First Sunday of Advent
Advent, which begins on this Sunday, is a period of joyful expectation during which we prepare to welcome Christ into our lives.
The celebration of Advent has evolved in the spiritual life of the Church. The origins of Advent are hard to determine with great precision. In its earliest form, beginning in France, Advent was a period of preparation for the Feast of the Epiphany, a day when converts were baptized; so the Advent preparation was very similar to Lent with an emphasis on prayer and fasting which lasted three weeks and later was expanded to 40 days. In 380, the local Council of Saragossa, Spain, established a three-week fast before Epiphany. Inspired by the Lenten regulations, the local Council of Macon, France, in 581 designated that from Nov. 11 (the Feast of St. Martin of Tours) until Christmas fasting would be required on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Eventually, similar practices spread to England. In Rome, the Advent preparation did not appear until the sixth century, and was viewed as a preparation for Christmas with less of a penitential bent.
The Church gradually formalized the celebration of Advent. The Gelasian Sacramentary, traditionally attributed to Pope St. Gelasius I (d. 496), was the first to provide Advent liturgies for five Sundays. Later, Pope St. Gregory I (d. 604) enhanced these liturgies composing prayers, antiphons, readings, and responses. Pope St. Gregory VII (d. 1095) later reduced the number of Sundays in Advent to four. Finally, about the ninth century, the Church designated the first Sunday of Advent as the beginning of the Church year.
Despite its “sketchy” history, the importance of this season remains to focus on the coming of our Lord. (Advent comes from Latin adventus, meaning “coming.”) The Catechism stresses the two-fold meaning of this “coming” : “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming” (No. 524).
The Advent Wreath
The Advent wreath is exactly what the word implies, a wreath of evergreens. It is either suspended from the ceiling or placed on a table in the living area of the house. Fastened to the wreath are four candles standing upright, at equal distances. These candles represent the weeks of Advent.
Daily at a certain time (usually in the evening), the family gathers for a short time of prayer. Every Sunday of Advent one more candle is lit, until all four candles shed their cheerful light to announce the approaching birthday of the Lord. All other lights are extinguished in the room, and only the gentle glow of the live candles illuminates the darkness. After some prayers, the family might sing one of the traditional Advent hymns or a song in honour of Mary.
The traditional symbolism of the Advent wreath reminds the faithful of the Old Testament, when humanity was “sitting in the darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 2:79); when the prophets, illumined by God, announced the Redeemer; and when the hearts of men glowed with the desire for the Messiah. The wreath – an ancient symbol of victory and glory – symbolizes the “fulfilment of time” in the coming of Christ and the glory of His birth.
Why not have a simple Advent Wreath in your home to bring a spiritual dimension to your family’s wait for Christmas?
For Advent pastimes for younger people have a look at www.catholicmom.com/advent which offers printable colouring pages, puzzles and instructions for making an Advent Wreath.
St. Joseph’s Young Priests Society
There was a very good attendance at the Forty Hours Adoration for the Feast of Christ the King in St. John’s Church last weekend. Thank you to all those who spent time in adoration.
Bereaved by Suicide
Kilkenny Bereavement Support will hold an open support group for people who have been bereaved by suicide. It will take place in Villa Maria, Talbots Inch, Freshford Road, on Thursday 8th December at 8.00pm. The group is open to anyone who has lost a family member, friend, or co-worker to suicide.
In the group, the bereaved can share their feelings about their losses, be supported by other participants, get information regarding their experiences or just listen in silence.
For further information, please phone 056 775 6538.
Many of us will have noticed a change in the language used at Mass in recent weeks. Since September we have been getting used to a series of changes to the Mass, and today, the First Sunday of Advent, the new translation of the Missal comes fully into effect.
You will be aware that some of the congregation’s responses are changing such as the use of ‘And with your spirit’ instead of ‘And also with you’. There are also changes to some of the people’s prayers such as the Confiteor, the Gloria, the Creed, and the Sanctus, and to the parts of the Mass spoken by the priest. Specially produced congregational cards and missalettes are available in our parishes to assist us as we familiarise ourselves with the new wording.
We will all need to be on our toes to make sure we are getting the responses and prayers right. Until we get used to the new wording, we will be more alert than usual. We will not be able to rattle off prayers without thinking as can be so easy to do when the words are so familiar.
What a fitting time, then, to introduce the new translation. In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges his disciples to ‘be on our guard’, ‘to stay awake’. It is very much in the spirit of Advent that we stay alert. When we pray we do more than recite words. Let us use this time to discover anew the meaning of the Mass.
Advent Scripture Booklet and CD
Ossory Adult Faith Development offers a booklet and CD to facilitate prayerful scripture-based reflection as we approach Christmas. These are suitable for personal or group use. Contact ADF Office on 056 775 3624 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Booklets cost €3 while the CDs cost €5. Available at the Parish Centre.
