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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete! – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). This is the opening of the Entrance Antiphon for Mass on the third Sunday of Advent and will be sung today throughout the world. The third Sunday of Advent is also known as “Gaudete Sunday” after the first word of this antiphon. Gaudete Sunday reminds us that Advent is a joyful time.

We are preparing ourselves to celebrate worthily the anniversary of the Lord's co-ming at Christmas. By doing so, we seek to make our souls fitting “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19) in preparation for receiving Jesus in Holy Communion.

We are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 3:19). The coming of Christ is a joyful event! We look forward to our God coming to be with us in the mystery of the incarnation. Yes, God has visited his people and redeemed them (cf. Lk 1:68). God who “created heaven and earth” has come among us as the child at Bethlehem, born of the Virgin Mary (cf. Gen 1:1, Lk 2:7). By Mary’s intercession and God's grace He is to be born again in our hearts. What great happiness we can feel as we consider the Lord coming among us today, as a man, primarily in the Eucharist and so in our hearts and lives. In Advent (as in Lent) the priest wears purple vestments as a sign of our preparation – today rose coloured vestments are used as an especial mark of this joy.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice! The Lord is near”. As we approach the feast of the Nativity, we can feel more intensely the joy of which the Apostle Paul speaks. He does not arbitrarily command us to be happy. Rather, we hope and pray naturally to rejoice in our intimate union with a God who reveals the depths of His love for us by sending us His only son (cf. Jn 3:16).

In order to open ourselves to this joy we have extra confessions today and next Sunday 6-7 p.m., next Sunday 11:15 am – 12:15 pm, and our parish penitential service this Tuesday 7:30 pm.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 2:34 pm

Friday, December 08, 2006

This weekend sees the performance of “The Promise”, a specially written musical, by St. Mary Magdalen's Drama Club. The cast is made up primarily of young people of the Parish. The musical dramatises the traditional nativity story as well as fictionalising some parts of the tale not told in the Gospels.

The title “The Promise” refers to God's covenant with His people which is fulfilled by the coming of Christ.. Throughout the Old Testament Israel longs for a saviour, a Messiah, and during Advent we join in this anticipation as we prepare for Christ's coming among us at Christmas. We know that the Messiah has already come 2000 years ago. But He still has to enter fully into our minds and hearts. During this time we seek to become especially open to the Christ who arrives not as a delivering warrior, but as a tiny baby in the arms of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is what many prophets and kings longed to see (cf. Luke 10:24) and we are privileged to see Him anew this Christmas, hopefully with eyes which are more pure than last Christmas.

'Rorate coeli desuper' – 'Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above' (Is 45:8) beautifully expresses this sense of longing felt by the Patriarchs and Prophets. Symbolically, it also expresses the longing of the Church – Christ is the Saviour, the dew which rains down from heaven. 'Rorate coeli desuper' is used as the chorus in the opening song of “The Promise” where the townspeople of Nazareth similarly express this longing as they go about their daily business in a bustling market.

This sense of anticipation is not just limited to the time of Advent. In fact, Christ comes to us daily through the Mass. Indeed, this is the pre-eminent way He touches us in our everyday lives, where He is present again, body and blood, soul and divinity under the outward appearance of bread and wine. As we prepare for communion at Mass where we truly receive Christ, we feel especially united in this longing for His presence.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 1:41 pm