Reflection on 4th of Advent: 19th December 2021

Believing

What if we really believed God is uniquely present and active in the circumstances of each of our lives? What if instead of allowing our circumstances to determine what we believe, we allowed our believing to reinterpret the circumstances? That would be blessed believing, Elizabeth and Mary type of believing, the kind of believing that gives birth to new life. That believing is at the heart of today’s gospel reading. Two pregnant women, neither of whom, according to their circumstances, should be or could be pregnant. One is too old. One is too young. One is barren. One is a virgin. Yet, both are pregnant.

Neither Elizabeth nor Mary allowed the circumstances of their lives to define who they were or limit who they might become. Believing for them was not so much about what they see but how they see. Each one believed she was more than the circumstances of her life. Both women saw, hidden within their particular situation, a deeper meaning and a new life. Each one trusted that the God of the impossible was somehow in the circumstances reshaping, transforming, and fulfilling her very existence. God was at work within these two women changing them, not their circumstances. So it is for each one of us.

Michael Marsh

The story of the visitation is not only about pregnancy and physical birth. For Mary and Elizabeth the massive change within them is linked to a radical transformation beyond them. There is a harmony between what God has stirred within them and what God is stirring in the world. Regardless of whether we’re called to give birth to physical children, God challenges us to cultivate an interior spirit that is intimately linked with the world beyond us. In this Advent season, what’s stirring inside me that connects me with the world around me? What is God seeking to bring forth in my life that enables me to participate in the transformation that God is working in all creation?

Jan Richardson

Gospel: Luke 1:39-44

Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, She gave a loud cry and said, “Of all women you the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why I should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Reflection on 3rd of Advent: 12th December 2021

What must we do?

Wherever their question comes from, whatever has impelled them to ask what they should do, John gives the crowd an answer that, if they heed it, if they take it on as their own, will change them utterly. I’m intrigued by how specific John is with his responses. He does not give his questioners a “one size fits all” solution, as do so many preachers who flavour their sermons with fire. To each group, to each condition presented him, John provides counsel tailored distinctly to their life situation. Amid our daily lives, is there anything more unsettling than receiving a clear word about what it is that we’re meant to do in this world? Is there anything that risks taking us deeper into our insecurities, into our fears, into the dark unknown than when someone who sees and recognizes and knows us, then challenges us to be the person whom God has created and called us to be? And is there anything more full of wonder and hope? “Once you live any piece of your vision it opens you to a constant onslaught of necessities, of fears, but of wonders too, of possibilities.”

Audre Lorde

This, finally, is what John the Baptist, this preparer of the way, is offering to his hearers: wonders; possibilities; the invitation to be initiated into a relationship with God’s own incarnate self. As ever, John in his fierce fashion is pointing to—making the way for—the One who comes. And this One comes not for the purpose of terrifying us but of loving us. Terror alone—fear of hellfire and damnation—is not enough to sustain a lasting relationship with Christ. Only love—the truest fire—can do this. In this season, we remember and celebrate this fierce and fiery love: the love that created us; the love that garbed itself in our own flesh and came among us; the love that beckons us to respond by discerning and doing what it is that God formed and fashioned us, in all our particularity, to do; the love that we will one day see and know in its completeness.

So what should we do, then? How do we carry this question—this question the crowd asked of John—in this season? How do we discern God’s longing for our life? To whom do we listen as we seek an answer to this question?

Adapted : Jan Richardson

‘God’s will is the most loving thing I can do right now – for my body, my mind, this person, this relationship, this family, this plant, this animal.’

James Finley

Gospel: Luke 3:10-18

When all the people asked John, “What must we do then?” he answered, “If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.” There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, “Master, what must we do?” He said to them, “Exact no more than your rate.” Some soldiers asked him in their turn, “What about us? What must we do?” He said to them, “No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!”

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, “I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear the threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.” As well as this, there were many other things he said to exhort the people and to announce the Good News to them.

Preston Centre: An invitation

Advent Penitential Service

A date for your diary.

On Saturday, December 18th, 2021 at 4pm, you are invited to join us for a Penitential Service for Advent.

This is to help us prepare for the Lord’s Birth and for his Return!

We realise that the current Covid situation is unclear, so we understand if you decide not to join us, but please pause at 4 and join us in prayer!

Reflection on 2nd of Advent: 5th December 2021

The wilderness

 ‘Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ‘Advent is a time of pilgrimage, a call to embark on a rigorous journey of reclaiming ourselves and our relationship to God but it often comes without our bidding. And, like John’s call, it often comes to us from the wilderness. Wilderness describes a place and time where our usual ways of being and our ordinary coping mechanisms are stripped away. These times can leave us feeling vulnerable and thin-skinned, easily tipping over into sorrow, anxiety and despair and sometimes even feeling truly destabilised. But our wilderness times are also opportunities for us to venture into a deeper way of being in relationship with ourselves and with God. They help us recognise our usual urges for activity, productivity, entertainment, consumerism and escapism. This doesn’t mean that we judge these tendencies or belittle ourselves for them. Just notice the unsettledness within us. Then choose to follow the call of this time to remain, to abide and to deepen our rootedness in our life in God, rather than being scattered by all the activity and stuff that pulls us away from simple attending and being present. We can then taste the profoundly sacred richness and beauty of the present moment that is always filled with the quiet, undemanding, never absent presence of God, the ‘I Am.’ How easily hidden is this dimension of life. I can move past a particular scene but with all the clutter in my life and the noise in my head, it looks flat and or just ordinary. We try so hard to find the very contentment that is patiently waiting for us to finally, eventually slow down, stop, wait, gaze and simply be. Even our moments of profound sorrow can lead us to renewed vision and life. We are being invited to embrace this opportunity of a vulnerable, wilderness encounter.’