Characters of Advent
Fr. Willie Purcell will give a series of talks on the Characters of Advent - Isaiah, John the Baptist, Mary and Joseph. Starting on Tuesday 6th December at 11.30am and running for three weeks in St. Patrick’s Parish Centre. A cup of tea will be available before the meeting, after 10.30am Mass, if desired. Queries: Kathleen @ 087 246 8443.
Pray for Our Deceased Friends
Recently Deceased: Michael Hoyne, 2 Wellington Square. Peggy Smullen, Rosemount, Newpark.
Months Mind: Olive Barry
Anniversaries: Michael Hickey (Sat 6.15), Mark Butler (Sat 7.00), Joseph Murray & Family (Sun 9.30), Charles Carroll (Sun 10.00), Ramie, Breda, Marie, Phyllis & Thomas Dowling (Sun 10.30), Deceased Members of St. Patrick’s Brass & Reed Band (Sun 11.00), Margaret Roche (Sun 12.00), John Hand (Sun 12.30), Jeremiah Mullally (Thur 10.30), Phillip O’Dwyer, Oliver Bergin, Rory McPhillips, Maureen Nolan, Joe McKane, Patrick J. Crotty, James Donnelly, James Donnelly Jnr, Sean Donnelly, Eileen Barry, Mary Delaney, Jimmy Delaney, Catherine Connors, Dollie & Pearse Butler, Patrick (Pa) O’Neill, Thomas, Margaret & Patrick Beehan.
Intentions for next weekend: Michael Fitzmaurice (Sat 6.15), Richie Delaney (Sat 7.00), Patrick Fitzpatrick (Sun 9.30), Angela Murphy (Sun 10.00), Kathleen Brown (Sun 10.30), Maeve Healy & Laurence Healy (Sun 11.00), Thomas Dowling (Sun 12.00), Elaine Quinn (Sun 12.30).
May the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
As the first Friday of December occurs this week the priests will visit the housebound. Contact the Parish Office if you, or someone known, to you would like a visit.
Christmas Craft Fair
Kilkenny City Woodturners and Crafts Christmas Fair, Ormonde College, December 3rd and 4th. Featuring artists like Pat Holland, Willie Maher, Mick Morrissey, Sarah Neill, Canice Ryan, Ciaran Walsh.
L’Arche Christmas Fair
L’Arche Christmas Fair on this Sunday 27th November from 12.00 noon - 5.00pm in the L’Arche Workshop, Fair Green Lane, Callan.
Something for all the family: candles, cards, pottery, weaving, cakes, tea and coffee.
Also L’Arche Christmas Shop will open from Wednesday 30th till Monday 21st December Monday - Friday 9.00am - 4.00pm.
The amount collection in last week’s weekly envelopes amounted to €1,015. Many thanks.
Events at Peace in Christ
The Diocesan Retreat Centre provides us with an opportunity to celebrate Advent and prepare for Christmas with a number of events...
The Word Was Made Flesh: a pre-Christmas Weekend Silent Retreat. Guided by Monsignor Jim Cassin, Ms Christine Kelly and Sr. Margaret Moloney. Friday 9th to Sunday 11th December. Telephone 772 1054 for information.
Our Faith for the Future
Over the past few weeks young people from secondary schools in our diocese have taken part in a public speaking competition which was framed around faith based topics. It has been a tremendous success. In addressing the issues put before them the students asked questions of themselves and caused those in attendance to reflect.
The final of this competition will take place on Thursday next, 1st December, at 8pm in St Patrick's Parish Centre when Secondary School Students from our diocese will publically discuss and engage in questions on the topic "Church: we are the future and the present." All welcome.
Mount St. Anne’s
Christmas Carol Service - Friday 9th December, 2011 at 7pm
Enjoy an evening of music and song in preparation for the Christmas Season.
There is no charge - all are welcome.
Advent Reflection Afternoon - Sunday 11th December, 2011 - 3pm to 6pm
Join us for an afternoon of prayer and reflection in preparation for Advent.
No Charge - Donations welcome
Mounts St. Anne's Retreat & Conference Centre, Killenard, Portarlington.
For further details or should you wish to reserve a place, contact the Secretary on 057-8626153
Questions People Ask
Q. These changes to the Mass will be the last straw for people who are barely hanging on. Don’t you think that they will be leaving the Church in droves?
A. Obviously there are people who are easily frustrated and have no patience with any change. But looking at the changes in a positive way, the new translation might make us slow down and look with fresh eyes at the beauty of the prayers and responses at Mass. There is a greater reverence in the new translation and that is a good thing. Instead of rattling off the Gloria or Creed at top speed, the fresh wording is an opportunity to ponder on the majesty and beauty of these prayers. Instead of leaving the Church, people might actually grow in faith and reverence.