Keeping vigil.

vigil, from the Latin vigilia meaning wakefulness (Greek: pannychis,[1] παννυχίς or agrypnia[2] ἀγρυπνία),[3] is a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance. ( Wikipedia) 

Keeping vigil has always been a spiritual practice in Catholicism. This is what we are essentially doing by attending any “Vigil” mass, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Saviour.

There is also a Biblical reference here that can be included. The Shepherds in Luke’s infancy narratives in his Gospel were keeping watch over their sheep on the nightly vigil. In a sense, we are the same shepherds today and we are entrusted to keep watch over one another. While we wait for God during Advent, it’s also important to note that God also keeps Vigil for us. Many people “come home” at Christmas and find God welcoming them back home once again. We pray that they find our church to be a welcoming place and that we show them the love that God always offers to us. In doing so, we have the opportunity to continually welcome them home each week and pray that they will be part of our community regularly.

Christmas 2013 037

Christmas 2013 038

The Sanctuary is ready and the first of the Holy Masses for Christmas may begin.

A model for men and women searching for the Mystery of God.

cardinalnewmanWhen we say the Creed, we need to realise that we are doing something extraordinary and counter cultural. In a world where so many people live atomised existences, we are doing something as a community. In an age that shies away from commitment, as we say the Creed we are committing ourselves to a set of convictions and to each other. The Creed is our symbol, the way we recognise each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s a sign of our common membership. It is our Catholic identity. (JerichoTree). It is to this identity that Newman endeavoured to cleave himself through his search for Truth in the Mystery of God.

“I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it.” ~ John Henry Newman

I went on a pilgrimage to Newman’s Littlemore College in Oxford, where I learned more about this inspirational man,and his fascinating journey into the arms of the Catholic Church.The influence of Blessed John Henry Newman, one of the outstanding voices of 19th century Roman Catholicism, has spread throughout the Christian world and is stronger than ever today. He lived and prayed for four years at The College in Littlemore where he was received into the Roman Catholic Church on 9th October 1845.Blessed John Henry Newman lived at “The College” at Littlemore from 1842-1846, making it a place of quiet prayer and study for himself and some friends.

Littlemore college

Littlemore college

“There it has been, that I have both been
taught my way and received an answer to my prayers.”

Newman, Letters and Diaries, XI 132/3

Newman’s oratory has again become a place of prayer and worship, with the Office, daily hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and regular masses. A substantial and specialized collection of Newman-related literature has been built up on the site of Newman’s own library, together with an exhibition of Newman memorabilia (prints, etchings, photographs, sculptures and original letters). Newman wrote in total, 20.000 letters!

In 1963 Pope Paul VI beatified Fr. Dominic Barberi, The Passionist ,who received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church. On that occasion the Pope spoke about Blessed Dominic; but he also spoke about Newman. He said ‘, Newman’s journey of Faith was ,’the greatest, the most meaningful, the most conclusive, that human thought ever travelled during…the modern era.’

This quote from Blessed Barberi on Newman's request to become Catholic.

This quote from Blessed Barberi on Newman’s request to become Catholic.

A relic of Blessed Dominic Barberi at eh church I visited at Littlemore.

A relic of Blessed Dominic Barberi at the church I visited at Littlemore.

I had an opportunity to pray in front of the Crucifix Blessed Newman prayed in front of daily.

I had an opportunity to pray in front of the Crucifix Blessed Newman prayed in front of daily.

Newman's bedroom kept today as it was when he lived there.

Newman’s bedroom kept today as it was when he lived there.

Pilgrims can visit Newman’s room, in which many historic features have been preserved. The chapel, which is regularly used for prayer and Mass, is similar to how it would have been when Newman and his companions prayed there. I prayed in the same place where Newman spent so much of his time in search of the truth, and where he had the grace and happiness of being received into what he believed to be “the one true Fold of Christ” (Letters and Diaries XI, 5).

Newman's writing desk on which Blessed Barberi performed the mass after Newman's conversion. Newman never write on it again and kept it inverted after this .

