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Advent calendar 2023 - 24 December

CAFOD volunteer Sylvia.

Mary said, ‘I am the Lord's servant! Let it happen as you have said.'

Luke 1:38

As we listen to the story of the Annunciation, we stand in awe of Mary’s remarkable response to this astonishing invitation from God, through the angel Gabriel. Despite her confusion and the danger to which it exposes her as a young, unwed woman, Mary finds the generosity and courage to say “yes!” to God. 

As we ponder this Gospel, we might reflect on those encounters with others that have enabled us to say our “yes” to God. Who have been the Gabriels in our lives? And in what situations might God be inviting us to a new “yes” to his invitation? 

Parishioner Sylvia remembers vividly being asked by Pat Trollope, one of CAFOD’s longest-serving volunteers, then in her nineties, to deliver a Family Fast Day talk to her parish in Hounslow, London. As she recalls:  

“I'm, no, no, no, I've never been up there! I don't want to go! I'm scared!...But she sowed a seed in me, she gave me that confidence. Had she not asked me personally, I think I would never, ever, have gone up there and do any talk.” 

Pat died in 2022, aged 97, and Sylvia, now a key CAFOD parish volunteer, wants to continue her inspirational legacy. “I think maybe I've got Pat's spirit in me!” she says smiling. 

This Christmas Eve, let’s ask Mary to pray with us that we will be able to follow her example of openness to the empowering work of the Spirit, remembering that “nothing is impossible for God”. 

Christmas Eve prayer

God of invitation,
help me continually to say “yes” to you,
and so bring to birth
your healing and justice 
in our suffering world.


Could you say ‘yes’ to God by giving your time as a CAFOD volunteer? 

Volunteer with us