Happy Christmas from Growing Old Grace-fully

Our advent journey’s end – and a new beginning

As we reach the end of Advent, we celebrate the joyous feast of Christmas.

It is a moment when we contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation, the divine becoming human, and the immense love of God manifest in the humblest of forms. In the midst of the festive decorations and the warmth of our gatherings, let us take a moment to turn our hearts toward prayer, seeking to deepen our understanding of the profound significance of this holy season.

As we pray during this Christmas season, let us ponder the miracle of the Nativity, where heaven touched earth in the form of a tiny child born in a humble manger. Christmas is a celebration of hope, peace, and love, encapsulated in the gift of God’s Son to humanity.

At this challenging time in human history and facing the challenges of our own lives, we celebrate that the darkness is pierced with the greatest light to shine for all humanity. The words of the angel to the shepherds echo through time, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

In our prayers, let us express gratitude for the light that Jesus brought into the world—a light that dispels darkness and offers us the path to eternal life. May we find inspiration in the Holy Family, reflecting on the obedience of Mary, the courage of Joseph, and the vulnerability of the newborn King. As we exchange Christmas greetings, perhaps give and receive gifts and share meals with loved ones, let our prayers extend to those who are lonely, marginalised, or suffering, echoing the compassionate spirit of Christ.

This Christmas, may our hearts be filled with the true meaning of the season, and may our prayers unite us in a sense of shared joy and purpose. Let us open our hearts to receive the abundant blessings that flow from the manger in Bethlehem, embracing the transformative power of God’s love and mercy. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we offer these prayers, entrusting ourselves to the grace of the Christ Child born on this holy night.

Growing Old Grace-fully, Christmas 2023

Here are three Christmas prayers:

God of Joy

Remind me to rejoice 
Wrapped up in my Christmas gifts 
Tied down in my debts 
I have forgotten   

God of peace, 
Remind me of your calm 
In my anxiety 
And in my haste 
I have forgotten   

God of all 
Remind me 
Of the true light of Christmas 
Of your gift shared

In my own wants 
And in my own needs 
I have forgotten 
Wrapped up  in my little world 
Remind me of your world 
God of joy, remind me 
To rejoice 


Linda Jones/CAFOD

Unadorned King

In the star we see the cross;
Its points, the thorns,
The azure ring, his robe.
The light which shines on all
The arms which embrace all. 

And this despite their mockery,
Mock majesty, pageant pantomime and pomp.
All human conceptions of kingship
Border on the Vaudeville
Verge on the burlesque. 

Kings in a stable out of proportion
Distorted, like the body on the cross.
Our attempt to nail down
Divinity Racked and disjointed,
Still suffering our mock homage. 

Cast crowns, cast lots, cast off your
Tawdry kind of kingship –
So much dressing up –
Christ rides triumphant over cast-down cloaks
Every inch a king with none of the apparel. 

His crown, the star
The cross, his throne where he
Invests the cosmos with his gift of Love, unadorned.


Sr Laurentia Johns OSB, Stanbrook Abbey

The Hope of Christmas

The hope of Christmas
God, our dayspring and our dawn,
We turn to you when we fear the dark
And all around us weep.
We pray you greet us with your shining light
That we may spread your warm embrace
And kindle the hope of Christmas
In all whose lives remain in shadow.
Come and be our strength
O Lord, our hope and our salvation.


Annabel Shilson-Thomas/CAFOD

Advent Leaflet and other Advent Resources

In order to once again bring some encouragement to those who are unable or less likely to access the internet, we have produced and printed a short Advent Reflections Leaflet and sent copies out to nearly 200 people on our mailing list.

Please do enjoy using or sharing this electronic version of the Leaflet by downloading and printing, or viewing page by page on your screen:

Note: you will need to print this in landscape, and if double-sided, choose ‘flip on short edge’.

Use this version to see a page by page view.

Other Advent Resources

Visit Emmaus Productions for lots of reflective videos for Advent in a time of pandemic. There are some for children as well.

Listen to 45 minutes of Advent Hymns with Organ Music

Lots of lovely resources on the Loyola Press website too.

I am sure you will find may other resources and reflections to help you ‘prepare the Way’ during the rest of Advent. ‘He is coming!’

Fantastic quality prayer booklets/bookmarks – ideal for sending at Christmas

Whilst on one of my ‘journeys’ poking around the world wide web, I stumbled across this excellent organisation ‘The Prayer Trust ‘.

Started in 2000 under the leadership of Father Pat Sayles, the Trust produces a whole host of prayer booklets, bookmarks, cards and even some CDs. 

On browsing through the items on the website I found a long list of varied items all at extremely affordable prices, so I put in an order.

With bookmarks at 5p, booklets at 10p or above and notecards at 6 for £1.00, I was thinking the printing may be cheaper quality and the paper rather flimsy, but I was absolutely delighted when I opened my package to find high quality gloss booklets with excellent vibrant colours.

The picture above shows most of my haul (some items have already found their way to friends and family), for which I paid the princely sum of less than £7.00 (and that was including an optional extra donation).

The website says: ‘Having spent years in Peru as a Columban Father, Fr Pat is aware of the uplifting  power of prayer across the world,’ and the aim of the Trust is to ‘encourage the use of prayer by everyone, everywhere’. They express their passion like this:  

Our hope is that those who use these little books will want to share them with others – with friends and relatives, with neighbours and colleagues, with those who might be ill or suffering, or those who feel far away from the Lord’s love.’

I thought I would share some pictures of items I bought so that you can see them in more detail, and whet your appetite.


There are many different bookmarks with beautiful pictures and prayers on the back.


There are many more booklets, some longer than others, all with lovely images with the prayers.


These are Notecards, but there are also Greetings Cards including Christmas cards at 10p each.

Folding Bookmarks

These are an ingenious idea, with seven sides of prayers or quotes in one folding bookmark.

This Advent Folding Bookmark entitled ‘Come Lord Jesus’ explains the ‘O Antiphons’.

On the order list on the website there are several Advent and Christmas items available now to order.

So why not head over to their website and take a look!

Please note that not everything has a photo on the website, so use the order form to see all the available items listed. You will need to make your choices and then print off the order to send with a cheque. It may take a few days for them to process the order as some volunteers are unable to go to the building at the moment, but you will not be disappointed when they arrive!