Christmas services 2023

Christmas Day falls on a Monday in 2023, so there are changes to Sunday services.

Sunday 24 December: Fourth Sunday of Advent

  • Mass  NO  10:00am
  • Sunday 24 December: Christmas Eve

  • Children’s Liturgy 4:00pm — children are invited to come dressed as a favourite character from the Christmas story and help to build a Nativity tableau
  • Midnight Mass of the Nativity  DW  11:30pm
  • Monday 25 December: Christmas Day

  • Mass of the Day  NO  10:00am
  • A single Mass is celebrated in the morning of Sunday 24 December, for both Ordinariate and diocesan congregations. The usual vigil Mass is also celebrated on Saturday evening. On Christmas Day, again a single Mass is celebrated.

     NO  Novus Ordo (modern language) |  DW  Divine Worship (traditional language)

    From the Rector of the National Shrine of Our Lady

    Fr Robert Billing, Rector of the National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, has written an open letter:

    The Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady
    Walsingham — England’s Nazareth

    The Rector of the National Shrine, Fr Robert Billing, in the Slipper Chapel © Walsingham Trust

    A letter from the Rector

    Dear Father and Parishioners,

    It is with immense joy that I write to you from the Catholic National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady, at Walsingham, ‘England’s Nazareth.’ It is from here that, as the new Rector, I would like to reach out to you and to your parish community to invite you to journey together to Walsingham.

    Our pastoral theme for 2024 is: ‘Mary, helping us to journey together,’ the backdrop for all our pilgrimages to Walsingham this coming year. We pray that Our Lady of Walsingham will help us with her prayers to be united in our listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, as we seek to do the Lord’s will in our lives. There’s a poster available inviting your parishioners to come to Walsingham.

    Should you require support in organising your very first pilgrimage either from your parish, or as a group of parishes, our Pilgrimage Manager, Em Payne, would be pleased to assist at: or call her on 01328 801009. Alternatively, if you would prefer, please complete an online Pilgrimage Enquiry Form. We would love you to stay a few nights, and so we have a mix of ensuite, budget and bunk rooms which between them can accommodate over 150 people.

    Alternatively, if you know the ropes and simply wish to ‘book again’ do contact our Reservations Team directly on, call 01328 820217 or complete an online Pilgrimage Enquiry Form. Please book early to secure your preferred dates.

    We are currently preparing our 2024 pilgrimage information brochure which will give you a flavour of Walsingham and what the upcoming season will offer. While they are not yet available, we can supply copies for your parish free of charge when they are.

    It will be our joy to welcome clergy to Walsingham in 2024. As an early ‘heads up,’ we will be hosting the third Walsingham Priest Retreat from Monday 4th to Friday 8th March 2024. The retreat leader will be Bishop Michael Campbell OSA. Further details of this will be available to clergy in due course.

    In the meantime, be assured of our prayers for you and your parishioners as we journey towards Advent.

    Fr Robert Billing

    Call to Prayer and Fasting for the Holy Land

    The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, on behalf of all the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, has called for a day of fasting, abstinence and prayer on Tuesday 17 October, to pray for peace and reconciliation. Members of the Ordinariate are invited to join in.

    The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land

    “Since he is not the God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33)

    Dear brothers and sisters,

    may the Lord indeed give us His peace!

    The pain and dismay at what is happening is great. Once again we find ourselves in the midst of a political and military crisis. We have suddenly been catapulted into a sea of unprecedented violence. The hatred, which we have unfortunately already been experiencing for too long, will increase even more, and the ensuing spiral of violence will create more destruction. Everything seems to speak of death.

    Yet, in this time of sorrow and dismay, we do not want to remain helpless. We cannot let death and its sting (1 Cor 15:55) be the only word we hear.

    That is why we feel the need to pray, to tum our hearts to God the Father. Only in this way we can draw the strength and serenity needed to endure these hard times, by turning to Him, in prayer and intercession, to implore and cry out to God amidst this anguish.

    On behalf of all the Ordinaries of the Holy Land, I invite all parishes and religious communities to a day of fasting and prayer for peace and reconciliation.