Newman’s writing desk on which Blessed Barberi performed the mass after Newman’s conversion. Newman never wrote on it again and kept it inverted after this mass .

obedience

Newman’s writing desk in his bedroom.

The intellectual genius of Newman coupled with is humility struck me to the core. His dogged determination in search of the truth cost him dearly as far as his friends and family were concerned.  On his desk is a diary of his writings and included is a letter to his sister Jemima telling her of his decision to convert to Catholicism. He begins, ”My dear Jemima, I must tell you what will pain you greatly, but I will make it as short as you would wish me to do…”.  This letter he sent to her only after his conversion. The non-pre-existent relationship with his sister caused his much sadness.

In 1845 Newman wrote his ‘Development of Christian Doctrine’ and towards the end of this work it became clear to him that he must seek admission into the Roman Catholic Church. When Fr Dominic Barberi visited Littlemore, Newman and two of his companions were received into the Church on 9th October 1845.

In his Development of Christian Doctrine’, Newman spoke of how ‘to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.’ These memorable words are well known and often quoted, and it seems obvious that change was a particular characteristic of his life. The Roman Catholic Church in England was itself going though great change at the time of Newman’s conversion.

Meditative singing….a formula of calming repetition…

During Adoration of the Eucharist yesterday we sang this beautiful song of praise and worship. The first time I’ve heard it, and one that I’ll be including in my prayers in future. Eucharistic-Jesus-Adoration

Meditative singing

Singing is one of the most essential elements of worship. Short songs, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character. Using just a few words they express a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being. Meditative singing thus becomes a way of listening to God. It allows everyone to take part in a time of prayer together and to remain together in attentive waiting on God, without having to fix the length of time too exactly.

To open the gates of trust in God, nothing can replace the beauty of human voices united in song. This beauty can give us a glimpse of “heaven’s joy on earth,” as Eastern Christians put it. And an inner life begins to blossom within us.

These songs also sustain personal prayer. Through them, little by little, our being finds an inner unity in God. They can continue in the silence of our hearts when we are at work, speaking with others or resting. In this way prayer and daily life are united. They allow us to keep on praying even when we are unaware of it, in the silence of our hearts.

The “songs of Taizé” published in different languages are simple, but preparation is required to use them in prayer. This preparation should take place before the prayer itself, so that once it begins the atmosphere remains meditative.

During the prayer it is better if no one directs the music; in this way everyone can face the cross, the icons or the altar. (In a large congregation, however, it may be necessary for someone to direct, as discreetly as possible, a small group of instruments or singers who support the rest, always remembering that they are not giving a performance for the others.) The person who begins the songs is generally up front, together with those who will read the psalm, the reading and the intercessions, not facing the others but turned like them towards the altar or the icons. If a song is begun spontaneously, the pitch is generally too low. A tuning fork or pitch pipe can help, or a musical instrument give the first note or accompany the melody. Make sure the tempo does not slow down too much, as this tends to happen when the singing goes on for some time. As the number of participants increases, it becomes necessary to use a microphone, preferably hand-held, to begin and end the songs (they can be ended by singing “Amen” on the final note). The person who begins the singing can support the others by singing into a microphone, being careful not to drown out the other voices. A good sound-system is essential if the congregation is large; if necessary check it before the prayer and try it out with those who will be using the microphones.

Songs in many different languages are appropriate for large international gatherings. In a neighborhood prayer with people of all ages present, most of the songs should be in languages actually understood by some of the participants, or in Latin. If possible, give each person a song sheet or booklet. You can also include one or two well-known local songs or hymns.

Instruments: a guitar or keyboard instrument can support the harmonic structure of the songs. They are especially helpful in keeping the correct pitch and tempo. Guitars should be played in classical, not folk style. A microphone may be necessary for them to be heard. In addition to this basic accompaniment, there are parts for other instruments.   (Taize)

“Something very interesting at Taizé is that this formula of calming repetition has been taken up in the liturgy; that is, it is not used only in personal prayer, but also in prayer together or common prayer. Some young people, who know almost nothing of mystery, are introduced to it here, and they begin to learn how to pray.”

