A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Second Sunday of Advent. Today, the 5 December Feast of St Nicholas is superseded in Western Christianity by the Sunday Liturgy for the Second Sunday of Advent. The journey of Advent continues to prepare for the celebration of the nativity of Christ with John the Baptist’s message to open our hearts and welcome the Son of God Who comes among us to make divine judgement manifest. We decide our future destiny by our behaviour in this life, which determines our eternal fate as on death we will be evaluated on the basis of our likeness or otherwise to the Baby Who is about to be born. In Palestine today, Christians gather in Jerusalem for the celebration of Holy Mass and in Rome they proceed to the stational church of the Holy Cross at Jerusalem, which has an atmosphere of the Holy City. Jerusalem has four strata: the Jerusalem of the Jews, where the Lord Jesus began His mission of redemption, suffered and died; the Jerusalem of Christians, God’s kingdom on earth, the holy Church, which the divine King will enter at Christmas; the heavenly Jerusalem, where at the end of time the Saviour will appear on the Last Day to take all into the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven; and the present city where our task is to adorn and prepare it so that the King will want to enter our souls in sanctifying grace. In the Roman Empire, an official visitation (Epiphany, Parousia) was a great event and something analogous takes place in the Jerusalem of our souls, as we see the Lord coming from afar and, if we prepare a proper reception, God condescends to manifest Himself to us in grace. The Roman Catholic readings of Mass on the four Sundays of Advent have distinct themes, the Second Sunday being the Coming of Christ with his birth in a manger and further prophecies. In the Advent Wreath, the Bethlehem Candle symbolising Faith and signifying the Way and the Prophets is lit for the first time, along with the First Sunday of Advent Prophesy Candle symbolising Hope. At the heart of this Christmas season is the truth that the Word of God became human and lived among us, Christmas celebrating 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 forty days from 15 November, the day following the Feast of St Philip the Apostle, to 24 December and 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, the 28 November Western First Sunday of Advent coincides with 15 November on the Julian calendar. During the week preceding the Second Sunday of Advent, Christmas decorations are put up but the over-commercialisation of Christmas has led to this being done earlier, as with the switching on of Christmas lights in town and shopping centres that normally takes place during the week. The twenty-four-foot Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square in London, a slim eighty-year-old spruce this year, is an annual present from the Norwegians to express their gratitude for the UK’s support for their country during World War II. People have advent calendars or candles, write Christmas messages to family members and friends and send Christmas cards. They bake currant, sultana and raisin Christmas cakes and cook sponge, mixed dried fruit, candied fruit peel, apple and citrus zest Christmas puddings at this time. Image: dentalimplantsurgery.com.
Prayer Dear Lord, through the darkness we look to You to open our hearts. Help us to be awake and aware of the radiance You bring to our lives and grateful for Your blessings. Let us be peacemakers in our own lives, and in the world. Our hearts beg for this as our Advent prayer today. Amen
St Cawrdaf (Cowdrey, Caurtabus) (bc495). Feast Day for the legendary Christian King of Fferreg, (Rhwng Gwy ag Hafren) in present-day Brecknockshire (Sir Frycheiniog) and Herefordshire. He was one of the sons of King Caradoc (Caradog Freichfras) and was born in Gwent, to become a wise monarch, one of the Three Chief Officers of Britain and a counsellor to the legendary King Arthur. Cawrdaf founded churches and made endowments outside of Fferreg, at Llangowdra (Ceredigion), Abererch (Llyn) and Llangoed (Brecon). In his old age, he abdicated in favour of his son, Caw, in order to follow his religious calling as a disciple of St Illtud (Illtud Farchog) at the divinity school in Bangor Illtyd, Llantwit Major, Glamorgan. Cawrdaf had several saintly children and, although how long his descendants remained Kings of Fferreg is unknown, they continued for many centuries as one of the two leading Brycheiniog patriarchal families, centred on Garth Madryn in present-day Brecon. Image: flickr.com.
Our Lady of the Jesuit College (1584 Madonna del Collegio dei Gesuiti, Roma). The Sodality of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, was founded for young males in 1563 by the young Belgian Jesuit Jean (Jan) Leunis at the Collegio Romano in Rome. It was opened up to adults under the authority of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), twenty-two Sodalists later becoming Popes. Once formed into a Sodality of Our Lady, they were to do apostolic work in the city of Rome, whilst also serving the poor with the Blessed Virgin Mary as their patron. These Sodalities were established all over Europe, India and Asia, as well as in the Americas, and included both sexes, reaching their greatest number in the Seventeenth Century, when it was estimated that there were two thousand five hundred such groups. After suppression of the Society of Jesus from 1759, the sodalities left their jurisdiction and it was the Catholic bishops who established Marian Sodalities throughout the world. Image: roman-catholic-saints.com.