Masses this week
Sunday 2nd December – First Sunday of Advent: Mass at 11.00am; Vespers and Benediction at 6.00pm
Monday 3rd December – St Francis Xavier (Conf): Mass at 6.00pm
Tuesday 4th December – Ss Peter Chrysologus (Bp, Conf & Eccl Doct) and Barbara (V&M): Mass at 6.00pm
Wednesday 5th December -St Sabbas (Ab): Mass at 6.00pm
Thursday 6th December – St Nicholas (Bp & Conf): Mass at 6.00pm
Friday 7th December – St Ambrose (Bp, Conf & Eccl Doct): Mass at 6.00pm
Saturday 8th December – The Immaculate Conception of the BVM: Solemn Mass at 10.00am; Rosary and Benediction at 6.00pm
All Masses are offered according to the Missale Romanum of 1962
Propers for the First Sunday of Advent
Introit (Ps 24:1-3)
To thee have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed: neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on Thee shall be confounded. – ℣ (Ps 24:4) Show, O Lord, Thy ways to me: and teach me Thy paths. Glory Be….. —To Thee have I lifted…
Stir up Thy power, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come: that from the threatening dangers of our sins we may deserve to be rescued by Thy protection, and to be saved by Thy deliverance. Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
Epistle (Rom 13:11-14)
Brethren, know that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Gradual (Ps 24:3, 4)
All they that wait on Thee shall not be confounded, O Lord. ℣ Show, O Lord, Thy ways to me: and teach me Thy paths.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣ (Ps 84:8) Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy: and grant us Thy salvation. Alleluia.
Gospel (Luke 21: 25-33)
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves: men withering away for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved. And then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand. And He spoke to them a similitude: See the fig tree and all the trees: when they now shoot forth their fruit you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen I say to you, this generation shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away. —Credo
Offertory (Ps 24: 1-3)
To Thee have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed: neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait for Thee shall be confounded.
May these holy Mysteries, O Lord, cleanse us by their powerful virtue and make us to come with greater purity to Him Who is their source. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth…..
Preface of the Most Holy Trinity
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to Thee, holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son and the Holy Ghost, art one God, one Lord: not in the Oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one Substance. For what by Thy revelation we believe of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation; so that in confessing the true and eternal Godhead, in It we should adore distinction in Persons, unity in Essence, and equality in Majesty: in praise of which Angels and Archangels, Cherubim also and Seraphim, day by day exclaim, without end and with one voice, saying: — Sanctus
Communion (Ps 84: 13)
The Lord will give goodness: and our earth shall yield her fruit.
May we receive, O Lord, Thy mercy in the midst of Thy temple, that we may prepare with due honour for the approaching feast of our redemption. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ…
This Week’s Homily
The season of Advent is a season of penance and prayer in preparation for the coming of the Son of God in the flesh, and also for His Second Coming to judge mankind. The Masses for Advent strike a note of preparation and repentance mingled with joy and hope, hence while the penitential purple vestments are worn and the Gloria is omitted, the joyous Alleluia is retained.
The readings from the Old Testament contained in the Introit, Gradual, Offertory and Communion of these Masses, generally taken from the prophecies of Isaiah and from the Psalms, remind us of the longing of all nations for a Redeemer. The Lessons from St Paul urge us to dispose ourselves fittingly for His coming. The Gospels describe the terrors of the last judgement, the Second Coming—good reason to inspire longing for the Redeemer—and tell us of the preaching of John the Baptist “to prepare the way of the Lord.”
“This First Sunday of Advent, or the Fourth before Christmas, is the first day of the Liturgical Year. The Mass prepares us this day for the double coming (adventus) of mercy and justice. That is why St Paul tells us, in the Epistle, to cast off sin in order that, being ready for the coming of Christ as our Saviour, we may also be ready for His coming as our Judge, of which we learn in the Gospel. Let us prepare ourselves, by pious aspirations and by the reformation of our life, for this twofold coming. Jesus our Lord will reward those who yearn for Him and await Him: ‘Those who trust in Him shall not be confounded.'”
Commentary by Fr Sylvester P Juergens SM (1894-1969) from Daily Missal and Liturgical Manual (Laverty, 1938)
Amid all the switching on of “Xmas Lights” and late night shopping in towns all over the country, the Season of Advent goes largely un-noticed. For many—if not most—Christmas is upon us and the emphasis is on the material meaning: who can outdo whom with expensive presents, stocking up on vast amounts of food and drink, Christmas parties and such like. It is an immensely commercial time, which can begin at any time from September onwards with the replacement of the barbecues in the “Seasonal” aisle of the supermarkets with Christmas decorations, tins of sweets and so forth. The whole time of year seems to become more and more commercialised as the years go by. And every year I say to myself “Its not even Advent yet!”
