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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “November, 2014”

1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

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This weekend we begin the season of Advent and we begin another church year as we begin our preparation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. As with Lent the vestments are purple and we light the first purple candle on the Advent Wreath. Advent like Lent is a time of spiritual preparation and there are many opportunities for doing this between now and Christmas Eve. In our secular world Advent seems to begin the season of Christmas and the measuring of Christmas-time profits in the business sections of our newspapers. We will hear happy, silly jingles in stores and malls. While at church, this season’s sounds will be contradictory – sober hymns that, with the Scriptures, liturgical banners and colors, will help us “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Amongst all the razzmatazz of the Christmas preparations and the madness of the shoppers on our town and city streets including Black Friday we need to stop and ask ourselves what are we waiting for this Advent. It is a question that we need to ask ourselves every year at the beginning of Advent much the same way we ask ourselves what are we doing for the six weeks of Lent at the beginning of the Lenten season. Those who are ready and awake will know when God comes and how to respond to God’s presence. Advent awakens us to realize we have invested our treasure in the wrong places and that world must end. The master, whom we serve, is coming to help us awaken from sleep so we can put aside all that is false in our lives and our world and rebuild our house on rock, that is the rock of faith

Paul’s words “God is faithful” will accompany us through any change or adjustment we need to make in our lives. This is the God Isaiah evokes as he imagines us as clay to be formed by our God, “the potter,” and reminds us, “we are all the work of gods hands.” Hope is the basis for a watchful and vigilant spirit. The Lord will come. And in the blink of an eye, God renews us, he will also renew the universe to its pristine state. The Father will transform both humanity and nature to the way he intended them to be from the first moment of creation–free from sin, sickness, and death–free from the consequences of evil. In our anticipation for the Lord’s coming, we hope that our faith will help reveal the Kingdom and prepare others as well as ourselves for eternity. Our efforts alone will not bring about the Kingdom, as if we humans can progress or evolve to a higher plane by ourselves. But, God, acting through us, will reveal and realize the Kingdom. Then, when we act according to his will; we add our contribution to his activity. CCC 1042-1050

As Blessed John Henry Newman reminded us in a homily for the Advent Season: “Advent is a time of waiting, it is a time of joy because the coming of Christ is not only a gift of grace and salvation but it is also a time of commitment because it motivates us to live the present as a time of responsibility and vigilance. This ‘vigilance’ means the necessity, the urgency of an industrious, living ‘wait’. To make all this happen, then we need to wake up, as we are warned by the apostle to the Gentiles, in the  reading to the Romans: ‘Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rm 13:11).

As we begin this advent we ask ourselves what are we waiting for ? Are we waiting for the presents and razzmatazz of Christmas Day or are we preparing for the greatest gift of God, Jesus his Son, Christ the light in the darkness for a broken world.

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33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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Last Friday night in a neighboring parish to ours (St. Patrick’s) there was a vigil of prayer and a Mass for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Over the years so many people from our parish have taken up this calling for their lives to serve in the diocesan and religious priesthood as well as the orders of religious priesthood and  religious brothers and nuns. In the world of today we seem to forget about Praying to the lord  that he will send labourers into his harvest. We also seem to forget that we should be a people of prayer. Last Sunday we heard in the second reading that we are gods building the Church so what are we doing in order to build up the Church where we are? Also earlier in the week on Wednesday evening around 300 people gathered together in our parish hall to discuss the future of our Parish. This I hear was a hard kind of meeting which was to take the parishioners views on what should be done regarding a number of issues around the buildings etc and how best to deal with the parish debt. Again while the pennies and pounds are important we need to remember that the primary thing about religion is that it’s all about people young and old and all the in-betweens and their relationship with God. If we remember that it is the people  that means you and me who are gods building the Church then we won’t go far wrong.

Our reading from the Gospel for this weekend Matthew 25:14-30 is about the servant and his one talent. The parable speaks first of the Master’s trust in his servants. While he goes away he leaves them with his money to use as they think best. While there were no strings attached, this was obviously a test to see if the Master’s workers would be industrious and reliable in their use of the money entrusted to them. The master rewards those who are industrious and faithful and he punishes those who sit by idly and who do nothing with his money.

