We have come to the final Sunday of Advent. This week we have decided to put up Sunday’s retreat a little early as we only have one day of this 4th week of Advent.
We would like you to take time in the craziness before Christmas, to stop. Both understanding and reflecting what it is you are celebrating, helps you to prepare and celebrate more fully. There are few who can sum up this idea more wonderfully than the ever quotable English writer, GK Chesterton,
“People are losing the power to enjoy Christmas though identifying it with enjoyment. When once they lose sight of the old suggestion that it is all about something, they naturally fall into blank pauses of wondering what it is all about. To be told to rejoice on Christmas day is reasonable and intelligible, if you understand the name, or even look at the word. To be told to rejoice on the twenty-fifth of December is like being told to rejoice at quarter-past eleven on Thursday week. You cannot suddenly be frivolous unless you believe there is a serious reason for being frivolous.” ‘The New War on Christmas,’ G.K.’s Weekly, December 26, 1925, quoted in Brave New Family.
Let us make sure that this year we are intentionally passing on this gift of understanding our joy to those who God has placed in our lives, as we prepare for this great feast. Don’t forget, Christmas is not just one day. It is a whole season of joy!
In the Gospel of Sunday we are told Luke’s story of the Annunciation. Thank you to Bishop Richard Umbers from the Archdiocese of Sydney for his beautiful reflection on Mary’s ‘Yes’ to her calling from God.
Thank you for taking part in this online retreat, whether you did it all, or just parts of it. Please, let us know how you found it and if you think it worthwhile to continue with providing this kind of retreat. We will keep you in our prayers during this Christmas time. Please keep us in yours.
Gospel Reading Audio
Gospel Reflection by Bishop Richard Umbers
Click Image to access the reflection sheet
We have provided a number of questions. You don’t need to answer them all. They are just a guide. You can pick as many or as few as you wish. It really depends on the time you have through the week and how much time you wish to spend on each.
Here we are listing a number of other resources that you might like to look at. Of course you don’t need to use any at all or even just in Advent! It is for those who wish to delve more deeply into themes or ideas that have been looked into this week.
Click here for the other reading from Mass on Sunday.
If you would like to look them up in your own Bible they are:
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Books and Papal Documents
St John Paul II gave us a beautiful catechesis on the Blessed Virgin’s “yes” being a sublime model of Service. How she makes God’s will her own.
Pope Benedict also reflected on Mary’s “Fiat” and her humility and obedience of faith in a General Audience during Advent of 2012.
The Annunciation makes us aware that God has had a plan for His people to bring them to Him. Salvation history shows us God’s love throughout the ages. It shows in our lives today that whilst in the moment we might not see God’s hand, He has loved us from the beginning of time. This book by Scott Hahn traces this covenant of His love through biblical times.
A really wonderful article looking at depictions of Mary at the Annunciation in artwork and how, in order to be considered to be truly Catholic, they need to give a representation of Mary’s free will.
Sometimes, when we move away from God’s will, say ‘No’ to what His plans are for us, it can often lead us to think that we can never get back to what is His will for us. This is simply not true.
In the lead up to Christmas we hear the O Antiphons. What are they?
The nativity scene has become the main symbol for Christians at this time of year, with all sorts of traditions focused around the manger. A good friend of ours here at Anima, Professor Tracey Roland, was in Poland recently and sent us some pictures of the Nativity Competition that runs every year in the Krakow town square, as well as some images of Christmas festivities that take place in the centre of town. Images like these can be found in cities, towns and villages all over Europe. A reminder of the deep cultural heritage of the Church in Europe.
It may be obvious, but we are Chesterton fans here. This piece on ‘How to celebrate Christmas like G.K Chesterton is simply brilliant.
As we mentioned in our introduction this week, Christmas is a season and we should try and celebrate Christmas more than just on one day a year. What can that even look like? Leila Lawler (who we also need to thank for a couple of the links for this week) has outlined how she did this in her family. It might give you ideas of what it could look like in yours. Of course, for those of us living in Australia, some of the ideas might need some tweaking to account for the fact that we are more likely to have our air conditioners on than our fires!
As mentioned in the link above, reading aloud to children Christmas stories is a wonderful way to keep the season in mind. This is an article which gives some classic stories that they suggest to be read aloud to children, especially by their fathers. However, it is also a good list for whoever reads them, aloud or just in the quiet moments of this busy time.
This is a video by Fr Mike Shmitz talking about how we be content with the uncertainty of God’s will at times.
Podcast by Fr Robert Baron on “The inexhaustibly fascinating figure of Mary” at this time in advent.
Below is a YouTube playlist of music for this week. It is meant to be a tool for prayer, but also can be played through your day to help keep the season in mind. Apologies for any advertisements that may interrupt your listening! We have added in more Christmas type pieces as this Sunday is so close to the feast as well as some Advent ones.
If you would like to receive updates of further online reflections like these please click here.