The Christian season of Advent is becoming more and more counter cultural. As the world speeds up in the race to Christmas, and as Christmas decorations and carols abound, Advent invites Christians to slow down, to pay attention to our deepest longings and hopes, to pray and reflect, to be uncluttered and unhurried, as we prepare to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s birth at Christmas.
To help us do that, as we did last year, we recommend praying the Examen. This is an ancient way of praying which invites us to review our day in the light of Christ. It emphasises gratitude and the longing to grow as disciples. A guide for this prayer is available here.
We also recommend another ancient way of praying with the scripture known as Lectio Divina. The Diocese of Broken Bay has prepared an excellent resource to help us do that this Advent. It is available here.
As we celebrate Advent this year we will also be continuing to prepare for our diocesan Synod and national Plenary Council. Praying the Examen and practicing Lectio will help us listen to what God is asking of us in Australia at this time.
While these texts do not include texts for a Vigil Mass or for Evening Prayer I, communities could begin the celebration with either, given the explanation of Solemnities in the General Norms for the Liturgical year and the Calendar a. 11 Solemnities are counted as the principal days in the calendar and their observance begins with evening prayer I of the preceding day. Some also have their own vigil Mass for use when Mass is celebrated in the evening of the preceding day.
This article may assist those preparing the community's liturgical celebration.
More information on Mary MacKillop can be found on the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart website.
In the Church of Maitland-Newcastle the Chrism Mass is celebrated annually on the Tuesday evening of Holy Week, 7.00pm in the Sacred Heart Cathedral. It is an amazing liturgy. People gather from all over the diocese. They come by bus and car and by 6.30pm the cathedral and its precinct are full of people, all catching up and preparing to be part of this most significant celebration of our faith.
This gathering of the whole Church at the Cathedral with Bishop Bill Wright is an important part of our preparation for the Easter Ceremonies which will take place throughout the diocese.
At the Chrism Mass our Bishop Bill blesses the holy oils which will be used for ministry throughout the coming year. The oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick are blessed. The oil of chrism is consecrated. The first is used for anointing adult catechumens and infants, the second for anointing the sick, and the sacred oil of chrism for baptism, confirmation, the ordination of priests, and the consecration of altars. The tradition of blessing the oils goes back to the early church. Only the bishop can consecrate chrism.
Celebrated with Bishop Bill and most of the clergy and representatives from all parishes, the Chrism Mass is a great celebration of our unity as the Church of Maitland-Newcastle. This unity is marked in a special way when, after the readings and homily, everyone participates in a renewal of their commitment to ministry which we share, though in different ways.
This renewal begins with the Assembly – all God's priestly, prophetic and kingly people – who recommit to the work of spreading God's word in their families, communities and workplaces. Then the deacons restate their commitment to the loving and humble service called for by the gospel. This is followed by the priests' renewal of their priestly promises to unite themselves with Christ and to steward the mysteries of God. Finally, Bishop Bill renews his commitment to becoming a more faithful image of Christ the Good Shepherd. Through the process of this renewal, the people offer their prayer and support to their deacons, priests and bishop. Our unity characterised by difference is acted out in this ritual of renewal.
A simple resource for prayer and reflection on the texts for the blessing of the holy oils is available here. It can help you prepare to participate in the Chrism Mass, or reflect on your experience after. It can be used personally or in groups.
A template for parishes looking for a ritual to receive the oils sent to them by Bishop Bill from the Chrism Mass is available in MS Word or PDF format.
Click here to view the photos from last year's Chrism Mass. If you have not been to a Chrism Mass why not come along this year?
Many resources are available to support communities in their prayer and reflection during Lent. The following may be of assistance.
Washing the Dust from our Souls - The Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation Melbourne has prepared a suite of free resources to assist parishes during Lent 2018. Available to download from 29 January at www.cam.org.au/evangelisation.
Surrender - Lenten program including daily reflections for Lent and Easter 2018 from the Diocese of Wollongong. Available for purchase at http://www.dowshop.org.au/#.
The Grace of Forests - St Columban's Mission Society offers a free on-line resource for the six Sundays of Lent. Reflections are guided by the designated Scriptural readings from an Australian ecological perspective.
For Lent for Life – A vibrant 2018 Lent experience of faith and life to empower young people. Book now for Catholic secondary schools and parishes via http://www.gpbs.com.au/.
Good News for Tough Times. Archbishop Christopher Prowse presents a series of reflections on the Gospel readings. Perfect for parish-based groups, families and individuals. Order the DVD from Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn and Download the free Prayer Journal.
Many parish communities are reflecting on what to do when weekday Mass is not possible. The Liturgy Council has considered this issue and produced a Practice Note: Liturgical Celebrations on Weekdays which aims to assist parishes to respond to this pastoral situation in the best way possible. The Practice Note is recommended to Parish Leadership Teams and Liturgy Teams for their consideration and discussion. It also has relevance to Catholic school communities. Other resources on this website will assist parishes and schools in their response: Information about the Prayer of the Church and templates for Morning and Evening Prayer and a Week Day Liturgy of the Word template.
The Australian Catholic Bishops website has resources for ANZAC Day. The tabs at the top of the site include access to the music for Mass for the Fallen, We Shall Remember Them by Christopher Willcock SJ and other resources.
Solemnity of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Our Lady of Perpetual Help is the Patron of the Church of Maitland-Newcastle. Mass and Liturgy texts are provided for parishes and schools to use to celebrate our patronal feast. If you would like a copy of the texts as a Word document please email email@example.com.
World Day of Prayer for Creation
Pope Francis has announced that September 1 2015 will be the first annual 'World Day of Prayer'.