My dear Parishioners,
Each year I like to put a theme to the Christmas season. This year’s theme for us, here at St Stephen Church, Cumballa Hill is, ‘the weary world rejoices.’ It’s been almost two long years that the pandemic has altered much of our lives leaving us rather weary. The recent strain of the Covi-19 virus has left us holding our breath once again with the fear of being chained to the railings. Yet as we approach Christmas Day this year, we sense a joy; Christmas is a time for the weary world to rejoice.
As your parish priest, I want to wish you joy and peace. Peace, as we know, is not the absence of strife or conflict but the ability to endure the storm even in the midst of it; our hearts and minds focused on the Lord. That may sound like wishful thinking but it is the deepest expression of what true faith is all about. These last two years have been a test of endurance for many people. From businesses to relationship, the strain has been quite evident on all walks of life. Yet in all of this we have heard and seen acts of love and kindness and that lifts up our spirits.
As a parish we have done well and I will elaborate on this topic especially on the 26th of December 2021, the day of the feast of our patron. St Stephen. While the Church building has certainly been wearing a new look, it is the spiritual life of the parish that I am most concerned about. I want to encourage you this Christmas not just to come to Christmas mass but to come back each day and every Sunday for mass. For the Church, as for me, the sacrament of reconciliation is paramount in the healing of our relationship with Christ. Denying satan’s wily ways or wishing that satan will not and does not tempt us is like asking the fox to spare the chickens.
The solemnity of the birth of Jesus is God’s gift to us; a gift of a saviour. This tiny babe is born to die for us. This we should not forget as we bend low at the crib on Christmas day. I hope that you do not just admire the nativity scene at the manger but spend time in prayer. The crib is a reminder of God’s love for us in the form of the greatest gift; Jesus who has come to save us.
The mass on Christmas eve will begin at eight pm. You are requested to be in your seat by 7.45 pm latest. We want to discourage movement while the word of God is read, so if you do come late, please wait at the door till the word of God is read and then permit the ushers to direct you to a place. Please note, the directions of the ushers given to you are not suggestions. Given the covid protocols we are unable to accommodate your personal seating preferences and also have to keep in mind government regulations. The mass on Christmas day will be at seven am, eight thirty am and ten am. There is no evening mass even though the next day is a Sunday.
I wish to remind you of the dress code that has been mandated by the Archdiocese of Bombay for all liturgical functions. Needless to say, modesty of dress must be adhered to. The ushers will offer you a shawl if you do not meet basic standards of modesty of dress. We have informed you of the same in the parish notices earlier this month.