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Sending Christmas Blessings to you all.

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend over the last few busy days, for your understanding and cooperation with the regulations to keep everyone safe.
Thanks you also for the gorgeous Christmas Wreath, donated kindly by the Hudd family in memory of their mother, Gladys, which decorated the Church so beautifully. And thank you also to Cathy Molloy for giving us a symbolic candle to light by Our Lady's altar as we are unable to offer individual candles for lighting at this time. This candle represents all your prayers.








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Merry Christmas
If you have booked a place at Mass this Christmas season, an Eventbright email was sent yesterday reminding everyone of the guidelines and plans for how the services will run in order to keep everyone safe. We look forward to seeing you.

On behalf of Fr Frank, Fr Jim, Deacons Mike, John & Vincent and Bernadette, Narj, Shaun & Maria in the parish offices, we wish you all very many blessings for a Happy and safe Christmas, however you will be spending it this year. We continue to pray for a better 2021 for you all.


Christmas Mass on TV
A reminder that BBC1, at 11.45pm on Christmas Eve will broadcast Midnight Mass from our own Clifton Cathedral. A wonderful honour for us all.
Also, if you aren't already aware, there are a huge amount of resources on the Clifton Diocese website under the "The God Who Speaks" initiative. With reflections, readings, family celebration resources, Gospels through art etc. so much for the Advent and Christmas seasons. CLICK HERE to go to the website

Help at Christmas
If you, or someone you know, are finding life hard and need support at this time, please seek help. There is help available from many charities such as AgeUK (Advice Line: 0800 6781602)
and from the NHS.UK
Please continue to pray for those for whom life is tough, for those who are facing Christmas alone, for those bereaved or dreading Christmas without their loved ones.
We pray for the peace of the new born Christ to surround them with love and to give them the strength to seek help.



Congratulations!
Congratulations to the Hedge Family on being awarded the coveted Prize Spoon for being the cleverest family in the Zoom Christmas Quiz round!
We hope to see all our winners using their spoons to stir the Christmas gravy!






Quiz
Here is the last quiz round of the year from Quizmaster extraordinaire, Mike! A round of all things Christmas! What else!?
Good luck.
Mike, Angela and all within the Not So Young Club send Merry Christmas Wishes to you all.









Christmas Carol
Thank you once again to Martin Le Poidevin.
Martin has shared a beautiful, reflective Carol with us - especially important at this time when we cannot sing carols in Church or in groups, which we are all missing so much.
"The Mystery of Christmas, that the animals should be
the first to see the Christchild cradled peacefully.
O gentle child of Heaven, God's love to us convey.
Salvation has been born for us and lies in the hay.
Salvation has been born for us, born on Christmas Day."




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Protecting our world
The Holy See is aiming to reduce its environment impact by embracing renewable energy sources, with the goal of zero emissions by 2050. In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the Governorate’s Director for Infrastructures and Services explains the path undertaken by the Vatican. See the full article by CLICKING HERE

We must do what we can, and urge others in authority, to protect our beautiful planet.
Bella Harding has shared with us her Laudato Si Chaplet to pray and meditate on, for ourselves and for the safety of Mother Earth. Thank you Bella.

"Just a few words to share a way of saying the chaplet to promote gratefulness at this season when we might be feeling instead all that we lack, freedom, seeing friends and family and so on. I find it great for reminding me of how lucky I am, and how I can be more grateful and careful

So the chaplet is basically
*Praise to you my Lord, through Brother Air*
(repeat as many times as you like, once, 3 or 10)
I use as a chorus each time, as it is easy to remember,
*To you be glory and praise forever*
with the Glory be after each set.
Then
*Praise to you my Lord through Sister Water*
*Praise to you my Lord through Brother Fire*
*Praise to you my Lord through Sister Earth*

Just like the rosary you can use this repetitive prayer to meditate on various related things, for example with Brother Air we can think how wonderful it is to wake up each morning having slept while all the time breathing clean air, that keeps us alive, the bright morning sky, the atmosphere that surrounds the earth making life possible, the winds that sweep away the rain or smoke, the colonies of migrating birds and insects which are all part of the necessary cycle of life, the air currents that create our stable climate and allow us to grow our food

Then I feel sorrow for the way we have polluted the air, burning fossil fuels, so that people are dying of air pollution, like Ella Adykisidebra, and 297 Bristolians a year, mostly in the poorest areas.
*Forgive us my Lord for how we pollute Brother Air.

