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Extended version of the quote attributed to Alexander Woollcott.

In the beginning was the word and the word was 'No!' When I was in seminary, one of the guys had a poster which read 'Why is it that everything I love is either immoral, illegal or fattening?' (Certainly, the last bit is true in my life, whatever about the rest). So often, religion and faith can come across as being negative: 'you must not...', 'it's a sin...', 'that's wrong' and, worst of all 'God will punish you if...'. Yes, faith does ask us to live moral lives and to avoid what is unholy, unhealthy or unhelpful but it has to spring from a belief in something which is positive, which is life-giving, which is joyful so that we see the point, and the joy, in the 'good life'. In the beginning was the Word and the word was 'Yes'. God created all and, at each stage, said 'Behold it is very good'. Ephesians says 'before the world was made God chose live through love...that we should be God's adopted children...God's free gift to us in the Beloved'. St John in his Gospel says: 'from His fullness we have, all of us received - yes, grace in return for grace'. I seek to live a good life not so that God will love me but because God already does and this is my response to God's love and my best way of sharing this wonderful gift of life in this world with others.

RECENTLY DECEASED Please remember in your prayers all who have died recently, especially;

Patricia Cameron (Funeral: 12 January, 11am) Rebecca Nwaozuzu (Funeral: 13 January, 11am)

Christine Murray (Funeral: 17 January, 11.00 am) Diana Klein (Funeral: 10 January, 11.30 am) Mary Carr (Funeral: 6 January, 11.00 am)

and all those who have died during this time of pandemic. We continue to remember in our prayers all those who are sick and those who care for them. MASSES OVER THE NEW YEAR PERIOD New Years Eve (Friday, 31st); Morning Mass at 10 am Evening Mass at 7.30 pm 10pm onwards; The Nigerian Chaplaincy hosts a New Year Vigil. New Year's Day, (Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God); Morning Mass at 10 am Evening Mass at 5.30 pm Sunday, 2nd January Masses at the usual times (9 am, 11 am and 5.30 pm). Monday, 3rd January Morning Mass at 10 am There will be no evening Mass or Novena on Monday 3rd January. RESULTS OF THE RECENT PARISH PASTORAL COUNCIL RAFFLE Some winners still have prizes to collect; they await you at the Presbytery! FR CHINEDU Fr Chinedu is making his home visit during January and has arrived safely in Nigeria. Please keep him in your prayers and may he return to us safe and sound. SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD, 1st JANUARY As we move into a new calendar year, perhaps you could take time to come to the Church, or say a prayer at home, for the end of the pandemic; entrusting our world to the care of God through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. You might like to use this prayer from Pope Francis;

“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.

In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment. Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust. Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health. Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone. Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus. Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity. Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died. Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future. Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer. Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course. To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen

AND FINALLY... Recognising the truth of Woollcott's quote, this is a good time to set our house in order. New Year's Resolutions are made so that we can try to get the balance back in our lives; good luck with yours! 'The Word was made flesh and pitched his tent among us'; if God sees fit to dwell in this world then, for all its flaws and failings, it's not a bad old world. Every blessing from our house to yours this New Year. Rev Eugene Curran CM

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