First Sunday of Advent 2018

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…

Collect

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.

Secret

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.

Postcommunion

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

 

Second Sunday of Advent 2015

Masses this week

Sunday 6th December – Second Sunday of Advent (V): Solemn Mass at 6.00pm
Monday 7th December – St Ambrose (W): Mass at 7.30pm
Tuesday 8th December – Immaculate Conception of the BVM (W): Solemn Mass at 7.30pm
Wednesday 9th December – Feria (V): Mass at 7.30pm
Thursday 10th December – Translation of the Holy House of Loreto (W): Mass at 7.30pm
Friday 11th December – No Mass
Saturday 12th December – Feria (V): No Mass

All Masses are offered according to the Missale Romanum of 1962

Introit (Isaiah 30:30)

People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations: and the Lord shall make the glory of His voice to be heard, in the joy of your heart. (Ps 79:2) Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep. Glory be… People of Sion…

Collect

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son: that through His coming we may attain to serve Thee with purified minds. Who liveth and reigneth…

Epistle (Romans 15:4-13)

Bretheren, for what things soever were written, were written for our learning: that through patience and the comfort of the scriptures, we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ: That with one mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honour of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy name. And again he saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and magnify him, all ye people. And again Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse; and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing; that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.

Gradual (Ps 49: 2-3, 5)

Out of Sion the loveliness of His beauty: God shall come manifestly. Gather ye together His Saints to Him, Who have set His covenant before sacrifices.

Alleluia, alleluia. (Ps 21:1) I rejoiced at the things that we said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. Alleluia.

 Gospel (Matthew 11:2-10)

St John the BaptistAt that time, when John had heard in prison the works of Christ: sending two of his disciples he said to him: Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another? And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments, are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? a prophet? yea I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.Creed

Offertory (Ps 84:7-9)

Thou wilt turn, O God, and bring us to life, and Thy people shall rejoice in Thee: show us, O Lord, Thy mercy, and grant us Thy salvation

Secret

Be appeased, we beseech The, O Lord, by the prayers and sacrifices of our humility: and where we lack pleading merits of our own, do Thou, by Thine aid, assist us. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son…

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 (Baruch 5:5, 4:3, 6)

Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high, and behold the joy that cometh to thee from thy God.

Postcommunion

Filled with the food of spiritual nourishment, we humbly entreat Thee, O Lord, that by our partaking of this Mystery, Thou woulds teach us to despise the things of earth, and to love those of heaven. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ…


Thought for the Week

Today’s Gospel informs us that Saint John the Baptist, while in prison where he had been thrown by Herod’s command, sent two of his disciples to Jesus Christ to ask him whether he is the Messiah. This gave Jesus Christ the opportunity to praise Saint John before the people; he ended by saying that John is the man of whom it was written: I am sending my angel before you, to prepare for you the path where you will walk. You too, as well as Saint John, are angels sent by God to prepare a path for him, so that he can enter your heart and the hearts of your disciples. For this purpose you need to do two things: first, you must resemble the angels by your interior and exterior purity. Like the angels, you must be entirely detached
from your body and from the pleasures of the senses, so that nothing seems to be left in you but your soul, which you are concerned about exclusively and which is the only object of your care. For you are destined by God to apply yourselves, like the holy angels, only to what refers to his service and to the care of souls. In you, as Saint Paul says, the outer man must decay, so that the inner man may be renewed day by day. You must become like the angels and like them, as the same Apostle says, not consider things that are visible but only those that are invisible, for, he continues, the former are temporary and pass away, whereas the latter are eternal and will be forever the object of our affection.

—St John Baptiste De La Salle, Meditations for the Sundays of Advent

As we continue through the Season of Advent, let us all remember in our prayers those who are suffering or who have died as a result of terrorist atrocities throughout the world; especially those murdered in San Bernadino, California and Paris; let us also pray for all those who are suffering, both Christian and Muslim, in Syria and Iraq at the hands of the D’aesh terrorists and their murderous mediæval ideology.

Let us also pray that through the efforts of not just our own security services but those of our allies the world may be kept safe from the scourge of terrorism and religious fanaticism.

‡ Peter.


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.

First Sunday of Advent 2014 – Arise, for the light is upon us

Masses this week

Sunday 30th November – First Sunday of Advent: Mass at 11.00am
Monday 1st December – Feria: Mass at 6.00pm
Tuesday 2nd December – St Bibiana (V&M): Mass at 6.00pm
Wednesday 3rd December – St Francis Xavier (Conf): Mass at 6.00pm
Thursday 4th December – Ss Peter Chrysologus (Bp, Conf & DCh) and Barbara (V&M): Mass at 6.00pm
Friday 5th December – St Sabbas (Ab): Mass at 6.00pm
Saturday 6th December – St Nicholas (Bp & Conf): Mass at 9.00am

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…

Collect

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.

Secret

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.

Postcommunion

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…


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 urgue 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)


A lit candle in the Advent wreath at St. John Vianney Church in Prince Frederick, Md., marks 2009's first Sunday of Advent. (CNS/Bob Roller)
A lit candle in the Advent wreath at St. John Vianney Church in Prince Frederick, Maryland, US, marks 2009’s first Sunday of Advent. (CNS/Bob Roller)

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!”

We have reached a new beginning, the first Sunday of a new liturgical season, Advent.

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.

The first reason behind the liturgical seasons is negative, and the second is positive.

The negative reason 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 is more positive.

The seasons 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, 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