With Sister Water, we can thank God for the gift of rain that keeps all things growing, for the beauty of rivers and seas and streams, for the joy of quenching our thirst, washing or swimming in water, for all the varieties of water from snow and ice to mist and fog and beautiful clouds and rainbows

We also pollute the water with plastics, pesticides, we cause drought by diverting water and using it in industrial processes so that people nearby have no clean water, or are relocated because of dams
*Forgive us my Lord for how we pollute Sister Water

With Brother Fire, we can thank God for the sun, which rises each day giving us light and warmth in which we can live, bringing about growth, for the uses of fire for heating and cooking and making things

We also misuse fire by burning fossil fuels, causing global warming, by burning ancient forests, by creating weapons such as guns and bombs and using them in war, for creating industrial dependence on cars and planes so that we can’t imagine life without them
*Forgive us Lord for how we misuse Brother Fire

And finally Sister Earth, we can feel the depth of earth beneath our feet and think of the beautiful fragile planet hanging in space, for the land and all the minute life forms that make the earth fruitful, for all the animals birds and fish that are a source of wonder, for the trees and peat bogs that clean our air of carbon and produce the oxygen we need, and often contain medicines that cure us, for the stability of the earth and its coastlines

We have extracted materials, forced growth through chemicals in monoculture, impoverished peoples and taken their land, destroyed the riches of the ancient forests, we have warmed the earth so the glaciers are melting and the sea rising.
*Forgive how we have mistreated the earth our common home"

Apart, yet together. #ChurchAtHome

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Online Carols
Thank you to all who joined us for our first attempt at an online event. Apologies for the technical delays towards to start but we have had some lovely feedback about the carols, readings, and quiz!
Thank you to all our brilliant musicians, our quiz master Mike, to Fr Frank for allowing it to go ahead, and to Tim & Marie Johnston who helped make the event happen. (Congratulations to the Hedge family who won the quiz round! The wooden spoon of joy is on its way)
We will try to share some of the recorded content over the next few days with you all so those who weren't able to attend can see it. And watch this space for news in January of more online get-togethers.

Pastoral Letter from Bishop Declan
In readiness for Christmas and the Feast of the Holy Family on Sunday, please read the latest Pastoral letter from Bishop Declan.


Follow that Star
St Bernadette's and St Dunstan's Church have created this film showing a simple retelling of "The Greatest story ever told". Enjoy.

Nativity bringing joy!
For those who haven't already seen this annual, favourite, festive clip, please watch and try not to laugh at the 'enthusiasm' shown by the angel!



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Carols by Laptop light!
We are going to hold our first ever online Parish get together this Sunday (20th) at 3pm.
We hope we can join together to sing along at home, in safety, and hear a reading and blessing with a few Christmas quiz questions too!
For those who have not joined a 'zoom meeting' before, we will guide you through the process to enable you to join in on your laptop, tablet or smart phone.
Then on Sunday, use the invite details we will send you to join us, sit back with a glass of something Christmassy and enjoy (we hope!) a time together in readiness for Christmas.


Fr Frank's Christmas message for us all.



Congratulations to the latest winners of the coveted Not So Young Quiz Prize spoon!

Clever Phil and Cathy had a perfect score and so had a virtual prize giving for added safety! (Well... the spoon was posted through their door by Chairman Mike Ryan and they awarded it to themselves... It still counts!)








Gospel of the Day (St Luke 7:19-23)
At that time John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?"
When the men came to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?'"
At that time He cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; He also granted sight to many who were blind.
And He said to them in reply, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
"And blessed is the one who takes no offense at Me."



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Online Parish Event?
Watch this space for a Parish online Carol Service! We are going to try our first Zoom meeting for everyone to join in with - more information to follow....

Congratulations Pope Francis!
Yesterday was the 51st anniversary of Pope Francis' priestly ordination!
To mark the happy occasion, let us join together in prayer for our Holy Father:
A PRAYER FOR THE POPE
V. Let us pray for Francis, our Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies. [Psalm 40:3]
Let us pray.
O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Francis, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, he may attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.
Our Father.
Hail Mary.


