The Christmas Season

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Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist
Today’s First Reading (1 John 1: 1-4) includes this beautiful description of the incarnation:

“Something which has existed since the beginning,
that we have heard, and we have seen with our own eyes;
that we have watched and touched with our hands:
the Word, who is life – this is our subject.”


The Nativity of the Lord

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O ancient love, processing through the ages:
O hidden love, revealed in human form:
O promised love, the dream of seers and sages:
O living Love, within our hearts be born,
O living Love, within our hearts be borne.

O homeless love, that dwells among the stranger:
O lowly love, that knows the mighty’s scorn:
O hungry love, that lay within a manger:
O living Love, within our hearts be born,
O living Love, within our hearts be borne.

O gentle love, caressing those in sorrow:
O tender love, that comforts those forlorn:
O hopeful love, that promises tomorrow:
O living Love, within our hearts be born,
O living Love, within our hearts be borne.

O suff’ring love, that bears our human weakness:
O boundless love, that rises with the morn:
O mighty love, concealed in infant meekness:
O living Love, within our hearts be born,
O living Love, within our hearts be borne.

© The Jan Michael Joncas Trust


May the joy and peace of Christ be with you

this Christmas and throughout the New Year.

Fr Dave, Fr de Malleray, Fr Mawdsley, Fr Austin
Deacons Mike B, David, Michael, Tony
and Seminarian Thomas


Fourth Sunday of Advent

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We’ve reached the last Sunday of our preparation for the great feast of Christmas.  The prophet Isaiah gives us a sign in today’s First Reading:  The maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.”

As we look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ next weekend, we cannot help but be moved by the pictures we have seen in the media this week of innocent men, women and children trying to escape from Aleppo in Syria, and the millions of people starving in Yemen.  Please join me in praying this prayer from Christian Aid:

Lord Jesus,
is it too soon for nativity plays
to include the slaughter of the innocent?
The end of the seasonal story, 
often ignored,
screams at us now from silent screens.
And while the tinsel is hung,
and fairy lights blink,
Christmas seems hollow tonight.

We pray for those in Syria and Yemen
witnessing an inhumanity
no one should have to see,
enduring suffering
no one should have to bear,
heartbroken by a despair
no one should have to know.

Give them strength beyond themselves.
Hold them in the way only you can.
Comfort them as the Prince of Peace.
And give us ears to hear,
hearts to care,
and the tenacity to light the way.
Lord, have mercy.
Amen.

 

 


Come, Lord Jesus

Come, Lord Jesus, come to the people of Aleppo…

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Come, Lord Jesus, wake up the world and come to these suffering brothers and sisters of ours…

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Come, Lord Jesus, come and move world leaders to care for these dear people…

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Come, Lord Jesus, quickly come to the people of Aleppo.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for Syria, pray for us.


Advent Thoughts

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Three thoughts from “A Child in Winter” by Caryll Houselander:

“By his own will Christ was dependent on Mary during Advent: he was absolutely helpless; he could go nowhere but where she chose to take him; he could not speak; her breathing was his breath; his heart beat in the beating of her heart… In the seasons of our Advent – waking, working, eating, sleeping, being – each breath is a breathing of Christ into the world.”

“It is part of God’s plan for us that Christ shall come to us in everyone; it is in their particular role that we must come to know him. He may come as a little child, making enormous demands, giving enormous consolation. He may come as a stranger, so that we must give the hospitality to a stranger that we should like to give to Christ…”

“Christ asks for a home in your soul, where he can be at rest with you, where he can talk easily to you, where you and he, alone together, can laugh and be silent and be delighted with one another.”


Prayer for Grandparents

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Lord Jesus, you were born of the Virgin Mary,
the daughter of Saints Joachim and Anne.
Look with love on grandparents the world over.
Protect them!
They are a source of enrichment for families,
for the Church and for all of society.
Support them!
As they grow older, may they continue to be for their families
strong pillars of Gospel faith, guardian of noble domestic ideals,
living treasuries of sound religious traditions.
Make them teachers of wisdom and courage,
that they may pass on to future generations
the fruits of their mature human and spiritual experience.

Lord Jesus, help families and society
to value the presence and roles of grandparents.
May they never be ignored or excluded,
but always encounter respect and love.
Help them to live serenely and to feel welcomed
in all the years of life which you give them.
Mary, Mother of all the living,
keep grandparents constantly in your care,
accompany them on their earthly pilgrimage,
and by your prayers, grant that all families may one day
be reunited in our heavenly homeland,
where you await all humanity for the great embrace of life without end.
Amen!

(Pope Benedict XVI)


The Crib Experience

During the first two weeks of Advent, the children from St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School have been visiting the church in groups for ‘The Crib Experience’.  When the children arrived, they set out on a journey to the Crib by using their senses to explore the characters of Advent.  They began with the prophet Isaiah and his vision of peace.  We lit incense to symbolise our prayers for peace in the world.

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Then it was on to the Font to meet John the Baptist who prepared a way for the Lord.  We signed ourselves with water from the Font to remember our Baptism.

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The next part of the Journey introduced the children to Mary.  Everyone listened as the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary and told her that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.

The next stop recalled the way Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem and how they would have relied on the hospitality of strangers on their long journey.  The children tasted some Fairtrade chocolate – a symbol of how we can help others by choices we make.

Finally, we arrived at the new Crib, which has recently been built by a local carpenter.  The children used their sense of looking to gaze in wonder.

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After visiting the Crib, the children made birthday cards for Jesus which they will be able to bring to the Crib on Christmas Day.

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Many thanks to everyone who helped, to Mr Ainsworth for taking the pictures and to the children’s parents for giving permission to reproduce them here.

 


Prayer for the Lighting of the Christmas Tree

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This is a short prayer of blessing to be prayed just before the lights are lit for the first time on the Christmas tree:

Lord our God,
we praise you for the light of creation:
the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night.
We praise you for the light of Israel:
the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures.
We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son:
he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace,
who fills us with the wonder of your love.

Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we illumine this tree.
May the light and cheer it gives
be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.
May all who delight in this tree
come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

(From the Book of Blessings)


Advent Peace

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A word to take with us into the day ahead…
A word to say quietly to ourselves as we go about the day…
A word to breathe in…
A word to feel…
A word to possess us…

PEACE


A holy Christmas?

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“It might be easy to run away to a monastery, away from the commercialisation, the hectic hustle, the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas time.  Then we would have a holy Christmas.  But we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the enfleshing of God – the lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it.  It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians baptised the Christmas tree.  And we do this by being holy people – kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people – no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush…”

(Fr Andrew Greeley, 22 December 1981).