“Extended Advent” Course – Making a Rule of Life
Between half-term and Christmas we will be running an “extended Advent” course, based on a fantastic little book that was a great help to me when I began to return to Christian faith in my mid-twenties: “Making a Rule of Life”, by the late Fr John Gaskell. I remember Fr Gaskell from his time, at the end of his ministry, as an Honorary Assistant Priest at All Saints, Margaret Street, in London. I was fortunate enough to hear him preach: John Betjeman considered him the finest preacher in the Church of England. Even when he became too frail to climb up into the pulpit, he would still make himself available to hear confessions, and on days when people knew that Fr Gaskell would be in the confessional, there would always be a little queue of people wanting to make their confession to him.
“Making a Rule of Life” is a short and simple book, now out of print (but I have several copies, available on loan!), outlining practical disciplines for Christian life—what the Church today calls “discipleship”. Fr Gaskell writes in the introduction:
To be a Christian is not of course a matter of successful obedience to rules; it is living a Christ-centred life. That centering on our Lord, however, is promoted and prompted by having clear intentions of what we propose to do about participation in the life of the Church which is His body. The chapters which follow suggest what requires decision. After reflecting upon them the reader should draw up a written Rule which applies to his or her circumstances as they now are, and offer it to God in His Son’s name. As time passes it can be revised, but for the present it will be a help in living the Catholic life, forming your spirituality by regular habits.
There will be six sessions, on Thursday mornings after the Eucharist, and repeated on Sunday afternoons after Evening Prayer or Choral Evensong; the seventh “session” is undertaken alone:
- Worship: Thursday 3rd November at 11am (after the Eucharist) / Sunday 6th November at 4.30pm (after Evening Prayer)
- Private Prayer: Thursday 10th November at 11am / Sunday 13th November at 4.30pm
- Bible Reading: Thursday 17th November at 11am / Sunday 20th November at 4.30pm
- Reconciliation: Thursday 24th November at 11am / Sunday 27th November at 4.30pm
- Giving: Thursday 1st December at 11am / Sunday 4th December at 4.30pm
- Guidance: Thursday 8th December at 11am / Sunday 11th December at 4.30pm
- Questions: This session, although an integral part of the course, is done alone rather than as a group, and consists of answering a series of questions; the answers to these questions will help you to write your own rule of life.
This programme will make an excellent “follow-up” to confirmation preparation, but should also be of interest to anyone seeking to deepen their Christian life.
All are welcome—please spread the word!