Letter from the Vicar 14 December 2014

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s on this third Sunday of Advent, which is also known as Gaudete Sunday. This word comes from the first word in the Latin antiphon and means ‘Rejoice’. So today we light the rose candle on the Advent Wreath for joy.

Over the weeks of Advent we prepare for the coming of the Lord in a threefold manner.

First, through reading and meditating on the prophets, particularly Isaiah. As we read these prophecies we become aware of the growing longing for a redeemer on the part of those who are oppressed, broken-hearted and in captivity.

Secondly, we reflect on the life and message of John the Baptist. He is the herald and forerunner of the Messiah’s advent in history. His words call us to conversion of heart and a genuine repentance, the marks of a ‘good’ Advent preparation.

Thirdly, since our redemption is based on a human framework, Advent becomes an important season to emphasise the Blessed Virgin Mary, who becomes the Mother of God. She is the supreme model of faithful obedience, as in her body she contained and sheltered the Son of God and safely brought him to birth. For this reason Advent has been called the season of devotion to Our Lady.

In Isaiah, John and Mary we find the longing, repentance and intimacy which provide us with the basis for our Advent prayers as we wait on God.

On Wednesday we enter the last week before the Vigil of Christmas, in which the seven O Antiphons are used. They are incorporated in the Gospel Alleluia of the Mass and sum up our Advent longings. The antiphons, which are described as the seven jewels of liturgy and pick up the titles of the Messiah, are: O Wisdom, O Sacred Lord, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Radiant Dawn, O King of all the Nations, O Emmanuel. The well-known Advent hymn with which we begin Mass today, O come, O come, Emmanuel, is a reflection on the antiphons.

On Tuesday we invited the school leavers to come for lunch in the parish lounge. The children greatly appreciated the invitation and our hospitality. Thank you to all who helped with the provision of the food and the serving.

Maranatha,

Fr Andrew Starky