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Viewpoint from Father Henry MacCarthy


Viewpoint from Father Henry MacCarthy
St Peter's Catholic Church, Gorleston

Many people in the Borough of Great Yarmouth were pleased to learn sometime ago that the go-ahead for the new harbour has been given at last and the new harbour for Great Yarmouth is now being built. It is hoped that it will provide much needed employment in the area


40961707outerharbour203It has been fascinating over the last few years to watch the contractors at work. Various and different shaped rigs have been in action as well as a number of tugs and other assorted ships. It is always interesting to walk down to the end of Gorleston Pier to view the work in progress, something I frequently do along with many others.  All this is happening while it is ‘business as usual’ for the rest of the harbour. It is easy to see that another harbour is required because the dog-leg at the entrance to the present harbour prevents larger ships from entering. But why is it necessary to go to all this expense?  Could not a simple jetty be built where the larger ships could tie up (or berth) outside the present harbour and the goods simply be offloaded there?


This brings us to the whole point of a ‘harbour’ as such. The dictionary says a harbour is a place to give refuge or shelter for ships, among other things. Large ships because of their size need harbour walls on both sides to calm the force of the sea, currents and wind. Big ships are usually safe when they are under way out at sea but become vulnerable when they slow down (please forgive the non-nautical jargon), and are susceptible to the wind and the currents, and the North Sea can become very rough at times. I believe this is one of the reasons that ‘Pilots’ are necessary to guide ships in and out of the present harbour

Reflecting on this made me think of our human situation. Even in our own land where most people have the basic needs for life, our lives, like the North Sea can at times become very rough indeed when illness or tragedy strikes, and we need help and shelter from the ‘storm’ in our lives


untitledAs a Christian I believe God is that ‘harbour’ for us if we wish to enter it. God we believe has shown Himself in Jesus Christ and I believe that it is here in His Body, the Church, that we can find help. Those who do not believe in God can still find comfort and help through friends and family, as many do. But we believe the harbour God provides not only helps us now, but will eventually lead us to the great joy of God’s Kingdom. This is why it is important as Christians not only to love God but to love our neighbour as well and to help any who seek our help as best we can. I quote an adaptation of Psalm 23 below which I heard some years ago at the funeral of a man who had spent much of his life at sea, which expresses what I have been trying to say here. I hope it is not copyright!

Psalm 23
an adaptation

The Lord is my Pilot; therefore I shall not drift. He lighteth me across the dark waters. He steereth me in the deep channels: He keepeth my log. He guideth me by the star of holiness for His Name’s sake. Yea, though I sail mid the thunder and tempests of life, I shall dread no danger: for Thou art with me; Thy love and Thy care shelter me. Thou preparest a harbour for me in the homeland of eternity; Thou anointest the waves with oil, my ship rideth calmly. Surely sunlight and starlight shall favour me on the voyage I take, and I will rest in the port of my God forever