Advent message from Archbishop Longley


Archbishop Longley

Archbishop Longley

Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Brimingham, shares his reflection on the meaning of Advent

This Thursday is the shortest and the darkest day of the year. On the twenty-first of December, at Evening Prayer, the Church calls upon our Lord in these words: O Oriens – O Rising Sun, you are the splendour of eternal light and the sun of justice: O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. In this final week before Christmas we might ask: what does the dawning light of Christ enable us to see more clearly in our own lives and in the world around us?


Sun of justice

O Rising Sun,
you are the splendour of eternal light and the sun of justice.
O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

The Advent antiphon gives us a clue where it addresses Our Lord as the sun of justice. The Prophet Isaiah spells it out for us when he describes the work of the Messiah. He has been sent to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison. Christ, the light of the world, fulfils the prophecy of Isaiah through his ministry of healing and forgiving, giving us all a glimpse and a foretaste of the Kingdom of God.


We view the world in a new way through the light of Christ and we learn to have a deeper appreciation for the gift of creation. Two years ago Pope Francis emphasised this in his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ when he said: What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?

Passion fruit

What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?

The Holy Father urges us never to forget the intimate relationship between the fragility of the planet and the plight of the poor, echoing the compassion of the Messiah: He has sent me to bring good news to the poor. They are the ones who suffer most from the way our earth has been mistreated and exploited.

Pope Francis also says that we need to listen both to the cries of creation and to the cries of the poor. When we do so we undergo what he calls an ecological conversion. The Holy Father encourages us to live more simply, more sustainably and more in solidarity with the poor. He invites us to make our choices based on a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters – including future generations.

Advent Rohingya

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

I would ask you, if you have not already done so, to look carefully at Pope Francis’ encyclical. Perhaps it could be the basis for a study group in your parish during next Lent. Encouraged by Laudato Si’ you may wish to consider becoming a LiveSimply parish next year, using the scheme prepared by CAFOD. In these and other ways we can respond to the encouragement of St Paul in today’s Second Reading: Be happy at all times; pray constantly; for all things give thanks to God.

May the Son of God fill you with joy this Advent as you prepare to celebrate his birth. May you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.


This reflection has been edited. You can find the full text here

Live Simply with CAFOD in Leeds

Live Simply workshop

As Christians, living the 21st century,

  • how do we care for the earth?

  • How do we live more simply so that others may simply live?

  • How do we show our solidarity with poor people both at home and across the world?

Many of us are not sure where to start – the questions just seem too difficult for an individual or family to take on.

To find out more about what you can do personally and as part of a parish or church community then come along to our family-oriented, interactive workshop on Saturday 24th June, 10.15 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St.Bendict’s parish centre, St.Benedict’s, Aberford Road, Garforth, LS25 1PX.

The Live Simply Award scheme, managed by CAFOD, provides wonderful opportunities for both individuals and parish communities to reflect more deeply about their faith, and particularly how they care for the earth and care for the poor. It calls people to both personal action and parish action to put their faith into practise.

You don’t have to sign up to the award scheme to come along! – Just come along if you want to find out what you individually and your church or parish community can do to help build a better world where we live more in harmony with our environment and live in solidarity with poor people.