    We ask that on Tuesday, October 17, everyone hold a day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer. Let us organize prayer times with Eucharistic adoration and with the recitation of the Rosary to Our Blessed Virgin Mary. Although most probably in many parts of our dioceses circumstances will not permit large gatherings, it is possible to organize simple and sober common moments of prayer in parishes, religious communities, and families.

    This is the way we all come together despite everything, and unite collectively in prayer, to deliver to God the Father our thirst for peace, justice and reconciliation.

    With sincere prayers for all,

    +Pierbattista Card. Pizzaballa
    Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
    President of the ACOHL

    The statement is published on the Assembly’s website in Arabic, English, Italian, French and Spanish.

    Statement from the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

    The Rt Revd Richard Moth, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, has forwarded a statement from Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, along with a call for prayer for the situation in the Holy Land.

    Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem


    The cycle of violence that has killed numerous Palestinians and Israelis in the past months has exploded this morning, Saturday, October 7, 2023.

    We witnessed to a sudden explosion of violence that is very concerning due to its extension and intensity. The operation launched from Gaza and the reaction of the Israeli Army are bringing us back to the worst periods of our recent history. The too many casualties and tragedies, which both Palestinian and Israeli families have to deal with, will create more hatred and division, and will destroy more and more any perspective of stability.

    We call on the international community, the religious leaders in the region and in the world, to make every effort in helping to de-escalate the situation, restore calm and work to guarantee the fundamental rights of people in the region.

    Unilateral declarations surrounding the status of religious sites and places of worship rattle religious sentiment and fuel even more hatred and extremism. It is therefore important to preserve the Status Quo in all the Holy Places in the Holy Land and in Jerusalem in particular.

    The continuing bloodshed and declarations of war remind us once again of the urgent need to find a lasting and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict in this land, which is called to be a land of justice, peace and reconciliation among peoples.

    We ask God to inspire world leaders in their intervention for the implementation of peace and concord so that Jerusalem may be a house of prayer for all peoples.

    The Statement from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

    The Statement is available in Arabic and Spanish from the Patriarchate’s website.

    Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary have a new home

    A new era for Aston Hall, Stone

    Archdiocese of Birmingham sells site to The St Barnabas Society

    The Archdiocese of Birmingham is pleased to announce it has agreed, subject to contract, the sale of Aston Hall in Stone, Staffordshire, to The St Barnabas Society.

    Aston Hall has been owned by the Archdiocese since 1959 and used as a guest house for priests and a home for retired and convalescent priests. It has an impressive Catholic history, most notably as the hiding place for the bones of St Chad, which were discovered under the altar in the Hall chapel, having been brought to Aston Hall from Lichfield Cathedral for safekeeping during the Reformation. In 1842, Blessed Dominic Barberi arrived from Italy and founded a Passionist noviciate at the Hall. In recent times the number of priests choosing to stay at Aston Hall had fallen to low single figures and at the time the final decision was taken to make the house available for sale there was only one priest in residence who was found accommodation closer to his family. At this level of occupancy, the current arrangements were not sustainable and for some time we have been searching for an appropriate buyer and new owner.

    The Grade II listed property was designed by Edward Welby Pugin as a private house, though the site itself is much older.

    The St Barnabas Society ‘is a registered charity which operates in Great Britain and Ireland. It exists to provide pastoral and financial help on behalf of the whole Catholic community to former clergy and religious of other Christian denominations and other world faiths, who are resident in Great Britain and Ireland, and who have been led by faith and conscience into the full communion of the Catholic Church’.

    The Society intends to use Aston Hall as a new home for the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary and its vision to make the Society more widely known within the Catholic Church. The rich Catholic history attached to the property will provide a solid foundation for its future development. There will also be investment in providing apartments for retired priests, with the Hall being used for retreats and meetings.

    Fr Paul Martin, Director of the St Barnabas Society, said: “I am delighted that the Trustees of the Archdiocese of Birmingham have agreed to the offer of the St Barnabas Society for the purchase of Aston Hall, in Staffordshire, as a new home for the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our vision to make the Society more widely known within the Catholic Church.

