CHRISTMAS MASSES This Christmas we are limited in the number of people we can accommodate at Masses this year due to government regulations. It is sadly not possible simply to turn up to a Christmas Mass if you have not booked. The Bishops of England and Wales have suggested that the Masses during the Christmas Octave (i.e. Dec 26th until Jan 1st) be considered additional Masses to celebrate Christmas liturgically as churches will not be able to cater for everyone on Christmas Eve/Day. Our Masses therefore on 27th Dec for The Holy Family/ Wed 30th Dec for the 6th day of the Octave / Fri 1st Jan Solemnity of Mary Mother of God are likely to be popular. Book now at www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/st-patricks-catholic-church-corsham-30646123644. We have extended ticket numbers to 50 for these masses. Sadly, the 9pm Mass we floated for Christmas eve has not attracted sufficient interest. We will contact those who have expressed an interest if there are cancellations at the scheduled Christmas masses. This makes it even more important that if you have booked and find you cannot come you please cancel to enable others to take your tickets. We remind you that the current suspension of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass also applies to Christmas.
GAUDATE SUNDAY The 3rd Sunday of Advent is known as “Gaudete Sunday.” On this, Gaudete Sunday, we sense a definite mood change. The austerity of what can be a sombre though hope-filled season is replaced by a shift of emphasis. We see a burst of colour appearing at the Mass today as rose-coloured vestments replace the violet, the third ‘rose’ candle of the Advent wreath is lit and we are enjoined in the Entrance Antiphon to: Rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice or Gaudete in Domino semper, hence Gaudete Sunday. But why this shift in emphasis? We are edging nearer to celebrating the coming of Our Lord at Christmas, that is undeniably true, but looking at today’s Gospel we also see that we have built upon last week’s message of preparation and now we see John the Baptist actively proclaiming the Coming. ‘I baptise with water, but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me, and I am not fit to undo his sandal strap.’ John the Baptist’s proclamation is sure and certain, filled with hope and, one must assume, wholly joyful. Can we also feel in the depths of our hearts such joy as we hear this news in these troubled times? Pray God we can!
POPE FRANCIS DECLARES ‘YEAR OF ST JOSEPH’ In a new Apostolic Letter entitled ‘Patris corde’ (‘With a Father’s Heart’), Pope Francis has proclaimed a special ‘Year of St Joseph’ beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2020 and extending to the feast in 2021. The Letter marks the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. The Holy Father wrote Patris corde against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he says, has helped us see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who, though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day.
In this, they resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence,” who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation.” Saint Joseph, in fact, “concretely expressed his fatherhood” by making an offering of himself in love “a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home,” writes Pope Francis, quoting his predecessor St Paul VI. Because of his role at “the crossroads between the Old and New Testament,” St Joseph “has always been venerated as a father by the Christian people”. In him, “Jesus saw the tender love of God,” the one that helps us accept our weakness, because “it is through” and despite “our fears, our frailties, and our weakness” that most divine designs are realized. “Only tender love will save us from the snares of the accuser,” emphasizes the Pontiff, and it is by encountering God’s mercy especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we “experience His truth and tenderness,” – because “we know that God’s truth does not condemn us, but instead welcomes, embraces, sustains and forgives us”. Read People Francis’ letter at http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco-lettera-ap_20201208_patris-corde.html
The Apostolic Penitentiary has also issued a Decree granting plenary indulgences for the year of St Joseph. During this time, the faithful will have the opportunity to commit themselves “with prayer and good works, to obtain, with the help of St Joseph, head of the heavenly Family of Nazareth, comfort and relief from the serious human and social tribulations that besiege the contemporary world today.” The plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the Pope’s intentions) to Christians who, with a spirit detached from any sin, participate in the Year of St Joseph on these occasions and manners indicated by the Apostolic Penitentiary: The plenary indulgence is granted to those who will meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer or take part in a Spiritual Retreat of at least one day that includes a meditation on St Joseph. St Joseph, pray for us.
MASSES FOR THE CHRISTMAS OCTAVE. The Bishops of England and Wales have suggested that the Masses during the Christmas Octave (i.e. Dec 26th until Jan 1st) be considered additional Masses to celebrate Christmas liturgically as churches will not be able to cater for everyone on Christmas Eve/Day. Our Masses therefore on 27th Dec for The Holy Family/ Wed 30th Dec for the 6th day of the Octave / Fri 1st Jan Solemnity of Mary Mother of God are likely to be popular, so please book now at www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/st-patricks-catholic-church-corsham-30646123644 We remind you that the current suspension of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass also applies to Christmas. Midnight Mass on BBC1 on Christmas Eve will be broadcast from Clifton Cathedral with Bishop Declan as principal celebrant.
NEWS FROM BORDERLANDS Many parishioners will remember that not, long ago, Borderlands was our Parish Project. During this Covid time work has continued but is adapted to the circumstances. Volunteers make frequent solidarity phone calls to self-isolating members, and the mentoring project continues by phone or meetings in an outside space. Food parcels are prepared and either collected by members or delivered by volunteers and, at this point in time, Borderlands is the only organization in Bristol delivering food. Every Tuesday a hot meal is prepared for take away. English classes are given via Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp. Fresh food that is near its sell by date is donated by various supermarkets and local businesses but store cupboard stocks are getting low and Borderlands would be grateful for donations of tins of tomatoes, kidney beans, chickpeas, tinned fish, tinned vegetables, rice, pasta, cereals, tea, coffee, sugar, salt, onions, garlic, basic toiletries etc. Cath Elms will be in St Patrick’s Church carpark on Friday 4 December, Wednesday 9 December and Friday 11 December from 11am until 12 noon for anyone who would like to donate. Thank you.
EUCHARISTIC ADORATION Before lockdown we were gathering at 11.30am on Wednesdays for prayers before the Blessed Sacrament for an end to the pandemic. We continue with this little time of prayer NEXT Wednesday (9th Dec). If you are coming to the noon Mass, do join us for these moments of prayer in the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
THE LITURGICAL SEASON OF ADVENT Today we begin the beautiful four Sunday liturgical season of Advent. This lovely season has a twofold character: as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ’s first coming to us is remembered; as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ. The readings and liturgies not only direct us towards Christ’s birth, they also challenge the modern reluctance to confront the theme of divine judgement: The Four Last Things – Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell – have been traditional themes for Advent meditation. The characteristic note of Advent is therefore expectation, rather than penitence. The anticipation of Christmas under commercial pressure has also made it harder to sustain the appropriate sense of alert watchfulness, but the fundamental Advent prayer remains ‘Maranatha’ – ‘Our Lord, come’ (1 Corinthians 16.22). Church decorations are simple and spare, and purple is the liturgical colour. In the northern hemisphere, the Advent season falls at the darkest time of the year, and the natural symbols of darkness and light are powerfully at work throughout Advent and Christmas. he Moravian custom of the ‘Christingle’ has similarly enjoyed great success in Britain since the latter part of the twentieth century in most Christian communities and is widespread within the Catholic Church; The Third Sunday of Advent was observed in medieval times as a splash of colour in the restrained atmosphere of Advent (Gaudete/ Rejoice or ‘Rose Sunday’) We rejoice since our redemption is near at hand. Let us immerse ourselves in this wonderful season, mindful that although we are living through dark times, we still look to Christ our rising sun, our morning star (O Oriens) O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.