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Advent Reflections

Resources and Reflections for 2019

 

As we move through the season of Advent for 2019, we are mindful of how short it is and how easy it is to pass us by. As Pope Francis reminds us, Advent is a time to be ‘mindful and pray’.

To help us with our spiritual preparation this Advent, we offer four personal reflections – one for each week of Advent – on the important themes of this beautiful season. Each reflection is easy to use in groups OR personally.  Each reflection gives us the opportunity to pray, to ponder and to listen to our speakers reflect on our understanding of the season. Some questions help us to go deeper, personally or as a group. We suggest taking one a week, but if you have a parish retreat day these could provide the materials you might want to use for your time together

From Pope Francis Angelus 2nd December 2018

 

Today, Advent begins, the liturgical time which prepares us for Christmas, inviting us to lift our gaze and open our hearts to welcome Jesus. During Advent we do not just live in anticipation of Christmas; we are also called to rekindle the anticipation of the glorious return of Christ — when he will return at the end of time — preparing ourselves, with consistent and courageous choices, for the final encounter with him. We remember Christmas, we await the glorious return of Christ, and also our personal encounter: the day in which the Lord will call.

 

We are grateful to Gavin D’Costa, Laura Stotesbury, Fr. Tom Dubois and Sarah Richards for their reflective contributions which will help us to engage more fully with Advent and its rich themes.

Previous week’s Reflections can be found below

Week Two: Laura Stotesbury

Advent Reflection Time

A Time for Peace

Week One: Dr Gavin D’Costa

Advent Reflection Time

The Challenge of the Annunciation

Week Three: Fr Tom Dubois   – THIS VIDEO WILL APPEAR FROM SUNDAY 15 DECEMBER

Advent Reflection Time

Entering the Silence

Week Four: Sarah Richards  – THIS VIDEO WILL APPEAR FROM SUNDAY 15 DECEMBER

Advent Reflection Time

The Hidden Life of St Joseph

Praying with the Advent Wreath

One of the most iconic symbols of Advent is that of the Advent Wreath. It is a beautiful symbol of the eternity of Christ and his presence in our lives. As a symbol, however, apart from being lit on each of the Sundays of Advent, the deeper meaning held within each of those candles is often lost or unacknowledged. This is a pity because there is a richness in the wreath which offers a real opportunity for reflecting in a prayerful way this beautiful season of preparation for Christmas. Before we look at how we might use our Advent Wreath for a time of reflection let us remind ourselves of its origins.

The Advent Wreath was first used as Christian devotion in the Middle Ages. Its design comes from the customs of the pre-Christian Germanic and Scandinavian cultures, where candles and greenery were used as symbols of light and life during the dark and cold winter. The Advent Wreath has always been a circular evergreen wreath with four or five candles, three purple, one rose and sometimes a white candle for Christmas Day placed in the centre of the wreath.

The candles symbolise the light of Christ coming into the world. The evergreen symbolises renewal and the circular shape the completeness of God. The candle colours come from the traditional liturgical colours of Advent, (purple and rose) and Christmas (white). Each candle is lit on the appropriate Sunday of Advent and then the candles can be lit each day according to the week. Overtime each candle was given a name and linked to a particular part of the Advent story.

Candle 1. Hope (purple)
Candle 2. Peace (purple)
Candle 3. Joy (rose)
Candle 4. Love (purple)

Praying with a focus on each candle can really help us to reflect as we journey through Advent. Just taking fifteen or twenty minutes each day to pray can enrich our appreciation of the season which so often can be overtaken by the need to shop endlessly, bake, send out invites etc. Simply giving a short period of time allows us to breathe and refocus on why we are doing all this preparation in the first place.
What follows is a format that this prayer time might take and some reflection questions for each of the weeks; it can be done as a family, a parish community or as an individual.