Pope St. Leo the Great (d. 461), in a famous sermon on Christmas, bids us recognise that the Incarnation of Christ ennobles our own humanity: “Christian, remember your dignity!” he says.
Dearly beloved, today our Saviour is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness.
No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life.
In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind.
And so at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy: Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace to men of good will as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. When the angels on high are so exultant at this marvellous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men?
Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.
Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.
Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.
In the Diocese, we alternate our annual Christmas Crib offerings between Friends of the Holy Land and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. This year, 2018, our Christmas Crib offerings go to the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre (KHS). The KHS is made up of 30,000 members from 40 countries, lay people, priests and religious who economically support Christians in the Middle East, but who, above all, pray for them. They fund many works that support the Christians living in the Holy Land, thus ensuring that they survive and that the holy sites are still populated by Christians and do not become museums. The Knights do everything they can to help with practical projects to stabilise Christian communities. The key partner for the KHS in the Holy Land is the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and through the Patriarchate, they fund-raise to maintain schools, formation, charitable and social activities.
Thank you in advance for your generosity! Monies can also be sent directly to our Finance Office marked ‘Knights of the Holy Sepulchre’
Archbishop Cornelius of Bamenda, our Twin Diocese has sent me a Christmas message which I'd like to share with you...
As we approach Christmas 2018, the words of God to the Prophet Isaiah resonate in my heart: “Console my people, console them” (Is. 40:1).God sent the Prophet to console his people suffering in exile, and to remind them that he is in their midst. Similarly, the Lord calls us today to console the people in their painful situation, and to tell them that God is in their midst.
As this year comes to an end, we think of so many people in our Archdiocese and in the North West and South West Regions who have been arrested, tortured, detained; displaced from their homes,some living in the bushes;lost businesses, homes and property to arsine and merciless destruction; and those who have been brutally murdered. This is a picture of a people in deep suffering, pain and frustration, in dire need of comfort and consolation. It is to such people that the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, sends us to bring consolation. The Prophet reminds us: “the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God remains for ever” (Is. 40:8).
In his Homily for Christmas Midnight Mass in 1978 as Archbishop of San Salvador, St. Oscar Romero said this:
No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need even of God – for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God. …
Along with you, my dear brothers and sisters, I too need to receive the good tidings tonight. As shepherd I must announce it, but as shepherd I must also be one of those shepherds of Bethlehem and receive from the angels the news that stirs our hearts. Let us receive it, you and I, with the same simplicity and humility as those shepherds did. The more simple and humble, the more poor and detached from ourselves, the more full of troubles and problems we are, the more bewildering life’s ways, all the more must we look up to the skies and hear the great news: "A Saviour is born to you." And let us listen in chorus to that great news, sung throughout the universe: "Glory to God in the heavens, and on earth peace to those whom God loves." (Luke 2:11, 14.)
There are so many good Christmas carols that it would be hard to pick out one favourite. It is a piece of great good fortune that in my day, attendance at Catholic schools meant that this heritage was just a given, so that there are 20 or so carols which I know ‘off by heart’, as well as others I half know. This is a heritage which parishes should share with their communities, and families with one another: in this holy time of Christmas, even if you have not been in the habit of praying together, lighting a candle and singing a carol on each of the 12 days of Christmas will remind you and your household whose birthday it is we celebrate. Even if your children attend Catholic schools, the wilful deracination of our times is such that you cannot rely on schools to teach children carols, and if they are at a secular school they will barely hear these evocative tunes and words. And this is a pity. For good carols contain a good deal of Christian doctrine, as well as teaching the Christmas story itself.
Read the full reflection here.
Before the start of Christmas Mass during the Night at St Peter’s, Winchester, I will have the privilege of solemnly announcing the birth of Jesus. The proclamation of The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ can be sung in plainchant, or read. It is not reserved to clergy: it may be sung by a cantor. (Click on the picture to read the full text of the proclamation). It is a pity that this option is not more often used, and it deserves to be better known. Its use is commended by the Liturgy Office of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
The proclamation locates Jesus’s birth at a precise point in human and salvation history, beginning with creation, continuing through the Flood, the calling of Abraham and the Exodus from Egypt. It even relates the Nativity to secular events in history, including the “one hundred and ninety fourth Olympiad” and the foundation of Rome – before reaching its climax, “in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus, the whole world being at peace”:
JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence,
was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and when nine months had passed since his conception,
was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah,
and was made man:
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.
