Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Advent Wreath

One of the symbols associated with Advent is the Advent Wreath. There are various traditions that describe its meaning and use. In the midst of all the Christmas decoration, having an Advent Wreath in the home helps keep us in touch with the spirituality of Advent. This in turn will prepare us to connect to the rich spiritual meaning of Christmas. Here is a sample of some of the ways you might use an Advent Wreath as part of your Advent prayer.

             Advent Wreath Candles

Set on the branches of the wreath are four candles: three purple candles and one pink candle. In the center of the wreath sits a white candle. As a whole, these candles represent the coming of the light of Christ into the world. Each week on Sunday, an additional candle is lit

On the First Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the "Prophecy Candle" in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

On the Second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the "Bethlehem Candle," symbolizing Christ's manger.

On the Third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the "Shepherds Candle" and it represents joy.

The fourth and last purple candle, oftentimes called the "Angels Candle," represents peace and is lit on the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the "Christ Candle" and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world. The color white represents purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior. Also, those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.

First Week
All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever.

Second Week
God of power and mercy open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Third Week
Lord God, may we, your people, who look forward to the birthday of Christ experience the joy of salvation and celebrate that feast with love and thanksgiving. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Fourth Week
Father, all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan. Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces his glory and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Advent I - 2016 - A Gift of Time

Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,

for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Mtt 24:42

Time is something we take for granted, ours to use at our discretion. But there in lies the problem. We do not create time; we are only the managers of time. Time is a gift given by God, for a purpose.

As servants of the landowner, a portion of the “garden of time” is assigned to us, wherein to plant the works of holiness and reap an abundant harvest, as best we can.

The gospels are rich in this imagery, given by Jesus in his parables, to help us to learn and understand the purpose of our existence in time. So, what kind of servant am I?
Misguided: – increasingly, the shroud of secularism is spreading over the mind of this generation. With man at the centre, time is exclusively ours to do with as we please. There is no other to which we must account.

Negligent: – those who have been informed with a conscience that teaches us of responsibility for what happens in our time. Yet tomorrow seems to be the time of choice.
Selfish: – yes, but time is limited so me first.
Wise: – every day is my last day. At what works will I be found engaged when he comes to call me?

The First Sunday of Advent begins a new year of grace; a new year to study the gospels and the works of holiness; a new gift of time. What lies ahead is hidden. Only one thing is certain - we will be asked for an accounting of this time spent.

Earlier Post for the First Sunday of Advent

To follow the whole sequence of post for each particular year, click on the series you wish to follow. At the bottom of each post click on [Newer Posts] to access the next in sequence.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Christ the King Sunday 2016

So now we have come to the end of our journey through this Liturgical Year. St. Luke and his gospel-telling has been our guide. The path ends at the Cross of Jesus where we are presented with a decision to make. On which side of the "Big Question" have I chosen to take my stand, which path do I choose to follow? Is Jesus truly who he claims to be - Son of God, the Way, the Truth, the Life, sent to lead me into eternal life - Or is he not?

The gospel passage for this feast of Christ the King takes us to the scene of the Crucifixion. Two crosses with two men on either side of the Cross of Jesus characterize the question we all face today. One of them sees no satisfying evidence that any of the claims about Jesus are true. Where is the proof? How accurately does he represent so many voices heard today; [the ever-present question of the problem of evil in the world.]
“Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
The other one sees truth in Jesus' innocence and is willing to take the step of faith. 
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Lk 23:42
On this feast of Christ the King, the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy comes to an end with the closing of the Holy Door of Mercy at St. Peter's in Rome and in the cathedrals around the world. During this final week of the liturgical year, let us take time to review our own personal experience - our own encounters with God's Mercy. How has God's Mercy freed us from that which once held us bound; frail and weak, unable to serve God as his faithful Servant?

A new year of grace is about to begin. What awaits us? To what is God calling us? How shall we engage in the service of Jesus Christ the King?

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Liturgical Year End

As the Liturgical Year comes to a close, apocalyptic themes appear in the Liturgy of the Word. As St. Paul reminds us; "... the world as we know it is passing away." 1 Cor. 7:31. 

It is not uncommon to hear people making definitive statements as to how and when. In Matthew 24: Jesus speaks of end times, but adds; "... but concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven nor the Son, but only the Father." 

Fr. Thomas Rosica of Salt&Light has an excellent article on how to approach apocalyptic scriptures. Here is the LINK.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Meditation for the 32nd Sunday

Brothers and sisters:
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed
and word . . . .

But the Lord is faithful;
he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thess. 2:16

As we enter these final weeks of this liturgical year, it is a good time to look back and assess the impact this year has had on our spiritual lives. The gospel of Luke has been the featured gospel for our instruction. Luke’s combination of his gospel account together with his Acts of the Apostles, focused on the Holy Spirit, the very source of the Christian Life.

Jesus reminded his apostles that apart from him their efforts to live a truly holy life would be fruitless. But Jesus revealed, that it was in the Father’s plan that Jesus would sent the Holy Spirit to them, to empower them to bear the fruits of a truly holy life – empowerment because at every level they would be opposed by the vicious attacks of the Evil One.

In the second reading for todays liturgy of the word, St. Paul is reminding us that in our struggle to live a holy life, “that the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.”

In his letter to the Ephesians St. Paul gives this instruction, "Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.

Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.

• So stand fast with your loins girded in TRUTH,
• clothed with RIGHTEOUSNESS as a breastplate,
• and your feet shod in readiness for the GOSPEL OF PEACE.
• In all circumstances, hold FAITH as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
• And take the helmet of SALVATION
• and the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of GOD. Ephesians 6:10

Once again, it is in prayer that we acquire this necessary armor.

It is important that we have a clear understanding of nature and purpose of prayer. Prayer is not an isolated, personal thing that we like to take up when convenient, not unlike a hobby. Rather, prayer is an essential, component part of the wider Christian spiritual life. Prayer is a school, where we study under the Master's instruction, how to live a full and rich and productive Christian Life.

 It is in prayer that:
  • we meet Christ through a personal encounter. We forsake all other possible directions for our lives, choosing to make Jesus' way, our way, and the direction our life will take.
  • we hear his voice speaking to us, we learn directly and personally from the Master, what our unique calling will be.
  • the scriptures are opened up to us, and we see the bigger picture, understanding that we are part of the master plan of salvation for all the world.
  • we learn that there is a highly intelligent agent opposing God's plans. We learn how evil works, using lies to deceive good people of good intention; twisting them into actual opponents against God's purposes.
  • we are healed of our "wounds of sin", and give fresh hearts to engage in the struggle of good over evil.

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