4 December 2022
2nd Sunday of Advent
Year A for Sundays – Cycle 1 for Weekdays
Results of the 2021 UK Census have revealed a decline in those calling themselves Christian. It’s perhaps more of a blow to the Church of England, the official state religion. Catholics in the UK have long considered themselves to be a minority. The census figures do, however, point to the growing secularisation of society. Does this mean that the majority are totally materialistic? We don’t need a census to tell us of a decline in allegiance to organised religion. It would have been interesting if the census had asked a question about spirituality. Many embrace the spiritual side of existence without ever entering the door of a church. Many find that institutionalised religion with its ready-made dogmas discourages their searching.
The Season of Advent challenges us to name our dreams and aspirations. During Advent we identify with the people of Israel in their longing for the coming of the Messiah. The prophets catalogue the calamities, violence, suffering and injustice they endure. Little has changed in thousands of years. Their frustrations sound similar to ours. It can sometimes feel that church itself is part of the problem and not the solution. At Mass every Sunday we say the creed. We declare our assent to a series of doctrinal propositions. This can feel formal and impersonal. Yes, we share these core beliefs, but they don’t fire us up. They don’t feel like something that will transform our lives and our world. What is it that inspires and enthuses us about our Christian faith? American Franciscan Fr Richard Rohr asks the same question:
It is no accident that the liturgy has the creed at its core, a statement of faith that repeats: I believe, I believe, I believe. Regardless of what it is, we must find our real belief system. What are we passionate and enthusiastic about? What are we filled with God about? Being reactionary against what’s wrong might excite people, but it does not convert anybody, does not transform anybody and does not draw the soul. We all know what’s wrong; we all know what should be changed; but more change, no matter how progressive, will not bring about soul transformation in and of itself. Our call to change is now obviously much deeper.
Our faith also offers us a foundational belief that life is a succession of ‘dyings’ and ‘risings’. At the centre of the Eucharist, we proclaim, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” That is the saving pattern. It is not a mystery of faith; it is the mystery of faith. It will never change. But Western people, trained in the philosophy of progress and problem-solving, don’t really believe that anymore. We much more believe that we can overcome the paschal mystery. That we can create a family, a parish, a church, an institution, a country that will not have to go through the dying of things.
It’s not true that everything’s getting better and better. That fallacy is being taken away from us. But we can return to the pattern of our faith and the pattern of reality: that things die and things resurrect and both are good teachers. Christ must be recognized and welcomed in both places – in the dying of things, and in the ecstasy and the loveliness of things.
The way down always teaches us. We need times where the soul is broken and we need some place we can go and weep and mourn. But we must have healthy people there who don’t let us sink into that negativity as a way of life. As people of the church, we are called to be agents of transformation who witness and accompany change with the wisdom of the soul.
Jesus never told us to put our trust in the larger institutions of culture or even the church. That doesn’t mean they are bad or that we should abandon them, but we must recognize that they are also subject to the paschal mystery, the dying and the rising of all things. And I think we must be honest that we’re at the downside of the curve. All the indices suggest that we are at the end of the dominance of Western civilization, and even of Christianity. The question for us becomes: What will we do about it?
The Christmas story begins with an account of another census. The Messiah arrives in the middle of it, unrecognised. This week we celebrated the feast of Saint Andrew. In John’s gospel Andrew tells his brother Simon Peter: ‘We have found the Messiah’.
Advent gives us another opportunity to find Him for ourselves.
TO DOWNLOAD OR READ THIS NEWSLETTER IN FULL – CLICK HERE
Monsignor John Devine OBE MA VF
Saint Mary of the Isle Hill Street Douglas Isle of Man IM1 1EG
CHRIST IS PRESENT
Into this world, this demented inn,
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ has come uninvited.
But because he cannot be at home in it,
because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it,
his place is with those others who do not belong,
who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak,
those who are discredited,
who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated.
With those for whom there is no room,
Christ is present in this world.
He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst.
Pope Francis’ message to Young People on Youth Sunday:
‘I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to “go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.’
A Poem of Remembrance
So what is heaven? In each year’s eleventh month we ask: So what is heaven?
(And on the eleventh day at the eleventh hour reply: An end to war at least!)
We ask this not abstractly but from the place of loss.
Unlike the case of Christ, we don’t proclaim the death of those we’ve loved
To be the source of life; yet we profess their resurrection, too.
The Afterlife is, as seen from here, an act of trust,
A surrendering to Love and to Eternity of those who’ve gone before.
