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THIS WEEK'S MESSAGE: ADVENT

thumbnail image I’m always reminded this time of year of the cheery song by Johnny Mathis, ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go,’ and with it, suddenly, the air of Advent awakes! As we step onto our streets we begin to see the scene of Christmas preparations unfolding; the Christmas tree and lights illuminating the Cathedral Piazza - breaking the now earlier darkness of the night - rows of different sized Christmas trees on sale, the carols and Christmas songs playing in the shops, with people humming along, the volume of people carrying more and more shopping bags, and one of my favourite additions to this list is preparing the crib.

It’s always very uplifting amongst the hustle and bustle of the Christmas preparations to see how many people stop at a crib, particularly outdoor cribs, and admire their beauty, and it is wonderful to see how often the crib leads people to talk about the true meaning of Christmas. Last year I overheard a conversation between a mother and her young children gathered at a crib, and the younger son was identifying all the characters, making sure that the Bethlehem scene was correct. Suddenly, he noticed something was missing, or rather, someone was missing. He said, “Mummy, they’ve forgotten to put baby Jesus in.” But his slightly older sister was quick to correct him, and she said, “Jesus only goes into the crib when he’s born; now we’re making sure it’s all right for his arrival.” What an accurate revelation through a wise child! Indeed, during Advent we are making our preparations for the coming of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, both at Christmas and at his second coming, and the crib, along with the beautiful commentary from that young girl, is a wonderful sign of our Advent waiting and a sign of hope.

Another visible sign of our expectant waiting is the Advent wreath. Although the Advent wreath is part of our long-standing Catholic tradition, it also hosts a rich theological meaning concerning life with Christ. There are usually three main elements to the Advent wreath – holly, red berries, and evergreens. The evergreen represents the eternal life promised to us all in the coming of Christ, and the most common of the evergreens is ivy. Others include laurel which often signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly and yew, which signify immortality; and cedar, which denotes strength and healing. But, holly, with its prickly leaves and red berries, is also a reminder to us of Jesus’ crown of thorns, together with the berries, which represent the drops of his blood, and so, as we contemplate Jesus’ infancy, we are also conscious of the shadow of the Cross.

Finally, the circular wreath symbolises the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ, and, like a wedding ring, it has neither a beginning nor an end. Conscious of how, in love, Christ both came to us as a child in Bethlehem and then unlocked for us the gates of Heaven on Calvary, may our preparations for Christmas begin again this year, yes, with the help of our Advent wreaths and cribs, but not forgetting to eagerly prepare the home of our hearts for the Lord of all eternity.

Fr Mike Maguire

THIS WEEK'S DIARY:

thumbnail image The Cathedral is open from 7.30am until after the evening Mass each day.
* Live streamed via the Cathedral website.

Monday to Friday
Morning Prayer: 7.35am, Sung Vespers (Choir, except Tuesday) 5pm
Mass: 8 and 10.30am (Latin), 12.30* and 5.30pm (Choir)
Confessions: 11.30am-12.30pm, 4.30-5.30pm

Saturday
Morning Prayer: 7.35am, Sung Vespers (English) 5.30pm
Mass: 8 and 10.30am (Latin), 12.30* and Vigil 6pm
Confessions: 11.30am-12.30pm, and, 5-6pm

Sunday
Sung Morning Prayer (English) 9.30am, Solemn Vespers and Benediction (Choir) * 4pm
Mass: 8 and 10am, 12 noon (Solemn, Choir)*, 5.30 and 7pm
Confessions: 10am-1pm, 5-7pm

Sunday 28 November 1st SUNDAY OF ADVENT (Year C)
10.00am Children’s Liturgy of the Word
10.30am-2.30pm Cathedral Hall: SVP & Friends’ Sale
1.30pm St Patrick’s Chapel: Divine Mercy Prayer Group
4.45pm Organ Recital: Andrew Dewar:
(American Cathedral in Paris)

Monday 29 November Advent Feria

Tuesday 30 November ST ANDREW, Apostle, Patron of Scotland

Wednesday 1 December Advent Feria
10.30am Mass in the Crypt
11.00am Catholic Children’s Society Carol Service
2.00pm Catholic Children’s Society Carol Service

Thursday 2 December Advent Feria

Friday 3 December St Francis Xavier, Priest Friday abstinence
7.00pm Cathedral Hall: Charismatic Prayer Group

Saturday 4 December Advent Feria

Sunday 5 December 2nd SUNDAY OF ADVENT
1.30pm St Patrick’s Chapel: Divine Mercy Prayer Group
4.45pm Organ Recital: Simon Johnson (Westminster Cathedral)

LENGTHENED CONFESSION TIMES

thumbnail image The times for Confession have been extended further:
On Sundays they are heard from 10am-1pm and from 5-7pm; from Monday to Friday from 11.30am to 12.30pm and 4.30 to 5.30pm; on Saturdays from 11.30am to 12.30pm and from 5 to 6pm. It is helpful if you can come earlier in each session rather than five minutes before the session ends.