Thank you to Deacon Vincent for sharing your Reflections for 3rd Sunday in Advent (Year B)
"1st Reading Prophet Isaiah 61: 1-2, 10-11.
Isaiah is the most quoted Prophet in the Gospels. In Luke’s Gospel, he records that Jesus took this theme from Isaiah for his very brief sermon to the people of Nazareth. In Matthews Gospel Jesus picks up the theme of those who mourn shall be comforted in the Beatitudes. Then in the final section of this reading we have a very consoling image of the Lord, dressed in splendour and as the earth yielding its flowers in a garden, so shall the Lord make justice and integrity arise in the sight of the nations. This is a very stimulating reading. This is the type of Church we should be preparing for the Lord’s second coming. We need to cleanse the people of God to make us fit to meet the Lord. This is the plan for Advent, we need to go back to our source, Jesus Christ, the Lord and follow him and establish integrity and justice as our base structure.

Responsorial Psalm Luke 1: 46-50, 53-54.
This is Mary’s song in answer to Elizabeth’s declaration that Mary is the Mother of her Lord. It is a very dramatic and revolutionary statement of God’s way of viewing the people of God. This statement of Mary’s was forbidden to be read in some dictatorships, as they saw at fomenting revolution. It is worth exploring the full implications of following the Gospel life. This Sunday and through the week we have the opportunity to measure ourselves against the planned life of the Gospels, and retune ourselves into the Lord’s ways.

2nd Reading St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Thessalonians 5:16-24.
Here we have the conclusion of the earliest surviving New Testament document. The farewell conveys his absolute dependence on God, on the love that Christians should have for one another. God has called us, and he will not fail us. We need to have confidence in God, and always thank Him in Christ Jesus for this what God wants us to do, and so become perfect and holy. That is God’s desire for us, so we should always be Joyful that we have been called by Him.

The Holy Gospel According to John 1: 6-8, 19-28.
This Gospel, together with all the other Gospels describe John’s mission as the Prophet Isaiah’s quotation 40:3 “a voice of one crying in the wilderness.” This passage is all about pointing to Jesus “the one who is coming after me.” John’s Gospel is constantly translated as the Jews did this or that, but it might be less contentious to think of them as Judeans, as this is the same word used in Greek for both. The opening of the mission of Jesus is established and recognised by John the Baptist as superior to his own mission. John’s mission is one of preparation for the Messiah (Jesus Christ). It was designed to invite the people to amend their lives and so be able to recognise the Christ when he appeared among us.
All this week’s readings are to help us prepare ourselves to receive the arrival of Emmanuel (God with us), not just for the festival, but for his second triumphal coming in glory, so that we will be able to go out and meet him with confidence, by following the Gospel Life.
We have been called and chosen let us travel with confidence that God is with us.
God Bless you All. Deacon Vincent. "


Gospel of the Day (St John 1,6-8.19-28)

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites (to him) to ask him, "Who are you?" he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, "I am not the Messiah."So they asked him, "What are you then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." So they said to him, "Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?" He said: "I am 'the voice of one crying out in the desert, "Make straight the way of the Lord,"' as Isaiah the prophet said." Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie." This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.



Latest news

**Please see previous post about the available spaces at Christmas Masses**

The First Christmas
Sending many, many thanks to Martyn Poole, Phil Shuttleworth and Petra Jordan for helping to make and set up this WONDERFUL Crib scene outside of Church for the whole community to enjoy.
We are delighted with it. Please come and have a look if you are out and about during the evening...
It looks stunning and reminds us of the simplicity of the First Christmas - and as simple as Christmas 2020 may feel for so many of us, without all the usual traditions and frivolities, we can concentrate on the message of hope and joy that the birth of Christ brings...
We pray that 2021 will bring Hope to our troubled world.