This formal proclamation of “the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the flesh” reinforces the truth of the Incarnation:
• Christ is truly divine: “the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father”
• Christ is truly human: born at a particular time in history, whose life and death was attested by non‑Christian historians of the time, such as Tacitus and Josephus.
This makes the birth of Christ one of the two most significant events in history – the other being His resurrection, to save us all. And the two events are linked: St. Anselm deduced that Jesus needed to be both God and human to save us, “For God will not do it, because he has no debt to pay; and man will not do it, because he cannot.”
We too have been born into a specific point in human history, just like Jesus; will we use the time given to us, to love Him, serve Him, and proclaim Him to all people?
Sunday 30th December is the Feast of the Holy Family, but it is also our annual diocesan Day of Prayer for those in the ministry of Safeguarding. It is a day when we pray for children and vulnerable adults, for the victims of abuse and for all who work in the ministry of safeguarding. Just as Mary and Joseph created a safe home-environment for Jesus, so too on this day, let us offer the Rosary and pray that the Church in all her contexts will be a safe haven for our children and for the vulnerable. Let us thank God too for the work of our diocesan Safeguarding Coordinator, Angela McGrory and her assistant Mark Bramah, and also for Soraya Ciccarone and Jane Green who help. We pray for Paul O’Driscoll and the members of the Safeguarding Commission, and above be all for those across the Diocese who serve so generously in our parishes as safeguarding ministers. Here is an intercession that could be used on the day:
On this Feast of the Holy Family, we pray for children and vulnerable adults,
for the victims of abuse and for all who work in the ministry of safeguarding:
that as Mary and Joseph created a safe home-environment for Jesus,
so too the Church in all her contexts will be a safe haven
for our children and for the vulnerable.
V/. Lord in your mercy R/. Hear our prayer.
The Bishop's Office and the Department for Administration (the Curia) are now closed for the Christmas holidays.
All Diocesan offices will re-open on Wednesday 2nd January 2019.
There will be no e-News next week – next issue will in two week’s time on Tuesday 8th January. Deadline for submission of items for consideration is Friday 4th January, 12 Noon.
Click on the picture to hear a setting of the Coventry Carol by Kenneth Leighton, performed by the choir of King’s College Cambridge
Have you sensed a call to serve God and his Holy Church in the Sacred Priesthood? If so, the Vocations Promotion Team would like to invite you to join them at their January Seeker evening on Friday 4th January, 7-9pm at the Sacred Heart Church, 41-43 Portland Street, Fareham, PO16 0NF (Easy access via road, train & bus).
Our Diocesan Vocation Seeker Group meets monthly, on the First Friday, for food, prayer, reflection & friendship.
Please continue to pray for the work of the Vocations Promotion Team, for all who attend these Seeker Evenings and for more good men to answer God's call to the Sacred Priesthood.
Lord, you have always been our Good Shepherd and great High Priest. In every age we believe you call others to follow your example and be of special service to your holy people. It is not always easy to understand the way you want us to follow you. Send your Spirit, Lord, so that all those you call will know how to respond with a generous heart and come to experience the peace which is a sign of your Love for us. Amen.
Maureen Thompson, our CAFOD parish volunteer in Emsworth has written about her experience at the COP24 UN Summit on Climate Change. You can read the whole article on our CAFOD Portsmouth blog here.
During the few days in Poland Maureen listened to various talks by people affected by climate change from India and the Pacific Islands. She participated in a protest march with people from many different countries to “share our beliefs in caring for creation and solidarity with the poor by seeking a just transition to clean energy, clean air and systems that encourage human flourishing everywhere.” On Sunday the CAFOD group was invited to Katowice Cathedral for Mass with Archbishops Wiktor Skworc and Bernardito Auza. The Archbishop gave out copies of his pastoral letter on the environment and a prayer card explaining that prayers had been sent to every parish in Poland and the whole conference had been surrounded by prayer. “Throughout the trip we were strengthen by morning and evening prayer and by daily mass which gave us time to reflect and make connections with the gospel and our actions.”
