Third Week of Advent

Advent Weekday – 17 December 2018

Happy Birthday, Pope Francis!

pope-birthday

Photograph (c) Vatican Media

Today, Pope Francis is 82.  Yesterday, children from the Vatican’s free-of-charge paediatric clinic surprised him with a cake.  The message on the cake must have brought a smile to his face:  “We cannot become accustomed to the situations of degradation and misery around us. A Christian must react.”

Pope Francis joked with the children, saying he hoped “such a big cake doesn’t give indigestion!”  He went on to say that children are good at teaching grown-ups to be humble, to better understand life and people.  “The proud, the arrogant, can’t understand life because they’re incapable of lowering themselves.”

Today, perhaps ponder those words on the birthday cake:  “We cannot become accustomed to the situations of degradation and misery around us. A Christian must react.”

Third Sunday of Advent (C)

gaudete

This Sunday is known as ‘Gaudete’ Sunday.  ‘Gaudete’ is the Latin word for ‘Rejoice’ which is the first word of today’s Entrance Antiphon:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near” (Phil 4: 4-5).  We rejoice because the Lord is very near.

Today’s Entrance Antiphon comes from today’s Second Reading, although the translation we use has the word ‘happy’ instead.

Philippians 4: 4-7

I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.

There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.

Thought

St Paul tells us that he wants us to ‘rejoice’ or ‘be happy’.  That’s want God wants for us too!   God wants us to be happy!

St Paul tells us how we can be happy, especially at this time of year.  First, he tells us to be tolerant – to be people who are patient and kind.  That’s not easy when we’re tired and perhaps feeling a little stressed.

Then he tells us not to worry, rather bring our worries to the Lord and we will find peace for our hearts and minds.

There’s enough there to keep us busy this week!

Fr Dave

Prayer

God of power and mercy,
open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy,
so that we may share his wisdom
and become one with him when he comes in glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Scripture Passage from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd. Prayer (c) 1973 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

   


Second Week of Advent

Second Saturday of Advent

tmerton

Last Monday, 10 December, was the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, who wrote over seventy books on spirituality, social justice and quiet pacifism.  Here is one of his prayers:

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Second Friday of Advent

isaiah-40-1-11-e1512881016853

Today, a beautiful Advent Carol.  Click on the link to hear it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=119C58F3dnQ

“Comfort, comfort now my people;
tell of peace!” so says our God.
Comfort those who sit in darkness
mourning under sorrow’s load.
To God’s people now proclaim
that God’s pardon waits for them!
Tell them that their war is over;
God will reign in peace forever!

For the herald’s voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
calling us to true repentance
since the Kingdom now is here.
Oh, that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet him,
and the hills bow down to greet him!

Straight shall be what long was crooked,
and the rougher places plain!
Let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits his holy reign!
For the glory of the Lord
now on earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that God’s word is never broken.

(c) Johannes G Olearius & Louis Bourgeois

Second Thursday of Advent

candle

“Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ comes uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, his place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst.”

From an essay entitled, “The Time of the End Is the Time of No Room”, by Thomas Merton in Raids on the Unspeakable, pages 51-52 .

Second Wednesday of Advent

djgzum_wwaajsv9

As we prepare for our Archdiocesan Synod in 2020, today let us pray:

Father, we thank you
for the love you have shown us
in the gift of Jesus, your Son.
We thank you for the gift of the Church,
through which you show us
that you are always with us
and are always at work in our lives.

As we journey together to Synod 2020
help us to become the Church that you are calling us to be.
May your Holy Spirit be powerfully
at work among us.
Strengthen each of us and guide Francis, our Pope
and Malcolm, our Archbishop.

Help us to respond
to the challenges of our times in new ways
to bring your love to all our sisters and brothers.
We make this prayer
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blaise decided to join the Liturgy Group at their recent meeting preparing for the Synod which took place at St Benedict’s…

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So far, she’s got more likes on Synod 2020’s Instagram than anyone else!

Second Tuesday of Advent

Another beautiful passage to ponder from the Advent Scriptures today.  God consoles his people who are in exile.  The passage concludes with the image of God as “a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast”.

jesus_lamb3

Isaiah 40: 1-11

‘Console my people, console them’
says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

A voice commands, ‘Cry!’
and I answered, ‘What shall I cry?’”
– ‘All flesh is grass
and its beauty like the wild flower’s.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on them.
(The grass is without doubt the people.)
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God remains for ever.’

Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

Second Monday of Advent

Today, let’s take a moment to thank God for the beautiful gift of creation which he has entrusted to us.

creation

Prayer

Creator God, as we prepare for the coming of your Son,
we give thanks for the gift of creation.
We give thanks for its beauty
and the joy the beauty brings us.
We give thanks for light that shines in the darkness,
for the stars and the sun,
for the air we breathe
and the plants and animals that you have created,
for earth and water,
and for the daily sustenance we draw from them.

Inspire us to see you, Creator,
through all that you have created —
all that you look upon as very good.
Help us to care for creation as you instructed us.
Help us be stewards of its abundant life.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(c) 2018 Global Catholic Climate Movement

Thought

Is there something little I could do today to show my appreciation for the gift of creation?  It might be picking up any litter I see as I go about the day, it might be taking care of a plant or tree I’ve neglected in the garden, it might be ensuring the animals in my garden or yard are safe and fed especially as the cold weather sets in, etc.

Fr Dave

Second Sunday of Advent (C)

advent-2

As we begin the second week of our preparation for the great feast of Christmas, the Scriptures introduce us to one of the great characters of Advent, John the Baptist, who came to ‘prepare a way for the Lord’.

