Third Sunday of Advent
I always feel it is a special joy celebrating masses in the final week of Advent when the focus is on Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah as they prepared for the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus ,our Emmanuel. They led ordinary lives like others of their time and of ours, yet they were blest people and we hear once again of Elizabeth’s hope for a child and shame at being childless, Zechariah’s struggle to come to terms with the revelation he received, Mary’s willing response to the Angel and yet her fear for the future and Joseph’s soul searching to respond in an honourable way and choose the right course of action. Mary offers us a remarkable and inspiring example of hope, courage and trust in God in the face of uncertainty. Joseph teaches us the importance of pondering and searching our souls so that we can make the right choices at important moments and to act with sensitivity, honour and care in our dealings with those we love. In this final time of Advent may we be more aware that ‘Emmanuel – God is with us’ and that we need the intercession of Our Lady and St Joseph to help us see the Lord’s hand at work in our lives and how we should respond with faith and generosity of spirit. They are beautiful daily Gospel readings with many lessons to teach us. If you are able to join us for mass during this week or on any of these days I’m sure it would greatly help your own preparations for Christmas. If this is not possible perhaps you and your family could say the Angelus prayer each day in preparation for the Feast of Christmas.
On this Sunday in Advent Pope Francis invites children in Rome who have a crib at home to bring the figure of the child Jesus to mass where they are blessed and then taken home to be placed in the crib for Christmas. I had never heard of this tradition before – it may be an Italian or South American custom which Pope Francis has revived and it creates a lovely link for the children between the mass and their family faith and home. If any children would like to bring a crib figure of the baby Jesus to any of our masses next Sunday the priests will bless them at the end of mass.
This Sunday at 5pm we have our own Cathedral Festival Carol Service with a celebratory mix of carols, Christmas choral music and readings. The first half of next week continues with further Carol Services – Belvedere Academy on Monday, St Edward’s College on Tuesday evening and the Diocesan Dementia Carol Service on Wednesday afternoon at 2pm. The latter half of next week is taken over with final preparations for the celebration of Christmas along with the arrival of the BBC crew who will be setting up for the live transmission of the Midnight Mass for Radio 4. This will mean that the mass will begin at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve this year and will be on air for an hour and fifteen minutes. Please note that masses for the 4th Sunday of Advent are at the normal times except that there will be no Sunday evening mass at 7pm and the hospital mass at 4pm will be a vigil mass for Christmas. Please take a copy of the leaflet with the times of services for the Christmas period if you don’t already have one these contain all the details of Christmas masses and services at the Cathedral and St Vincent’s.
Canon Anthony O’Brien