Maureen will be talking about COP24 and CAFOD’s Climate Change Campaign at our Lent fast day meeting on Thursday 21st February at St Margaret Mary Church, Park Gate from 7:15pm to 9pm. Everyone is welcome to this meeting but please book your place so that I have an idea of numbers by emailing email@example.com or call 01252 329385
Vocations Director, Canon Gerard Flynn writes...
Our Diocese rejoices in a new Deacon! Rev Johnpromise Umeozuru was ordained by Bishop Alan Hopes at St John’s College, Wonersh on Saturday 15th December. When he is not at the seminary, Johnpromise is based at Sacred Heart and St Peter Parish in Waterlooville, with Monsignor Jeremy Garratt, who concelebrated the ordination Mass, together with our Diocesan Vocations Director, Canon Gerard Flynn and Vocations Promoter, Fr John Cooke. Johnpromise is well known in the Havant Pastoral Area having also spent some time on placement with Fr Leslie Adams, at Havant and Emsworth Parish. Canon Gerard reports that Saturday was a really joyous occasion, with a beautiful liturgy and fine lunch enhanced by some fine singing from Johnpromise’s native Nigeria. Deacon Johnpromise continues his formation towards priestly ordination, please God, at St John’s Cathedral, on Saturday 20th July 2019. Please keep both Deacon Johnpromise and Deacon Mohanraj Edward in your prayers as they prepare for that great day!
Click here for a reflection on the day from Deacon Johnpromise and some photos.
I would like to invite you to join our diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes from the 25th to 30th July 2019. Our diocesan youth will be leading many aspects including the music and liturgy, catechesis and social activities as well as supporting our assisted pilgrims with mobility and hospitality. We will be accommodated together in the Hotel La Solitude, very close to the domain on a full board basis.
Promotional material and booking forms are on their way to all parishes from Joe Walsh Tours and you can also download a form and find more information on the Lourdes page of the diocesan website. You can also email for more information.
Service opportunities are open to young people aged over 16 and places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment! We are also looking for Nurses to help support the assisted pilgrims.
Adult and assisted pilgrims by air from Southampton on 25th July: £645pp Youth by overnight coach on 24th July: £475pp for more information send an email or telephone 07780221686.
Tuesday 25th December
Midnight Mass, St John's Cathedral, 12 Midnight
Christmas Day Mass, St John's Cathedral, 10.00am
Wednesday 2nd - Monday 7th January 2019
SEEK 2019 Conference
Sunday 23rd December
FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT [‘O Adonai’]
Diocesan Prayer: Chaplains to those with special needs
Monday 24th December
Fourth Week of Advent (Christmas Eve)
National Prayer Cycle: Expectant mothers
Diocesan Prayer: The Bishop’s Council
Tuesday 25th December
THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD (CHRISTMAS DAY), Solemnity (Holyday of Obligation)
Diocesan Prayer: Little Sisters of the Poor in the Diocese
Wednesday 26th DecemberST STEPHEN, The First Martyr, feast
Diocesan Prayer: Altar servers & Archconfraternity of St Stephen;
Community of St Stephen, Winchester
Thursday 27th December
ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST, feast
Diocesan Prayer: Parish of St John the Evangelist, Wallingford
Friday 28th December
THE HOLY INNOCENTS, feast
Diocesan Prayer: All child victims of war, terrorism and violence
Saturday 29th December
ST THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, feast
[Portsmouth parishes: ST THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, solemnity]
Diocesan Prayer:Parish of St Thomas of Canterbury, Cowes; Community of St Thomas of Canterbury & St Thomas More, Emsworth.
