A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
First Sunday of Advent (Advent (Coming) Sunday). The Sunday nearest to St Andrew’s Day and the start of the Western Christian liturgical (public worship) year and Christmas season. Dating back to monks’ fasting in 567, in the Roman Rite the readings of Mass on the four Sundays of Advent have distinct themes, the First Sunday looking forward to the Second Coming of Christ. In other traditions, they relate to the Old Testament patriarchs with the first Advent candle of Hope (the Prophets’ Candle) being lit in the Advent Wreaths of leaves and twigs from evergreen trees and plants. There are four or five candles, two being lit on the Second Sunday with the Bethlehem Candle symbolising Faith, three on the Third Sunday with the Shepherds’ Candle symbolising Joy and all four on the Fourth Sunday with the Angel’s Candle symbolising Peace. The fifth Christmas candle is lit on Christmas Eve for the end of the transition from darkness to light. At the heart of Christmas is the truth that the Word of God became human and lived among us and Christmas celebrates the love of God for the whole of His creation, when all of us are called to encounter God in our everyday lives and to share the Mission of Christ. In many Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Advent lasts for forty days from 15 November, the day following the Feast of St Philip the Apostle, to 24 December. During that time, the Nativity Fast sees no meat or dairy foods being taken and olive oil, wine and fish avoided. On the Gregorian calendar, 28 November coincides with 15 November on the Julian calendar. People put up Christmas decorations in their homes, schools and offices on or just after the first Sunday in Advent but the over-commercialisation of Christmas has led to this being done earlier, as with the switching on of Christmas lights in town centres and shopping centres that normally takes place during the first week of Advent. The Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square in London is an annual present from Norway, to express gratitude for the UK’s support during World War II. At this time, there are: advent calendars or candles; Christmas messages to family members and friends; currant, sultana and raisin Christmas cakes; and sponge, mixed dried fruit, candied fruit peel, apple and citrus zest Christmas puddings. Image: standrewsbearsden.co.uk.
Prayer We pray for Your church today, gathering all around the world to praise You and to hear Your holy word. Give us a sense of expectation as we come and inspiration as we go. Help us to put our differences behind us to unite in the great commission of Jesus to make disciples of us all. Amen
Our Lady of Walsingham. There are Advent Sunday services at the 1061 Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham six miles south of Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk that commemorates a Catholic noblewoman praying to the Blessed Virgin for the favour of knowing what she might do to honour her, and the Blessed Virgin miraculously building a replica of the Holy House where the Annunciation (announcement by the angel Gabriel to Mary that she would conceive and bear a son through a virgin birth) took place. During the Reformation, in 1538 the Walsingham monastery was suppressed and the famous statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was taken to London and burnt, King Henry VIII stealing all the gold, silver and precious jewels from the shrine. In 1829, the Catholic Emancipation saw renewed public expression of the Catholic faith and in 1896 the wayside Slipper Chapel for pilgrims en route to the Walsingham shrine was restored. A new replica of the Holy House was built the following year and in 1897 the Pope declared it the new National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Visits to the Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham increased and a copy of the original statue was made, copied from the ancient seal. Our Lady of Walsingham is venerated by Roman Catholics, Western Rite Orthodox Christians and some Anglicans with a Feast Day on 24 September in both the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Anglicans, especially in the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham and at the Anglican shrine, keep an additional annual feast on 15 October, the anniversary of the 1931 translation of the image from Walsingham’s parish church to the shrine church, a date that several USA churches such as the Episcopal Church and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America keep as the principal feast. The Walsingham Anglican Shrine Church is currently open daily from 7 am to 10 pm for those who feel it safe to attend and are not suffering from any of the symptoms of Covid-19. The Advent Sunday services are: a 7:30 am Mass with live-streaming; a 10 am Chantry Mass in the Guild of All Souls Chapel; Evening Prayer at 5:30 pm; and Shrine Prayers at 6:00 pm with live-streaming. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church and Shrine of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter has: the Vigil Mass for Advent Sunday on Saturday 27 November with the Rosary at 4:00 pm followed by Holy Mass at 4:30 pm; a Sunday 8:00 am Sung Mass with Confessions at 8:45 am; a Said Mass with Hymns at 9:30 am; a Solemn Mass with Choir at 11:15 am; and an Evening Said Mass at 6:00 pm. Image: walsinghamanglican.org.uk.
Saint Anrê Tran Van Trông (Andrew Trong Van Tram) (1808-35). Feast Day commemorating the death of the Catholic Vietnamese layman who attempted to help the teachers of the Paris Foreign Mission Society in Vietnam whilst hiding his work from his professional associates. However, in 1834 government investigators uncovered Andrew’s Catholicism and he was deprived of armed forces rank and detained. Given the opportunity to deny Christ, he declined and was martyred on 28 November 1835 in An Hòa, Quang Nam, Vietnam, becoming one of the one hundred and seventeen Martyrs of Vietnam murdered between 1820 and 1862, before a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics but did not stop all persecution. Religious freedom was finally achieved in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), which existed from 1955 to 1975, although there were still many Catholics in prison in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). Now that the country is reunited, the Constitution of Vietnam officially provides for freedom of religion but the government restricts religious practice with registration requirements for all religious groups, control boards and surveillance. Venerated in Catholic Church. Image: youtube.com.