12th December 2021 – 3rd Week of Advent
The Third Week of Advent centres on the theme of “Joy,” the joy that Christ’s birth brings to all people. In the Church, we name the Third Sunday of Advent “Gaudete Sunday” or “Joyful Sunday.” At Mass this Sunday when the priest’s rose-coloured vestments mix the darkness of penitential purple with festive white, that colour expresses the joy which is already ours even as we still recognise the struggles and fears of this life in anticipation of the fullness of joy which God’s coming among us teaches us. We are reminded from today that our waiting for the Saviour is almost at an end. From this Sunday we await ‘with blessed hope’ the Christ child at Christmas, the one in whom all our hopes are placed, and in whom we are offered a radical new way of being.
Why is it, then, that not all of us are joyful at this point in the Advent season? I suspect often if you are like me, at this time of year we are all getting rather anxious about everything that must still be sorted and prepared before Christmas. We seem to be running out of time and life becomes daily more and more frenetic, presents to still buy and pack, last minute cards to write, food and drink to buy, and then wherever we go the shops are full to bursting and we have to que and at times we are probably asking ourselves why? Many of us perhaps confuse joy with obtaining material items. But “joy” is not something, rather it is someone, with a name and a face, Jesus Christ our Lord. The source of our joy is not in what we have. It lies in “Emmanuel,” the name which means “God is with us” (cf. Matt. 1:23). Jesus wants to share His joy with us through His gift of the Spirit: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). In the midst of a world weighed down by so many troubles, and anxieties Jesus comes amongst us and He offers His joy to us today–right now, in this place and at this very time.
Here is a short prayer to St. Philip Neri the “Patron Saint of Joy,” that can help us when we feel weighed down by all the anxieties of the world and of our over busy lives. A prayer which may help us to see the joy of the Gospel in a new way.
O holy St. Philip Neri, Patron Saint of joy, you who trusted Scripture’s promise that the Lord is always at hand and that we need not have anxiety about anything, in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows and lift the burdens from our hearts. We come to you as one whose heart swells with abundant love for God and all creation. Hear us, we pray, especially in this need (make your request here). Keep us safe through your loving intercession and may the joy of the Holy Spirit which filled your heart, St. Philip, transform our lives and bring us peace. Amen.
A reminder that there will be a series of Advent Services of Reconciliation throughout the Deanery during these last few weeks of Advent. Details are now up upon the parish website, and you will find a poster on the church glass entrance doors and in the corridor into church. We shall be hosting ours at St. Mary’s this coming Tuesday, 14th December. There will be Eucharist Adoration & Benediction and the chance to pray and be still before the Lord and to reflect and to make your confession. The Liturgy will begin at 7 pm and will end at 8 pm.
A reminder that on Tuesday 14th December Mass will be celebrated in the morning at 11.00 am, and the Deanery Reconciliation Service is to take place in the evening.
Christmas Crib Offerings: Christmas time recalls the needs of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. Many parishes across the country already adopt Friends of the Holy Land as the beneficiary of their crib collections. I hope that this year we can do the same here at St. Mary’s. FHL help the most deprived Christian families, especially those living around Bethlehem, in Gaza, Israeland Jordan. With no pilgrims and tourism since March 2020 and no government support to individuals or businesses, manyfamilies, especially in and around Bethlehem have lost all their income and are increasingly calling on FHL for help with day today living. FHL remains the only registered UK Charity with its own office, staff and volunteers in the City of Christ’s birth. From Christmas Day and until the end of the Christmas season there will be a basket to collect your offerings placed before the Nativity in church. All donations given will be sent directly to FHL to help support their important aid work.
With my prayers for you and for your families during this Advent season,
Your friend and Parish Priest,
IMPORTANT Newsletters – Our Parish Newsletters are available to be viewed and downloaded from our Parish website.
The online version will not include the Sunday Message
The Sunday Message and Newsletter will be available to download but this will be password protected – the password can be obtained from the Parish.
2021 12th December – Newsletter – Download
2021 12th December – LOOK – (Password Protected)– Download