The Fourth Sunday of Advent 2014

Masses this week

Sunday 21st December – Fourth Sunday of Advent: Solemn Mass 11.00am
Monday 22nd December – St Thomas the Apostle (transferred from Sunday 21st): Mass at 6.00pm
Tuesday 23rd December -Feria: Mass at 6.00pm

Below is the programme of Masses for Christmas and the Octave of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ 2014 through to the Feast of The Epiphany 2015.

Christmas Eve – Wednesday 24th December: Mass of the Vigil of The Nativity – 5.00pm
Christmas Day – Thursday 25th December: First Mass of The Nativity – Midnight; Mass at Dawn (commemoration of St Anastasia) – 8.00am; Mass in the Day – 10.00am. Vespers and Benediction – 5.00pm
Friday 26th December – St Stephen, Protomartyr: Mass at 6.00pm
Saturday 27th December – St John, Apostle and Evangelist: Mass at 6.00pm
Sunday 28th December – Sunday in the Octave of The Nativity: Mass at 11.00am;
Monday 29th December – St Thomas a Becket, Bishop and Martyr: Mass at 6.00pm
Tuesday 30th December – The Holy Innocents (Transferred from Sunday 28th): Mass at 6.00pm
Wednesday 31st December – St Sylvester I, Pope & Martyr: Mass at 6.00pm
Thursday 1st January 2015 – The Octave Day of The Nativity: Mass at 6.00pm
Friday 2nd January 2015 – Feria: Mass at 6.00pm
Saturday 3rd January 2015 – Our Lady’s Saturday: Mass at 6.00pm
Sunday 4th January 2015 – Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus: Mass at 11.00am
Monday 5th January 2015 – St Telesphorus, Pope & Martyr: Mass at 6.00pm
Tuesday 6th January 2015 – The Epiphany of Our Lord: Mass at 6.00pm

All Masses are offered according to the Missale Romanum 1962

 

The Third Sunday of Advent

Masses this week

Sunday 14th December – Third Sunday of Advent: Solemn Mass 11.00am
Monday 15th December – Feria: Mass at 6.00pm
Tuesday 16th December – St Eusebius, Bishop & Martyr: Mass at 6.00pm
Wednesday 17th December – Ember Day: Mass at 6.00pm
Thursday 18th December – Feria: Mass at 6.00pm
Friday 19th December – Ember Day: Mass at 6.00pm
Saturday 20th December – Ember Day: Mass (longer form) at 6.00pm

All Masses are offered according to the Missale Romanum 1962

Rejoice, Again I say Rejoice!

Today’s readings move away from the somewhat gloomy forecasts of death and destruction that have run through the readings for the last two weeks. There is indeed a lightening of mood even down to the vestments worn by the Celebrant at Holy Mass, which today may be rose (pink) instead of the penitential purple.

Today, traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday, we are exhorted to “Rejoice, for the Lord is at hand”. The name Gaudete Sunday comes from the words of the Introit – “Gaudete in Domino semper”, Rejoice in the Lord Always.

Again we are reminded of these words in the Epistle, from St Paul’s letter to the Phillipians. St Paul reminds us that the Lord is very near and tells us that he wants us to be always happy in the Lord. The message St Paul gives us is that we shouldn’t worry, because God will provide what we need if we pray to Him with thanksgiving.  Don’t worry, be happy because the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will lighten our hearts and minds.

This underlines a very important point in the Gospel. The priests, Levites, and Pharisees who come out to investigate John the Baptist are the same leaders from Jerusalem who later rejected Christ and arranged his execution.

They had heard that John the Baptist was attracting huge crowds and preaching to them about the Messiah, so they became suspicious. Since he didn’t come from their inner circle, they assumed that he couldn’t be a true messenger of God so when he answered their questions, they paid no attention to what he said.

As a result, they were not ready to welcome Christ later on. They were expecting a political Messiah, not a Messiah who would redeem the world from sin.

They listened to John’s message only through the filter of their personal agendas, and they completely  missed the point.

Their own preconceived notions impeded their acceptance of God’s word spoken through John. They heard the prophecy, but it didn’t help them at all.

So what was St John the Baptist telling us? He told us what we need to do to prepare for the coming of our Saviour – to make a firm and conscious effort to repent and change our lives.

Now this might not seem to be the sort of thing to rejoice about, but let’s for a moment make a comparison.  Compare welcoming Our Lord into our hearts and minds with receiving visitors into our homes.  We like to make sure that everything is clean and tidy for our visitors, nothing is too much trouble in terms of tidying and cleaning our house, so St John tells us that the same really applies when welcoming our Lord and Saviour into our lives.  We need to ensure that our souls are clean and tidy, ready to welcome Him into our lives, not just at Christmas, but on every day of the year

It might be very hard work, but at the end of the day it is something that can be rejoiced about, because it shows Our Lord of our love for Him and His Father and acknowledges His love for us and as St Paul says, makes us happy in the Lord.

 

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us.

mmedal-2Today, the 8th December, is celebrated as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary the Mother of Christ and Mother of God’s Holy Church.