So what is heaven? Better say what it is not:
Not an everlasting frigid calm, all white robes, harps and halos;
Nor a reward for lives spent ‘being nice’ and minding ‘p’s and ‘q’s.
Ask Jesus what it’s like, and he replies with tales of harvests, parties, feasts:
The gathering up of all that’s been, shorn now of hurt,
The remembering of the unloved and forgotten,
The pardoning of what we’d not forgiven,
The welcoming of things that did not fit.
So what is heaven? This:
An arc of covenant that spans all vales of tears,
The Beyond that touches our today with peace,
The assurance that what we’ve lost is found,
Now home and safe, at one with God.
Canon Rob Esdaile (Parish Priest at St Dunstan’s and St Hugh of Lincoln Catholic parishes in Woking, Surrey)
ARCHDIOCESE OF LIVERPOOL
SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE
Donate by text to the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London.
All donations will support those suffering in Ukraine.
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70085 to donate £2
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70450 to donate £3
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70460 to donate £5
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70470 to donate £10
Season of Creation
HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS issued a MESSAGE FOR THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION
1st September 2022. To read it CLICK HERE
“Listen to the voice of creation” is the theme and invitation of this year’s Season of Creation. The ecumenical phase began on 1 September with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and concludes on 4 October with the feast of Saint Francis. It is a special time for all Christians to pray and work together to care for our common home.
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognise that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
ARCHDIOCESE OF LIVERPOOL – SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE
As an act of solidarity, Archbishop Malcolm is wearing a pectoral cross given to him by Bishop Hryhoriy (Gregory) Komar, the auxiliary bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy (diocese) of Sambir-Drohobych in the Lviv region of western Ukraine. The diocese has 220 parishes, with 285 priests serving 400,000 members of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Ordained a priest 20 years ago in Lviv and a graduate of the Jesuit-run Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, Bishop Komar was consecrated in 2014 at the young age of 38 by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv, the head of the worldwide Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Another PRAYER FOR UKRAINE has been sent to us by Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, Eparchial Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London – To read and/or download the prayer CLICK HERE
Archbishop Malcolm has approved the launch of an Archdiocesan urgent appeal in support of Ukraine. A text message function has been set up allowing people to donate to the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London. The Ukrainian Archbishop in the UK maintains direct contact with the people of Ukraine. All donations will be used to support those suffering in Ukraine. The text numbers are:
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70085 to donate £2
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70450 to donate £3
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70460 to donate £5
Text HELPUKRAINE to 70470 to donate £10
TO DOWNLOAD OR READ A SEPARATE DOCUMENT WITH TEXT NUMBERS CLICK HERE
If you have difficulty with your mobile, cheques payable to The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool can be sent directly to: Liverpool Archdiocesan Office, Croxteth Drive, Liverpool L17 1AA.
In addition to financial support, collections of essential items are being organised across the Archdiocese.
Updated information will be available as the situation develops on the Archdiocesan website: CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
A message from Fr Taras Khomych, a Ukrainian priest ministering within our Archdiocese:
‘If you know people who are not sure how best to express their support for Ukraine, the Ukrainian Institute in London has posted a list of suggested actions. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS
An appeal from Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav
to the Sons and Daughters of the Ukrainian People in Ukraine and Abroad, and to all People of Good Will:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The recognition by the president of the Russian Federation of the “independence and sovereignty” of the self-proclaimed LNR and DNR creates serious challenges and threats for the entire international community and for international law, on the basis of which today people and their nations exist and cooperate. Irreparable damage has been done to the very logic of international relations, which are called to safeguard peace and the just order of societies, the supremacy of law, the accountability of state powers, the defence of the human being, human life and natural rights. Today all of humanity has been placed in danger—that the powerful have a right to impose themselves on whomever they wish, with no regard for the rule of law.
In its decision the government of the Russian Federation unilaterally withdrew from a lengthy peace process, tasked with ensuring the restoration of dignified conditions for life on the territories controlled by Russia in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, for those impacted by Russian military aggression. The war, initiated against our people in 2014, has inflicted deep wounds on many of our fellow citizens: thousands killed, wounded, left in solitude. Yesterday’s step taken by the president of the Russian Federation destroyed foundational principles for a long-term process of restoring peace in Ukraine, created the path for a new wave of military aggression against our state, opened the doors for a full-scale military operation against the Ukrainian people.
We consider the defence of our native land, our historical memory and our hope, our God-given right to exist to be the personal responsibility and sacred duty of the citizens of Ukraine. The defence of our Fatherland is our natural right and civic duty. We are strong when we are together. Now has come the time to unite our efforts in order to defend the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Ukrainian state. The duty and responsibility of all of humanity—to actively work to avert war and protect a just peace.
