Dear friends,

The season of Advent is steaming ahead, and this Sunday we will be “in the pink” 🩷 On the Third Sunday of Advent, the violet vestments of Advent lighten to rose: why not wear something rosy also? This change of colour testifies to the light of dawn beginning to break on our spiritual horizon, as the Solemnity of the Lord’s Birth – the coming of God’s light into the world – draws near. But, of course, it is the inner man we wish primarily to shine with Christ’s light – and we can achieve this in part by coming to Confession. A priest will be available to hear your pre-Christmas confessions this week and next on Saturday at 5.15pm – or otherwise by appointment. By means of this beautiful Sacrament, the Lord meets us to fulfil the promise made in this Sunday’s first reading, that he will ‘bind up hearts that are broken… [and] proclaim liberty to captives‘, their release from sin.

Thank you to all who assisted with last week’s schools’ Christmas workshop: I received some lovely feedback from Kenmore Park School, and the children evidently enjoyed themselves, and went away with a deeper understanding of the Good News at the heart of Christmas. The willingness of so many to volunteer their time and talents is a heartening element of our parish life.

However, I was less impressed by Mass attendance this past Sunday (which, admittedly, repeated a pattern I also observed last year). Let me be candid with you: the only reasons not to be at Mass at St Mary’s on each and every Sunday are (i) because one is attending Mass elsewhere, or (ii) because one is too ill to leave the house. Christmas shopping and family get-togethers simply do not cut it: Christ comes first, in every case. It is a sin to be absent from Mass on the Lord’s Day – and a serious sin at that. I look forward to seeing more of you this weekend.

This weekend is also the final opportunity to contribute to the cost of our Christmas flowers: we will then be cleaning and decorating the church next week, beginning after Mass on Wednesday – do lend a hand, if you’re free!

This coming Sunday afternoon, 17 December, at 4pm we will host our Christingle service for families and children. This was a “new” addition to our Christmas service schedule last year, and we would like to build on the foundations laid. Please share an invitation to join us with family and friends, particularly those with school-age children. The service is short and family-friendly: we also require help constructing the Christingles in church for an hour or so from 2pm.

Our Christmas service times are then as follows:

(Advent IV)
Saturday, 23 December – Vigil Mass, 6pm
Sunday, 24 December – Parish Mass, 10.30am

(Christmas Eve)
Sunday, 24 December – Midnight Mass, 11.30pm

(Christmas Day)
Monday, 25 December – Parish Mass, 10.30am

Please find attached a flier from the Diocese, for online pastoral care training (beginning next month), which may be of interest to you.

May the light of Christ shine in your hearts and lives,

Fr Richard