Our final Advent offering is on the theme of LOVE, which corresponds with the lighting of the fourth Advent candle. We are delighted to present a video message from Canon John Deeny, Chair of Caritas and a reflection on Sunday’s Gospel by Monsignor Robert Draper.

We are also honoured to share some prayers generously written by people from across our Diocese, including children from some of our schools!

Heartfelt thanks to Monsignor Robert Draper, Canon John Deeny, Daniel Teague, Tanya Trevena, Deborah Van Kroonenburg, Cathy Blatchford and children from Our Lady and St Patricks and St Nicholas school for contributing.

A Reflection for The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sunday 24th December

Fourth Sunday of Advent

2 Sam 7; 1-5, 8-12, 14, 16 Ps 88 Rom 16:25-27 Lk 1:26-38

Part of the very identity of Mary that Luke gives us is that she is betrothed to Joseph “of the house of David”. And that ties us into the first reading – the great promise by God that he will raise a house for David. David wants to raise a house for God – a Temple – but David has to realise that he – like everyone – always comes to God empty-handed, God is not some fellow potentate who can be flattered, bribed or persuaded by lavish gifts. David – even though, as Nathan tells him, his whole life has been marked by a series of divine interventions – has to appreciate that it is always God who holds the initiative.

That is the truth that Mary immediately knows, and so, in strong contrast to David’s plan shared with Nathan, her response to Gabriel is: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” Mary is portrayed as one who sees God’s initiative as an invitation to be part of God’s great plan, and to co-operate in that is the greatest gift possible, and acceptance the greatest fulfilment of a human life. And that is the revelation, now so clear, that Paul wants broadcast across the world.

By Monsignor Robert Draper


A Reflection on love for the fourth Sunday of Advent

‘I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord’ is the response to the Psalm at Mass for the last Sunday of Advent. It is a perfect response to the God who loved the world so much that he gave us his only Son.  The angel Gabriel delivers the good news to Mary and, while being disturbed by what this greeting could mean, Mary’s complete surrender to the will of God in her simple fiat was itself a beautiful response of love.

Mary was particularly chosen and prepared by God to be the Mother of his Son, to be the one through whom the Son of God would enter this world. The gospel of the Annunciation is a perfect gospel for the season of Advent, a season of preparation.  As Mary was prepared to be God-bearer, so also this is a time for us to be prepared.

And we, in our own small and humble way, are chosen to be witnesses to Christ in this world; but much more than witnesses; to be Christ-bearers and means through which his love can reach out to others.

As we approach Christmas, we are more aware than ever of the many people around us in need of kindness, care and support: Children, families and individuals who are struggling with the cost of living; the elderly, lonely and bereaved, for whom this can be a very challenging time of year. There are refugees and migrants who have practically nothing to live on. Homeless people who, in these winter months, are particularly cold and vulnerable.

We keep them all in our prayers. Can we also reach out to them in love? As we celebrate God’s boundless and eternal love for each one of us, we can be instruments of that love to others through individual acts of kindness and mercy.

Caritas Plymouth seeks to support our parishes, schools, and groups in more organised loving action for those in need. Is there a way you can be involved in Catholic/Christian social outreach?

It couldn’t have been easy for Mary. She was young and must have felt alone and frightened. We too can sometimes feel nervous about reaching out to others for all sorts of reasons. But at such times, we can take to heart the loving words spoken to Mary by the Angel: ‘Do not be afraid’ ‘The Lord is with you’.

We remember too, the words of St Paul: ‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’. (1 Cor 13:7)

By Canon John Deeny, Chair of Caritas Plymouth

           “I will sing forever of your love, O Lord” (Ps. 88)


Loving Father, we sing your praise,

You who are Love and love us all so deeply, widely, highly,

You drop down dew from heaven to earth.

Dear Jesus, Son of Love, to loving Maid entrusted,

you our ‘Redeemer in the womb,’

unborn you love and live on love

and loving, live as babe, who will be child, and man for us,

So move us Holy Spirit Love,

to leap in joy, like John unborn,

to love and praise our Loving Lord, for evermore.


By Deborah Van Kroonenburg, Evangelisation and Catechesis, Diocese of Plymouth. 

Dear God,

Help me to show love to others.

I thank you Lord for taking care of everyone around the world. Help me to show love to the people around the world.


By Ann, Yr 4. St Nicholas, Exeter

Dear God,

As we count down the days until Jesus’ birth we light our candle to symbolise the love and joy you’ve given to the earth.


By Rosie, Yr 6. OLSP,  Teignmouth. 

Drawing below by Suzy, Yr 2. St Nicholas, Exeter. 

There is nothing quite as special as that elongated hug that you give to your children when they arrive home for Christmas. Months of not seeing each other and physically being in the same room melt away as you embrace and hear the words ‘I love you.’ The longing and excitement to see family again runs deep within us and I wonder very much about those who may be facing their first Christmas without a loved one, or who have slowly had to come to term with getting older and not seeing those that they love anymore. For all those who sit alone or feel they are invisible when they do go out, life can be pretty lonely.

Yet Christmas comes with promises. The promise of a King of Love and Peace, already revealed and known, and yet still to come once more in our lives again. The love of a family is appreciating you are known and valued by those around you and that you belong. For those on their own there is church family, ready to lend a listening ear and share a little of the weight of our circumstances. So, this Christmas time, as we head closer to our own celebrations, don’t forget to linger a little longer and share some moments of friendship and love with those who may have come home to an empty house.

Heavenly Father,

We thank you that we are never alone, that you love us so much that you will always be with us. In the moments of silence, may I breathe in your presence, knowing that I am a child of God, that I am loved and cherished. You made each one of us to be a treasure on this earth. May we be light to all that we meet, sharing your joy and love and bringing the spark of hope to all that we encounter. Send your Holy Spirit to pour out your love upon us and draw us even closer into the comfort of your heart. we ask all of this in Jesus’s Holy name. Amen

By Tanya Trevena, Development Worker, Caritas Plymouth.

Dear Jesus,

As Christmas draws ever nearer, let your love surround our troubled world. Guide us to spend this time reflecting on how we can put love at the heart of our lives, as you taught us. We pray for those who struggle to love others, as they do not love themselves. May they be touched this Christmas by the grace of God, and be brought round to your loving ways.


By Daniel Teague, Teacher at Leweston Catholic school, Sherborne.