Charity registration No. SC002876  
Sunday December 29th. 2013
Spean Bridge: Reader: David Mac Farlane Prayers:  Lindsay Simpson Euch Mins: Moira Coutts, Liz Campbell.
Roy Bridge: Readers:  Richard Sidgwick  Lorna MacGregor Prayers: Ishbel Campbell Euch Mins; Margaret Sargent, Catrina MacDonald, Rory MacDonald
Rota January 4th. – January 5th.
A true Christmas story  by an Australian  Jesuit priest Fr. Richard Leonard S.J. (from the Tablet) hen I was a seminarian, during the long Christmas holidays, I worked in the pastoral care department of a big Catholic public hospital. At a Christmas party I met the charge nurse of the labour ward. Pleading that because I was a celibate I would never be at a birth, I enquired if I might be allowed to come and see. The charge nurse thought that would be fine.     Six weeks later I got the call. Apparently a student priest watching you have a baby is not an easy sell! But Mary was 16, had been dumped by her 19-year-old boyfriend and shunned by her family. A kindly seminarian was better than no one at all. On arrival on the labour ward, I did ante-natal class 101 in 10 minutes: hold Mary's hand; when the midwife tells Mary to "push and keep it coming, keep it coming, keep it coming" - you say it too; don't get in the way; and don't faint!     Mary and I met six hours into her labour, which was an unusual circumstance in which to meet your "birthing partner". She had very little small talk, maybe because she had no breath. From my vast experience of childbirth, I thought everything was going along swimmingly until the doctor arrived to perform an episiotomy. You may or may not know what that is, and I wish I never did. I swear before God that analgesia would have been invented centuries earlier if men had to go through all of this. We would demand epidurals from the sixth month.     The baby arrived minutes later. Mary wept, she had very good cause to; I wept for no good reason; and the charge nurse wept because I was weeping. There is something so primal and human about the moment of birth that it bonds us to each other. Friendship born in the trenches took on a new meaning for me.     After the tears came the laughter and joy. The reality of Mary's tough situation was happily postponed. On discharge, Mary asked me to baptise the baby. I couldn't, but I arranged
for a priest friend to do it. I am Benjamin Michael's godfather. I have stayed in touch with them for the last 30 years. Mary went on to have three more boys to three different fathers. Tommy, the last dad, is now her devoted husband.     When he was four, I got Benjamin into the local Catholic primary school where the principal was a Josephite sister. She was formidable but fair. She took an interest in Benny and his brothers. Sister only had to go to Mary's home once to demand that the boys got out of bed, were fed, cleaned, dressed, taken to school on time and later did their homework. It paid off.     Sister enrolled all the boys for scholarships to a Christian Brothers high school. On their own merits, each of them won a place. Sister wins a place in Heaven. Benny is a physiotherapist, Daniel is an accountant, Kai is a social worker and Noah is a nurse. He has just finished obstetrics. Mary works at the local supermarket. Twenty years ago, I received her and Tommy into the Catholic Church. She now volunteers at the St Vincent De Paul's local hostel for homeless women. Some of them are pregnant and 16.     From a complex conception, a messy birth, a willing midwife and a vulnerable baby, extraordinary goodness has flowed from one generation to the next. The divine working through human hands at every stage has changed lives. For us at Christmas, this story comes as no surprise. The Revd. John Bell of the Iona Community tells us why: Light looked down and saw the darkness. "I will go there;' said light. Peace looked down and saw war. "I will go there;' said peace. Love looked down and saw hatred. "I will go there;' said love. So he, the Lord of Light, the Prince of Peace, the King of Love, came down and crept in beside us
Anniversaries  We remember in our prayers at Mass this weekend those who anniversaries are at this time: Charles Millen for whom the vigil Mass will be said on Saturday evening, and Campbell Chisholm, Andrew Nisbet and Brian Toal for whom Mass will be said during the week.                                                         Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
My sincere thanks to all who helped make Christmas special in our three: decorating the churches so beautifully with flowers, erecting the cribs and Christmas trees, washing the linen and cleaning the churches. Unfortunately, Mass had to be cancelled in Invergarry. A special word of thanks to our two organists, and to our choir at St. Margaret’s whose singingcould easily becompared to the angels chorus on the first Christmas night at Bethlehem! Thank you also for your very kind wishes, cards and presents. No priest could have more wonderful parishioners than I have. May God bless you all, and may the New Year bring you many graces and blessings, health and happiness.
For your notebook Epiphany, next Sunday, January 6th., the arrival of the mysterious three kings from the east at the manger. This ends the Christmas season, and the cribs and the Christmas trees come down,, Next Sunday is also Justice and Peace Sunday and there will be the annual collection. Ash Wednesday - March 5th.          Easter Sunday - April 20th.