Secularism in our society pervades every aspect of our lives, and seems determined to eradicate Christmas if it possibly can. We see charities no longer selling Christmas cards with nativity scenes, as well as the replacement of the word “Christmas” itself by phrases such as “the winter festive season”. People are urged to avoid using religious terms in case they should somehow “upset” others.
Father Deo, Father Innocent, Deacon Ged and the entire Parish Team hope and pray that you will have a wonderfully holy and happy Christmas and that the New Year will be full of all the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Once again, amid the bustle of life, the preoccupation of the advertising media with material gain and, it would seem, amid an unending stream of news reports of poverty, crime, and death in various parts of our world, we have journeyed through Advent and are celebrating Christmas. The Crib, centrepiece of this Season, is displayed in our homes and in our Parish church; church and homes are brightly decorated, Christmas trees abound and, somehow, the gloom of winter is shut out.
The Nativity of Christ painted by the Italian artist Francesco Francia (1447-1517) in c.1490
Once more we pray, at Midnight Mass, the Christmas Night hymn of the Angels, “Glory to God in the Highest…!”. Father wears white (or, indeed, gold-coloured) vestments, Carols are sung, calling us to contemplate the Birth of our Saviour. Our Entrance Antiphon echoes the Father’s Words, ‘…You are my Son; this day have I begotten you…’ (Psalm 2:7). We hear, in the First reading, of the ‘… great light…’ that has dispelled the darkness of Original Sin (Isaiah 9: 1-7). In the Response to the Psalm we proclaim, ‘Today a Saviour has been born to us…’(Psalm 95: 1-3, 11-13 response Luke 2:11). Saint Paul joyfully cries out that ‘...God’s Grace has been revealed…’. (Titus 2:11-14). In the Gospel we hear of that journey in Faith made by Our Lady and Saint Joseph to Bethlehem and of the subsequent Angelic Proclamation of the ‘…news of great joy…’ of Jesus’ Birth to the humble shepherds (Luke 2:1-14).
In our homes presents are exchanged. Our gifts, given with Love, put us in mind of Love Himself and the greatest Christmas Gift ever, Love Incarnate, Jesus, Emmanuel (‘God is with us!’). Our earthly enjoyment of Christmas takes its meaning from the knowledge that this little child, born in a humble stable, grew and restored hope in an Eternity of inconceivable Happiness for those who ‘…endure to the end…’.
For some, sadly, the whole point of the Season is passed over. It is therefore, as ever, up to us to be 'counter-cultural', showing, by word and example, the true significance of this celebration, as Saint Peter says, ‘…the hope that is in you…’ (1 Peter 3:15). On that first Christmas night, Jesus, the Word Who "...was made flesh..." at His Conception nine months earlier in the Womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is setting out on His 30 year mission to Save humanity, atoning for Original sin and all sins committed until the end of time and putting us back, with the means to get there, in the Church, on the road to Heaven. How can we not rejoice knowing this!? May we be inspired to spread this "....news of Great Joy..." in the year ahead!
Thoughts on the traditional teachings, devotions, seasons and matters of the Catholic Church
St. Bartholomew's does its utmost to accommodate the needs of those with disabilities. Whilst the main body of the church is wholly accessible to people with mobility disabilities, the choir gallery is both approached by stairs and the seating is then stepped by design. The church has a wheelchair-accessible toilet, and baby-changing facilities. There is a Loop System (AFIL) in place in the church
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