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Clifton Diocese is a company limited by guarantee; registered in England and Wales under number 10462076 | Registered Charity No. 1170168 |

Registered Office: St. Ambrose, North Road, Leigh Woods, Bristol, BS8 3PW

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A Christmas message from Paul

Few will disagree that home is the best place to be at Christmas surrounded by family and friends but though that is an important part of celebrating Christmas sometimes we can all forget the most important reason as to why we celebrate Christmas and some Catholics who have lost their way along life's journey don't know how to come home for Christmas spiritually and even if they do make it to church for Christmas day may still struggle to come back to Church on a regular basis.

I wouldn't presume to tell anybody what is right and wrong in all this and can only recount my own story.

I am a lapsed Catholic who having been bought up in the Catholic faith and educated by the Salesian Fathers lost my way amidst building a career and pursuing life losing my way faith wise on route.I went to Church at Christmas time etc but I had forgotten how to be a Catholic and once not going to church becomes a week and then a month and then a year and then year after year it became difficult to know how to find my way back and it seemed like there were so many other things to do, and then even if I wanted to come back to my Catholic faith there were potentially so many barriers.

Mass had changed so much, I hadn't been to confession in decades, wouldn't the other members of the congregation look down on me struggling to come to terms with Mass as it was now, and how would the Parish Priest react and relate to someone like me. There seemed to be so many barriers to overcome which kept me away from even trying.

However I went to Mass at St Joseph's last Easter primarily because I had a friend who was battling Cancer and I was looking to offer a prayer for him, after attending Mass that Sunday I found that I wanted to return the following Sunday and each time I went I felt more comfortable and so much better within myself and at each Mass listening to Father Tom's sermons he seemed always to say something pertinent to me and each Sunday after Mass I felt better inwardly in myself.

I have found no barriers in returning to my Catholic faith and all of the congregation have been kind and welcoming and latterly I have been able to spend some time with Father Tom which I have found very inspiring he has never been judgmental but he has helped me to find myself spiritually and to light my path. A few weeks ago I had some bad news in respect my own health but again Father Tom has been of great support and I feel blessed that I rediscovered my faith prior to this which has allowed me to cope with my problem so much better than I would have been able to previously.

We will all hit rocky parts along life's road and family and friends can always help but sometimes we need a bit more than just family and friends. No matter how many mistakes we make on life’s journey I don't believe that Our Blessed Lord ever gives up on us and his door is always open to us we just have to make the effort to go through the door.