“I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them." (Acts 20.29)

        Boston Catholic Journal “The time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." (2 Timothy 4:3)                 

Suggested Reading:


The Problem
of Evil

The Problem of Evil: Exonerating God

Exonerating God


CCD

CCD: Crisis in Catholic Doctrine

Crisis in
Catholic Doctrine:

the Grave State of Religious Education in America



Boston Catholic Journal

Write us:

editor@boston-catholic-journal.com

Boston Catholic Journal
PO Box 80171
Stoneham, MA 02180 US
 



 

ADVENT and CHRISTMAS

Reflections from a Community of Poor Clare Colettine Nuns


 


Advent and Christmas
 



    
    CLICK ON ANY LINK BELOW TO READ ABOUT:
 

Special: An Interview with Saint Nicholas
 

Advent

 

Feasts of Advent

 

 

Christmas

 


 

THE HOLY SEASON OF ADVENT 


The season of Advent is probably one of the most loved, and beautiful times of the year for the Christian family. Advent, a time of waiting for the Lord, a time of preparing our hearts and our homes to receive him into our midst at the great feast of Christmas.

Advent is full of symbolism and meaning. All celebrations are greatly enhanced by good preparation.

It is all too tempting at this time of year to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of shopping, selecting presents, arranging parties etc etc and all this often at the expense of preparing for the coming of Jesus among us within our hearts , within our families.

Advent is a time of Hope, expectation, prayer and waiting upon the coming of God, the coming of God at his Nativity, the coming of God in Glory, the coming of God in the Eucharist ... a time of waiting, a time for allowing the life within us, the God-life to grow...

At this time of year more than any other we should be united to Mary the Mother of the Lord, keeping her company in the expectancy of new life.

Journey this Advent in the company of Mary, in the company of all as yet unborn life.

Dwell and reflect upon the life within you ...

The days are short and darkness falls soon, this is a beautiful time to draw aside and pray to the Lord....

The expectant Saviour, the life within Mary, the life given to mankind by the coming of the Saviour are all symbolised in the green of the Advent wreath, Jesus the light of our hearts, the Light of this world, symbolised by the candles we light.

This is a time of Hope, Waiting, Prayer and growth.

We invite you to join us in the spirit of Advent, to enter into this blessed time, through the various practical suggestions we will share on this site and also we would like to invite you to make the various meditations and reflections your own.

May this Advent be for you and your family a unique experience, a growing together in the love of Christ.


A Poor Clare Colettine Nun

 



Advent:

a Time for Being Present to the Divine Presence



After having fulfilled that which your state of life requires of you for love's sake, and the right order of your family, or the commitments of your religious life, prepare your heart to surrender to Gods all abiding presence.

God is always, without fail , ever present, but are you present to Him?

Indeed, ask yourself to whom or what are you most present during the course of your day? By present I mean, the person or thing that most commands your attention, time, energy, and indeed your heart and love.

Whom or what claims this space?

Your answer should of course be God; but we all know that so many things call us away from him. Prepare your heart and your body to be still, light and candle, and be still.

Reflect upon this: to whom or what has your first heart- beat of the day – to whom or what are you laying everything aside and placing at the centre of your day?

If you cannot truthfully answer is this order:

God,
My Family,
My neighbour,
My work,
My self ...

Then your order is disordered, and in this season of Advent you need to reflect and think about your priorities and what actually your priorities should be.

God is indeed a Jealous Lover and wants, desires the first place in our hearts.

If this prime place is myself, my own interests, self indulgent concerns, computers, television, radio, newspapers , cyberspace, or perhaps a preoccupation with a woman or a man that God has not allowed me, then I am in a state of disorder.

Animals and pets can have a very valid place in our lives and can bring us much joy, but they should never replace, nor occupy the time and space in our hearts that should be for others

We all need, at times, to re-centre our life and choices

Take the time to reflect on all these things; they are so important if you want to know happiness and joy.

When God is the very centre of our lives, our families, our religious communities – all else will fall into its correct place.

Make yourself present to God as He is present to you.

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun
 


Advent, the Contest between Light and Darkness



The Advent themes that probably most readily come to mind during this holy season of Advent are that of light and darkness.
Enhanced by the presence of the Advent Wreath, or Advent Calendar, we are drawn by the flame of the candle to reflect upon the place of both light and darkness in our lives.