Sharing a lovely meditation from a Priest in Plymouth Diocese
A beautiful seasonable meditation from local bard and parish priest Fr Mark Skelton.
The gifts of 2020
Once long ago, in times quite unlike ours,
A couple, strangers, fearful, lost and poor,
Had finally found shelter in a barn;
A sanctuary of calm and what is more,
The woman, lying on her stable bed,
Found hope and joy that came from out of pain.
A softly crying baby, nurtured close.
And wondering aloud, the mother prayed.
Then, though alone and knowing not a soul,
She and her husband heard the barn door creak.
And shepherds full of wonder, full of hope,
Came laden, wool and milk and cheese and meek
They laid their gifts as offerings; not sure
Why they had come but knew it right they had.
And turning, full of what they now had seen,
They wondered what there was about this lad.
And then the doors again flung open wide.
And earthly grandeur made its way inside.
The gifts now laid before were rich and fair.
These travellers, star-gazers, strangers there.
The shepherds, kings, gave what they had to give.
Each sharing from the means they had to live.
No gift bearer left sadder than they came,
For what they gave; rich, poor, was just the same.
Now think on 2020, this year gone.
Imagine gifts now laid before this throne.
No vast expense or plans that take awhile,
But phone calls, shopping offered, simple smiles.
The shelves stacked, floors mopped, anxious foreheads cooled,
The hospitals kept going, children schooled.
So many ways to honour this new king;
With gifts or prayer or songs, bright gatherings.
With kindness, loyalty but far above
All these, He smiles, to see your acts of love.


Congratulation to St Joseph's Home in Cotham,
who received donations from Waitrose in Nailsea!

"Sister Monica from Bristol receiving a cheque from Jane Holt Community Champion in Waitrose Store, Nailsea.
The donation was for the sum of £333.00.
The £1000.00 donation was shared between three charities and Jane put the Little Sisters forward as her Charity.
Thank You Jane from everyone here at the Little Sisters Of The Poor."



Clifton Diocese Investment Committee.
Clifton Diocese is looking for members for its Investment Committee, a sub-committee of the Trustee Board.
The Diocese has outsourced the active investment of funds to an external investment management firm. The Committee meets bi-annually in Bristol in May and November, to review the portfolios with a representative of the investment firm who attends the meeting.
Given that the portfolios are managed externally, the Committee’s role is principally one of oversight and governance. As such the Committee’s main responsibilities are to ensure that the Diocese’s investment objectives and ethical standards are adhered to, and that the correct processes are in place to monitor, evaluate and review the performance of the investment manager.
While some investment or investment-related business experience would be beneficial, those with current legal, accounting or financial experience would also be appropriate.
Committee members do not need to be practicing Roman Catholics but should be sympathetic to the aims and objectives of the Church.
For further information, or to submit a CV, please contact: Mgr. Canon Bernard Massey, Vicar General, on: 01823 272700 or bernard.massey@cliftondiocese.com


Local Christmas Craft Trail

A wonderful, safe, Christmas trail of local craftsmen and women begins tomorrow in our parish area.
Please look up the BSpoke16 website for details of where you can safely visit local trades to buy last minute Christmas items, gifts, and more. Today, local parishioner Karen is featured in this post.
Good luck to all who are taking part!

Christmas Mass update....

*** UPDATE ***
ALL places at both Christmas Eve Masses have now been fully reserved so we will have a full church under the new covid safe restrictions/numbers.
We would love to welcome you instead to a Christmas Mass on;
Christmas Day at 10am,
Saturday 26th Dec at 6pm,
Sunday 27th Dec at 9.30am,
Monday 28th Dec at 10am,
Tuesday 29th Dec at 7.30pm
Wed 30th Dec at 7.30pm
Thursday 31st Dec at 10am
or Friday 1st Jan at 7.30pm where there are still places available, ALL of which count towards your commitment to the birth of Christ this Christmas. Please book a place at your chosen Mass using the following eventbright link.
God bless you all.
Fr Frank

Latest News

Please see the previous post showing which Christmas Masses still have space available
* Both Christmas Eve Masses have been fully reserved already. *


St. Nicholas of Tolentino Church's Foodbank
St. Nicholas of Tolentino RC Church, Bristol
needs donations of Coats, Socks, and Gloves for their foodbank!
Here is the message we received today:
"We are now seeing over 80 people a day in the foodbank and giving out an average of 175 bags of food. We are therefore feeding about 300 people a day. The people coming to the door are cold and regularly ask us for coats, socks and gloves. Please can you help?!
PLEASE DROP OFF CLEAN OR NEW COATS, SOCKS AND GLOVES FOR MEN, WOMEN OR CHILDREN DIRECTLY TO ST NICK'S PARISH OFFICE AT St Nicholas of Tolentino, Lawford’s Gate, Bristol BS5 0RE BETWEEN 9AM AND 1PM MONDAY TO FRIDAY.
We cannot take any other clothing due to a lack of space.
For further information or to arrange a different delivery time call Robert on 07767 706 163."

