To be read at all Sunday Masses on 26 December 2021
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
I extend to each of you, and to your families and loved ones, my warm good wishes as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour this Christmas. I pray that, in a deepened way, your heart might be opened to the loving closeness of the Lord Jesus. Now, and always, He is Emmanuel: God with us and God for us; nearer to us than our innermost thoughts, and closer to us than our heartbeat. It was because God loved the world so much, because God loved you so much, that He sent His only Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. For so great a gift, we too sing in thanksgiving with the angels: ‘Glory to God in the highest.’
Whatever ups and downs the past year has brought, remember that you belong to Christ. In our isolation or distance, in our fear or disappointment, we have a home in Christ and in His Church. He knows our name. Our baptism is part of His life-story. The Lord never will never forget us or abandon us. How we need to be reminded of this, especially in difficult times. We are united to Christ, and to each other, in the family of the Church. Ours is not a do-it yourself faith or a go-it-alone religion. Believing and belonging go together. We journey with each other as Christ’s Body, called to live our faith from within the Church towards to the world.
The Feast of the Holy Family this year follows on immediately from Christmas Day. We remain focused on the new-born Christ child, held in the arms of His mother Mary and watched over by His foster father, St Joseph. United in Christ, Christian families too are places where believing and belonging go together, giving much-needed witness to the unchanging virtues of faith, love, and hope, of patience, mercy and kindness.
What must it have been like for Joseph and his pregnant wife to have arrived in Bethlehem, exhausted by the journey from Nazareth? We know Mary was close to her delivery date. Joseph would have slowed the pace of travel to protect his wife and her unborn child. To avoid any possible hostility in Samaria, the Holy Family also probably took a detour. It would, therefore, have taken Joseph and Mary a week to ten days, maybe even longer, to reach their destination. They then struggled to find suitable accommodation and had to bed down beside the animals in the straw. Through all this they have something to teach us: they kept faith and they trusted in God’s promises.
Fast forward twelve years. The Holy Family had been in Jerusalem for the Passover. As they travelled home, their beloved child, the Lord Jesus, went missing. At that time men sometimes travelled separately from women, and the children travelled with either parent. Mary thought the Lord Jesus was with Joseph and Joseph thought He was with Mary. How panicked they must have been, fearing that He was lost, even that He had been injured or killed. Rushing back to Jerusalem, they found the Lord Jesus three days later teaching in the temple, getting on with His ‘Heavenly Father’s business.’ It’s significant that they found Him alive after three days. The Gospel points to the resurrection. Again, there is something to learn here. In all we face, how we need to keep faith and trust in God’s promises. As the Christmas carol ‘Hark! The herald angels sing’ reminds us, Christ is born so we ‘no more may die,’ born to raise us from the earth, born to give us ‘second birth.’
Dear friends, we each need to nurture our faith. We each need to renew our trust in God’s promises. We live with hope in Christ born for us and raised from death on the cross for us. This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it. Thank you to parents, grandparents, and great grandparents for passing on the faith in your families. Thank you to catechists, teachers, clergy and religious sisters for passing on the faith in the family of the Church. Please be encouraged to continue helping people to believe and belong in Christ, especially through the celebration of the Sacraments, through cherishing prayer and the Scriptures, and through loving service to those most in need.
I assure you of my prayers on this beautiful Feast of the Holy Family: prayers for each of you and, in particular, for anyone struggling with life, and especially family life or marriage; for anyone coping with illness or bereavement; and for anyone uncertain about what 2022 might hold. Let us unite ourselves to Our Lady and to St Joseph. With them we keep faith and trust in God’s promise: a Saviour has been born for us who is Christ the Lord. He is Emmanuel: God with us and God for us.
With every blessing for this Christmas Season and the New Year.
Yours devotedly in Christ,
+ John Wilson
Metropolitan Archbishop of Southwark
Archbishop John Wilson will, in addition to Midnight Mass shown in our previous post, be celebrating Christmas Day's 10:00 Family Mass at St. George's Cathedral. If you're unable to get out for Mass on Christmas Day, you may wish to follow the live stream of this occasion. The coverage will start at 09:45.