The long dark evenings contribute greatly towards this longing for light, and the warmth it brings ... but remember, light burns up the darkness ... to attain light involves some degree of surrender, letting go, in a word, it involves, suffering.

Looking at the world around us, the world in which we live it is so easy to see the contests often being played out within the arena of human lives, wars, conflicts, divisions, and an ever growing contest between various satanic cults and Christianity.

But let this also be a time when we not only reflect upon the external darkness, but also the darkness within our own hearts and souls.

We all have darkness and shadows within us, at times God will allow us to exist in a state of spiritual darkness, at such times we cannot pray, focus, in fact God may even be a distasteful quantity to us, but he is inviting us onwards, he is inviting us to trust, to follow , even though the path is dark and devoid of consolation. This kind of darkness God allows us out of His great love for us, he allows it for our greater spiritual health and growth.

By there is another kind of darkness which we have chosen, that we have purchased for ourselves, and that is the darkness of sin.

The darkness, this inner darkness may be the result of, a stubborn adherence or perpetuation of an irregular or sinful relationship, or a refusal to forgive the wrong another has done to us, even though we may of felt inner promptings to making steps towards reconciliation.

Our inner darkness may be the fruit of some hidden addiction to drink, drugs, food, sex, or it may be caused by an ever grow web of lies that we have woven, or a barrier of half truths that we have created to hide behind ...

There can be many reasons and causes to our inner darkness, but this season of Advent invites us, indeed calls us towards the light.

Do not loose hope, what ever you perceive within your heart, no matter how dark and sinful, Jesus Christ is the light bearer, surrender your life to him.

Reflect during this Advent upon your own darkness, speak to the Lord about it, ask Mary, the woman clothed with Light to pray for you.

This is the time to spend time with God, to allow his Spirit and truth to penetrate your life, and He invites you, indeed calls you to change....only Christ can illuminate your darkness, but you have to give your consent, you have to say, yes to the Lord and his Will.

We will be praying for you, that you may be able to step outside the circle of sin into his light and love, in this way you will truly experience his saving power this Christmas.

We pray from our hearts that with Christ, with Mary, this Advent you may be victors in the contest between light and darkness, between death and life.


God bless you.

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun
 



The Origins of the Advent Wreath.



Today millions of people all over the world know of the existence the Advent wreath, although many probably are not aware of its Christian symbolism.

Advent wreaths are sold in stores al around the globe, for some they are simply an attractive table decoration. But this has its own message, it shows how attractive the human soul actually finds the presence of Light! How people are drawn to a light, for many, it is a means of finding their inner centre and focus.


While the use of green wreaths is found in many pagan cultures down through the ages, often depicting or representing life, the true Advent wreath, that is placed in Churches, Christian homes, on doors, is a comparatively modern phenomena. The wreath is made from the green of Fir, Spruce, or Pine, or indeed any evergreen shrub or tree.

It holds four candles representing the 4 weeks of preparation (advent) for the coming of the Christ child at Christmas. And the Red ribbons that suspend it are the love of God.

The originator of the Advent wreath as we now know it was a man called , Johann Hinrich Wichern. He was born in Hamburg in April 1808, and from 1828-1831 he studied Theology in Berlin. As a Sunday school teacher in Hamburg, he was soon became acquainted with the appalling conditions, the misery, destitution, of the young children and youth of the area.

Johann Wichern was a Christian of exemplary Charity towards the young and being constantly presented with their misery, built in Horn, Near Hamburg, what was to become known as, "The Rough House". It housed many orphans, and homeless children. Johann's aim was to find employment where possible for these children and also to give them a home while they were apprentices.

Johann Wichern was also deeply aware of the children's spiritual needs and he made every effort to instruct them in the Christian faith. He regarded them all as one big family, and a point of meeting was to gather them all together to offer all their intentions to God.

One Advent Johann Wichern decided that the focal point in the great hall would be a wreath on which lights would be lit for each Childs intention ... It was a great success, and from this developed what is our modern day wreath.

It was born out of charity and concern for the young.

So perhaps whenever you look upon an Advent wreath during this season of preparation you can remember to say a prayer for all the homeless, abused children of our times, and seek practical ways of being a light to the little ones of God.

