» As we approach the threshold of the Christmas season, the Abbot and monastic community would like to wish our friends and associates a blessed and safe Christmas, and a grace-filled new year.» This week we have had the pleasure of the company of Fr Thaddäus Schreiber OSB from Ettal Abbey in Bavaria, who has been teaching for a year in the school at Downside. He returned to Downside today to spend Christmas with the brehtren there.» Last Saturday Fr Finbar returned from a week at Minster Abbey where he had been giving a retreat. With him he brought a kind gift from the nuns: a box of large rocks of beautiful incense from Somalia. We shall be using these at our Christmas Masses and the Second Vespers of Christmas.
» On Wednesday Frs Alban and Paul celebrated their silver jubilee of priestly ordination. The festal Mass was celebrated by our emeritus Bishop Crispian Hollis who had ordained them in 1991. Also concelebrating were Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff, Bishop Mark O'Toole of Plymouth and Bishop Robert Byrne, auxiliary of Birmingham. Abbots Cuthbert of Farnborough and Paulinus of Chilworth were also present, the former supplying the vestments for bishop and deacon that had been used at the ordination in 1991. Various clergy from the diocese and beyond, as well some brethren from the Birmingham Oratory, numbering well over 40, made for a full sanctuary for a Mass for which the music was provided by our Douai Abbey Singers. Archbishop Stack was the preacher, and he wove the threads of monastic and priestly vocation together very insightfully. With the liturgy of thanksgiving over, there was a fine buffet lunch in both refectories. To Frs Alban and Paul - ad multos annos!» Christmas at Douai begins with first vespers and solemn Sung Martyrology at 6pm on Christmas Eve, followed by the first Mass of Christmas at 9pm in the abbey church. On Christmas Day Mass will be at 11am, and the liturgical round will end with Pontifical Second Vespers at 4.30pm, after which the community will collapse into the refectory for our Christmas Dinner. On St Stephen's Day Mass in the abbey church will be at midday.» The monastic community continues to be blessed with generous gifts at this time of year, including some anonymous gifts of wine. To these and all our benefactors we offer our sincere thanks.