Sunday 30th DecemberTHE HOLY FAMILY of JESUS, MARY & JOSEPH, feast
Diocesan Prayer: Parish Safeguarding Representatives; Holy Family Sisters in the Diocese
Monday 31st December
Seventh Day within the Christmas Octave (Commemoration of St Sylvester I, Pope)
Diocesan Prayer: In thanks for the blessings of the year
Tuesday 1st January
MARY, THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, solemnity
Diocesan Prayer: For God’s blessing on the new year
Wednesday 2nd January
Ss Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops, Doctors of the Church, memorial
Diocesan Prayer: Sisters of Our Lady of Charity in the Diocese
Thursday 3rd January
Thursday of Christmastide before Epiphany
or: The Most Holy Name of Jesus, optional memorial
Diocesan Prayer: Parish of the Holy Redeemer, Highcliffe
Friday 4th January
Friday of Christmastide before Epiphany
Diocesan Prayer: Sacred Heart (Rome) Handmaids in the Diocese
Saturday 5th January
Saturday of Christmastide before Epiphany
Diocesan Prayer: Clergy celebrating Jubilees this year
Sunday 6th January
THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
Diocesan Prayer: Ethnic Communities in the Diocese
Sunday 30th December
Feast of the Holy Family
Diocesan Day of Prayer for all involved in Safeguarding Ministry
Saturday 10th January 2019
Gifts, Service and Faith
The Royal Foundation of St Katharine, London E14
Friday 8th February 2019
Feast of St Josephine Bakhita
Day of Prayer against Human Trafficking
25th-30th July 2019
Pilgrimage to Lourdes
More information coming soon - save the dates!
Extraordinary Mission Month
8th-15th October 2019
Pilgrimage to Malta
25th - 30th May 2020Trip to Bavaria - Oberammergau and Lake Garda
Salary - £14.31 per hour
This is an exciting new role, located in the Holy Family parish Southampton, in the Diocese of Portsmouth to promote, develop and coordinate social action projects within the parish.
The appointed person will work closely with the parish and Caritas to highlight priority areas for social action especially with regard to families and provide a high quality service of support in the way of setting up programmes and projects in the parish.
Applications closing date: 23rd January 2019
Interviews held: w/c 28th January 2019
Anticipated start date: 1st March 2019
This post is part-time and subject to the completion of a successful DBS clearance and an initial 6 month probationary period.
St Joseph’s Parish, in Maidenhead is looking to employ a new Parish Secretary to cover a period of maternity leave for up to eleven months. This is a part-time post; five hours per day, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 1.00pm. The ideal candidate will be experienced in a similar role, possess good communication skills and be IT literate. In addition, the successful candidate must have the confidence to manage and organize a busy parish office.
Closing date for applications: Friday 4th January 2019.
Interviews: Tuesday 8th January 2019.
Successful applicant will be expected to start on Friday 18th January 2019.
Archbishop Cornelius and the clergy and people of our twin diocese of Bamenda and for an end to the troubles there.
The repose of the souls of all who have died recently, for all those killed through acts of warfare, violence, terrorism and natural disaster. Requiescant in pace.
All affected by sexual, domestic and emotional abuse.
Peace in the world and for those who govern the nations that they may do so wisely and justly.
The work of the New Evangelisation across the diocese that we may all play our part in bringing people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church.
The work of the Apostleship of the Sea, Caritas Diocese of Portsmouth, Caritas Jersey, CAFOD and those with whom they work.
That all we do in the diocese may bring people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church.
I would like to encourage all readers to send in items for the e-News about events in parishes, pastoral areas and schools about the many sacramental celebrations and general good news about people in the diocese. I often hear much Good News from many people - do share it with us so we can share it with others in the diocese.Thanks, of course, to all who already contribute articles for the e-News on an occasional or regular basis.
Please e-mail all news items by Friday for consideration for the following week's issue to Deacon Craig Aburn: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send news as plain text and images as attachments rather than embedded in a document.
If you have a Parish or Diocesan event to advertise, please complete this form.
Don't forget you can keep in touch with what's going on in and around the diocese in between issues of e-News by following us on Social Media.
Follow me on Twitter.
We receive a lot of adverts for events. If you would like to advertise an event, please fill out this form here