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun


 


How to Make an  Advent wreath!

Advent Wreath



Normally speaking these wreaths are quite inexpensive to buy and consist of a circle of green, sometimes interspersed with fir cones. Within the circle 4 red or purple candles are embedded.

It is however more meaningful to make ones own Advent wreath, and invite children or grandchildren to assist. In addition the symbolism of the wreath is not lost when natural fir and cones have been used

Things needed to make the wreath:

  • A quantity of Evergreen Fir/ Spruce or similar.

  • Wire or some other binding material.

  • A circle of wire, polystyrene, or an old bicycle or pram wheel as the base.

  • 4 short candle holders.

  • 4 red or purple candles.

  • Lengths of red ribbon.

    Simply bind the green , covering the circle.
    Fix in the 4 candle holders and candles.
    Tie at 3 points on the wreath the red ribbon , Leaving sufficient length to enable you to suspend from a ceiling or alternatively, stand your wreath on a low table.

    The advent wreath should be placed in a suitable central focus position, possibly a prayer corner, or on a low table, or , if small, on the table during family meal times.

    The Advent wreath will make a wonderful focus for your home.

    Please note do not leave candles unattended .

     

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun
 



The Blessing of the Advent Wreath



For the first Sunday of Advent or whenever your wreath is actually in situ.

Head of the family: Our help is in the Name of the Lord.

All: Who made Heaven and earth.

Head of Family: Let us pray

O God, by your Word all things are sanctified. Pour forth your blessing upon this wreath and upon us assembled here. Grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive from you abundant graces.Who live and reign for ever and ever.

All: Amen.
The head of the family now blesses the wreath and the assembled with the Holy Water.

Reading: Isaiah 2.3-5

Head of the Family: Let us pray.

All. All powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven, where He lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

All. Amen... (Then the first candle on the wreath is lit)

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun
 



A Simple Advent Celebration
 


We assemble around the table, or in the vicinity of the Advent Wreath, preferably in a room with subdued lighting.

The four candles on the wreath represent the four weeks of preparation for the coming of the Lord into our lives and homes at Christmas.

On the first Sunday of Advent, and for each day of the following week we light one candle, on the second Sunday of Advent, and for each day of the following week we light two candles, and so on, until the final week when all four candles are lit.

(On the first Sunday before ever commencing the celebration, Bless your wreath with Holy water, the prayers for the blessing of the wreath are in a separate section on this site)

Light the candle, and spend a little time contemplating the beauty, the stillness of the candle and what it represents for you on your Christian journey, give everyone a chance to relax and enter into the present moment.

Then a member of the family reads the following:



Week 1

"Father in heaven , you are the Father of all light.
You will not leave us in darkness, you have promised to send Jesus to us.
He will be light for our lives,
Come Lord Jesus !

Spend time quietly together, a scripture reading may be read, or thoughts shared. ( This could also be a suitable moment to get one of the children to open the advent calendar)


Conclude with an Advent Hymn or Poem.



Week 2

Light the 2 candles, and spend a little time contemplating the beauty, the stillness of the candles and what they represent for you on your Christian journey, give everyone a chance to relax and enter into the present moment.

Then a member of the family reads the following.

"Father in heaven, your light enables us to see that which is good, it also enables us to see that which is not so good among us. Sometimes there are shadows between us,

(Let each family member then reflect what the shadows are)

Come Lord Jesus, we want your light to shine on the shadows that are between us, where there is darkness, Lord let your light shine !

Spend time quietly together, a scripture reading may be read, or thoughts shared. ( This could also be a suitable moment to get one of the children to open the advent calendar)

Conclude with an Advent Hymn or Poem.


Week 3

Light the 3 candles, and spend a little time contemplating the beauty, the stillness of the candles and what they represent for you on your Christian journey, give everyone a chance to relax and enter into the present moment.

Then a member of the family reads the following.

" Jesus , you have given light to those in sadness, those in suffering, those who are alone, those who know fear, there are also such people in our very neighbourhood "
( Spend some time recalling to mind those in your immediate area whom you know to be suffering and alone and think of ways in which during the following week you can cause the light of Christ to shine upon them)

"Jesus, let us be your light and warmth for others"

Spend time quietly together, a scripture reading may be read, or thoughts shared. ( This could also be a suitable moment to get one of the children to open the advent calendar)

Conclude with an Advent Hymn or Poem.

