent
This Sunday we begin a new liturgical year (Year A). The weekly gospel reading will be from Matthew. Advent is a season of joy, during which we are called to prepare our hearts as if for the arrival of Jesus into our lives for the first time.

The advent wreath helps us to focus on ‘staying awake’ through the deepening of four virtues over the four weeks of Advent – hope, peace, joy and love. In the first week we focus on HOPE. What we hope for is not what we wish for. We might wish for the weather to be good or for COVID infections to cease. Hope is different. It is an expectation built on trust. This is why people can still hope when all hope appears to be gone. St Paul wrote from his experience, “suffering creates perseverance, perseverance creates character and character creates hope”. (Romans 5:3-5)

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Chris Mithen – 90
Fr Chris is residing at Nazareth House, Camberwell. He will celebrate his 90th birthday on Saturday November 19th. We are having a morning Tea in the dining room at Holy Cross on Tuesday November 22nd at 10.30am-12.00pm. You are most welcome to call in and have a cuppa and celebrate with Chris.

When I was a novice, Chris was the Novice Director and during a conference and conversation in his office, he challenged me to find out his birthday. I told him I already knew. Next he asked, what about the date of my ordination? It was unlikely I would know the answer, but I told him June 30th, 1956. The tables were turned as I invited him to work out how I knew because I did not know when I entered his office. I had noticed a pen on his desk which had engraved on it italic script: 30-06-1956. In the end, I had to tell him about the pen. It was very rare to get one up on such a canny character.

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I wrote this brief article for the spring newsletter of the PFGM. I was sitting on a train a few days ago and it was interesting to try to distinguish those passengers who were related to one another, from those who were strangers. For most, there were long periods of time when it was impossible to tell the difference. So many had the eyes fixed on their phones and their ears plugged to block out local noise.

For such an advanced species, is this really how we communicate today? Locked in to people or events far away, and blind to those around us!

It seems COVID-19 has assisted this backward step because not only are people gathering less, visiting less and hosting less, they are also connecting less with family and friends. Even a phone call to see how aged or unwell friends are managing, has become too much effort for some. Despite warning that this era might be called ‘the age of loneliness’ and COVID-19 has made this worse, we Christians might need to look at our responsibility to CONNECT.

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Remembrance Mass
During Mass this Sunday Nov 6th we will remember and pray for deceased family members and friends. A Power Point presentation after communion will include photos. For that Mass you are welcome to write names of people to pray for on a piece of paper and place them on the altar before Mass.

Our prayer highlights the communion of humankind, living and deceased as we seek full union with God, just as our ancestors did, and we remain hopeful that others will in time, continue such a hope and pray for us. Ancient peoples have always believed in the connectedness and sacredness of all life forms, and that our family includes ancestors and descendants. This family includes all those we have known and loved – those who loved us into life and those who passed on their faith to us. They include the Holy Cross family.

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