Please help St Nicholas' Church with this emergency appeal if you can.


A PRAYER TO ST JOSEPH
In his Apostolic Letter "Patris corde," Pope Francis writes, "Every day, for over forty years, following Lauds I have recited a prayer to Saint Joseph taken from a nineteenth-century French prayer book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary. It expresses devotion and trust, and even poses a certain challenge to Saint Joseph:
'Glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph, whose power makes the impossible possible, come to my aid in these times of anguish and difficulty. Take under your protection the serious and troubling situations that I commend to you, that they may have a happy outcome. My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power. Amen.'”


2nd Sunday of Advent
Thank you to Martin Le Poidevin (and family!) for continuing to share your musical talents with us.
"A service of Christian praise for the Second Sunday of Advent.
Includes the song "Come, O Lord, Come", as well as a psalm, canticle, prayers and scripture reading from Isaiah.
Suitable for anyone, whether able to attend live worship or not."




Christmas Mass information 2020

CHRISTMAS MASSES ~ A message from Fr Frank.

We have now finalised our plans for CHRISTMAS MASSES at St Augustine's Church, Downend - Please read through the details below as there are many changes. (Please pass this on to anyone you know who will not see this online/newsletter message and assist them with any bookings.)

*Christmas will be very different for us this year and our Christmas Masses are no exception. We are not able to have the extra traditions like carol singing, booklets, candles etc that we are used to, and as sad as this is, our priority is to follow the regulations to keep EVERYONE safe.
The essential act of worship, however, remains a constant for us to enjoy, so we are pleased to be able to offer several Masses during the 'Octave of Christmas' (Christmas Day to New Year's Day inclusive) which ALL COUNT as your commitment to the birth of Christ – they are all of equal importance.

Realistically, we know that lots of people would prefer to attend Mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so we need to be very careful in keeping our Church and parishioners safe as we cannot seat more than about 60-70 people safely inside Church.
Please attend on other days if you can in order to spread the numbers of people attending throughout the 9 days.

NOTE:
*Please continue to book a place at all Masses so we can control numbers attending using the Parish Eventbright link
*We will need to run a STRICT BOOKING SYSTEM for the 2 Masses on Christmas Eve and the 1 on Christmas morning as likely to be busy – please book your tickets online using the eventbright link or call the parish office if you do not have access to the internet and we will book it for you.
*Should anyone attend those 3 Masses who have NOT booked a place with us we will ask them to wait outside until we have seated all those with reservations and then we will do our best to try to find safe places for them to sit/stand inside the Church.

The 'Octave of Christmas' Masses are as follows:
Thursday 24th Dec / Christmas Eve at 5.00pm
Thursday 24th Dec / Christmas Eve at 8.00pm
Fri 25th Dec / Christmas Day at 10.00am
Saturday 26th Dec at 6pm
Sunday 27th Dec at 9.30am
Monday 28th Dec at 10am
Tuesday 29th Dec at 7.30pm
Wednesday 30th Dec at 7.30pm
Thursday 31st Dec at 10am
Friday 1st Jan at 7.30pm
Please choose the Mass you can attend and book your place.

In order to keep everyone safe and in line with government and diocesan guidelines, please observe the following:
-only attend Church if you do not have symptoms of Coronavirus, are not shielding for health reasons and have not been asked to isolate
-please bring a face mask/ face covering with you and keep it on at all times whilst inside the Church
-we ask you to observe social distancing with anyone who is not in your household or support bubble, both inside and outside of church
-please use hand sanitiser on entry
-please check in on arrival using our QR code on your track and trace app
-we will not distribute the traditional envelopes for the annual gift to your parish priest but there will be a basket ON ARRIVAL for any donations (there will be no offertory collection made during Mass)

Finally, it should be noted that there are no toilet facilities available in the church at this time. Mass duration will be approx 25 minutes.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience or distress these new measures may cause but we hope we can offer the gift of Safe, Holy Mass to as many people as possible this Christmas season.
God bless you all. Fr Frank