Week 4

Light the 4 candles, and spend a little time contemplating the beauty, the stillness of the candles and what they represent for you on your Christian journey, give everyone a chance to relax and enter into the present moment.

Then a member of the family reads the following.

"Father in heaven, we will soon celebrate the birth of your Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ, may these four burning candles show you that our hearts are prepared and longing for his coming, Come Lord Jesus, and upon all who dwell in the shadow of death, of war, and in sin. Come Lord Jesus! "

Spend time quietly together, a scripture reading may be read, or thoughts shared. ( This could also be a suitable moment to get one of the children to open the advent calendar)

Conclude with an Advent Hymn or Poem.


Ideally the family crib should replace the space occupied by the advent wreath close to the feast of the Nativity.


 

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun
 




"Star Friends in Advent"



This is a custom which we keep in community during Advent , you may enjoy to do this with your greater family, or prayer group, rosary group, etc etc A minimum of 5-6 persons is recommended.

A star is cut out of silver/white cardboard ,( tea plate or dinner plate, size) , depending on number of persons participating. It is then cut into the number of pieces according to how many will share in this exercise. On the reverse side of the card, the name of each participant is written, and then the whole star reassembled and displayed face up with the names hidden on a tray or flat surface.

At the beginning of Advent the leader, offers each person to choose a piece of the star, the name taken is kept secret. (If by any chance you draw yourself , see your leader and exchange in secret).

During Advent the name, the person you have chosen is the object of your specific prayer, and also , one performs as many acts of charity for the other that one can, without, hopefully being discovered who you are!

In community this may consist of leaving flowers at a sisters door, or pinning a pretty card up in her work place,or doing her share of the washing up, you will all have your own unique ideas
.
Also during Advent you can make some little thing, some little present for your Star Friend to receive on Christmas morning, or at dinnertime.

We open ours at Christmas Dinner, sometimes an individual star friend has been "discovered," but more often that not, sisters are taken by surprise, usually the present tells them who your partner has been   _ _ _ _ _ _ _.

An added bonus to this very loving exercise is the fact that it focus's on the Star, and Jesus the Light of the World!

 

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun
 


 

Advent Calendar

The Advent Calendar



The daily opening of the Advent Calendar is an ideal preparation for Christmas both for children and for adults. Beginning on the first Sunday of Advent through to Christmas Eve. Each day during Advent one of the little doors is opened to reveal a text relevant to this time of preparation for the coming of Jesus.

It is a very practical exercise encouraging child and adult alike to practise patience, hope, and a willingness to wait ... wait as Mary did for the birth of her son.

Usually the opening of the calendar takes place in conjunction with the Advent wreath celebration, but it can of course be quite independent.

Christian Advent Calendars usually have various symbols printed on them, the expectant Mary, a Rose, St John the Baptist, possibly even the great O Antiphons. It is an easy task to make one at home.

An alternative would be to stick up on the wall, preferably in the vicinity of the Advent wreath a picture, possibly an old calendar picture of an expectant Mother, a rose, etc and each day attach the little advent quote that we have offered to you on this site.



Sunday, November 28th:

" Know that the Lord is coming and with him all his saints; that day will dawn with wonderful light "

November 29th:

"Come and set us free, Lord God of power and might, Let you face shine upon us and we shall be saved"

Nov. 30th:

"From the root of Jesse a flower will blossom, the glory of the Lord will fill the earth, and all creation will see the saving power of God"

December 1st:

"Come Lord Jesus be our light and our salvation, shine upon us all"

December 2nd:

"Prepare our hearts O Jesus to be your manger"

December 3rd:

"Teach us to love each other, as Christ loved us for Gods glory, teach us how to love"

December 4th:

"Lord let my heart be a candle held before you this Advent, may my light give love and warmth to others"

December 5th:

"I am sending my angel before me, to prepare for my coming, O Jesus help me to listen to the words of your angel"!

