Advent

O Emmanuel – God is with us – 23rd December 2013

  An extract from the writings of Benedict XVI.‘At the heart of this mystery is the paradox that the glorious God decided to manifest Himself in the helplessness of a child who is overlooked by adult society and comes to the world in a stable.The powerlessness of a child has become the proper expression of God’s all subduing power, for the only force He employs is the silent force of truth and love.  It was in the defenceless weakness of a child that God wanted us to have our first encounter with saving mercy.  How comforting it is to see the peaceful tranquillity of God and thus to experience the security emanating from a power that in the end will be stronger than any other force and will outlast the loud triumphal cries of the world’.Our mother, Mary, in her generous and humble response to God’s invitation to participate in this  mystery of the Incarnation teaches us ‘that only with Christ has authentic joy made its appearance and the only thing of ultimate importance in our lives is to learn to see and know Christ, the God of grace, the light and joy of the world’.In Him do our hearts find joyWe trust in His Holy Name – God is with us.

By |December 24th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Rex Gentium – 22nd December 2013

 O King whom all the people desire,You are the cornerstonewhich makes all one:O come,and save us whom you made from clay. How do you approach a King? In our way of thinking, kings inspire awe and wonder, surrounded as they are by wealth; lacking nothing; held to be gracious when they condescend to smile at us or speak to us; so far out of reach and outside our reality as to be unapproachable, untouchable, altogether alien from the little moments that fill our days and shape our lives.  Kings have need of nothing because they have more than one … or two … or three of everything: cars, planes, palaces, lands. … Today, as we draw nearer to that day of Incarnation, without which there could never have been a Resurrection – we are reminded that Jesus is our King, our Desire, our Cornerstone, our Unity – making out of such an array of diversity, one-ness; and we call on Him who formed us from the dust of the earth, to save us. How do you approach a King? Who can tell me how to draw near to my King: He whom I desire?Who can reassure me that my littleness and worthlessness: all my sins and failings – all those moments that cast shadow rather than radiate light – who will convince me that these are not obstacles which make my desire unattainable? He will. In the people He sets before us – Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Joseph and Mary – He shows me that poverty and littleness are in fact helps, because if I know […]

By |December 22nd, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Rising Sun – 21st December

“O Rising Sun, you are the splendour of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.”In today’s antiphon we greet Christ as the “Rising Sun” and “sun of justice”; the one who comes to guide and enlighten us. This links in with Malachi’s prophecy “for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings” (Mal 4:2). This message that Christ is the one who enlightens and heals us is particularly important in the darkness of the world today – a world of seemingly unending violence and war, a world where many people can see no way out of financial problems, sickness or addictions.  In response to this Jesus himself gives us a message of hope: “I have come as light into the world that whoever believes in me will not remain in darkness” (Jn 12:46). It is not that Jesus promises to get rid of all the difficulties and hardships, but he is with us to give us the light and strength we need to walk through them and not stumble or have our way blocked in darkness.

By |December 21st, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Key of David – 20th December

 O Key of David and sceptre of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open.  O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.Today we address our awaited Messiah as ‘Key of David’ and our antiphon paints a graphic picture of Him as a leader who unlocks prisons and leads the captives to freedom.  Our first thoughts may turn to all those who are in prisons throughout our world; those who are slaves to addictions and violence; to those areas where there is war and unjust governments – the list is endless.While keeping all these in mind I was drawn to reflect on the meaning of true freedom and what it means for each of us in our daily lives.  Freedom is a theme which is dear to human beings from the beginning and which we find woven into the pages of both Old and New Testaments. Israel was formed as a people when Moses led a group of nomadic slaves through the desert towards the promised land of freedom – a symbol of our Baptism where Jesus our true leader leads us from the darkness of sin to the liberty of the children of God as St Paul reminds us: “He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13–14).    Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in search of liberation, always in search of inner balance and unity.  Unfortunately we seek it in the wrong places and our […]

By |December 20th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

19th December – O Root of Jesse

O Radix Jesse, O Root of Jesse. ‘There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse’. On the 17th we heard  ‘O Wisdom ,you came forth from the mouth of the Most High’. That we can all readily believe, that is right and fitting. But that this Word of God should take flesh in Mary, should actually be of our stock, be of the stock of Jesse that is what the Church calls on us to reflect about today. Yes, Eternal Wisdom proceeds from the mouth of the Most High, but he proceeds also from the bodies of several generations of human beings. He becomes like us in every way except He is without sin. And lest we be tempted to forget that, even on Christmas Night His ancestry is recalled. Many find the solemn singing of the Genealogy tedious and boring but it contains a message of great hope for us, great reassurance, great comfort. Jesus is not afraid or ashamed of his past. No one need be omitted from it ,even those men and women whose lives were somewhat unsavoury if not down right evil, they all went into the forming of his flesh and because of that it is possible for them to partake in His Divinity. In His body He was put to death and through that body He opens up the way to life for us. If He was prepared to come into a world like that , then we can be confident that He is prepared to come to our world, our hearts, with all their accumulated weight of sin. We can be confident that He will […]

By |December 19th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Adonai – 18th December 2013

 O Adonai and Leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bushand you gave him the Law on Sinai.O come and save us with your mighty power. “The mystery of the Incarnation and the sheer wonder of the Christian proclamation of truth is that Christ shares His experience with each one of us. And he actively invites each one of us to enter into His own experience of the Father..  He invites us not just to make some sort of intellectual assent. he invites us to share, to share with his experience in all its fullness, to share and to be carried away by the infinite thrust of his energy, as He knows the Father and loves the Father, and as He, in his turn, is known and loved infinitely.And this is what we are all called to” – (The Way of Unknowing by  John Main)   We are invited  to enter the eternal moment of God’s self-communication in Jesus.“O Adonai” is the Hebrew word for “Lord”.  God has a personal name in the Bible, but it was considered too holy for normal use, so when the Reader at public worship in the Synagogue found the holy name in the text, he read the word ‘Adonai’ or ‘Lord’ instead. God’s appearance to Moses in the burning bush is associated with the sacred name indicated by  “Adonai” and God’s self description as “I AM WHO I AM”.  The names “Lord” and “I am” indicate that God is both known to us and is  beyond our knowledge.  He gives us his name,  yet this name directs our attention to God as he is in himself, rather than any ideas we may have of him.The burning bush is […]