Archbishop John Wilson will be celebrating Christmas Midnight Mass at St. George's Cathedral. If you're unable to get out for Midnight Mass, you may wish to follow the live stream of this occasion. The coverage will start at 23:45.
Monday 20 to Thursday 23 December
Masses 07:30 and 10:00
Thursday 23 December - Day of Penitence
10:00 Mass is followed by Confessions and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament until Benediction at 19:30
Friday 24 December Christmas Vigil & Midnight Masses
18:15 Vigil Mass of Christmas for families
Collection of toys for children who are in need
23:30 Carols preceding Midnight Mass of Christmas
Saturday 25 December Christmas Day
Masses 08:30, 10:00, 11:30 all with Carols (no 17:00 Mass)
Sunday 26 December Feast of the Holy Family
Masses 08:30, 10:00, 11:30 and 17:00
Monday 27 to Thursday 30 December
Masses 07:30 and 10:00
Friday 31 December
Masses 07:30 and 10:00
Midnight Mass to welcome the New Year 00:00
Saturday 1 January Mary, Mother of God
Mass 12:00 only (no Confessions)
Sunday 2 January 2nd Sunday of Christmas
Masses 18:15 (Saturday Mass of Anticipation)
08:30, 10:00, 11:30, 17:00
..... that was read at all Masses on the Solemnity of the Holy Family is now available to download and read from here.
I wonder what might be your overriding sense of 2020? It has been a year unlike any other we have known in peacetime. Locally, nationally and globally, we are marked by the impact of Covid 19 and the measures imposed to try and curtail the pandemic.
For some, 2020 has been devastating, with loss of life, loss of loved ones, loss of livelihoods, and even loss of hope. Yet, through uncertainty and sadness, we have also witnessed the triumph of kindness, in great and little things alike. Our NHS and caring professions, our emergency services, our food and utility providers, to name just some, have ensured support in essential ways. To all those who have sustained the life of our communities, we extend an enormous ‘thank you.’
Despite the challenges, the past year has brought forth so many remarkable examples of the very best in our humanity, and not least from within our Catholic community. Our parishes and schools have served with distinction, something we can rightly be proud of.
Even in restricted circumstances, Christmas 2020 recalls again the great kindness God has shown humanity in Christ. A Saviour is born for us, for you and me. God’s loving kindness placed a foot on our planet in person, through the tiny imprint of the baby of Bethlehem. Forevermore, we share news of great joy, a joy of God’s love for every person, and for the whole world. God is with us. We are never alone.
May the Christmas gift of God’s kindly love fill your heart as we step forward with hope in Christ. May God bless you, and those you love, this festive season and throughout the coming New Year.
+ John Wilson
Archbishop of Southwark
..... that was read at all Masses on the Solemnity of the Holy Family is now available on the Archdiocese's Website to download and read.
The holy celebration of Christmas invites us to remember what really matters in life. At the centre of Christmas is the birth of a child, the Son of God, defenceless and vulnerable. This new-born is totally dependent on those around him to provide love, food and shelter.
We share the responsibility of providing for each other, especially for our weaker brothers and sisters.
A big thank you for all your support this year with the Crisis appeals.
The 44 shoe boxes were fantastic! Today your generosity has been exceptional. We have raised £460 from the raffle and coffee morning. This money has helped house 22 people over the Christmas period and also can help get them get a chance to work towards ending their homelessness by advice and training.
Your support for the projects that Bart Seniors embark on is amazing. We would like to wish you all a lovely Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year.
The Bart Seniors Team x
'We are now just a few days away from Christmas.
Huge thanks go to the many people who have helped to decorate the church, the trees and the crib. The Carol Concert given by our Polyphony Choir and brass instruments last Sunday was a resounding success.
Everybody has practised their various roles and all is now ready for the Church to welcome Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, as he enters into history in the humble stable at Bethlehem.
A very happy and blessed Christmas to you all.'