A Christmas Message From Father John

Gerard van Honthorst Adoration of the Shepherds
Gerard van Honthorst Adoration of the Shepherds

Happy Christmas to all our ‘readers’, and every blessing for the New Year.

A new baby is joy made visible, and a bundle of hope. As we welcome the new-born Christ we look forward to 2015 with hope and expectation, built on the blessings and graces we have received and shared in the past year.

We began the year with a new venture, the Caerphilly Churches Night Shelter: Hard work and long nights, but a blessing for us as well as a refuge and ‘step-up’ for our guests.

Lent led 32 children to the celebration of God’s forgiveness in Reconciliation, with many of their parents also (re)discovering this wonderful Sacrament, and also brought one adult to Easter Baptism and Confirmation, and two others to full Communion. And the Easter season was crowned with the 32 children also sharing Communion, and 10 young people being Confirmed in the life of Faith.

Autumn came, and the 50th anniversary of the opening of the church, marked with the repainting of the interior, a joyful celebration with the Archbishop, and a short Parish Mission run by Café.

The year has also been marked by the loss of many Parishioners, old and young, including some of the great workers. We miss them and keep them all in our prayers as we come together to renew our hope and dedication before the crib.

Father John Kelly

Cardinal Nichols’ Christmas message to BBC Radio 2 listeners

Cardinal Vincent Nichols gave a message to listeners of BBC Radio 2 on a very seasonal Jeremy Vine show last week and we thought we would share it with you.

Rounding off the programme, the Cardinal looked to the crib, to Bethlehem, and spoke of the need for all of us to look out for the vulnerable and lonely this Christmas.

He also offered some reflections on his recent visit to Gaza and finished by answering a few questions from the daytime broadcaster.

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St Helen’s Church 2014 Christmas Party

On 13th December St Helen’s Church held an open-invitation party for the over 65’s of St. Helen’s Caerphilly and we had 48 people in attendance. Volunteers cooked, served, and wined the Guests with Christmas Lunch. Entertainment was laid on from St. Helen’s Primary School Choir, Machen Academy of Dance and Drama and solo singers, Ciara Cooper and Claire Davies. Father John Kelly opened and closed the proceedings, with Volunteers and Support from St. Helen’s School staff, Parishioners of St. Helen’s, Friends of both the School and Church, and the Support and Volunteers of the SVP Caerphilly.

And a great time was had by all.

The Word This Week

annunciazioneSo, who is coming? This Sunday’s readings help to answer that question. John the Baptist is asked about the coming of the Messiah – is it him? He affirms his role as a witness to speak for the light, by pointing to the one who stands among the crowd unknown to them who is coming after him. This idea is present in the First Reading, where Isaiah proclaims what the anointed one” (Messiah in Hebrew) will do, and the joy that this will bring. It is interesting that the Response appointed for this Sunday is part of the Magnificat – Mary’s song of praise at the announcement that the Messiah would be born of her – in which she sings of the works of the coming Messiah. Paul then reminds us that we are still waiting patiently: God has called you, and he will not fail you. This is why, on this ‘Gaudete’ Sunday, we as God’s people rejoice in his care, made visible in his promises, fulfilled in Jesus.

Today’s Scripture (Psalter: Week 3)
Isaiah 61: 1–2, 10–11
Response: Luke 1: 46 – 50, 53 – 54.
My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my saviour.
He looks at his servant in her nothingness;
hence forth all ages will call me blessed.

The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy his name!
His mercy is from age to age,
on those who fear him.

He fills the starving with good things,
sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant,
remembering his mercy.

2 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 24
Acclamation for the Gospel:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.
He has sent me to bring good news to the poor.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

John 1: 6–8, 19–28
Prayer of the Faithful: R/. Lord, work marvels for us.

Read Today’s Scripture on Catholic Online.

Buying Christmas Presents? Then, Help Raise Funds For St Helen’s

Christmas is fast approaching and you may already be buying Christmas presents. This is not an advert, nor encouragement to spend extravagantly nor buy more than you need and can afford. However, if you intend to buy from Amazon this year, could you please ensure that click on the Amazon link to the side of this page and then start buying. This ensures that the church receives around 5.5% for each purchase.

Here’s some more information:

As a member of the Amazon Associates program, St Helen’s Church now earns referral pounds for any purchases made by YOU through the Amazon link below. We can earn money from any purchase that you make through Amazon: books, CDs, Kindle books, electronics, games, toys and more – at NO additional cost to you!

So, whether it’s a purchase for yourself or your family, a birthday present, Christmas presents or even something for work, a referral fee will be added to our account.

How does it work?

  1. You click on the link below.
  2. You are directed to the Amazon store and can start browsing for books, games, toys or whatever you wish.
  3. You add the goods to your basket and proceed to checkout.
  4. Once you purchase your goods, Amazon credits our account with a referral fee (between 5-7% per sale).
  5. At the end of the quarter Amazon sends us a gift certificate or deposits money in our account.

Do we know who buys what?

  • No, we only know what items were bought but not who bought them.

Make sure that you bookmark and return to this page before you purchase any items or click on the link on the side. This is so Amazon knows who to pay referral fees to.

The Word This Week

Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness 1660-70, Probably by Bartolomé Esteban MurilloThroughout the first three weeks of Advent our focus is very clearly on the Second Coming of the Lord – not so much on the run up to Christmas (until the last week). If we view Advent as a preparation for Christmas these readings will make little sense – and neither will the figure of John the Baptist who appears today: if it’s about the preparation for Christmas, then John the Baptist, preaching after Jesus was born, is a confusing figure: but his role is to preach to us, as he did of old, and to prepare us for the (second) coming of the Lord. Today we have a very graphic reference to the end of time and the Second Coming in the reading from Saint Peter; it is a frightening picture, and so the first reading offers tender words of comfort to help us understand who is coming, and why we should be ready to meet him.

Today’s Scripture
Isaiah 40: 1 – 5, 9 – 11
Response: Psalm 84
I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for his people.
His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.

The Lord will make us prosper
and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps.

2 Peter 3: 8 – 14
Acclamation for the Gospel:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight,
and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Mark 1: 1 – 8

Prayer of the Faithful:
R/. Patient Lord, speak of peace.