28th November 2021 – 1st Week of Advent
This weekend the Season of Advent begins. On the First Sunday in Advent, we begin our Advent journey together, a chance to renew our relationship with Christ and with each other, and to unite ourselves more deeply to Christ through the power of His transformative love.
The season of Advent is a time to pause, to take stock and to reflect, as we prepare to receive the gift of God’s love coming to us through the birth of the Christ child at Christmas. Much like a Lenten period of fasting and sacrifice, the early Church urged Christians to dedicate Advent to readying themselves for Christ. Such practices remind us today that we too are also called to be attentive to the message of repentance and the end times. This may seem unexpected considering the extravagant ways we eat, shop, celebrate, and rejoice as Christmas approaches! The four weeks of Advent though are popularly considered to symbolize the four thousand years of darkness before the coming of Christ. We set up Nativity scenes, light Advent candles, and decorate wreaths in our homes and churches to signify Christ’s presence coming in the darkness of our human sin and suffering.
During Advent there are three prevalent themes we experience as we wait patiently for the coming of Christ at Christmas. We long for the Messiah, are urged to be alert for Jesus’ Second Coming, and meditate on Christ’s presence in our lives now. The Scripture readings for the four weeks of Advent and the Liturgy of the Hours revolve around the first two of these themes. They encourage proper preparation, point to the grace and humility of Mary, show us how to adore God in the Incarnation, and recognize the glory of Jesus and how he comes to free us from sin and ingratitude. We hear from the prophet Isaiah and are drawn to the compelling message of John the Baptist in the Gospels.It is important to consider how we can grow in spiritual wholeness during such a busy commercial season. Maybe take some time for silence and reflection each day with Scripture, a devotional prayer, or may be come to spend some quiet time in church before the Blessed Sacrament. Dwell with the scene of the Nativity. What is it like to imagine the journey of Mary and Joseph and to be with them as the
baby Jesus comes into the world? St. Ignatius of Loyola had a deep reverence for the Nativity scene, as we see in his Spiritual Exercises. Consider praying with Saints like him, with the Liturgy of the Hours, or with the O Antiphons during the last week before Christmas.
A prayerful journey with the Holy Family and the Church throughout Advent will lead to gifts of gratitude and joy when we enter the Christmas Season.
This weekend, we shall continue to give out copies of Walk with Me, a journey of Prayer for Advent. These handy little pocket Prayer Books have been specially designed by the Diocese of Nottingham to follow the daily Mass Readings during Advent and to help us to journey and prepare together as individuals and as a diocese for the coming of Christmas. There is a short Preface written by Bishop Patrick, and the theme of this useful little booklets daily reflection and prayer is, ‘An Encounter with Jesus, the Word made Flesh.’ It mirrors our own diocesan seasonal theme of ‘Encounter’, and I am offering these booklets to you as a small free gift this Advent from your parish. Please do take copies home with you and use them each day during the Advent season and take some extra copies too to share with your family and friends.
There will be a series of Advent Services of Recollection throughout the Deanery during Advent. We shall hold ours here at St. Marys on Tuesday evening 14th December at 7 pm. This service will replace the normal evening Mass at 7 pm. Mass that day will be celebrated in the morning at 11.30am. Please note the time, as earlier that morning I shall be attending the Nativity Play at St. Mary’s Primary School.
This Tuesday evening, 30th November, on the Feast of St. Andrew, at the 7 pm Mass, I will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to Oliwia Grabinska and Melissa Jayakody. Both sadly had to miss being confirmed by Bishop Patrick during his recent visit to our parish in October as they were shielding at the time. But with the Bishop’s kind permission, I am glad that they can also be confirmed this year. Please do keep them both in your prayers as they take this next important step in their journey of faith and in their commitment to the Church.
With my prayers for you and for your families during the coming week,
Your friend and Parish Priest,
IMPORTANT Newsletters – Our Parish Newsletters are available to be viewed and downloaded from our Parish website.
The online version will not include the Sunday Message
The Sunday Message and Newsletter will be available to download but this will be password protected – the password can be obtained from the Parish.
2021 28th November – Newsletter – Download
2021 28th November – Newsletter (Including Sunday Message – Password Protected)– Download
2021 28th November – LOOK – (Password Protected)– Download