4th January 2016

fr_simonDear Friends,

A very Happy New Year – May 2016 be a good one !

I was really struck by reading these ‘Five Helps for the New Year’ shared on Facebook a couple of days ago by Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow.

They were written by Michael Ramsey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961-74, for his clergy. They are full of deep spiritual insight and good sense. I want to hold onto them as I enter into 2016 and return back to work from a few days off. But of course these “helps” as Ramsey calls them are not just for clergy…..All of us can benefit from the wisdom and spirituality of one of the greatest minds ever to occupy the throne of Augustine at Canterbury Cathedral. This is what Michael Ramsey wrote:

1. Thank God. Often and always. Thank him carefully and wonderingly for your continuing privileges and for every experience of his goodness. Thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.

2. Take care about confession of your sins. As time passes the habit of being critical about people and things grows more than each of us realize. …[He then gently commends the practice of sacramental confession].

3. Be ready to accept humiliations. They can hurt terribly but they can help to keep you humble. [Whether trivial or big, accept them he says.] All these can be so many chances to be a little nearer to our Lord. There is nothing to fear, if you are near to the Lord and in his hands.

4. Do not worry about status. There is only one status that Our Lord bids us be concerned with, and that is our proximity to Him. “If a man serve me, let him follow me, and where I am there also shall my servant be”. (John 12:26) That is our status; to be near our Lord wherever He may ask us to go with him.

5. Use your sense of humour. Laugh at things, laugh at the absurdities of life, laugh at yourself.

Through the year people will thank God for you. And let the reason for their thankfulness be not just that you were a person whom they liked or loved but because you made God real to them

With every blessing,

Fr Andrew