Dear friends,

One of the most beautiful passages of Scripture detailing the mystery of Christmas comes not from the New Testament, but from the book of the Wisdom of Solomon: there we read that ‘while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful Word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed‘ (Wisd. 18.14-15). That holy night is almost upon us, but that holy night is not yet! While around us the world’s Christmas festivities are already very much underway, yet we as Christians wait patiently – wait just a little longer – for the Advent nights to run their course, eventually to give way to Christmas. As such, we have still the fourth and final Sunday of Advent to celebrate this weekend, before our own joyous Christmas celebrations can begin. The Masses of Advent IV, in which we contemplate the figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary, will be as usual – on Saturday at 6pm, and on Sunday at 10.30am (although both will be simple affairs, to conserve our strength for the liturgies of Christmas!) Please ensure that you come to Mass for the completion of Advent, before Christmas can truly begin.

Our Christmas Masses will then be as follows: on Christmas Eve (Sunday, 24 December), Midnight Mass will begin at 11.30pm; on Christmas Day (Monday, 25 December), the Parish Mass with Carols will be at 10.30am. We can only keep Christ in Christmas if we keep Mass in Christmas – not to come to church at Christmas would be ludicrous, as if to throw a birthday party for Jesus without inviting him as our honoured guest. I recognise that some of us may be elsewhere over the festive season – but, wherever we are, the obligation remains, to celebrate the Saviour’s birth by coming to church.

Christmas confessions will be heard on Saturday evening at 5.15pm, or by appointment.

Next week, during the Christmas Octave, the Masses will all be at the usual times, save that on Thursday, 28 December there will be no public Morning Prayer. Do remember that there will also be a special Mass on New Year’s Day, Monday 1 January at 12 noon – followed by a bring-and-share lunch in the Hall (see Pat to sign up).

May I thank you all in advance for your help and hard work as we prepare for Christmas, and for your prayers and best wishes for your clergy at this busy time.

With my best wishes, likewise, and every blessing – for Advent hope and Christmas joy,

Fr Richard