Friday, 31 December 2010

On the eve of a New Year

January saw a record number of people at the March for life in Washington DC. In February the Bishops of England and Wales had their ad limina visit in Rome and we can only imagine what the Holy Father discussed with them. In March A new children's book was published under Pope Benedict XVI's name."Gli Amici di Gesu" (The Friends of Jesus) In April more than 2 million people visited the shroud in Turin. In May the Pope travelled to  Fatima, in his own words, to tell Our Blessed Lady that he loved her.
In June the Holy Father spoke movingly to priests and seminarians gathered at the close of year for priests. Thank you for our priests.
In July the 400th anniversary of Caravaggio was celebrated - such wonderful art work of moments in the life of Christ.
In August Youth 2000 gathered  at Walsingham for 'Sanctuary' - adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and great catechesis  from fr Stan Fortuna. In September the wonderful and memorable visit of the Pope to the UK. In October the Chilean Miners were rescued, visibly thanking God as they emerged. In November Gaudi was beatified and his Sagrada Familia Church consecrated and in December we watch as the ordinariate unfolds before our eyes. Life as a Catholic family is never mundane. Let us continue to spread His good news in 2011
Happy New Year !

Friday, 24 December 2010

Light the Christmas candle, The Holy One is Born

Church doors are currently  opening for their Christmas Eve Vigils. Here in the NorthEast of England they begin to do this from 6.00 onwards - far too early in my opinion. Few churches now have Mass at midnight such as the one we attend in the Extrardinary Form. The emphasis of this Mass is on the eternal or Divine birth, whereas it is on the birth as man at the dawn Mass  and at the third Mass of Christmas,  His reappearance  as Judge at the end of time.
"O admirabel Commercium! O Wondrous Exchange! the Creator of the human race, taking to Himself a body and soul, deigned to be born of a Virgin and, appearing as Man but without human lineage, bestowed on us His Divinity" (Roman Breviary)
May the blessings of the Christ Child from his manger bed reach you and those you love and bring peace to your homes and families throughout the season and the coming year.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Today all four candles of the Advent wreath are lit

Today we light the fourth candle on our Advent wreath. The waiting is almost over. Little time left to prepare. Before the next Sunday Christmas is here. The Christ child in our midst. So few people today are aware of His coming. It is up to us to make Him known. Yesterday the Holy Family Guild spent some time singing carols in the Washington area of Newcastle. It was a perfect cold and frosty evening. Our small group of all ages wrapped up warm and carrying lanterns walked from house to house collecting for a local hospice. People listened, welcomed and thanked us. For many it might be their only experience of what Christmas truly means. So our thanks to the singers and our hosts who opened the doors to their lovely home and chapel to end our gathering with mulled wine, a bite to eat and afterwards evening prayers. St Nicholas couldn't attend this year but I'm sure we'll see him back again next year!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

It's still Advent!

It's the third week of Advent so NOT Christmas yet. The Rose candle was lit on Gaudete Sunday and starting tonight we can praise the names of Jesus in the O Antiphons leading to the vigil of the Nativity: Wisdom, Ruler of the House of Israel, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Rising Dawn, King of the Gentiles and Emmanuel. It's a great time to go carolling and keep the story of Christmas alive in our ever increasingly secular surroundings. This year here in the northeast of England it looks as though we may well have snow for our carolling event tomorrow.  Lovely! Wrap up warm, carry lanterns, song sheets if needed and at least a couple of strong voices. Collect for charity. Back indoors for mulled wine and mince pies. You can begin to feel a bit Christmassy! Take time to prepare your soul this week for the coming of the Christ child - Sacrament of Confession, spiritual reading , quiet prayer.

Friday, 10 December 2010

A week of feasts but it's still Advent!

The second week of Advent is ending. Its NOT Christmas yet! The Feast of the Immaculate Conception mid week is a lovely reminder of the Feast of the Nativity to come. How wonderful to have been kept pure from all eternity in order to carry, bear and mother God's son.
This week we also remember St Juan Diego and his encounter with Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the unborn. Sweet smelling roses never before seen in the  New World, gathered up out of season and  falling from the tilma at the bishop's feet to reveal Mary's image.
Let us always pray for Mary's intercession on behalf of  mothers carrying their unborn children, nurturing them in their early days and continuing to make sacrifices.
Pro-life charities are surely worthy candidates of any Advent Alms efforts by families

Monday, 6 December 2010

Happy Feast of St Nicholas!

On this day in 343 AD Bishop Nicholas died in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church. He is the patron saint of children, the unmarried and sailors among others, due to many stories about his life. He was remodelled in Reformation times and somehow became a fat whiskered old man dressed in red called Santa Claus. Happily his tradition survives in many Eurpoean countries and Catholic families should begin to reclaim him as a figure who embodies the true spirit of the Christmas season - helping the needy, doing good to ones neighbour, sharing what we have with others. The tradition of children finding sweets or chocolate in their shoe (wrapped of course) on this day is one everyone will love.
The website has everything about him with stories and pictures, ideas for celebrating the feast and a shop where you can buy a kit for making a crosier!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Jesse Tree

So now you  hopefully have your Advent wreath in use at family prayers. It tells us when Jesus is coming. It doesn't tell us why he is coming. The Jesse Tree is a way to help children and adults get a better understanding of why. Jesse was the father of King David. The idea of the Jesse Tree comes from Isaiah 11:1-9, where God promises a discouraged nation that the glory they remember from David’s time will come again. They will have another king from Jesse’s family, in whose reign the whole earth will know God. The promise is fulfilled in Jesus.  The Jesse Tree is decorated with symbols reminding us  how God prepared the world for that kingdom. It celebrates the lineage of Jesus. It could be a real branch or a painted tree. Each day of Advent after reading  a Bible passage, a symbol made of cardboard or plasticene is placed on the tree to represent a person or event e.g.a rainbow for the Flood, a beautiful coloured coat for Joseph, a whale for Jonah or a lily for Mary. It is a teaching and learning tool and grows into an  Advent calendar. If you want more details regarding specific readings and symbols do please contact me by e mail. Happy Advent!