    “We are confident that Aston Hall will provide for all our needs and that the rich Catholic history attached to this property will provide a solid foundation for their future development.

    “May the intercession of St Chad, whose relics were hidden there at the time of the Reformation, of Blessed Dominic Barberi, who made his home there and used it as a centre for his missionary activity, and of the Venerable Ignatius Spencer, who began his novitiate as a Passionist there, help us as we move the Society forward to a fruitful future. May that same intercession help the St Barnabas Society to extend the sphere of its activity and, in doing so, assist the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the wider Church in bringing the riches of the Catholic Faith to our society in the 21st Century.”

    Archbishop Bernard Longley said: “I am delighted that a sale has been agreed with The St Barnabas Society and that Aston Hall will remain within Catholic ownership. The work of The St Barnabas Society reflects many of the priorities of our Diocesan Vision and I am grateful that the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary have found a new home for their apostolate of prayer within the Archdiocese. It is a blessing that Aston Hall will continue to offer accommodation for retired clergy and to welcome those who come on pilgrimage to seek the intercession of Blessed Dominic Barberi.”

    Location of Aston Hall. OpenStreetMap CC BY-SA 2.0The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary are a community of religious currently based in a house in Kingstanding in Birmingham. They are members of the Ordinariate and follow the Benedictine Rule. The Revd Mother Winsome was the keynote speaker at the Ordinariate conference in Chingford in May, and mentioned the dilapidated state of their current inner-city house and the hope and prayer for a new home. The Ordinariate and the Sisters thank God that this has become possible.

    Historic England have a potted history of the building:

    Aston Hall is a Grade II listed property designed as a private house by Edward Welby Pugin in 1855 for Father Edward Huddleston, and incorporating an earlier wing and material from a convent designed by CF Hansom.

    The site is ancient with a large moat (now dry). In the sixteenth century the property passed to the Heveningham family and from them to the Simeon family. In about 1757 Sir James Simeon built a family mausoleum to the south west of the moat which survives (Grade II). The estate passed to the Roman Catholic Weld family who commissioned a design from John Tasker in about 1798. This house was given to the English Franciscans to serve as a noviciate and Bridgettine nuns were in residence from 1829 to 1837. In 1838 the bones of St Chad were discovered under the altar in the Hall chapel, having been brought to Aston Hall for safe keeping from Lichfield Cathedral during the Reformation. In 1842 Dominic Barberi arrived from Italy and founded a Passionist noviciate at the Hall. A small convent and chapel with a courtyard plan was designed and built for him by C F Hansom in 1847 to 1849. Barberi was responsible for receiving John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church in 1845 and was himself beatified in 1963.

    Following Barberi’s death in 1849 the Passionists gave up the mission and the site was bought in 1855 by The Reverend Canon Edward Huddleston who employed EW Pugin to rebuild the Hall. It was one of his first independent commissions following the death of his father, AWN Pugin. This, the present Aston Hall, appears to include an earlier range which may have formed part of Hansom’s convent buildings. It was also extended in 1912 when the present dining room was built on the site of a former conservatory. Hansom’s convent building was built over a part of the moat and proved unstable. It was demolished in the 1880s and the present church was built to the north west of the moat. It is believed that the salvaged features from the earlier convent were re-used in the new Catholic parish church and formed part of the rear wing of Pugin’s house of 1855.

    From 1959 the house has been owned by the Birmingham Roman Catholic Diocese and used as a home for retired and convalescent priests.

    The sale was handled by Savills who took a number of photographs, notably of the exterior and the chapel:
    Aston Hall. Photo by SavillsChapel at Aston Hall. Photo by Savills

    Litany of Our Lady of Sorrows

    The month of September is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar.

    The month of September is traditionally dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, whose feast-day falls on September 15, the day after Holy Cross Day.

    The seven sorrows of Mary are the Prophecy of Simeon; the Flight into Egypt; the Loss of Jesus in the Temple; meeting Jesus carrying the Cross; the Crucifixion; receiving the dead Body of her Son; and the Burial of her Son and closing of the Tomb. In art, Our Lady of Sorrows is often depicted having her heart pierced by as many as seven swords, recalling the prophecy of Simeon, “and a sword shall pierce your own heart also.”