The essence of the parable seems to lie in the servants’ conception of responsibility. Each servant entrusted with the master’s money was faithful up to a certain point. The servant who buried the master’s money was irresponsible. One can bury seeds in the ground and expect them to become productive because they obey natural laws. Coins, however, do not obey natural laws. They obey economic laws and become productive in circulation. The master expected his servants to be productive in the use of his money. If we stop and substitute the money aspect of the parable with the word faith then we get to what the parable is really about and it tells us that faith is a real and wonderful gift from God. It is something that comes entirely unbidden; as in the parable the servants are given no clue in advance what the master is about to do. Faith is also given to us according to our ability to deal with it; each in proportion to his ability, as it says in the parable. But the most important aspect of the Parable is that the Master will eventually return and the big question is will we be ready?

THE DEDICATION OF THE LATERAN BASILICA

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This weekend we celebrate the dedication of the Popes cathedral, St. John the Lateran. Although the basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral of the Holy Father as Bishop of Rome, today’s liturgy focuses not on the Petrine ministry but on the place of God’s house, the temple.

We no longer look upon stone edifices is see God’s presence on earth, but upon the broken body of Jesus on the cross. He is both the high priest and the acceptable offering to God.Paul’s message continues this truth. We are living stones forming a building. This building is of living stones: it is built of our lives and in our relationships.  God’s presence according to Paul is through us. We are built on the foundation of Jesus’ message but we must be careful as to how we build. As we live out our lives we grow individually energized either by the Spirit of God or by the spirit of the world. The Spirit of God unites, forms us into a single building. The spirit of the world destroys unity and forms warring camps where each competes with other for power, wealth, influence and pleasure. So we must be careful how we build our life. The image reminds us that we are not the total building in ourselves. In connection with others we form an edifice that is more expansive, of greater beauty and majesty than one person can attain.  We are the presence of God to one another through the Spirit that dwells in us and energizes and directs us.

So, what is the answer to why we celebrate the dedication of a building in Rome? The building becomes for us a sign and a symbol.  It is a sign of God’s presence in the world, housing its peoples, providing shelter in storms and coolness in the heat. It is high on a hill that is visible for all to see and for all to take hope for its strength.  It is a symbol of those who believe and work to grow in faith and in hope and in care and concern for God’s creation, especially humankind. It rejects no one, opening its arms to embrace not only the privileged but also the ordinary persons.  Even the miserable beggar, the leper, the ones ignored and forgotten, the drunkard, the prostitute, the thief and the murderer are welcomed here and find a place where they might be healed and find life.

So today we should be able to say that we reject no one and embrace everyone as we live out our lives we grow individually energized by the Spirit of God instead of the spirit of the world.

THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS & ALL SOULS

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This weekend we have the two feasts the feast of All Saints on Saturday and the feast of All Souls on the Sunday. On November 1st the Church celebrates all the saints: and the multitude of those who are in heaven enjoying the beatific vision that are only known to God. During the early centuries the Saints venerated by the Church were all martyrs. Later the  1st  November was set  as the day for commemorating all the Saints. We all have this “universal call to holiness.” What must we to do in order to join the company of the saints in heaven? We “must follow in Jesus footsteps and try to conform ourselves to His image as we seek  to do  the will of the Father in all things In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history” (Lumen Gentium)

The feast of All Saints should inspire us with tremendous hope. Among the saints in heaven are some  people whom we have known such as Pope Saint John Paul or Padre Pio who both lived in the last 100 years.  Padre Pio died in 1968 and of course John Paul died in 2005. But there are so many ordinary people who show us how to be saints by the way they lead their lives.

After rejoicing  with the saints on the 1st of November then on the next day we  pray for all those who, in the purifying suffering of purgatory await the day when they will join the company of saints. Daily in a special Memento in the Eucharistic prayer of the Mass, the priest remembers all those who have fallen asleep in the Lord, the priest implores God to grant them a place of happiness, light and peace.

So this weekend we pray with and remember the saints in heaven and we remember all who have died. Many parishes will have a special remembrance Mass for the parishioners who have died over the past year and their families. We remember our families and friends in a special way and we remember all those who have died whoever they are throughout the whole month of November which is known as the month of the Holy Souls.

May all our dead relations and friends rest in the peace of God.

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