Tag Archives: Christmas

The Cathedral Connection 3 December 2017

The full newsletter can be viewed here.


As the season of Advent opens, announcing a new year on the Christian calendar, I have two announcements that impact on our Cathedral Parish.

The first is that Fiona Rammell, our Lay Pastoral Leader since June, will not be renewing her contract at the end of January.  Fiona’s family circumstances have guided her decision, one that I heard and accepted with considerable sadness.  In just a few months Fiona has endeared herself to many, and has shown her ability in leadership roles involving liturgy, pastoral action and education.  She was part of the parish representation at the Archdiocesan Synod and has greatly supported my own pastoral responsibilities.

The second concerns my own “future planning”.  Before learning of Fiona’s situation, I asked Cardinal John if I could be relieved of responsibility as Parish Priest.  I have noticed my energy levels slipping and have learned that next year I will need another hip replacement.  My eyesight continues to deteriorate and I now avoid night driving.  Not a recipe for effective pastoral leadership.

The outcome is that I will stay on in “Sacramental Ministry”, relinquishing my role in day-to-day pastoral planning and activity.  Another priest, though not in residence, will be appointed as Administrator of the Cathedral, and it is expected another Lay Pastoral Leader will replace Fiona.

However, appointing and introducing a new LPL cannot be a simple process and I expect an inevitable delay for my “movement”.  This will become clearer in the weeks ahead, but it is important to share this information now to avoid rumour and speculation.  Please remember Fiona and myself in your prayers as we each make personal adjustments in our unique vocations.  And pray also that others will respond to the need to ensure strong, faithful leadership within our faith communities.

Fr James

The full newsletter can be viewed here.

Christmas Midnight Mass 2016 – Homily given by Cardinal John Dew

Christmas Homily 2016.

The Year of Mercy finished five weeks ago, but in a way it just started – or – we could say that the presence of MERCY in our world started with the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, when God in a human body touched our lives.

Pope Francis wrote “Mercy is the beating heart of the Gospel.” Over a year ago he said “How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God,”

We say that at Christmas too, we send out messages of blessings and peace, wishing others joy and happiness, we are really saying that we want them to experience the goodness and tenderness of God.  Our Christmas messages are similar to the words of Pope Francis,. “May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the kingdom of God is already present in our midst.”

God’s presence to us, God’s mercy for us began with Mary. She made a space for God in her life. For the nine months she carried him in her womb, beneath her heart was the beating, echoing, reverberating, thrumming love of God.

God’s heartbeat did not echo under Mary’s heart only…..the heartbeat of God, the echoing, resounding, thrumming love of God …..beats in us too!!

We don’t have to be perfect, we don’t have to perform or produce, all we are asked to do is be a place for God, to make a place for God in our hearts, in our lives. The echoing , thrumming love of God beats in us too.

God’s presence in our world took shape in the child born of Mary. The long awaited promise of God to be with us is became a fact. That promise was complemented by another promise of Jesus “And know that I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.”

Each Advent we prepare for the promise of Emmanuel: ‘God is with us’ and ‘I will be with you always, to the end of time’.  Christmas is all about God’s breathtaking promise of faithfulness to us, a promise realised in the birth of the baby “Emmanuel.”  At Christmas we renew our own relationship with God and think of God’s  faithful relationship with us. Then countless times throughout the year we allow God to take shape in us again and we renew the fact that God is with us as We live the goodness and tenderness of God.

Each year we learn that life is a very generous giver. In our prayer and through our love we re-discover the echoing beating, love of God’s heartbeat within us.  Welcome those moments in the year ahead, grasp them, and as you do so touch the angel’s hand that brings them to you. As you touch the angel’s hand, God will touch you……..

When there are things that seem like a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, the angel’s hand is still there, God is still with you. The gift and the wonder of God’s presence, is there.

Our joys, too, are gifts from God.

Pause to listen to the thrumming, echoing love of God’s heartbeat beating in our hearts and God’s presence becomes ever clearer.  We are able to claim that God is with us, because of the birth of Jesus. That presence gives us courage, courage to live each day in the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending our way to God and supporting each other as we go.

The story of today is so familiar and yet it is new every Christmas. If a child can look with wonder at the baby in a manger and find something awesome and mysterious, then we too, no matter our age, can learn something from every telling of the Christmas story.

A child may have tears of joy ….those tears of joy can be ours too when we ponder the crib and the Christ child and are reminded  that the  presence of the baby brings us the grace of God becoming human. The act of God becoming man in a humble, all-too-human way can give us all hope in the rebirth of goodwill and peace. The rebirth of good-will and peace happens when we act as Jesus acted, speak as Jesus spoke, love as he loved.  It is possible for us to do this because of the echoing, reverberating, thrumming love of God’s heartbeat beating with in us – take time to listen to it…..

We have walked in darkness and now have seen a great light. We can sing a new song, be glad and rejoice, because the grace of God beats in our hearts. That grace of God helps us learn to live in peace and kindness, in honesty, in forgiveness and mercy each and every day.

We take this Christmas story and the good news of great joy into our hearts and listen to God’s heartbeat within.  We hold this simple story in our hearts throughout the year, know we will make a difference because God’s  heart, is already beating, is already reverberating deep within us.

The Central Pastoral Area Newsletter – 18 December 2016

The full newsletter can be viewed here.


Revolutionaries and Freedom Fighters seek liberation from what they regard as oppression, injustice or corruption.  Their leaders are people whose goal is to reverse the situation, overthrow the invaders, create a new society.

At the time of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah was expected to be such a leader – someone whose charisma would rally the people, expel the Roman invaders and restore the Hebrew nation to its  former glory.  The first followers of Jesus thought they had found this Messiah and, as his popularity grew among the ordinary people, anticipated that he was the one who would “restore the kingdom to Israel” [Acts 1:6]

But Jesus made it clear that his kingdom was not of this world.  He had not come to save
us from others.  His mission was to save us from ourselves!

There is a sense in which Christmas brings the best out of people.  There is a general feeling of goodwill; we are inclined to greet strangers and be more relaxed and generous in dealing with      others.  There is something here, in the “spirit of Christmas” that has us reaching out to others, wanting to heal rifts, to make peace.

This is the season that offers a glimpse of the “new society” that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus opens for us and the whole world.  Left to ourselves we are more intent on survival than on sharing, on blaming others rather than checking our own faults, on demanding rights and avoiding responsibilities.

As Saviour, Jesus offers us freedom from an inner captivity that holds us ransom to our selfish instincts, and prevents our ripening and blossoming into a partnership with others, building a new world that enables a free and joyful response to his “new commandment” to love one another as I have loved you.

What greater Saviour could we wish for?  A blessed Christmas everyone!

Fr James Lyons

The full newsletter can be viewed here.