OREMUS MAGAZINE

thumbnail image The December edition of Oremus, the Cathedral magazine, packed with the usual quality content, is now available for you to collect from the stand by the main doors of the Cathedral. It can also be accessed from the homepage of the Cathedral website. Oremus continues to be free, but your donations help to keep it so. Please pass your copy, whenn you have read it, to an interested relative or friend and help to make the Cathedral more widely known.

CHILDREN'S LITURGY

thumbnail image The Children’s Liturgy of the Word and Family Mass commences this Sunday, 28 November at 10am. This is a special, separate Liturgy of the Word that takes place for children who are in Reception (aged 4) to Year 6. This allows the children to participate in this part of the Mass at an age-appropriate level while the rest of their family remain in church. A child must be attending Mass with a parent or guardian in order to participate in the Children’s Liturgy.

PARISH CAROL SERVICE

thumbnail image On Sunday 19 December Sunday 4pm Vespers will be replaced by the Parish Carol Service, followed by mince pies and mulled wine in Cathedral Hall. All are welcome.

FORTHCOMING FRIENDS' EVENTS

thumbnail image 25 November: Online art talk with Paul Pickering: Poussin and the Dance. 7pm Tickets £5.
1 December: Online art talk with Paul Pickering: French artists in Rome in the Grand Siecle (17th Century) 7pm. Tickets £5.
10 December: Advent Organ Music. A special online recital with Peter Stevens, Assistant. Master of Music, who will also join us online after the concert for a chat and drinks. 7pm Tickets £10.
16 February: Live from Queen’s College, Oxford, Dr Conor O’Brien on St Patrick and the Early Saints of Ireland. This is the second in our series of online talks based on the chapels of Westminster Cathedral. 7pm. Tickets £5.
The Friends Big Give Online Appeal in aid of the Cathedral Hall kitchen refurbishment will go live on Tuesday 30 November at 12pm until Tuesday 7 December at 12pm. To donate to the campaign please go to https://donate.thebiggive.org.uk and type in Society of Friends of Westminster Cathedral – you will be taken to our donate page. More details in next week’s newsletter.
The Friends will be at the SVP book sale on 28 November with a Christmas stall selling gifts, religious items and more. Please come and visit us and don’t forget we still have raffle tickets available – top prizes £500, dinner at the Goring and a holiday at the beautiful Palazzola. The raffle will be drawn on 8 December.

A CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION

thumbnail image Cathedral Christmas Celebration concerts, sung by the Westminster Cathedral Choir and Orchestra, will take place on 15 and 16 December at 7.30pm. We encourage everybody to purchase tickets quickly before this popular event is sold out. Tickets are now on sale at ticketmaster.co.uk .

THE PASSAGE AND THE BIG GIVE

thumbnail image The Passage, a local charity working with homeless people is raising funds through the Big Give a matched giving scheme. Every £1 donated online between 12 noon on Tuesday 30 November and 12 noon on Tuesday 7 December makes £2, and £2.25 if you are a taxpayer through Gift Aid. At a time when The Passage’s finances are stretched and it is helping more homeless people, please consider supporting it through the link https://bit.ly/PassageBG2021.

ADVENT RETREAT FOR YOUNG ADULTS

thumbnail image A Retreat for those aged 18-30s with the Assumption Sisters on Saturday 4 December in Kensington. Young people are invited for a day Retreat (10am-5pm) to prepare for Christmas, with teaching, workshops, prayer, confessions and Mass. Venue: Milleret House, 23 Kensington Square W8 5HN. Donations only. Register at tramy@assumptionreligious.org

SYNODAL PATHWAY - AREA LISTENING EVENT

thumbnail image Bishop Nicholas Hudson will be holding a listening event on Wednesday 8 December from 7-9pm in Cathedral Hall to discuss the above. It is open to all but bookings must be made through catadmin@rcdow.org.uk.