Advent – preparation and renewal

Ideas for Advent – Preparation

The change to purple vestments and the appearance of the Advent Wreath mark a new season and indeed a new year in the Church’s liturgy. Here is a post about the origins and meaning of the Advent Wreath.

Tuesdays of Advent: On the following Tuesdays during Advent, Fr David will celebrate a votive mass to the Holy Spirit on Tuesday from 7:30 to 8:15 pm, and at each mass will preach on the following topics, the purpose of these masses is to pray for renewal:

29th November – The Good News, the Kerygma
6 December – Renewal and the Sacrament of Confession
13 December – Inner Healing and Renewal
20 December – Invocation of the Holy Spirit

Reflecting on Scripture: We move from listening mainly to the Gospel of St. Luke on Sundays to listening to St. Matthew for the next year. To help us get more from reading Matthew, we will have Joan Griffith’s introduction to Matthew’s Gospel as well as her weekly scripture notes on the parish website which, updated as the season progresses, help us get more from the Advent and Christmas readings at Mass.

‘O’ Antiphons: In the liturgy of Advent as the days draw close to Christmas, from 17 December to 23 December, the monastic prayer and the Alleluia verse before the Gospel of the day have antiphons beginning with the exclamation ‘O’. (Antiphon, a word derived from Greek means ‘sounded before’ – or ‘sung before’. It is a short verse, usually from scripture, that sets a theme for the following psalm or other prayer.) These Advent antiphons recapitulate, or summarize, the whole scope of the Old Testament with both words and events that are seen as preparation for the ultimate revelation of God in Jesus. Joan Griffith offers a daily post for each Antiphon for just background information on the preparation for the coming of Jesus, or for your own reflection in this season.

For Families: In our Family Room on the website for the coming Sundays, there will be ideas to help families prepare for the coming of Our Saviour Jesus Christ in human form at Christmas and bring us back to the real meaning of Christmas.

An Advent Retreat run by Irish Chaplaincy in London via zoom from December 5th-9th and it’s free! There will be a daily conference at 9:30am lasting 30/45 mins, with a reflection from speakers including a prison chaplain and an Irish bishop. Contact: eddie.gilmore@irishchaplaincy.org.uk

An Advent Retreat for Young Adults: (18-30s) with the Assumption Sisters on Saturday 3rd December. Young people are invited for a day retreat (10am-5pm) to prepare for Christmas, with teaching, workshops, prayer, confessions and mass. Venue Our Lady of Victories Church Hall W8 6AF. Donations only. Register: tramy@assumptionreligious.org

Our thoughts turn to Giving: Advent is a time of reflection and preparation for the birth of Jesus, an infant born in a stable who soon becomes a refugee. While we think of buying and giving presents for family and loved-ones, the stable reminds us of those who are much less fortunate than us and there are ways to give them presents as well. There is an Advent Giving Calendar suggesting offerings for a local Food Bank; CAFOD World Gifts, can help people fighting poverty in developing countries with “super soup kitchens”, “trees for life”, or “water for a family” and transform lives in a world filled with challenges. CAFOD also gives us ideas to consume less and create less waste with a Live Simply family Christmas. Not least, you can donate to our own Soup Run for the homeless or the Poor Box raising money for Christmas vouchers for the needy.

Coming back to God and to Church for Christmas: Sacramentally, perhaps the best way to draw Advent to a close is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession and additional times will be published closer to Christmas. We know many people have not come back to regular Mass attendance post-pandemic. Perhaps if you know a friend or neighbour who has not returned, you might find a way to broach the topic with them during the next few weeks.

Ideas for Advent – Renewal

33 day consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary – on the 8th December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Fr David would like to invite the whole parish – you – to begin the 33 Day consecration of yourself, family, parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is a daily pattern of prayer which will end with a mass of thanksgiving to Our Lady on Tuesday 10th January 2023.

Underneath the cross stood Mary. The last gift Jesus left his church before he died was a mother, was Mary. ‘Woman behold your son’.

Looking down from the cross, Jesus contemplated the remnant that was left after his three years of public ministry. The remnant – those who remained faithful – were one man and three women – not a success absolutely in human terms. What could Christ do in the face of so much betrayal by his closest friends and co-workers. It seemed his church was going to be still born at birth!

Sounds familiar? In the face of so much failure, Jesus pulls out his trump card, the final gift he makes before he dies – he gives Mary to John and John to Mary; Mary to you and you to Mary; and it said that form that day onward John took Mary into his home; in other words, Jesus institutes Mary as mother of the church, John’s mother, our mother, your mother, and Johns response is to recognize this gift, and he puts Mary at the centre of his ongoing relationship with Christ.

In the Upper Room at Pentecost we see the effect of Mary’s motherhood, when she takes this broken church and through her prayer calls down the Holy Spirit upon them, births in them a new spirit which enables them to be renewed in the this call and vocation.

The 33 day Consecration has the same purpose and intention; see Fr David for details, and for the booklet which can be bought on Amazon for £2.50.

Adoration – Fridays of Advent from Friday 9th December – Fr David would like to make Friday a day of prayer and intercession before the Blessed Sacrament for our parish. The purpose if to pray for a new Pentecost, for renewal, in our personal lives, family life and our parish. The aim is to start at 9:30 am after morning mass and finish at 5pm. For this to work we need adorers who will commit to watching before the blessed Sacrament for a fixed time during Friday. Interested? Please let Fr David know your availability?

Upper Room Faith Group – Are you interested in finding out more about your faith? Feeling like you need to be renewed after 2 years of Covid? Are you interested in becoming a Catholic? Have you been baptised as a Catholic but not confirmed or made your first communion? Do you have a non-Catholic Friend, who is interested in finding out more about the faith? Married to a Catholic and want to find out more? Fr David will be hosting a social one Saturday morning , with coffee and pastries, to outline a way forward. Interested? Contact Fr David after mass or on parish e mail.