Friday, December 25, 2020

Happy Christmas!

Rosary window, St Joseph and Francis, Xavier, Richmond : The Nativity (Joyful Mysteries) 

Wishing you a very Happy Christmas!

It was a beautiful morning going over to Wensleydale to celebrate the Dawn and Day Mass at Ulshaw Bridge

Here is Fr Richard's homily (for Mass During the Night):

Christ reveals human dignity 

“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.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

An Advent Letter from Canon Michael


Advent Letter

“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