By |December 18th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Antiphons – Advent 2013

From the 17th to the 23rd December each evening at Vespers we sing the great ‘O Antiphons’ before and after the Magnificat.  We would like to share with readers of this blog the various reflections on these antiphons prepared by sisters:17th December            O Sapientia   –  O Wisdom  O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter,suaviterque disponens Omnia:veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High.  You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner.  O come to teach us the way of prudence.The liturgical texts from today invite me to thank God for His wonderful deeds, for the creation of the world and for the whole history of redemption, which is penetrated with His Wisdom.St Matthew in the Gospel shows us a long and complicated genealogy with many people, men and women.  Each name hides a life story.  At the conclusion of it is the birth of Jesus.I sometimes ask, like St John the Baptist, when I am surrounded be shadow and darkness; unanswered questions; by situations without solutions:Does God know about me?Are you the Messiah?Are you the One who is to come or are we to expect someone else?  (Mt 11:3)I cannot see the miracles that are happening.  But Jesus tells me: ‘The blind see again and the lame walk …’ It is the time of salvation.The Church teaches:  God guides the world and my life in a mysterious way.  He guides everything along paths that only He knows, leading it to its […]

By |December 17th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudate Sunday – 2013

 The day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus over two thousand years ago, is drawing very close. The Church’s Advent Liturgy is unbelievably rich in helping us to reflect and pray on this unfathomable mystery of God’s stupendous gift to us of His only begotten Son.In today’s Gospel from St. Matthew, we read: ‘John the Baptist in his prison heard what Jesus was doing’. St. Matthew says ‘his prison’ not just ‘prison’.  This leads us to reflect on how all of us can be in some kind of prison at one time or another in our lives – the prison of fear, of insecurity, selfishness, depression, pride, prejudice, illness, unbelief, poor self image – the list is endless.  Whatever it may be, we too, like John the Baptist, can hear in the Gospels, what Jesus said and did, and of course, we hear him in the teaching of the Church.A few weeks ago Pope Francis in his Angelus message to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square said: ‘I would like all of you to consider a medicine,” at this point he raised a little box for the crowds to see.  The Pope continued: ‘It is a special medicine to make the fruit of the Year of Faith more concrete’-  and I’m sure we could add to the Pope’s words of encouragement -, to make our whole life more fruitful  when we are healed of what it is that imprisons us – ‘Take it!’ said the Pope,  It’s a Rosary which one can pray also the chaplet of Divine Mercy, spiritual help for our souls and for spreading love, forgiveness and brotherhood everywhere’.  ‘Don’t forget to take it,’ he repeated, ‘because it does good.  […]

By |December 15th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

Second Sunday of Advent Year A

  While reflecting on this Sunday’s Readings I was attracted towards the First Reading from Isaiah- towards the peace and harmony portrayed and established between animals, nature and in this instance little children –to quote some lines;The wolf lives with the lamb…with a little boy to lead them.The cow and the bear make friends.The infant plays over the cobra’s hole;into the viper’s lairthe young child puts his hand.And then the following beautiful words bring us consolation and hope in the midst of our war torn, violent and suffering world:They do no hurt, no harm,on all my holy mountain,for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lordas the waters swell the sea. If only this were the present reality! Yet, Advent is the season of hope and we are called to keep this hope alive. These beautiful words of Isaiah paint a panorama of the harmony that reigned at the dawn of creation, only to be broken by sin and  they also describe the messianic peace that will come about with the coming of the Messiah- of Jesus, our Saviour. John the Baptist asks us to prepare his way by seeking a change of heart – by repentance.What struck me especially in this passage from the Old Testament were the three references to children – the little boy, the infant and the young child- children not adults were part of these scenes of peace and harmony. In connecting this  to the repentance and  change of heart recommended in the Gospel I was reminded of Jesus’ saying in Matthew 18:3 “ Unless you turn ( or have a change of heart) and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom […]

By |December 8th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

First Sunday of Advent – 2013

 Readings: Isaiah 2:1-5                 Romans: 13:11-14                 Mt24:37-44 The Mass readings for this first Sunday of Advent provide us with a wake-up call: St Paul tells us “you must wake up now” and in the Gospel Jesus tells us to “stay awake!” while the Prophet Isaias invites us to “walk in the light of the Lord.”  So as we begin a new Church year we are invited to come into the light – to remove the blinds from the windows of our hearts and to let the light shine in – remembering that the true Light is Jesus Himself.  He is the True Light shining on us and who desires to penetrate and posses our inmost being.  The struggle between light and darkness is a perennial one – it is the struggle in which we are all engaged – the struggle to keep our hearts free and not to allow ourselves to be enslaved by false attractions – the struggle to keep our hearts free for God alone.  It is the struggle about which Paul speaks in the letter to the Romans: “no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness and no wrangling or jealousy.” And he advises us: “Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ; forget about satisfying your bodies with all their cravings.”   Today there is a lot of darkness in the world around us – at times it would seem that the powers of darkness are let loose but we know that the light will eventually triumph.   More than ever before it is necessary for us to “give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark and arm ourselves and appear in the light.” We must let nothing enslave […]

By |December 1st, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments