Tag Archives: advent

O Emmanuel (O God with us) Dec 23rd.

Isaiah went to bad king Ahaz and said “Ask the Lord for a sign.”

In a fit of prentended humility Ahaz said “oooh I couldn’t.”

So Isaiah said, “Well you’re getting a sign anyway. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and he will be called emmanual, God with us.” (Is 7:14)

Hezekiah was born and became king of Judah. At that time it seems God was calling a few men to be prophets. Isaiah and Micah in Judah and Amos and Hosea in Israel. Hosea of course was a prophet of Israel in Babylonian captivity.

Just before these events Jonah had been spit up on the shores of Syria where he had to go and prophesy to the people of Nineveh, a potential enemy of Israel, They repented and the Lord was with them.

Events were moving hard and fast in that little piece of history.  In the Pseudepigraphia we hear the story of how Hezekiah calls his infant son Manessah to his side as he dies, but even as he is to give the child a blessing the son of Isaiah Josab prophesied that Manessah would worship a demon instead of God and undo all the good that Hezekiah had worked. The faith of the people would be split apart. In horror and grief Hezekiah considers having his little son killed, but is warned against this by Isaiah even though he has forseen his own terrible martyrdom at the hands of Mannessah. Isaiah was sawn in half.

There is an addition showing the Christians saw in this the symbolism of the terrible martyrdom the Church suffered under her own Manessah in Nero (both types of antiChrist).

In the end poor Manessah, having sacrificed his own sons to Molech the child consuming burning idol, repents. Psalm 151 is one of those not quite canonical but much loved prayers of repentence. For Manessah to have come home after having run so far gives hope for us all.

The martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah

The Holy Father, commenting on today’s Mass readings asks us to behave like Mary and Elizabeth:

Let us imitate Mary in the Christmas season, visiting those who are experiencing hardship, especially the sick, the imprisoned, the elderly and children. Let us laso imitate Elizabeth, who welcomes guests like God Himself: without desiring the Lord we will never know Him, without waiting for Him we will never meet Him, without seeking will never find Him

We’ve just come home from a lovely visit with friends who are relaxed and caring and  gave us a beautiful organic lamb dinner. They had received the lamb from the farmer as a gift and took that gift and shared it with us.

I am not that well today and very twitchy and jerky. But with them it didn’t matter. I could twitch, jerk and tip over and not have to feel embarressed. I think many of us are more blessed with friends than we sometimes realise or appreciate.  If you have friends as good as this don’t forget to thank God for them 🙂

3rd of Advent end of Hanukkah; Rejoice and have hope in the darkness

30219_Silver_Plated_Oil_MenorahAs we light the third candle – that pink one of joyousness, our Jewish brothers and sisters are lighting the eighth candle of Hanukkah. At this point the oil of the old Temple Menorah, which should only have lasted one day before plunging the Temple back into darkness, had lasted all eight days it took to make new oil. Then it could quietly run out in time for the new oil to be added to the lamps. The light stayed as the people of Israel reconsecrated their sacred things and the Temple to the Lord and then they could rejoice in their new freedom. They had lost so many good men and women and children under the darkness of Antiochus Epiphanes. Perhaps they mourned the unnamed mother who is remembered more than 2000 years on as she suffered the martyrdom of her seven sons and lost her own life after them. Her light still shines in many hearts.

We can rejoice that the Light is going to dawn. There will not always be darkness and for so many of us we can relax and know Christmas will be a time for joy.

But my heart and prayers go out to those who face a dark Christmas. I can’t imagine the indescribable pain for the families of those murdered in the school shooting in Connecticut. How can such evil happen? Why do people make such astounding choices and destroy so much for so little reason?

479983_213167592152057_1962316465_nCan we find joy, and true hope in the midst of such deliberate darkness? I think we have to. Christ has promised us so much if we persevere and in the shooting there are names that shall never be forgotten. Even in what can seem the deepest evil and darkness bright lights shine. So many people turn back to God and pray at these times and we ask that He welcome all those killed home. For many there is a crown of glory for they lay down their lives for the little ones.

There will be many unnamed heroes in this atrocity. Families who care for one another and stand by one another. Priests who ran to care for victims, children who held on bravely with their friends. We may never hear their stories this side of heaven, but they are happening.

Rejoice and have hope for such people do exist in our world. Thank God for them.

Joy is not about being happy, it’s about being blessed.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Advent 2: getting straightened out.

Our family are getting ready for a wedding. Alex is getting married. So we all have preparations under way. Certain things need to be sorted out before the bride and groom can walk down the aisle.

In some ways Advent is like preparing for a wedding. We want to be ready to greet the Christ Child in the best way we can. But advent is also about awaiting the return of the King, the Bridegroom who will come at last to claim His Bride.

St. John the Baptist stood at the river Jordan and asked the Jews to repent, clean themselves up, get baptised as a sign of that cleaning up and be ready because the Lamb of God was on His way.  John  stood on the banks of the Jordan the river that ran from the Sea of Galilee in the north where old Israel had dwelt to the dead see in the South where Judah was based. On one side of the river lived the Jews and on the other was the Decapolis, the ten cities where many of the diaspora, Hellenist Jews lived.  One was coming who would bring all Israel together and bring the gentile pagans into cleansing waters too.

John was the last old covenant prophet and his baptism was the last baptism before the sacrament established by Christ came in which we are born again in water and the spirit. (John 3). John’s final action was in baptising with a promise of the final baptism and Christ left His apotles with the instruction to baptise all the nations in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; bringing the world into the New Covenant.

St John was going to die because of his stance on the sanctity of marriage. While in the Temple of Herod the rabbi Hillel was wondering whether a man could divorce his wife for any reason at all, John was preparing the people for a true Bridegroom.

In Divine Office we’ve had the reading from Isaiah where King Hezekiah (who was the first fulfilment of the prophecy about a maiden conceiving and bearing a son) is cleaning house. Shebna, the King’s Steward has shown himself corrupt and incapable of properly stewarding the people. So Hezekiah ditches him and places the keys of the kingdom on Eliakim. He shall open and none shall shut, he shall shut and none shall open.

When the Messiah comes He too cleans house. The Temple priesthood is overthrown (in the mini Parousia it’s more definite 70 AD) and Peter is given the keys of God’s Kingdom. He is given the authority to bind and loose.

That authority is still under the King though. Popes have authority to do only what God wills. It doesn’t matter how much the media and others demand the Church change the laws God has laid down – She can’t. Authority isn’t about doing what you want, or what someone else wants, it’s about doing and saying what is true.

Right now I am fighting the flu. So my brain is more like a pile of mash spuds, so sorry this isn’t very erudite…

Advent 1: Going up to the mountain of the Lord

advent1After Sunday’s Gospel where Jesus gives a pretty full-on warning and promise about His Second Coming, the readings begin to unpack the fulness of that promise.

The New Covenant wasn’t just between God and Israel (You shall be My people and I shall be your God Jer.30:22) but now the gates are open wide and all the nations will come to gather at the mountain of the Lord. (Is 2:3)

What are we waiting for?

We await the shoot that will spring from Jesse and bring a much looked for peace to the nations of the earth. They will all come under the one Lord Jesus Christ who brings light out of the darkness of death and leads us on the path of peace (Benedictus of Zachariah Lk 1:68 said every morning in Lauds)

Where is this mountain?

I wonder about the symbolism of the mountain. John, in his vision of Revelation talks about the city built on Seven Hills and the argument has gone back and forth about whether that’s Jerusalem with it’s seven hills (Olivet, Acra, Moriah, Bezetha, Scophes, Ophel and Zion other lists have slightly different names). The Seven Hills of Rome (Quirinal,Viminal, Capitoline, Equiline,Palatine, Caelian and Avetine).

It’s an interesting coincidence that both this cities were built like this and John probably wanted readers to see the “twin” natures. One city crucified Our Lord and the other was busy crucifying the members of His Body – Nero did some truly hideous things in his slaughter of Christians.

Seven is an important number in Jewish faith. It is the number of the Days of Creation and it is the number for swearing and oath. It is from this we get the word Sacrament, which as Dr. Hahn points out means literally to “seven ourselves” when we bind ourselves to a holy oath – of which there are seven and therefore seven ways that God in His generosity pours out His graces on us.

Adam and Eve were made on the sixth day, but the Sabbath was then made for them (the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mk 2:27). But when they sinned they fell back to “working” instead of resting in the Lord and were people of the sixth day, longing for the Messiah.

Jesus is crucified on an eighth hill, just outside Jerusalem (Calvary to the Romans, Golgotha to the Jews). Peter is crucified on an eighth hill across the river from Rome. (Vatican)

Jesus rises on the Sunday which in the Holy week is day 8. He rises on the first day and remakes it. We are children of the eighth day. This is the day that the Lord has made (Ps 118:24)

When we ask Him to come, Marana tha, we are asking for glorious Christ to be heralded by the angels. He will come to judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end (Creed).

It is better to light the Pink Candle than to curse the darkness ;)

Guadette Sunday – it just makes you feel better no matter how naff you feel physically. The “already but not yet” moment of Christ’s coming seems even more imminent as we hurtle towards His birthday.

In the Gospel reading the question of who John the Baptist is gets asked. It is the same question that is later asked of Jesus. Some wonder if John is Elijah returned as the prophets have proclaimed but John says he isn’t. On the other hand Jesus says he is.

Spend any time studying Scripture and you will soon see God likes typology. He tells us His story by the stories of those who foreshadow Christ. So John is not literally Elijah, though he carries the same charism; he is a type of Elijah, a foreshadow of the prophet who will return at the time of the Second Coming (along with Enoch the other gentleman of the Old Testament who doesn’t die but is taken).

So what has John’s role, preparing for Christ got to do with pink candles and all that joy in the midst of the penitential season? And if todays reading are really pointing us to the Second Coming, isn’t that more scary than joyful?

I’ve no idea, but I suspect the church in her infinite wisdom and knowledge of human nature might want to remind us that Jesus coming again is actually a GOOD thing. Not for everyone of course, but surely those who love Christ will be glad to see Him.

This reminder comes as next week is the last Sunday of Advent and we really should have made straight our lives and remembered our baptismal promises so whether He comes of as the Divine Child or Divine Mercy, we are ready. If not of course He will be the Just Judge. But we get plenty of preparation time, so lets get ready.



First Sunday of Advent. Stirring up a Herman Cake

As Advent begins and we are called to get stirred up and wake up, we are doing something rather traditional here.

We are taking part in a great Herman cake making. This is an old Scandinavian or German or…around those parts, tradition. We are given the sour dough starter by a friend, K in this case. We get the kids to stir and feed the cake over the next ten or so days and then split it into four, one to keep and three parts to hand out with the instructions to other friends. The cake will grow and spread and feed a lot of people. It’s a lovely idea.

I managed to get to Mass this morning, which was great. Paying for it now, but it was worth it. Father preached a rather cryptic homily against the Black Friday approach to Christmas and, having a church full of non-attenders for a Christening, made it abundantly clear how empty life is when God doesn’t get a look in, and buying stuff we can’t afford and don’t need get’s centre stage.

I must admit, this is one of those struggle areas for me. I love watching people open their pressies on Christmas Day and all the excitement and interest that goes with it. For reasons I don’t ever want to blog about, I find Christmas very important, and the idea that the children have and share and enjoy their gifts is a big part of that. I try not to take the focus off whose Birthday it really is, but there is a place for generosity in “stuff” over Christmas, just as a way of reminding each other we don’t take each other for granted. It doesn’t have to be expensive (thankfully) and it shouldn’t be a massive financial burden, but Christmas gifts do have a place at Christmas.

Black Friday with it’s hob nailed boots and sharpened elbows probably doesn’t have a place. And buying cheap or expensive with no regard to the slavery that has often be used to produce the goods at that price ha no place in our Christmas shopping either.

I must admit to a dislike of the “generic gift” thing too, where no thought about the person has been spared. I love trying to find something that is just right for the person I am buying for, even if it’s very simple.

But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do some Christmas shopping and try and make the season special. So long as we remember that Advent is purple for a reason.

And finally a Happy Liturgical New Year to y’all.

Don’t forget you can get my free Advent lesson pack (part 1) here

Advent O Antiphons and other stuff.

We sang O Come O Come Emmanuel today at Mass. I love it. Real Advent hymn.

Usually I have the children make O Antiphon decorations for the Jesse Tree, but I haven’t got around to it this year. Perhaps we’ll get chance to do something tomorrow. The children also need a bit of time to make their birthday pressies for Jesus which we take up to Mass on Christmas Eve and they leave them at the crib when it’s over.

Mass was especially lovely today. The huge tree is up with some of the decorations the children at the Sat night Mass have made. Alex stayed after Mass with some of the other Altar servers to finish getting the tree ready and to put up the crib.

We had a lot of baptisms in Mass today, two parents and their children and another baby.  Adult baptisms are more unusual but we are getting a steady stream of converts still.

I had a word with Father after Mass about a few bits and pieces to do with Donna’s funeral. He told me about letters and messages he had recieved saying what an impact the funeral had had on people. I had also received similar messages.  Death is a terrible thing in some ways and Donna’s worse than many, but even here something good can come of it. I am glad.

O Clavis David: O Key of David, is today’s O Antiphon. The Key that opens and no one can shut, that shuts and no one can open. It is the key that opens the jail of darkness so we can be led out into the Light.