Pastoral Notes 4th January 2015

For many the Christmas season comes to an end on Christmas Day, but, with the preparatory weeks of Advent, the Christmas season then begins with the Masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The season happens to contain the feast of our diocesan patron saint and martyr, Thomas Becket, put to death by the king’s soldiers on 29th December 1171. But other directly Christmas celebrations include the birth in heaven of the first martyr St Stephen, on 26th December, St John the Evangelist whose Gospel we read at the Christmas Day Mass (27th December), the Holy Innocents (28th December, recalling King Herod’s slaughter of the infants) – and also Epiphany, traditionally on 6th January, but now celebrated on the nearest Sunday (this year 4th January), with the Baptism of the Lord on the following Sunday, officially concluding the Christmas season. It perhaps reminds us that our journey with Christ involves all that life brings, teaching us in our joys and our challenges and struggles.