Sharon Grussendorff

 ‘Travel the most ancient way of all: the path that leads you to the centre of your life. This journey is not about miles. It is not about how far you can walk or how fast. It is about what you will do with this moment. The treasure in our map is buried not at journey’s end but at its beginning.’

Jan Richardson

Gospel: Luke 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of Tiberias Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.  He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:

A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill will be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

Spirituality Centre: News

On Saturday 27th November we had our monthly Xaverian gathering for Eucharist and Social. Around 30 friends of our community gathered together to remember our deceased loved ones and begin our Advent journey.

Our next event will be Saturday 18th of December for our Penitential Service, Eucharist and Social… with a Christmas flavour. All are very welcome.

A heads up, we will have our Burns Supper in January and due to limits, book early.

On Friday we celebrated the feast of our patron St Francis Xavier. May his zeal and his love for spreading the Kingdom be ours. And may he bless each of us with courage in spreading the Good News… wherever we are.

Reflection for 1st Sunday of Advent: 28 November 2021

Daily Focus for Advent

May these stars of Divine Love and Light shine through you this Advent season.

  1. Let the Star of Hope blaze through discouragement, doubt, and disgruntledness.
  2. Let the Star of Kindness radiate through your words and actions.
  3. Let the Star of Remembrance glitter in thoughts of good people and good deeds.
  4. Let the Star of Satisfaction shine through your expectations, wants and desires.
  5. Let the Star of Understanding beam love to those with whom you cannot relate.
  6. Let the Star of Laughter sparkle in your eyes and in your smile.
  7. Let the Star of Openness be a wide ray of love in your heart for those in need.
  8. Let the Star of Acceptance nudge you to receive the unwanted ones.
  9. Let the Star of Forgiveness draw you nearer to those with whom you are alienated.
  10. Let the Star of Courage grow bright in whatever requires your inner strength.
  11. Let the Star of Joy dance in the corners of your heart that have forgotten to sing.
  12. Let the Star of Gratitude encourage you to be generous with your gifts.
  13. Let the Star of Patience permeate that which you find difficult and irritable.
  14. Let the Star of Wonder draw you to appreciate the beauty in and around you.
  15. Let the Star of Justice lead you to make a positive choice for those in need today.
  16. Let the Star of Equanimity glow through your concerns and struggles
  17. Let the Star of Faith beam through you, reminding you of the Core of Love in you.
  18. Let the Star of Appreciation gleam in your thankfulness to all who bless your life.
  19. Let the Star of Charity keep you balanced in your needs of self and others.
  20. Let the Star of Enthusiasm sparkle amid your tiredness and hurried pace.
  21. Let the Star of Compassion draw you into the world’s wide expanse of suffering.
  22. Let the Star of Delight lift your spirit and help you to see joy in simple things.
  23. Let the Star of Devotion glisten in your work and in the care you offer to others.
  24. Let the Star of Love shine through you to the persons you would rather avoid.
  25. Let the Star of Peace be a ray of steadfast calmness and tranquility within you.

Joyce Rupp

Advent reminds us of, and returns us to our true roots, to God’s first dream for us.

Daniel O’Leary

Your Advent Invitation

Just a wee reminder that we are celebrating the start of Advent on Saturday, November 27th at 4pm with Mass. We are hoping that you can join us for this special moment in the Church’s life and to continue to catch-up with friends! There will be some food for after Mass (maybe not as much as last time!) and a wee donations box as well! Please let other people know and ask them to join us as we prepare for the Birth of Our Saviour!

Thanks

Paddy

Reflection on 4th Sunday in Advent: 20th December 2020

“Yes”

‘If Jesus is the representative of the total givenness of God to creation, then perhaps Mary is the representative of humanity, showing us how the gift is received.’1 ‘When Mary says ‘Yes’ she makes her commitment without knowing much about what it will entail or where it will lead. When the mystery of God’s love breaks through into my consciousness, do I run from it? Or do I respond from my deepest, truest self, and say a “yes” that will change me forever?’2

‘Our truest self is who we always are in God. It is a gift, waiting to be unwrapped, waiting to be consciously received. The Presence needs to be recognized, honoured, and drawn upon to become a Living Presence. Once we surrender to this Christ mystery, this divine incarnation in our oh-so-ordinary self and body, we begin to see it in every other ordinary place, too.’1

‘How do we say yes to a life we did not choose? This yes is not something we can always summon on our own. It is not a response we can manufacture by our own strength of will.’3 We need only remember that we are saying our ‘Yes’ to God who is ‘a presence that spares us from nothing but unexplainably sustains us in all things.’4

“Be not afraid,” the angel tells Mary. ‘What fear do you need to let go of in order to offer your yes? How might it be to ask for the courage you need, and to open yourself to the ways this courage wants to meet you? You will know it by the strength that rises from within you to meet it, by the release of the knot in the centre of your chest that suddenly lets go. You will recognize it by how still your fear becomes as it loosens its grip, perhaps never quite leaving you, but calmly turning into joy.’3

Our yes response will then be “What aspect of God, what aspect of Love, am I being called to incarnate in the world today?1

Adapted: [1] Richard Rohr, [2] Kathleen Norris, [3] Jan Richardson, [4] J.Finley

Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel as sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.