Following discussions, Masses at Ss Peter and Paul, Leyburn, WILL BE continuing:
- Fridays at 12 Noon
- Sundays at 10am
Once again, we are in “lockdown”, but this time the churches can remain open for public worship! Father Richard and I will continue to serve you as best we can.
Here are the conditions that the Government require us to follow to remain open:
“You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony. You should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship and must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble when attending a place of worship. Weddings, funerals and religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to someone’s death are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend, and weddings and civil ceremonies may only take place in exceptional circumstances.
You must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble if you do attend a service.”
I would like to thank all of you who have been complying with these instructions, allowing us to provide a safe place for worship. We owe a great debt of gratitude to those who steward and sanitise the Churches after each Mass.
Masses will continue as normal for the time being. For Mass times, please see the bulletin.
With assurance of prayers,
Canon Michael and Father Richard
A very Happy and Peaceful New Year to everybody! May Mary, the Mother of God, intercede for us as we embark on 2021.
Here is Father Richard's homily for today
Readings: Universalis: Mass
Power of Blessing
Today we ask for God’s blessing upon us as we embark on a New Year – that we may be kept safe and close to Him. We do this on the Octave Day of Christmas when we hear again about the God-man lying in a manger in Bethlehem. Many illustrations, especially Medieval art, of Christ as a baby and a child depict Him giving a blessing.
In today’s First Reading from the Book of Numbers, we hear the Lord instructing Aaron to bless the People of Israel. Aaron was the first ever High Priest of Israel, and therefore a priest of the Old Covenant – which is why the Lord gave Him authority to bless. So too, in the New Covenant, priests, by virtue of their ordination, give the blessing of Christ Himself because they act in His Person as Head and Shepherd of the Church. It means that whenever we receive a priestly blessing, it is the blessing of Christ. It’s the same as Christ blessing children in the Gospel. It’s a significant moment that means we’re sealed with God’s protection and that we take on a sacred character.
The Lord sets out to Aaron a triple blessing that he’s to give the people of Israel in the Lord’s name: “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”
This threefold formula is mirrored in the Liturgy when in the special Seasons and Feasts of the Church, the priest can give one of those optional Solemn Blessings at the end of Mass. There’s one, in fact, today especially for “the beginning of a New Year”. They’re the often awkward moments when the end of Mass is a bit different which throws people and no one knows what to do or say until the Priest says the “Amen” response for them! But the words of these blessings are always fitting for the occasion and are rich in meaning and significance.
Today’s blessing says: “May God keep you safe from harm throughout the year.” What poignant words they are especially for this year! The second part asks God for the grace to persevere in the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love and also in the virtue we all have a struggle with at times: patience. The third blessing asks God to invoke His peace upon us, to grant our prayers, “an lead [us] happily to eternal life!” That’s quite a lot we’re asking of God! But we know He is generous and that he’ll bestow these blessings upon us if we ask for them.
Mary the Mother of God, whom we honour today, unites her prayers with the blessing that her Son gives. Our Blessed Lady is only interested in cooperating with the Lord’s will, made clear in her “yes” to becoming the Mother of God-Incarnate at the Annunciation. And too she guides us each and every day to her Son so that we might benefit always from His abundant blessings.
We ask Mary’s prayers – that we may receive abundant blessings from the hand of her Son this year.
|Rosary window, St Joseph and Francis, Xavier, Richmond : The Nativity (Joyful Mysteries)|
“God became man so that man might become God.” The famous words of St Athanasius which express the splendour of this Holy Night. It’s a statement that almost seems wrong! True, we can’t become the Holy Trinity; we cannot change from being a finite human being to being God who is infinite. But by God taking on human nature we’re able to share Divine nature; we are united to God. Christ is whom we call the Mediator between God and man. He humbles Himself to become one of us, in order that we may share His glory. This is the awesome reality we contemplate as we gaze upon the crib at the Son of God made man, the tiny child of Bethlehem.
From the manger, Christ the Light shines out in the darkness, we see the perfect image of God. And, too, we see the perfect man, the First born of all creation.
The Mystery of the Incarnation reveals to us that only in the Christ child do we discover the dignity of the human person – which is to share in the glory of God. Saint John Paul II taught that human nature, assumed by the Son of God, “has been raised in us…to a dignity beyond compare.” (Redemptor Homines, 8)
This year, people have been shaken. With the pandemic, humanity has been disorientated. But with the Solemnity of Christmas, human life is given a firm anchor who is Christ, who reveals our dignity to us as sons and daughters of God destined to partake in His glory. Of course, we take prudent measures to help protect ourselves and others from illness. But we must not become obsessed with a pandemic. We mustn’t fall into the trap of understanding and directing our lives by disease prevention. Only in God-made-man do we find the meaning and fulfilment of our lives. As the Second Vatican Council taught: “Only in the mystery of the Incarnation does the mystery of man take on light.” Only in Christ do we discover God’s plan for our salvation. As we heard in our second reading from St Paul to Titus, God’s grace has been revealed and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race.”
Tonight, we hear and take to heart the words of the Angel Gabriel to the Shepherds tonight: “Do not be afraid.” For in the Christ-child of Bethlehem we find the fulfilment of our life – the Saviour who will lead us to be like God.
“We long to see thee so”
These are the opening lines of an old hymn I used to sing every Advent at my infant school. It had a rousing chorus
“O Come O Come O come, Our Saviour dear to be
O Come O Come O come We have no king thee”
Yes, Advent is all about longing: the longing of the Jewish people for the Messiah as we read in the prophecies of Isaiah, the longing of Our Blessed Lady as she journeyed towards Bethlehem and the longing of the Church for the Second Coming of Christ which heralds the consummation of all the Gospel promises. We may like to add this Advent the longing of the end to the global pandemic and a return to being able to behave normally in our social interaction. There is a lot of longing.
Advent is not only a season of longing it is also a time of preparation. The figure of John the Baptist looms large over our Scripture readings. John encourages us to look into our hearts, to confess our sins and to experience a new beginning and an awareness of the closeness of the Messiah. It is no mistake of the Church to signify the beginning of the liturgical year with Advent. The key to the religious life, of living a life of faith, is the remembrance of the closeness of Christ. We will not wander into the wilderness of self-absorption, self-indulgence and all the other self-delusions that lead us into a wasted life if we know Christ is close to us.
If I have learnt one lesson during this year of pandemic it is to realise the gift of Time and Space. There is time to pray and the space to discover it. God often speaks to us in silence.
May we all discover during this time of Advent: the closeness of the Messiah, the need to share the longing of the prophets, to share the call to confess with John the Baptist, to share the excitement of the Blessed Virgin as she pondered the mysterious workings of God in her life and to look forward with blessed Hope in the second coming of Christ.
We long to see thee so
To see thee newly born
The sands of time run slow
We long for Christmas morn