Christmas Eve, Saturday 24th December

9 am Lauds (Morning Prayer) (also broadcast on Radio Maria England)

9.30 am Mass of Christmas Eve (also broadcast on Radio Maria England)

5 pm Vigil Mass of Christmas

6.30 pm First Vespers of Christmas

11 pm Midnight Mass with Matins and carols

Christmas Day, Sunday 25th December

7.45 am Lauds (Morning Prayer) (also broadcast on Radio Maria England)

8.15 am Said Mass – Upper Chapel (also broadcast on Radio Maria England).

9.15 am Old Rite Mass, Missa cantata with schola

11 am  Sung Mass


6.30 pm Solemn Vespers (also broadcast on Radio Maria England)

Masses for the rest of Christmastide follow – and Fr Bob’s Christmas sermon!

Monday 26th to Saturday 31st December inclusive

Mass 9.30 every day (NOT 7.30), also broadcast on Radio Maria England


Lauds (Morning Prayer): 9 am

Vespers (Evening Prayer): 6.30 pm

Back to normal times from Sunday 1st January:

7.45 am Lauds (Morning Prayer) (also broadcast on Radio Maria England)

8.15 am Said Mass – Upper Chapel (also broadcast on Radio Maria England).

9.15 am Old Rite Mass

11 am  Sung Mass

6 pm Said Mass

We wish you all a very happy and blessed Christmas.

…and as a little Christmas gift, here’s a sermon from Fr Bob:

The  Vigil Mass of the Nativity of the Lord

“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him”  Matthew 1.22

Should you relocate to Scotland to accept a promotion, or will the family suffer if you pull up your roots?  Should Jimmy move up a class, because he is evidently bright, or stay behind because he is a tad immature? Shall we accept that Jenny gets herself a piercing or risk a row?  Almost every day we face a new problem involving choice and discernment.  We get to be faced with issues we never knew existed. Once you only needed to subscribe to Which magazine. Now there are guides to which rosary app – which on-line girls’ magazine  – which trophy wife – which recipe for carbonara. We suffer from information overload.  Choices, choices.  Are you confused? I’m confused.  Does it ever get any easier?

St Matthew’s nativity story opens on a difficult moment of choice and discernment. Mary’s marriage to Joseph is in the balance. Mary is with child by the intervention of the Holy Spirit.  How that happened we are told by the gospel of St Luke, the gospel according to Matthew just assumes that we know that, but not Joseph apparently.  He sleeps on it, as you do.  And sleeping he dreams, as you would if your name was Joseph (surely St Matthew trusts us to remember the other Joseph, the rainbow-coated Joseph, whose bumptious dreams got him sold into Egypt, where after many adventures he forgave his wicked brothers and heaped blessings upon his family, but you know all about that).

When Joseph wakes in the morning the choice is made. It seems he has slept well, and dreamt well.  St Matthew does not say that he has prayed well but since he is a saint how can we doubt it?  Actually the readings which accompany the gospel today insist that we have to do with a descendant of Abraham (that man of faith) and of King David (something of a bandit, but as any prison chaplain can tell you, almighty God has a soft spot for bandits).  So Joseph is gifted with a great gift, the gift of discernment.  He makes the right choice, the choice in favour of Mary and her child.  And he carries on dreaming, he dreams of going down into Egypt after the visit of the Magi. Following the first Joseph, we may suppose.  He dreams that he ought to return home when the danger is past and the time is right.  Joseph trusts his angel and is a faithful steward of his family, just as the first Joseph could also be trusted to interpret dreams and take his family into his tender care when at last they turn up.  Joseph, a man who has a dream, you might say.

Joseph could be a good patron saint for people who have difficult decisions to make. The liturgy calls him, the steward whom the Master sets over his household to give them their food in due season.  When in a French Carmel the nuns run out of wine, they by tradition leave an empty bottle at the foot of  St Joseph’s statue where he is meant to notice it.  Does this work? I hear you ask. O ye of little faith!

 But some of Joseph’s skill in discernment we could all do with.  Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon, Anna – we know what kinds of people these were, the modest and devout men and women of Israel who placed their hope in God, the anawim. Joseph belongs to a people of prayer and of confidence in God.

 Suddenly for Joseph there is a decision to be made.  More hangs on it than he can possibly imagine.  How is it that he gets it right?  He trusts his angel, is part of the answer.  But the choices that we make in serious matters, even apparently inspired choices, have to be the fruit of long reflectiveness, of habits of prayer, a formed conscience and a mind to do what will be best for the others in our lives. Humility too: we might be wrong.  In that way the big decision of today may well have been formed in the little decisions, in the forming of our lives, in listening to one another, in the habit of prayer, in always growing trust in God.

St John Henry Newman has a word about it, as he often does.  “God has created me to do for him some definite service.  He has committed to me some work that he has not committed to another.  I have my mission.  I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.  I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.  …  He has not created me for naught,  I shall do good, I shall do his work.  I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place whilst not (deliberately) intending to be, if I do but keep his commandments.”

Not every one of us is as convinced of his or her place in the scheme of things as Newman,  I hear you say.  Yes, but not one of us was created to be a nonentity.  We can all have a dream.  Joseph was left to make his choices in freedom, and so am I,  if I am to find my true calling, which is not to be a nobody but a  personality, a one-off,   free and faithful in Christ. “Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire”,  says the Dominican St Catherine.  The truth we come to celebrate tonight is that we too have a breathtaking choice set before us, to put on Christ as a person puts on her clothes, as the apostle puts it.  A Christian is another Christ, say the Fathers.   That is possible and necessary even, because in the first place, before we were conscious of anything at all,  God has made choice of us,  chose us in Christ when he sent his Son into the world, that we might live through him.  He was born into the world that he might be born again in our hearts this night.   So may God bless our Christmas days together,  and when we wake in the morning, may the angel of the Lord who is the strong Son of God himself, tell us what to do.