Monday, December 22, 2014
   
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Pray With Us

We invite you to join us in prayer. When we pray we are talking to God. Just as we need to spend time with friends to build a relationship, we need to spend time connecting with God in some way. Because our life is a love relationship with God and God's people, prayer is part of the daily fabric of our life as a Sister. Our prayer can take many forms: quiet time alone with thoughts directed to God, praying with others, reflecting on scripture and attending daily Mass. In this prayer section, we will offer resources that celebrate the different seasons of the liturgical year.

The Advent Season

The liturgical year is the Church’s arrangement of the Sundays, seasons and feasts during one 12-month period beginning in December. The liturgical year starts with the season of Advent, the four-week period before Christmas. The word 'Advent' itself means waiting. For us, Advent is a time of preparation, prayer and hope.
 
An important Christian ritual during this time is the lighting of the candles on an Advent wreath. This symbol, a circle of entwined evergreen branches, holds four candles, three purple and one pink. Each week of Advent, we light one more candle. Evergreens have always represented rebirth, and candles, with their light and warmth, are powerful symbols of hope and faith.
 
We include a prayer for each week's lighting of the candles for those gathering around the wreath at home. The candles represent stages in our spiritual preparations for Christmas. 

First week of advent

As we pray and prepare ourselves, we think of Mary preparing for that first Christmas. During Advent, we too prepare to give birth to the God within us. During this process, let us spend time with Mary as she "ponders these things in her heart"...
"To everything there is a season 
A time to be born..."
—Eccl. 3:1-2
Mary, we are on a journey. This is a time in which we need to be nourished.
 
In periods of silence, we listen to the voices within. We need a space to pray, and time to be. It is so easy to let all the Christmas noise and busyness distract us from hearing and listening to the God within.
 
This week, lighting the first candle each day, we will create a space in the silence for God to enter.
 
Prayer: Be with us on this journey, Lord. Comfort us in both the light and the darkness.

Second week of advent

"Come, Lord Jesus!"
Advent Liturgy
Mary, the time seems so long as we wait.
 
With this second candle, there is more light as we gradually discover God's presence within us. 
 
Time is moving so slowly - there are moments when it seems to stand still. Sometimes, we wish this waiting period were over. And yet there is a quiet joy and expectation in this experience. Our lives will change. What will the future bring?
 
Prayer: Help us focus on joy and expectation, Lord. Help us let go of the rest.

Third week of advent

"She (Mary) went to Zechariah's house, where she greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, her baby moved within her."
Luke 1:40-41
Mary, just as you reached out to Elizabeth, we reach out to others.
 
Just as you visited Elizabeth, we welcome family and friends into our homes to share this experience. We light the pink candle together to celebrate the joyful anticipation of this season.
 
The third candle is one of joy — so much awaits us.
 
Prayer: Help us to reach out to others, to share this wonderful journey with them, Lord.

Fourth week of advent

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour."
Luke 1:46-47
Mary, our journey is almost over, and yet it is just beginning!
 
We join in your hymn of praise to God for what God has done in you and through you during this time of waiting. It has been a journey of faith, love and vulnerability at times. God has been with us every moment.
 
With the light of the four candles, we can see more clearly. We can see the light of Christ shining through. We can relate to those words in the song "Day by Day" from the musical Godspell: "...see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly..."
 
Prayer: "God who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is God's name." — Luke 1:49
 
By Jacqueline de Verteuil CSJ

Christmas Reflection: Today is born our Saviour!

In the liturgical year, we have now gone through Advent – the time of preparation for the sacred birth – and have arrived at Christmas, the time of celebration of the coming of Jesus. It is a time of great joy, since God has sent his Son to live among us.

Many families have a crèche, or manger scene, in their homes in which figures representing the holy family gather around the newly born Christ Child. Crèches may feature shepherds, angels and the Magi approaching a barn or cave. The image displayed at right shows an outside crèche lit up at night outside Morrow Park.

Christmas Reflection: Today is born our Saviour! 

"Good news and great joy to all the world, 
today is born our Saviour, Christ the Lord"
—Luke 2:10-11
Christmas — more than a package: an offer, a mystery, and a birth more precious than any gift, and given freely.

From the bible: Matthew — 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
 
"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."
 
When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Personal Reflection

No text or tweet has brought with it such startling joyous news as the Angel’s announcement to Mary and Joseph - the birth of the Messiah! Christmas is not just a day which recalls an historical event. We celebrate the fact that God has come among us, to guide us, love us, encourage us and forgive us. Emmanuel, God-with-us! 
 
Do ask yourself:  Is there 'clutter' in your heart or environment that is preventing you from deeply hearing the God News?! 

Prayer

Lord, thank you for coming to save us from our sins and limitations. Thank you for choosing to work through human history and for being present to us daily in so many, many wonderful ways! Help me to trust in You always and not in the shifting sands of my feelings. Teach me, as you did Mary and Joseph, to trust and believe in the rock-hard facts of your goodness and love for me. Emmanuel, God-with-us! 

 

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