Category Archives: advent

Merry and messy

At Christmas we often go to great lengths to try to make everything perfect. Exactly the right present for auntie Flo, new lights on our houses just a bit better than the family down the street, special little extras at our Christmas dinner to make it better than last year’s, a perfectly shaped Christmas tree… and, of course, perfectly planned Christmas services. But we only need to look at the news to see that reality is not always like that. So many people are living with suffering of one kind or another. Problems both far away and closer to home, sometimes in our own lives, tell us that our world is often, well, messy.

This points us to something very important about the original Christmas story, the birth of Jesus. It, too, was not entirely neat and tidy. Mary and Joseph had a very difficult journey to Bethlehem. They probably walked, or rode a donkey as tradition says, about 90 miles, with Mary heavily pregnant. There was not a warm welcome from the people of Bethlehem, and, of course Mary had to have her baby where the animals were. To cap it all, they then had to get out of Bethlehem and escape to Egypt as refugees. That all sounds very messy to me.

Two lessons then… If we find ourselves running round at home, dashing to the shops, trying to get everything right, and feeling rushed and tired, we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. We’re allowed to not get it quite right, it’s absolutely OK to be messy, and who said that we always have to be happy – all the time?

Secondly, let’s take our cue from the Baby whose birth it is really all about. He could have chosen to be born in a luxurious palace or a bright shiny hospital. But he didn’t. He plunged straight into the chaotic world of human life, complete with its joys – and its problems. He set about trying to put it right, and that’s a challenge to all of us, to do likewise, to help lift each other’s burdens and clear up at least some of our world’s mess.

Have a happy, if messy, Christmas!

Fr Matthew (edited from this week’s Wednesday Word)

Comings and goings for Christmas

Advent means “a coming” and, of course, we celebrate the coming of Jesus into our world. But it was not only Jesus who came. Mary and Joseph travelled from Nazareth, the shepherds came in from the surrounding country, and the Wise Men journeyed from goodness knows where! Later, when Jesus preached and healed they came from all over Israel and beyond, and for two thousand years millions of people have come to Jesus in a myriad of ways.
So, with Jesus it was always two-way – He moved on out and people came on in. Now it is us who must be doing the “going out” part for him. This Advent and Christmas we are making a special effort to reach out, particularly but not only, to our Catholic brothers and sisters who are “non-practicing” or “resting”, and to some of our local community. Last week Archbishop Stack encouraged us in these words: “The invitation, friendship and support of fellow Catholics are such important ways of accompanying these brothers and sisters of ours so that they may experience the communion and fellowship of the members of Christ’s Body.”
Over these two weekends we are distributing special Christmas cards giving the times of all Christmas services across the Northern Arch parishes of Cardiff: our own, St Philip Evans and St Teilo with Our Lady of Lourdes. We ask you to take a couple and simply give one to anyone who you think the Lord may be calling to Come Home for Christmas. If appropriate make a personal invitation – perhaps to come with yourself – to a Christmas Mass. Some may be reluctant to plunge straight into a Mass, so invite them to the Carol Service at St Brigid’s on Tuesday 20 December at 7pm.
Meanwhile, to get more information and background visit this special website
www.comehomeforchristmas.co.uk

The road to Bethlehem

Welcome to the season of Advent. This weekend we begin our preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord – Christmas. It is a season of joy and anticipation, of hope and readiness. We light the way with the Advent Candles. It is the Road to Bethlehem.

Here are some signposts on the Road, to help you arrive safely and truly prepared.

* Saturday 3 December Christmas Preparation Retreat – see details inside our newsletter
* Thursday 8 December Feast of the Immaculate Conception: We remember Our Lady’s vital part in the Christmas story. Feast of our diocese and end of its Centenary Year.
* Monday 12 December: The Light Is On: Three priests will be available for Confession at Christ the King 7 – 8pm. Normal Confession times also continue of course.
* Tuesday 20 December: 3 Churches Carol Service at St Brigid’s Church. We approach Bethlehem as we come closer to Christmas Day.
* Saturday 24 December Christmas Eve Masses: There will be 6pm Mass at each of our 3 Churches. There will also be 10pm Mass at St Brigid’s and Christ the King.
* Sunday 25 December Christmas Day Masses: These will be at normal Sunday morning times: 9am at Christ the King and St Paul’s, 11am at St Brigid’s. There will be no Sunday evening Mass.
* “Walk With Me” Why not take time to absorb these daily reflections along your way? Booklets available at all churches.
* Time with Jesus: Take time out amid the pre-Christmas rush. Pop into St Brigid’s or St Paul’s, both open in daylight hours, or Christ the King Friday evening. Even better, come to a daily Mass— timetable on the back page. Or just sit down in your favourite chair at home, and take a moment to think, to reflect, to pray…

Welcome to Advent. Let’s set out together on the Road to Bethlehem, so that we arrive joyfully prepared.

Fr Matthew