Advent 2010 Lead Kindly Light Update

                                                                                             Image above from here 

This is an update of a previous post from here.

The season of Advent, is the time of preparation for the birth of Christ at Christmas  and the start of this new  liturgical year in the Roman Catholic Church, begins on the First Sunday in  Advent, November 28, 2010.

The readings for the Mass for the  new liturgical year will be drawn from Cycle A. 

Readings can be found here

The mood of Advent is sometimes described as  "hopeful solemnity", (but see video at the end !) and is mirrored in the cycle of Nature's own season. 

Liturgically, there are a few changes. The colour of the stole (the long scarf) will  go from green which is used during "regular time" (during Pentecost and  from Epiphany to Lent) to  purple...Purple is the   traditional colour that symbolizes repentance and sorrow for sin.

On the third Sunday of Advent, the liturgical colour changes, for one Sunday only, from purple to "rose" because that is the Sunday  traditionally set aside to honour the faith and faithfulness of Mary.

So what's the theme then ?


These are free resources :

Link here to Arundel and Brighton Diocese Reflections under the theme "Lead Kindly Light" and 

also daily reflections from their Youth Service from here

The Jesuit Loyola Press have prepared an interactive Advent Retreat which can be accessed here and also from the side bar of my blog.
This FREE retreat offers prayerful readings or  Ignatian  contemplation for the twenty-eight days of Advent and for  fourteen days of the Christmas season.

Creighton University has a whole raft of resources which can  be accessed here 
Click here for lots of goodies : A complete set of free Advent Videos

Talking of light, there are some special illuminating events at this time of the year worth a closer look. 

The Aurora Borealis light display or Northern Lights are  a magnificent natural spectacle particularly visible in polar regions and can be seen illuminating the Northern Horizon as a greenish or red glow.

They are a great way to help us reflect on the Light of The World that leads us on " amid the encircling gloom ",  to uplift our hearts to focus on the Holy Time of Advent and Christmas and help us refresh our lives in one community of faith. 

The photographer Kristján Unnar Kristjansson  went to extraordinary lengths over the last nine years to capture the  amazing light show in all its glory. 

The 31-year-old says he  often drives to remote, light-pollution free locations to get the best view. 

This often means he drives around 10,000-15,000 kilometres  for the perfect shot - but it's worth it. 

"No words can properly describe the experience,” said Mr Kristjansson.
“Even though I've seen them now and again throughout my life, I'm still  awe-inspired and flabbergasted every time they show up."

There is a parallel here with the story of the three kings doggedly travelling miles to Bethlehem, the frozen shepherds trudging across fields towards the manger, probably feeling decidely "bewitched, bothered and almost certainly a little bewildered " at what it was all about

They were expecting a King and all they got was a baby !

I've seen many Christmases throughout my life and in truth  it gets harder to arrive at its real message.

The mood of the season is more often that of Scrooge -- Humbug!!! 
People may greet us with a  "Merry Christmas," but often we feel anything but merry. 
By the time we get to the last week of Advent we're tired, grumpy, and a bit short of joy or hope.
Yet somewhere amongst the tawdry tinsel and the ever increasing madness of the commercial shenanigans,  it is also true that I am still awe -inspired and flabbergasted by it and yes, I am amazed  that Jesus still bothers to show up every year !!

Thinking of another celebration of light : On 23rd December, it  is worth remembering that Hanukkah , the Jewish Celebration of the  Festival of Light was celebrated by Christ as a Jew.

So Hanukkah is not just a Jewish celebration as it commemorates an event that can be enjoyed by  anyone who loves God and/or believes in religious liberty.  

We all can share a common spiritual heritage.

It is sad that the Season of Advent and the Season of Christmas can be a cause for division between people of faith /no faith.

It is also a sad fact that an increasing number of people can see "no reason for the season."

It is not easy to be a Christian these days, or to know how or what it means to live with full Christian  committment and it does not mean we have glib answers to complex questions.

But it does mean we can live with a sense of purpose, knowing that we walk in  the presence of the living God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. 

With that sense of purpose, we can light the first candle of Advent.


 Gustav Niebuhr, a former New York Times religion writer and now a Professor 
of Religion and Public communication at Syracuse University has  tackled one of the most vexing issues of our time.  

That issue is the  place of religion in public life and the relationships  between religious communities in an increasingly pluralistic world. In his book, Beyond Tolerance, he has this to say :

When Norman Rockwell painted his Freedom of Worship painting, he focused  on the diversity of Americans at prayer, and boldly imprinted in this  picture is the motto:  “Each according to the dictates of his own  conscience.” 
He points out that while the painting focuses on the  individual, there is also embedded within it a sense of community.

“The  people occupy an equal plane and they face (more or less) in the same direction, toward the painting’s left,  the source of the painter’s  light, which illuminates their faces. 

What goes on here is not something we do entirely alone; there are others, different from us, who do it  too, and they are persons of worth and dignity.”

Christian theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart believed  that Christmas was the time when Christ was born within each and every one of us.

This Advent 
                              in the season of hope as we light our Advent candles, 

I PRAY that we don't simply anticipate the light 
but that we increase it in our hearts and lives. 

I PRAY that those who do not believe will be inspired to look again
at the bright stars in the sky; that they will be guided 
to the scene of the manger where Jesus Christ was born.

I PRAY to be able to see in it where all origins and hopes of humans began
and where the source of authentic truth and reason for our very being truly lies.

This is a wonderful version of a well known song sung in "hopeful solemnity"
but as the lady says :

     " We are affirming ourselves folks : please do it beyond a whisper !" 


(This photo above is from The BBC World Service  Outlook programme).

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