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Advent is not Christmas

Advent is a time of waiting for Christ to be born in our hearts again. Advent is one of the most beautiful seasons in the Church year. It is a time to wait, not to celebrate. It provides an opportunity to take some time to look into our hearts and our lives for those deeper yearnings that so often are covered over by being busy. How do you personally need Jesus Christ to come into your life this year? This is very important and should not be missed.

We have lost the art of waiting. We have become accustomed to instant gratification through cell phones, texting, and the internet. As a result we are losing the sense of wonder and contemplation that enables us to appreciate beauty and mystery. This spiritual poverty is leading to dullness and depression. If we are going to be Christians in the world today, we need to be countercultural and recapture priorities and values that allow our hearts to yearn and our spirits to rest. This is what Jesus is asking us to do when He tells us to be watchful and alert. How can we find Christ at Christmas if we do not yearn for Him now? There is nothing magical about Christmas Day. Jesus will come suddenly and when we least expect. Hence, Jesus tells us to pay attention, to be vigilant. This is the opportunity Advent gives us and we will miss it if we shop until we drop. Please allow Advent to be an opportunity for you.

I am inviting you to make room for Christ this Advent season, to allow the Prince of  Peace to give you the inner strength you need to love, to search for the Saviour who alone can give you reason to hope, to prepare now spiritually so that you can receive new life and renewed vigour when Christmas comes.

“We’re ready for Christmas, not when we have all the gifts, but when we are ready for Christ – when we’re ready to give all of ourselves to Christ.”


Prepare room at the Inn: Your heart is where Christ wishes to dwell and Advent is the perfect time to make room in it for His presence. If your heart is filled with unforgiveness, it has no room for Christ. Begin Advent by an Examination of Conscience where you ask your Heavenly Father to reveal to you any unforgiveness that exists in your heart. Remember that as God has forgiven you, you are also asked to forgive others.

Clean out the cobwebs: After an Examination of Conscience where you ask God to reveal any unforgiveness that you are holding, it is important to clean out the vestiges of cobwebs that may still be lurking in the dark corners of your heart. This means that you should make a point of getting to Confession during Advent. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an important part of preparing your

heart for Jesus; this is because the priest acts in the person of Christ in helping you identify the cobwebs that you may not be seeing on your own—typically those ones that have been hanging on for so long they no longer get your attention.

Hang new curtains: The room of your heart is now ready: unforgiveness and cobwebs have been cleared out. Now it is time to hang new curtains! Many of us fall into a rut in our daily lives and forget how to live in joy. You are preparing for Christ’s indwelling and He abides best in those who have joy in their hearts. So throw out the old curtains of fear and despair and exhaustion and hang new curtains of hope and joy and anticipation.

Get out the fine china and set the table: Company is on its way! We aren’t doubtfully thinking that maybe He’s going to drop by and thus making only superficial efforts to get ready. We are certain in our belief of His arrival and every cell in our body joyfully shouts, “He’s on His way!” This is the time we get the fine china out of the cupboard—our attitude is one of enthusiastic expectation. Our hearts pound in anticipation of His presence. Our fine china goes so well with our new curtains!

Open the front door: Whenever we have company in our home, after all the preparation is complete, we open our front door and wait expectantly on our couch. We can see through the glass screen door as our company approaches. It is a time of quiet for us—all the work is finished and we are ready. So in preparing our hearts for Christ this Advent, the last step after all the prep work is to simply “be.” In this state of “be-ing” we don’t question how time slipped through our fingers; we don’t worry if there was more we should have done. We’ve been good and faithful servants and are ready for Christ.

May your heart be made ready for Christ and may your Advent season be a blessed one!



The Christmas Story


The story of Christmas dates back over 2000 years. During this time, Rome was a great empire ruled by Caesar Augustus and Israel was governed by King Herod.

The Story of Mary and Joseph

In a town in Galilee called Nazareth, lived Mary a young virgin who was engaged to be married to Joseph, a Jewish carpenter. An angel appeared to Mary and said ‘Mary do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus’.

