This Sunday's Good News

A new church year begins this weekend, as we celebrate the first of four Sundays in Advent, prior to the feast of Christmas. For the next three weeks, we are lucky to have reflections by Rev. Prof. Thomas Scirghi SJ, whom some parents and students will remember from his first semester visit, as St Thomas More Chair of Jesuit Studies. These Gospel reflections are published in local journal, Pastoral Liturgy, edited by Fr Russell Hardiman. We are grateful for permission to reprint here.

'First Sunday of Advent: What are we waiting for?

The Gospel for today is taken from the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew. You might think that, for the first Sunday of Advent, and the beginning of the new church year, we would begin at the beginning, chapter one, verse one. Instead we read a passage near the end of the book. Also we continue the "apocalyptic" theme with its dire predictions of the end time: "Be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." This warning points to the theme for the Advent season: keep watch, be vigilant, stay alert.

It is the reason for the colour of the vestments and the altar cloth, the bluish purple. Advent is a time for waiting and anticipation. It is an active waiting to be sure, like young parents awaiting the birth or adoption of their first child. It is like a student waiting for a response to a college application or a driver's licence. The Advent colour - this bluish purple - suggests the night sky just before dawn; it is dark now, but morning time is coming. And as we know, "It is always darkest before the dawn."

This may not mean much to us with our electric light; we can turn night into day. But in Jesus' day, and up to the twentieth century, people arranged their day around the sun for light and for heat. Sunlight is essential on the farm to nourish the crops. So many people rely upon sunlight for life. So the "Son of God" becomes the "light of the world." This is why we celebrate Christmas at this time of year. We do not know exactly when Jesus was born. They did not keep such records back then. But De­cember 25 was the pagan celebration of the winter solstice. On this day the ancient Romans paid tribute to Sol Invictus, the sun god. December 25 was the shortest day of the year and the start of longer days with more sunlight, a precious resource. Our Christian ancestors substituted the Son of God for Sol Invictus, on December 25, for they saw Christ as the true light of the world. During this season of Advent we prepare ourselves to see him anew on Christmas.

Now let us be clear about the meaning of this day. Christmas is not so much about the birth of the baby Jesus in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. It is more about the coming of Christ today, here in our midst. We remember his birth a long time ago, and how almighty God broke into human history and revealed the divine plan of salvation through the birth of a son, Jesus. We Christians give thanks for this birth and we ask what it means for us today. The story of the birth of Jesus to Mary is very important to our faith. But Christmas is about more than remembering a baby's birth. We watch for the Lord and listen for his voice in our darkness. What is he saying to us now? We need to listen for his voice.

This child is the Word of God; he is God's voice. During Advent, while we watch, it is a time to ask, "What is the Lord saying to us in our darkness? What am I waiting for?" Of course, this may be easier said than done. The Lord's voice is like the star in the night sky. Now, I should note that I am writing these reflections from New York City. This city is a great place to live, but it is hard - nearly impossible - to see the stars in the sky. Many city folks miss the natural light from above. The darkness in the sky can be a metaphor for the soul. Occasionally we find ourselves covered in darkness. We may feel a rush to turn on the light - to flood ourselves with artificial light and dispel the dark. Eventually, though, that light goes off and we are still in the dark.

However, we should not be afraid of the dark. Sometimes it is good to sit in the dark, keeping watch all the while. Rather than flooding our lives with artificial light - with stimulation and distraction - we could try to sit in the darkness and keep watch. I n the darkness we may come to see the light. There is an old proverb: "When it is dark enough you can see the stars." During this season of Advent, we need not fear the dark. Rather we keep watch so that we may say, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, "Let its walk in the light of the Lord!"'

Thomas Scirghi SJ

Source: Pastoral Liturgy, Volume 44, No. 1, December 2013 - March 2014, edited by Fr Russell Hardiman.

Community Mass

Friday 6th December take the last opportunity to join the celebration of our Community Mass for this year. We will listen to the beautiful Advent Sunday readings - these rich scriptures deserve more than one hearing! Join the lighting of candles on the advent wreath, the joyous singing of Gospel Choir, and participation of all members of the Community.

Time: 8:00-8:30am, Friday 6th December

Venue: College Chapel

Parish Life

Sacraments

We were very lucky this week to be able to offer Reconciliation in the form of the Second Rite to our Year 6 students. Over the coming two weeks all children in Years 3 to 6 will celebrate this sacrament in their class group. It is made possible through the generosity of some of our local parish priests, and their assistant priests. On this occasion we particularly thank Fr Andrew Albis from Floreat /Wembley Parish, and Fr James D'souza from Cottesloe/Mosman Park Parish. Thank you also to our chaplain, Fr Wilson Donizzetti. It is a valuable experience for the children to experience the love of God through the mediation of their own parish priest.

2014 Family-focused, Parish-based, Catholic School-supported Sacramental Program

If your parish is St Celia's Floreat/Our Lady of Victories, Wembley

ENROLMENTS CLOSE: Wednesday February 12, 2014

PARENT INFORMATION NIGHT: Wednesday March 5, 7.00pm (At least one parent to attend).

COMMITMENT MASSES

on the following dates:

  • Confirmation March 15/ 16 or March 22/23
  • First Communion March 29/30 or April 5/6
  • Reconciliation June 21/22 or June 28/29

(For all children and their families involved in Sacramental Preparation).

CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS at St Cecilia's

Confirmation June 7 or 8

First Communion June 22 or June 28

First Reconciliation Wednesday 4.00 - 5.00pm August 20 or 27 or September 3

ENROLMENT FORM

Send completed enrolment form directly to the Parish.

Contact; Secretary: Prue Pupazzoni. Phone: 9387 1158. Fax: 9387 6794.

Email: florcath@iinet.net.au Web: www.floreatwembleyparish.org.au


If your parish is Holy Rosary Nedlands

ENROLMENT FORM

Can be downloaded here. Send completed enrolment form directly to the Parish.

Email: hrpnedlands@bigpond.com

Advent & Christmas Liturgies

Your local parish will have details of Advent and Christmas Liturgies. This Tuesday 3rd December, St Thomas the Apostle Claremont is hosting Road to Bethlehem - a service of scripture, prayer and carols.