    The Servant of God Pope Pius VII (reg. 1800–1823) composed a Litany to Our Lady of Sorrows while he was held captive by Napoleon (1809–1814). The Litany and the personal consecration which follows are available for private devotion.

    Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
    Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
    Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

    God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
    God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
    God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
    Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
    Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
    Mother of the Crucified, pray for us.
    Sorrowful Mother, pray for us.
    Mournful Mother, pray for us.
    Sighing Mother, pray for us.
    Afflicted Mother, pray for us.
    Forsaken Mother, pray for us.
    Desolate Mother, pray for us.
    Mother most sad, pray for us.
    Mother set around with anguish, pray for us.
    Mother overwhelmed by grief, pray for us.
    Mother transfixed by a sword, pray for us.
    Mother crucified in thy heart, pray for us.
    Mother bereaved of thy Son, pray for us.
    Sighing Dove, pray for us.
    Mother of Sorrows, pray for us.
    Fount of tears, pray for us.
    Sea of bitterness, pray for us.
    Field of tribulation, pray for us.
    Mass of suffering, pray for us.
    Mirror of patience, pray for us.
    Rock of constancy, pray for us.
    Remedy in perplexity, pray for us.
    Joy of the afflicted, pray for us.
    Ark of the desolate, pray for us.
    Refuge of the abandoned, pray for us.
    Shield of the oppressed, pray for us.
    Conqueror of the incredulous, pray for us.
    Solace of the wretched, pray for us.
    Medicine of the sick, pray for us.
    Help of the faint, pray for us.
    Strength of the weak, pray for us.
    Protectress of those who fight, pray for us.
    Haven of the shipwrecked, pray for us.
    Calmer of tempests, pray for us.
    Companion of the sorrowful, pray for us.
    Retreat of those who groan, pray for us.
    Terror of the treacherous, pray for us.
    Standard-bearer of the Martyrs, pray for us.
    Treasure of the Faithful, pray for us.
    Light of Confessors, pray for us.
    Pearl of Virgins, pray for us.
    Comfort of Widows, pray for us.
    Joy of all Saints, pray for us.
    Queen of thy Servants, pray for us.
    Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled, pray for us.

    V. Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin,
    R. that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

    Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
    Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
    Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us, O Lord.

    O Christ, hear us. O Christ, hear us.
    O Christ, graciously hear us. O Christ, graciously hear us.

    O God, in whose Passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sword of grief pierced through the most sweet soul of Thy glorious Blessed Virgin Mother Mary: grant that we, who celebrate the memory of her Seven Sorrows, may obtain the happy effect of Thy Passion, Who liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen.

    Consecration to Our Lady of Sorrows

    Most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs, Mary, would that I could be in Heaven, there to contemplate the honours rendered to thee by the Most Holy Trinity and by the whole Heavenly Court! But since I am still a pilgrim in this vale of tears, receive from me, thy unworthy servant and a poor sinner, the most sincere homage and the most perfect act of vassalage a human creature can offer thee. In thy Immaculate Heart, pierced with so many swords of sorrow, I place today my poor soul forever; receive me as a partaker in thy Dolours, and never suffer that I should depart from that Cross on which thy only begotten Son expired for me.

    With thee, O Mary, I will endure all the sufferings, contradictions, infirmities, with which it will please thy Divine Son to visit me in this life. All of them I offer to thee, in memory of the Dolours which thou didst suffer during thy life, that every thought of my mind, every beating of my heart may henceforward be an act of compassion to thy Sorrows, and of complacency for the glory thou now enjoyest in Heaven.

    Since then, O Dear Mother, I now contemplate thy Dolours, and rejoice in seeing thee glorified, do thou also have compassion on me, and reconcile me to thy Son Jesus, that I may become thy true and loyal son (daughter); come on my last day and assist me in my last agony, even as thou wert present at the Agony of thy Divine Son Jesus, that from this painful exile I may go to Heaven, there to be made partaker of thy glory. Amen.

    The litany is published by EWTN.