We are convinced that the world cannot develop and find answers for the challenges of today by resorting to might and violence, by showing disdain for shared human values and the truth of the Gospel. I call upon all people of good will to not ignore the suffering of the Ukrainian people, brought on by Russian military aggression. We are a people who love peace. And precisely for that reason we are ready to defend it and fight for it.
Today we call out in prayer to the Almighty Creator, with a special appeal for wisdom for those entrusted with making important decisions for society, in whose hands lies the fate of humanity. We ask the Heavenly Father for assistance in restoring a just peace on Ukrainian land. We pray especially for those who defend Ukraine, who in these days are for us an example of loving sacrifice and dedicated service to their people. May the merciful Lord protect them from every danger and crown their efforts with the victory of truth and good.
We call for the gracious blessing of a loving God and Creator upon Ukraine and its people!
The blessing of the Lord be upon you.
+Sviatoslav, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Kyiv, Ukraine
• We will be including the Novena prayer to Mary Untier of Knots at each Mass for the people of Ukraine.
TO DOWNLOAD OR READ SPECIAL PRAYERS FOR UKRAINE CLICK HERE
Prayer For Racial Justice
Mighty, and everlasting God. As your people come into your presence,
We are thankful for your graciousness, your mercy, and your love.
We continue to remember all those adversely affected by the COVID pandemic;
We pray that your Holy Spirit will be present with them,
To comfort and to heal; to sustain and be reconciled, one with another.
We remember all those who are hurting, disadvantaged and impacted by racial prejudice.
We also remember all those who have suffered at the hands of injustice.
May your Holy Spirit be present with them, to comfort and to heal;
To bring justice and reconciliation, one with another.
Faithful God, we commit this service into your hands.
We pray for every participant and every listener, that you will empower them with your strength;
That they might be courageous to say and do what is right and just,
And that your good and glorious, magnificent, and righteous name might be praised,
We pray in the name of your selfless Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
7 Oct 1931 – 26 Dec 2021
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has said Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has died at the age of 90, was a “prophetic voice in the church and the world.”
Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has said: “The death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a huge loss to the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and to the whole of the Anglican Communion.”
Archbishop Tutu was a driving force behind the movement to end the policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991. He was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1984.
Archbishop Josiah said Desmond Tutu had been “a prophetic voice in the church and in the world”.
“When he spoke, people listened. He was a lively and engaging contributor to the Anglican Communion and its constituent bodies, and used his gifts to greatly enrich the Communion. His commitment to justice and peace, and particularly to racial justice and reconciliation, was and continues to be an example to us all.
“He was a great Disciple of Christ: as a priest and bishop he was a committed pastor and preacher. He will continue to inspire generations to come. We commend him into the arms of his Creator, and Saviour, and join with the whole Communion in praying for his family at this time.”
The current Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, said: “While we mourn his passing, as Christians and people of faith we must also celebrate the life of a deeply spiritual person whose alpha and omega – his starting point and his ending point – was his relationship with our Creator. He took God, God’s purpose and God’s creation deadly seriously. Prayer, the Scriptures and his ministry to the people God entrusted to his care were at the heart of his life.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a prophet and a priest, a man of words and action – one who embodied the hope and joy that were the foundations of his life. Even in our profound sorrow we give thanks for a life so well lived. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”
In January this year, Pope Francis instituted a Church-wide celebration of a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.
This special day took place this Sunday 25 July,
close to the liturgical memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
The chosen theme is “I am with you always”.
You can read and/or download Pope Francis’ message for the first ever World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly
BY CLICKING HERE
PRAYER FOR THE FIRST WORLD DAY FOR GRANDPARENTS AND THE ELDERLY
I thank You, Lord, for the comfort of Your presence: even in times of loneliness,
You are my hope and my confidence; You have been my rock and my fortress since my youth!
I thank You for having given me a family and for having blessed me with a long life.
I thank You for moments of joy and difficulty,
for the dreams that have already come true in my life and for those that are still ahead of me.
I thank You for this time of renewed fruitfulness to which You call me.
Increase, O Lord, my faith, make me a channel of your peace,
teach me to embrace those who suffer more than me,
to never stop dreaming and to tell of your wonders to new generations.
Protect and guide Pope Francis and the Church,
that the light of the Gospel might reach the ends of the earth.
Send Your Spirit, O Lord, to renew the world,
that the storm of the pandemic might be calmed,
the poor consoled and wars ended.
Sustain me in weakness and help me to live life to the full
in each moment that You give me, in the certainty that you are with me every day,
even until the end of the age.