Olivier Clément

I have put visiting the TAIZE COMMUNITY on my bucket list.

 

 

 

Prophetic Witness.

Imageandtext@IgnatiusPressfacebook

Imageandtext@IgnatiusPressfacebook

…We need prophetic witnesses. We need people who in their way of life challenge the prevailing false ideologies bearing upon the production, distribution, and use of material goods. We need lived prophecy.

The basic presuppositions of the population must change first. Ideological structures undergird and support laws and other structures. (my emphasis)

We therefore need pilgrim witnesses. We need joyous, loving men and women to show in their lives that one can live a sparing-sharing lifestyle and still be happy and fulfilled. We need to induce conversion into the masses first by example, then by word—really, by both simultaneously. 

—Fr. Thomas Dubay

From his book “Happy Are You Poor”. Find this book on our site herehttp://goo.gl/FjB1k

Waiting together with Mary.

mary-laughing

Our Lady and her cousin Elizabeth.

I thought that as it’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I’d search for some beautiful images of Our Lady. Uppermost in my mind as I looked for these was Our Lady’s time of waiting.

image004

A special moment for Our Lady.

maria-schwanger

Maria Schwanger

A beautiful rendition of the pregnant Madonna.

Madonna del Parto,  Antonio Veneziano

Madonna del Parto, Antonio Veneziano

Her time of waiting is almost over…

Mary and Elisabeth Meet ZachariahLorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni about 1416

Mary and Elisabeth Meet Zachariah
Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni about 1416

Open the door just a crack.

the_light_door

The very clear message of Advent is, “Settle down for a while.” Open the door just a crack to let God in.

 

 

An Advent Hymn: Blessed be that Maid Marie

Lyrics: Blessed be that Maid Marie

Blessed be that Maid Marie;
Born He was of her body;
Very God ere time began,
Born in time the Son of man.

Eya! Ihesus hodie
Natus est de Virgine.

In a manger of an ass
Jesus lay and lulled was;
Born to die upon the Tree
Pro peccante homine.

Eya! Ihesus hodie
Natus est de Virgine.

Sweet and blissful was the song
Changed of the Angel throng,
“Peace on earth,” Alleluya.
In excelsis gloria.

Eya! Ihesus hodie
Natus est de Virgine.

Fare three Kings from far-off land,
Incense, gold and myrrh in hand;
In Bethlehem the Babe they see,
Stelle ducti lumine.

Eya! Ihesus hodie
Natus est de Virgine.

Make we merry on this fest,
In quo Christus natus est;
On this Child I pray you call,
To assoil and save us all.

Eya! Ihesus hodie
Natus est de Virgine.

Mulling over this…

c_s_lewis_photo

‘We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us.’

CS Lewis.

Benedict XVI: Defender and Protector of Faith.

“If you follow the will of God, you know that in spite of all the terrible things that happen to you, you will never lose a final refuge. You know that the foundation of the world is love, so that even when no human being can or will help you, you may go on, trusting in the One that loves you.” Pope Benedict XVI

1catholicsalmon:

Fascinating detail and historical background, provides depth and meaning. The Exultation of the Cross was celebrated yesterday.

Originally posted on Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts:

Today we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

During the first 280 years of its life the Catholic Church was severely persecuted. The symbol of the Cross, the symbol of public humiliation and excruciating death, was rarely used in our Christian iconography. But this doesn’t mean that the early Christians were reluctant to express their devotion to the Cross. Writing in the year 204, the Christian theologian Tertullian said: “At every going in and out, when we put on our clothes, when we sit at table, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign [of the Cross].”

In the year 313, the Emperor Constantine signed the Edict of Milan which proclaimed toleration for the Christian faith within the Roman Empire. Constantine’s mother, Helena, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and with the support of the local bishop, excavated…

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