But we have reached a new beginning, the first Sunday of a new liturgical season, Advent, and the start of a new liturgical year.
Every year the Church leads us through the different liturgical seasons. The first season is Advent, followed by Christmas. After Christmas we have a few weeks of the time after the Epiphany, leading into the Easter Cycle starting with the season of Septuagesima. This leads after three Sundays into the season of Lent, which leads into Passiontide, Holy week and ultimately the Eastertide. Then we move into the Season after Pentecost, lasting until the end of November.
Each one of these liturgical seasons has its own meaning, and along with that meaning, it has its own characteristics. They have Mass readings that are connected by common themes, they have special days, celebrations, and traditions and each Season has its own liturgical colour.
Taken all together, the seasons of the liturgy are like a spiritual tour. The Church is the tour guide. The sites the Church points out include all the major events in the history of salvation: from Creation, which we recall at the Easter Vigil, to Christ’s Second Coming, which this first Sunday of Advent highlights.
But why does the Church insist on taking us through this yearly tour of salvation history? Why do we have to revisit the same celebrations and seasons every single year?
Is it just some sentimental tradition, or does it actually have a worthwhile purpose? The Church hasn’t survived and thrived for two thousand years because it is full of sentimental traditions. The Church is a wise spiritual mother, guided by the Holy Spirit, and the liturgical seasons are an expression of this wisdom. At least two worthwhile purposes are at work in this liturgical calendar, and the more clearly we understand them, the more fully we will be able to benefit from them.
There are two reasons behind the liturgical seasons.
The first is simply that the Church doesn’t want us to forget about what’s most important. Human life is full of excitement, suffering, being busy, complex relationships, and urgent deadlines: there’s just a lot going on. It has always been like that, but the pace and cacophony have been steadily increasing ever since the invention of mass media. In the midst of so much noise and activity, the devil keeps his eye on us. He wants us to give so much attention to the daily headlines of our busy lives that we pay less and less attention to the bigger picture, to the headlines that God has written and wants to write for all time.
By giving us a yearly tour through the liturgical seasons, the Church has a chance to cut through the urgent, busy things that the devil uses to distract us, and highlight the important, lasting things, like sin and salvation, death and judgement, God’s love, God’s plan, God’s commandments.
The second reason behind the liturgical seasons that they are designed to help us grow in grace. The seasons of the natural world create rhythms of light, temperature, and moisture that enable plants and animals to grow, spread, and thrive. This is why you can tell the age of a tree if you count the rings exposed by a cross-section of its trunk. Each ring is a year, a series of ordered and inter-related seasons. God designed the natural world to work that way. And he has designed the supernatural world, the world of faith and grace, to work in a similar way.
During each liturgical season, as we turn the attention of our minds and hearts to the different truths of God’s word and events of Christ’s life, our souls receive fresh nourishment and enlightenment.
The liturgical seasons help us grow spiritually in a balanced and healthy way, avoiding spiritual staleness and stunted growth. As we go through life, the truths of our faith stay the same, but we change. And so, every time we revisit them, we see new aspects of them. For example, it is one thing for a child to celebrate Christmas and welcome Jesus into the world, but it is a very different thing for someone who has become a parent to contemplate God becoming a little baby. It’s the same mystery of divine love, but seen and appreciated from vastly different perspectives.
God always has something fresh to say to us, and he says it through our contemplation of his Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Each event in Christ’s life, celebrated through the liturgical seasons, is a flowing fountain of wisdom, and every time we go back to it, we are refreshed and strengthened anew; we grow in grace.
To help us cut through the noise and grow in grace, these are two of the main purposes the Church gives us the beautiful, powerful rhythm of liturgical seasons.
God is doing his part to achieve those purposes. But we have to do our part too.
God has something ready for each one of us during this Advent: maybe a new insight that will make us grow in wisdom; maybe an experience of forgiveness or spiritual liberation that will bring us deeper interior peace; maybe a word of grace that will heal us of an old and festering emotional wound; maybe a personalized spiritual vitamin that will strengthen and inspire us for a new mission he has in store.
Only he knows how we are meant to grow during this Advent. The best way for us to find out is to cooperate with him, to make a decent effort to do our part. Something should be different in our lives during these next four weeks. Something should be different in our homes, in how we spend our time, in what we think about.
Advent is about the coming of Christ: his first coming two thousand years ago, his future coming at the end of history, and his present coming in our lives today. Our job during this month before Christmas is to focus our attention on that, to pray about it, to reflect on it, to let it touch our lives.
But we don’t have to wait until tomorrow to start our Advent activities: we can start right now, with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Christ comes to us during the Mass, entering into our lives through the Eucharist, just as he entered into the world at the first Christmas.
Let’s make sure he finds plenty of room.
With all blessings
‡ Archbishop Peter