When Mary told Joseph, naturally he felt betrayed, but an angel visited him in

a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit’.

Mary and Joseph leave Nazareth for Bethlehem

At that time, Caesar Augustus declared that a census should be taken of every person in the entire Roman Empire. And, everybody had to go to the place to which they belonged to register. As Joseph, was of the line of David, he and Mary had to go to Bethlehem to register. Joseph and Mary left Nazareth for Bethlehem. Mary, who was with child, and close to the birth, rode on a donkey while Joseph walked beside her. They travelled for many days and only rested at night. When they reached Bethlehem it was night. They looked for a place to rest but there were no empty rooms when they reached the inn. As they were being turned away Joseph mentioned that his wife was with child and close to birth. The inn keeper took pity on them and told them of some caves in the nearby hills where shepherds would stay with their cows and sheep.

Jesus is Born

So Joseph and Mary went up into the hills and found the caves. In one cave was a stable room. Joseph cleaned it and made beds of fresh hay. He found a feeding trough which he cleaned and filled with hay to use as a crib. The next night Mary gave birth to a son and they named him Jesus, as the angel had said.

The Shepherds

When the child was born a shining star appeared over Bethlehem that could be seen for miles around. In the fields nearby were shepherds who were tending their flocks of sheep. An angel appeared to them surrounded by bright light. The shepherds were frightened and tried to run.

"Do not be afraid. Listen," said the angel, "I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

"And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

Suddenly with the angle there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing:

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and peace to men who enjoy his favour.’

Now when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ’Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us’. So they hurried away and found Mary

and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

How Will You Respond to the Birth of the Saviour, Jesus Christ?





Parish Advent Retreat

Parish Advent Retreat will take place in St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre Rua do Murtal, 6th ,7th, 8th December 2017.


"Only those who have truly fasted can truly feast"


You are invited to three evenings of prayer in preparation for the great feast of Christmas. Each evening there will be a reflection on what it means when we say "God became man". What difference does this make for us today, if any?

Preacher: Fr. Patrick Desmond OP

Time – 8.00pm - 9.30pm(approx)

Format: Talk at 8.00pm followed by Mass



“Christ gives himself to us according to the measure of the desire that we have to receive Him, and the capacity of the soul is increased by the desire that it expresses.”

                                                                                                          Blessed Columba Marmion

                                                                                                                        Benedictine Monk



Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Friday 8th December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a holy day of obligation. Mass will be celebrated in St. Mary’s Rua do Murtal at 8.00pm (Retreat Mass) and in N.S. Navegantes Cascais at 12.00 noon.



Confession and Reconciliation


Tuesday 19th  December – Penitential Service N.S. dos Navegantes Cascais 7.30pm


Saturday 23th December – Confession in St. Mary’s Rua do Murtal 12.00am-1.00pm


The confession of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1455)



Christmas Mass Times


Sunday 17th December 

vChildren’s Mass N.S. dos Navegantes  Cascais 12.00    noon




Christmas Eve - Sunday 24th December

Mass of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ 

vvN.S. dos Navegantes Cascais --11.00 pm



Christmas Day – Monday 25th December

vvSt. Mary’s Pastoral Centre --10.15am

vvN.S dos Navegantes -- 12.00 noon



You are invited……..

To a Parish celebration of Christmas on Sunday 17th December at St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre 368 Rua do Murtal S. Pedro do Estoril.

Festivities begin at 6.00pm with wine, soft drinks, sandwichs and mince pies followed by communal carol singing led by Toze Brito.

Admission: The best things in life are free!!



We give thanks to God for the graces and blessings of 2017 and I ask God’s blessings upon all of you throughout the New Year, 2018. May our Lord keep you safe and sound, joyful and happy, thankful and hopeful, and above all positive and truly close to God.

Happy New Year to you all! Feliz Ano Novo. Feliz Ano Nuevo. Bonne Année et Bonne Santé. Felice Anno Nuovo. Ein Glückliches Neues Jahr. Gott Nytt År. Manigong Bagong Taon..

                                                                         Fr. David OP