Tuesday Christmas Day Mass 10.00am
Wednesday St Stephen’s Day Mass 12.00 noon
Sunday 30th December Mass 9.30am Holy Family
New Year’s Day. Mass 12.00 noon Mary Mother of God
The Fourth Sunday of Advent this year is our Covenant Day. You are invited to our Advent Covenant Mass on Sunday 18th December 2016 at 7.30pm at the Shrine. Let us gather together as family and prepare for the fulfilment of the Covenant Promise. “God is with us” Emmanuel. Our prayer is that our homes offer shelter to the God who is seeking us and our hearts become the manger where Christ may be born again. We look forward to seeing you. This will be the relaunch of the new MTA Magazine so please come along and join in our Advent Spirit. Please bring donations for our Food and Clothes Bank.
In the days and weeks before Christmas, many people worry about what they are going to give their relations and friends as a gift. They search through catalogues and magazines, they trek wearily through the shops and stores until they find the right present. Most of the time we are looking for things that cost money, some expensive, some cheaper. What would it be like if we could also give each other a gift for Christmas, that you cannot buy with money? Something special, something truly original – something that brings us hope, joy and peace! I hope and pray that this Christmas story can be a little like such an “unbuyable” gift. It is called “The King with the Empty Hands”. “It happened in large city. A few young people had got together and planned to put on a Nativity Play. Very soon lots of people became involved: Someone wrote the script, others practiced eagerly, scenes and backdrops were made and painted, and a few mothers made the costumes. However, the evening before the first performance, something quite unusual and unfortunate happened – they had all forgotten about the parts of the Three Kings. They couldn’t just leave them out altogether. The Kings simply belong to the Nativity Story. The Director of the play had an idea. He would telephone three people from the neighbourhood and ask them if they wouldn’t mind standing in as one of the Three Kings. They should just bring a personal gift with them for the Child in the Manger – a gift, that means something special to them. Continue reading “A Christmas Message”
You are invited to the Advent Covenant Mass on Friday, 18th December at 7.30pm, followed by festive refreshments. The Mass has the Theme of “Hope” and will be lead by the Tiberias Schoenstatt Group. This will be the first Covenant Mass at the Shrine in the Jubilee Year of Mercy and we will have the opportunity to walk through one of the five official “Doors of Mercy”, designated by the Diocese of Salford. Father Duncan will be the main celebrant at this Mass. The Nativity scene was put up and decorated yesterday in the Shrine by Patricia and her efficient team of helpers and is looking beautiful as always. Please come along and bring friends and family! We look forward to celebrating with you the Hope that the Christ Child brings again into our world, our homes and our hearts!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it…He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14)
Together with the shepherds we go to the stable in Bethlehem. There we are able to encounter God himself – God who became a defenceless little baby – a baby in swaddling clothes – in modern terminology, a baby in a nappy. Is this not an incredible miracle? Is this not a wonderful mystery of the creative love of God? The Father sends us his Son, to be born of a Virgin, and they wrapped him in a nappy. The One who is God from God, and light from light eternal, the One who is the focal point of human history – past, present and future – lies before us in a nappy! God in a nappy shows us the true nature of who God is. God is love. His love is full of compassion, full of mercy and wisdom. He loves us so much that the Son of God takes on our human condition and becomes like us. He grows like us, he is in need of love and affection like us, he is vulnerable like us. He will also suffer like us: God in a nappy, and one day God on a cross. God comes as a child to ensure that between him and us there are no barriers, no fears. Who would be afraid of a little child? He wants us to love him with all our hearts and with our own souls. The God of love only wants love. He wants to be hugged and cared for like a little child. God who becomes a child so that we can love him, invites us to come closer. Christmas is a time to allow that deep and personal encounter with the Lord to finally happen in our own lives. We long for intimacy with God. Is there a better moment to take this all-compassionate love seriously? It invites us to a never-ending union with him. Every newborn child awakens love. The Christ Child also awakens the power of love in the human heart. He conquers us completely with his love. This personal encounter with God changes our lives. We are forever changed. If we want to love the Saviour as he wants to be loved, if we want to let him enter our lives with no “buts” or “maybes”, if we want to truly become like him, we will always find him in the arms of his Mother Mary. In the covenant of love with her we may bow our heads in adoration before the miracle of Christmas – God in a nappy! It’s amazing!
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:8-14)
A old legend tells the story of a hidden bell that is completely silent throughout the year, but when Christmas comes this bell starts to ring out joyfully. Where is this bell hidden? It is hidden in our own hearts. Christmas is the time when many longings and hopes come to the surface again. These yearnings need to be fulfilled. The church bells call us and invite us: Come to Bethlehem and see what has truly happened there! When we set off and make our way to that little place of grace – our parish church, the shrine – what will we find? We will find the Saviour of the world in a manger. Are we free enough to leave everything else behind – our worries, our weaknesses, our troubles and distractions, our dependence on material things – and go to Bethlehem to be a part of this never-ending miracle? What is the miracle of the Holy Night? It is an answer to that continuous, desperate call of the human race since the beginning of time – the yearning for peace. We yearn for peace in our own hearts, because we are all so inwardly divided. We yearn for peace in our families, because there are often conflicts and hurts. We yearn for peace in every nation, in all the world, so that our children can grow up in security and have a future. The bells ring out a call of peace to men and women of good will, because tonight in the town of David, in Bethlehem, a Saviour has been born for us, a Child has been given to us! The Miracle of the Holy Night is the birthday of the Prince of peace in our world. It is also the birthday of the gift of peace itself. The peace that Christmas offers is a unique and lasting kind of peace. As the angels of heaven announced to shepherds in the fields that the Messiah had been born, they sang with one voice: “Glory to God in the Highest and peace to all people of good will!” (Luke 2:14). When will we have true and lasting peace? When we give God the glory, when we place God firmly in the centre of our lives. Whoever places the Lord at the centre, whoever has the freedom to detach himself or herself from everything that holds us back from truly loving God and our neighbour, will receive the gift of peace in their heart. This is the firm promise of Christmas. This is our prayer that we again bring to the Christ-Child in the manger: Give peace to our hearts, peace to our homes, peace to the whole world!
Take some time to find a moment of inner peace, and pray: Blessed Mother Mary, we have given ourselves to you, and you have given yourself to us. We have made a covenant of love with you and you have made a covenant with us. From the depths of our hearts, we ask you: Care that our longing for the Lord will never decrease, and never be held back by slavery to possessions and material things. Break the chains that bind us here on earth. Help us to sing a hymn of love to the Lord, that echoes and re-echoes everywhere in our lives. Amen. (Joseph Kentenich)