We have two Advent groups this year. Thursday evening (7:30pm)at the Bella Vista is the adults’ group and Friday (6:30pm) at St Agnes is the Family group. The materials from Arundel and Brighton this year take one of the readings, the Gospel and collect from each Sunday of Advent. We have another added element. At Walsingham in November Karlie found a book of prayers for Advent using quote from John Paul II. Each week takes a different theme: Faith, Hope, Justice and Love. Looking through the readings for each week, we found these themes fitted with some of the quotes.
The first adult group, looking at Faith, was yesterday. After a meditation using this poem by Cheryl Lawrie, which focused us on some of the expectations we have of Advent, some of the things we might impose onto what God is doing in us at this time.
We then thought more about what God is doing with a quote from St Bernard. He talks of three ways of Christ coming. The first at the Incarnation, the last his coming in glory. “In the middle” he says is, “the hidden coming, only the chosen see him, and they see him within themselves; and so their souls are saved. The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power, and the final coming will be in glory and majesty.” Advent is a bringing to birth. We remember the preparation, the bringing to birth of the Word made Incarnate. Advent is a bringing to birth of the Christ in our hearts.
We then heard a little about the first reading, specifically the situation in Judah and Israel at the time Jeremiah was preaching. The country was in chaos because the people had turned their backs on God. In the middle of this anarchy and evil, with exile looming on the horizon God sends Jeremiah with this message:
“See the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when I am going to fulfil the
promise I made to the House of Israel and the House of Judah:
“In those days and at that time,
I will make a virtuous Branch grow for David,
who shall practice honesty and integrity in the land.
In those days Judah shall be saved
and Jerusalem dwell in confidence.
And this is the name the city will be called:
“The Lord – our integrity.””
With this we looked at the following quote from Blessed John Paul II:
“Christ is the Centre of the Christian Faith, the faith which the Church proclaims today as she has always done, to every man and woman. God was made man. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (John 1:14). In Jesus Christ the eye of faith beholds the human being as it can be and as God wishes it to be.”
Address to young people, Santiago de Compostela. August 19th 1989
Following discussion we looked at the Gospel and two more quotes:
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars;
on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves;
men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven
will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with
power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold
your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.’
‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and
drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly,
like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth.
Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to
happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
“Our Chrsitian identitiy requires us to make constant efforts to train ourselves more and more thoroughly, since ignorance is the enemy of our religion. How can one claim to truly know Christ if one is not committed to knowing him better?…If you wish to be faithful in your daily lives to the demands of God and to the expectations of humanity and history, you must constantly nourish yourselves in the word of God and the sacraments, ‘so that Christ’s word may dwell in you abundantly’ (Col 3:16)”
Homily, Argentina, April 6th 1987.
“To be able to say ‘Credo’- I believe- we must be ready to deny ourselves, to give ourselves; we must also be ready to make sacrifices, to renounce ourselves and have a generous heart.”
Homily, Germany. May 1st 1987
Much came out of the texts we looked at and I will put up a reflection on this in due course.