Gospel  (Luke 3: 1-6)

In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrach of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:

A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened
and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

Prayer

God of our salvation,
you straighten the winding ways of our hearts
and smooth the paths made rough by sin.
Make our conduct blameless,
keep our hearts watchful in holiness,
and bring to perfection the good you have begun in us.

We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near:
your Son, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Gospel from ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd. Prayer (c) 1997 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.


First Week of Advent

First Saturday of Advent

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.  We celebrate the conception of Mary, but the Gospel is the account of the conception of Jesus.  This is not an accident.  As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, today’s solemnity invites us to ponder Mary’s role in the story of our salvation.

immaculee_conception_1

Gospel  (Luke 1: 26-38)

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

First Friday of Advent

A Prayer before sending Christmas Cards

post-box

Blest are you, Lord, our God and Father.
You have graced our lives with friends and relatives near and far.
May these Christmas cards arrive at their destinations
as signs of affection and as tokens of peace.
Send your Son to reign in glory among us.
He will lead us all to glad reunion in your holy city,
where we will sing your praise for ever and ever.
Amen.

First Thursday of Advent

oscar-romero

No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor…

The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have everything,
look down on others,
those who have no need even of God
—for them there will be no Christmas…

Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone to come on their behalf,
only they will have that someone…

That someone is God.
Emmanuel.
God-with-us…

Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God….

St Oscar Romero

First Wednesday of Advent

disbo15wsaatcou

As we prepare for our Archdiocesan Synod in 2020, today let us pray:

Father, we thank you
for the love you have shown us
in the gift of Jesus, your Son.
We thank you for the gift of the Church,
through which you show us
that you are always with us
and are always at work in our lives.

As we journey together to Synod 2020
help us to become the Church that you are calling us to be.
May your Holy Spirit be powerfully
at work among us.
Strengthen each of us and guide Francis, our Pope
and Malcolm, our Archbishop.

Help us to respond
to the challenges of our times in new ways
to bring your love to all our sisters and brothers.
We make this prayer
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

First Tuesday of Advent

wolf-and-lamb-360x180

Today’s First Reading presents some of the best loved images of Advent. The images are a sign of the kingdom of justice and peace that God’s people have longed for through the ages.

Isaiah 11: 1-10

A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse,
a scion thrusts from his roots:
on him the spirit of the Lord rests,
a spirit of wisdom and insight,
a spirit of counsel and power,
a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)
He does not judge by appearances,
he gives no verdict on hearsay,
but judges the wretched with integrity,
and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.
His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless,
his sentences bring death to the wicked.

Integrity is the loincloth round his waist,
faithfulness the belt about his hips.

The wolf lives with the lamb,
the panther lies down with the kid,
calf and lion feed together,
with a little boy to lead them.
The cow and the bear make friends,
their young lie down together.
The lion eats straw like the ox.
The infant plays over the cobra’s hole;
into the viper’s lair
the young child puts his hand.
They do no hurt, no harm,
on all my holy mountain,
for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters swell the sea.
That day, the root of Jesse
shall stand as a signal to the peoples.
It will be sought out by the nations
and its home will be glorious.

First Monday of Advent

imagesca65vcv2-2016_06_02-17_41_42-utc

THE ADVENT PAUSE

Our habits to consume are very strong. They are reinforced by our culture that tells us that our happiness is dependent on owning the latest gadget, product, or experience.  To break this consumerist habit, we need to become aware of this internal energy to consume, so that we don’t blindly follow it. This is a contemplative practice–to begin to see how the market and cultural forces shape our interior world.

1. Notice your internal impulse to buy more, to eat more, to do more things that are not essential. This can be owning the latest electronic gadgets and buying the trendiest clothes. It can also be over-consuming more information or social media than is necessary, eating (and often wasting) too much food, or trying to pack in too many activities. It might feel like a subtle tug or pull in the body which we are conditioned to give into. This is normal and natural, but it doesn’t mean you have to follow the tug to consume more than you need.

2. Pause and take a breath. Then find a phrase to ground you such as “Less is more”, “Jesus is the reason” or even “Do I need to get/do this?” in order to remind you of your commitment to not over-consume and to keep your eyes on Jesus.

3. Make a choice based on your commitment to live simply, in order to create space and time to focus on what is essential: God, relationships, service, and caring for our earth community.

From the Global Catholic Climate Movement


1st Sunday of Advent (C)

Blessing of the Advent Wreath

If you have an Advent Wreath at home, you might like to gather as a family, light the first candle on the wreath, and say the following prayer:

imagesca65vcv2-2016_06_02-17_41_42-utc

Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ;
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples;
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us;
he is the Saviour of every nation.

Lord God, let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers 
(United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2008)

Gospel  (Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36)

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.

‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’

From ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.

Reflection

That passage from St Luke is very dramatic.  There are two parts.  In the first part, Jesus shares a vision of the end of the world.  The second part is a response to a question: “If this is going to happen, what should we do?”

We believe the world will come to an end one day.  We don’t know when that will be, and we don’t know what it will be like.  The first Christians thought it would happen in their lifetime and every generation of Christians since has thought the same.

But Jesus has a message of hope for his faithful followers – there is no need to be afraid.  When the time comes, they will see him coming to save them. Meanwhile, we are to pray and to try to live good lives.  St Paul tells us how to do this in today’s 2nd Reading: “love one another and the whole human race”.

Fr Dave

Advent is a Season of Hope

Thanks to the Catholic News Agency for capturing this encounter of a little boy and Pope Francis:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxWXkvOCoio&feature=youtu.be