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Sermon for 21 December 2014
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FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT Cycle B Readings. 21ST DECEMBER 2014.

MESSAGE FROM THE PARISH PRIEST

My Dear People,

Well the year is almost over and we have Christmas next week. The "Ordo" says that "After the Paschal Feast of Easter, there is no more ancient a feast day for the Church than the recalling of the Nativity of the Lord and of the mystery of His first Appearing. This is the object of the Christmas Season."

So it had come to pass. The moment had arrived of all the time God created; the moment in time when God sent his Messenger - the Archangel Gabriel from Heaven. God sent the Archangel to a little town called Nazareth. God sent the Angel to a house in Nazareth and to the person dwelling within that house. It was the house of Mary. On that site there is now a most beautiful Basilica and you can pray at the place where our Blessed Lady received the Archangel.

Think of the mystery. God does intervene in history. He sent the Archangel. He had a message to give to the Messenger who gave the message to Mary. It was tiding of great Joy for a Son was to be born who was to be Christ the Lord.

God sent his Messenger and the Archangel Gabriel venerated the Virgin. Gabriel told Mary that she had "Won God's favour" It is no wonder. She was the sole exception of our race - the Sinless one. Our Blessed Lady was to be given a sign. The sign was that she was to be a virgin and a mother.

This was to mark the new beginning for humanity in Jesus Christ. His origin is totally the will of God; not of the flesh or the will of man but of God.That was to be the sign in the first instance.

St Bernard says "The whole world waited, all the souls of the just waited in purgatory, all nature held its collective breath awaiting the Virgin Mary's answer to the Angel's Message AND... "BEHOLD I AM THE HANDMAID OF THE LORD, LET IT BE DONE UNTO ME ACCORDING TO THY WORD." From that moment on, God began his journey from earth to heaven. The Word became flesh and dwelt with us in Mary's womb and in her heart and being...She became the Tabernacle of the Most High. What love we owe our Blessed Lady for her great YES!

The world went about its business. The Empire of Rome was at its peak of world domination. The bitter divisions within Israel about the puppet kings and religious groupings went on the usual way but everything from that moment was set in a trajectory of salvation and redemption. The die was cast and it was in man's favour.

Various "signs" would be given along the way. One of the signs given by the Archangel was that Mary's cousin Elizabeth – thought too old to have a child was with child (John the Baptist). The three Magi had the star which stopped over the house where the infant king resided. The shepherds had the angelic host in the night-sky, singing the heavenly message about peace on earth and the sign of the infant in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. They each found exactly as they had been told. The signs really did happen in time.

It was to the humble that God disclosed Himself and Mary was the one who saw all these things and pondered them in her heart as St Luke tells us and he should know because it is tradition that he knew her very well. No one can tell what went in Mary's soul – that soul untouched by any kind of sin. Her ministry in the Church is unique – she brings forth the Saviour and presents Him to mankind - "Do whatever he tells you" she tells the servants at the marriage feast of Cana. That is basically her message – submit to God and surrender to his holy will. Our Blessed Mother gives us the encouragement for us to do what Jesus tells us to do in faith.

How much our poor humanity needs to hear that message and put it into practise today in order to find itself again. It is destroying itself by its obstinate refusal to submit to any kind of Divine Law. Man has become the dictator to the heavens and it is doomed to end in sadness. Pray these days of Advent as we come nearer to the great Feast of His birthday for a great outpouring of God’s grace upon His Church to enable us to respond to the needs of the humanity. We need to be a Church strong in Faith so that the world may believe. Pray for your priests who impart the Mystery of Salvation and for our school teachers and catechists and of course Christian mothers and fathers who teach their children the Faith, the Way of Christ. Pray for Pope Francis at this holy time. He is the most wonderful and wise teacher of the Catholic Faith and a true Father to us all.

I hope you all have a wonderful and holy and blessed and warm family Christmas.

Father Tom Connolly


APF Red Mission Boxes (Missio) Collectors will be on their way round over Christmas. Money and boxes should be in for 4th January 2014. Christine Booth (Hon Sec).

CHRISTMAS CARD - DO TAKE A CARD FROM THE PORCH WITH MY MESSAGE FOR CHRISTMAS AND ALL THE TIMES OF MASSES AND CONFESSIONS AND NOVENA TO THE INFANT JESUS FOR THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD.

CHRISTMAS DINNER AND PARTY AND ENTERTAINMENT FOR THE OVER 60'S OF BOTH PARISHES WENT VERY WELL LAST SATURDAY AT 4.30.. THE MEAL WAS GREAT AND THE INDIAN DANCER WAS DELIGHTFUL AS WERE THE IRISH DANCERS DOING RIVER DANCE ROUTINE- A WONDER TO BEHOLD. A GREAT TIME WAS HAD BY ALL SO THANK YOU FOR ALL WHO ORGANISED IT.






Bidding Prayers

Christmas Bidding Prayers

Priest: Jesus is the Son of God who teaches us how to live as God's children. On this special night OR [ day] we pray for the grace to live his way.

Reader: Jesus you are our light. Help us to be a people ever eager to do what is right, peaceable and just. As we celebrate your birth, Lord in your mercy.

Jesus, you were sent by God to bring us peace. May we practice kindness in our families with our friends and among those with who we live and work. As we celebrate your birth, Lord in your mercy.

Jesus, you chose to live as one of us. May we choose to live like you by loving God and neighbour. As we celebrate your birth, Lord in your mercy.

Jesus, you are God's gift to us. May we be a gift to you by obeying your commandments. As we celebrate your birth, let us rejoice in the freedom you bestowed on us and the new dignity to human beings.Lord in your mercy.

Jesus, the angels sang your praises when you came into the world. May we sing your praises in our daily prayers and at Mass. As we celebrate your birth, Lord in your mercy.

Jesus, the poor shepherds came to pay you honour. May we show our care for others by assisting the poor and the needy. Lord in your mercy.

Jesus, you came to save people of every race, language, and age. May we show respect to all the people you lived and died for. As we celebrate your birth, Lord in your mercy.

Jesus, through the saving mystery of your birth, life and death may family, friends and parishioners who have died in the past year be granted the fullness of life, especially Josie McConnell - as we celebrate your birth, Lord in your mercy.

May those whose anniversaries occur we pray: Arthur and Brenda Stafford, Harry King, Freddie King, Joyce Cook, Bill Cooke (VIGIL), Kelly and Duffy Family, Mary and Tom Colbert, Mary, Denis and Tony. Lord in your mercy.

The Holy Mother of God gave birth to the eternal One - we salute her...Hail Mary...

Priest: God of glory, the light of Christ reveals your love for us. Receive our prayers and grant that we may always receive your Word-Made-Flesh with grateful hearts. We ask this in Jesus' name, Christ the Lord, who lives forever and ever. Amen.