Many people get confused by the term “immaculate conception”, thinking it refers to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His conception by the power of the Holy Spirit; mistakenly believing it to be the virgin birth. This is quite incorrect.

The Immaculate Conception was that of Our Blessed Lady Herself, and it means that She was conceived without the stain of original sin – the sin of Adam and Eve – and with which everybody is stained at the time of their birth.

The concept of original sin was first alluded to in the 2nd century by Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons in his controversy with certain dualist Gnostics. Other church fathers such as Augustine also developed the doctrine, seeing it as based on the New Testament teaching of Paul the Apostle (Romans 5:12–21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22) and the Old Testament verse of Psalm 51:5. Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose and Ambrosiaster considered that humanity shares in Adam’s sin, transmitted by human generation.

In the theology of the Catholic Church, original sin is regarded as the general condition of sinfulness, that is, the absence of holiness and perfect charity, into which humans are born, distinct from the actual sins that a person commits.

But as Catholics we have believed for centuries that Mary was born without original sin in that she never had this absence of holiness and perfect charity, thus She was created in order to be in that perfect state of God’s grace that eventually she should become the Mother of His Son.

That belief was confirmed as dogma – true teaching – in 1854 by Pope Pius IX, explaining that Mary had been free from the stain and effects of original sin from the very first moment of Her existence.

But why would God give Mary such a unique privilege? For two reasons: Christ, and us.
In the Old Testament, God commanded Moses to take great pains in the proper construction of the Ark of Covenant, the sacred container in which the people of Israel preserved three things: the stone slabs bearing the Ten Commandments; some of the manna that God had miraculously sent from heaven to feed the Israelites during their forty-year sojourn in the desert; and the staff of Aaron, Moses’ brother, the high priest of Israel.

The Old Covenant was a preparation for the New Covenant. These items, Israel’s most precious possessions, all symbolized Christ.

Jesus himself is God’s Word, more truly and fully than the cold stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. His real presence in the Eucharist makes him the real bread from heaven. His perfect sacrifice on the Cross made him the definitive high priest of human history.

Now if the items inside the Ark of the Covenant foreshadowed Christ, what was foreshadowed by the Ark itself, the container of those items?

It foreshadowed Mary, whose womb became the Ark, the container, of the New Covenant.

God had commanded the Israelites to give special construction to the Ark of the Old Covenant.

They had to make it out of acacia wood, which, like cedar wood, doesn’t corrupt with age. They also had to cover the entire Ark, inside and out, with gold – the most valuable and stainless metal known to the ancient world. These special requirements for the Ark reflected the unique importance of what the Ark contained: the Ark was the sign of God’s presence among his people.

When the symbols of the Old Covenant gave way to the reality of the New Covenant, God himself prepared the Ark of the New Covenant, Mary, Jesus’ Mother, just as carefully has he had commanded the old one to be prepared.

He allowed her to be conceived in the normal way, but without inheriting the stain or the effects of original sin – pure and sinless, immaculate, like acacia wood and gold.

This privilege stemmed not from her greatness, but because of the incomparable greatness of what she would contain: Jesus Christ, God himself, our Saviour.

The second reason is us.

One of the effects of original sin is to give us a strong tendency to self-centredness. We spend our lifetimes battling against this tendency by growing more and more like Christ. Since Mary was preserved from original sin, she was also preserved from this deep-seated tendency. This meant that her heart was completely free from any innate selfishness. She, unlike anyone since Adam and Eve, was completely free to love God with an undivided love, to respond to him with her whole heart, mind, soul and strength. No internal divisions or weakness inhibited her total self-giving to the Lord.

Because Christ also made her the mother of the Church and all Christians, she has borne that same love for each one us. She loves each of us with the tenderness and attention of the most devoted mother, but without any of the insecurity or possessiveness that original sin tends to inject into most motherly love. Therefore, all her prayers and hopes for us have to do with bringing us into closer communion with her Son, the one Saviour, who alone can give happiness and meaning to our lives. She doesn’t want to bring us closer to herself – she is not egocentric – rather, she wants and works to bring us closer and closer to Christ.

The Immaculate Conception was the Father’s way of giving Jesus a worthy mother on earth, and of giving us a worthy mother in heaven.

We should thank Him for this great gift, and the best way to do that is to follow in our mother’s footsteps, answering every call that God sends to our hearts and consciences in the same way that Mary answered her call, by saying: “May it be done to me according to your word.”

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us.

Second Sunday of Advent 2014

Masses this week

Monday 8th December – Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Solemn Mass at 6pm followed by Rosary and Benediction
Tuesday 9th December – Feria: Mass at 6pm
Wednesday 10th December – Feria: Mass at 6pm
Thursday 11th December – St Damasus I, Pope & Confessor: Mass at 6pm
Friday 12th December – Feria: Mass at 6pm
Saturday 13th December – St Lucy, Virgin & Martyr: Mass at 6pm
Sunday 14th December – Sunday III of Advent (Gaudete Sunday): Mass at 11.00am