December 6th:

"Come Lord Jesus, come to me in prayer, come to all who need you , come and be our light"

December 7th:

"Come O Lord, you are the door to heaven, open wide the gates and draw me to yourself"

December 8th:

"Holy Light on Gods horizon, hope to fallen man ...
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee "

December 9th:

"Jesus show me today someone who needs your smile and joy and then help me to give it to them "

December 10th:

"As your coming draws nearer O Lord do not let me loose patience, but give me the grace to persevere in longing for your Nativity"

December 11th:

"With Mary, think of the life of Jesus growing within you and give thanks"

December 12th

"O Rising sun that never sets, come and shine upon those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death"

December 13th:

"God indeed is my Saviour, I am confident and unafraid, My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has become my Saviour"

December 14th:

Look the Lord is coming to save his people, his arms outstretched in blessing, receive him !

December 15th:

Keep company with Mary and Joseph, and when you hear a knocking at your heart open the door with joy.

December 16th:

"I am coming soon, I shall dwell in your midst, your God and King"

December 17th:

His name will be called Emmanuel, God is with us.

December 18th:

" Lord guide our feet on the path of peace and use us to bring others your peace and hope"

December 19th:

Pray for all unborn life, pray for all women expecting a baby, that they may welcome their child with joy, for in each child, O Jesus, you are !

December 20th:

May all your preparations for this feast, allow me to rest in the manger of your heart.

December 21st:

Come O come Emmanuel
Come and take up your dwelling among us, Come O Lord, our need for you is so great.

December 22nd:

Thank you Lord for the gift of your love, thank you for the grace I will receive during this feast, thank you for the hearts that love me.

December 23rd:

O Jesus how we long for you, Come
fill our hearts, our home with your presence bless us and keep us close to you.

December 24th:

"My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour, for he that is mighty has done great things for me, holy is his name."
.
Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world is come!

 

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun


 

a child's Creche

Building of the Advent Crib



If Jesus Christ is to be the focus of our Christmas celebrations, if we truly want to celebrate the Nativity as Christians, then we need to take our Advent preparations seriously.

Advent should be a time of prayer and reflection, a time of conception, a time of nurturing the life within, manifesting itself at Christmas by a birth, the birth of what we have meditated upon during Advent, and for the benefit of others, for the family.

It would probably be quite helpful at the very beginning of Advent to discuss this as a family, or with a few others; the Holy Spirit is ever at work amongst us all, and if we pray, inspiration will be given to us. Advent should be the time when we build both interiorly and externally, our Christmas Crib.

It is all too easy, and often a sterile procedure amidst all the hustle and bustle of late Advent to get the crib out of the cupboard, or from under the stairs and on the 23rd of December, somewhat carelessly set it up , often off centre where no one in fact can see it. This is not a conception and a birth, it has very little message, and will in all probability have very little impact.

This is not the way to confirm our faith in the Christmas Mystery or the way to teach our children or friends about this extraordinary event, God becoming man.

The making of a crib should take care, effort, and prayer, it should transmit to those who see it a message if it is to be real and meaningful.

Many of us have family cribs past down from parents to children, but we can be imaginative as to what kind of setting we place them in. Some people buy a new crib every year, some place a minute crib hardly visible to the eyes on top of the television ... who then is the main focus?

Let Advent be a creative time. For children especially to get the maximum out of the Nativity they need to be involved in its construction and making, their participation encouraged and their ideas implemented where possible, this is after all a child's feast!

There are many modeling mediums available, and a crib can basically be made out of anything, paper, cardboard, stones, fir cones, tins, containers, flower pots, the list is endless, but the finished result needs to speak.

For example, an infant Jesus wrapped in bin bags and rags, placed in a cardboard box, representing Jesus being born among the poor, among the street children of this world might be far more meaningful for youngsters than a gaudy painted full figure set.

Keep in mind that many children living a city life have never seen shepherds and sheep, they have never known the stillness of quiet pastures.

Another example would be that of placing the whole crib in the hands of God, an illustration of Fatherhood, the hands being cut out of cardboard, or even gloves stuffed with wool.

Another idea would be to have the Infant Christ laying in the human heart, the heart could be made in various ways some complex some easy, the easiest being simply a piece of red material and the child within it.

The Christ child holding a dove, an illustration of the Prince of Peace, placed amongst a collage of the war torn areas of our world. This whole endeavour is to make the Infant Jesus, truly the Emmanuel, the God who lives among broken mankind.

Such a project will bring much joy to all those involved, no matter how small a part they may individually play, because it is alive and has meaning.

In this way by Christmas day you will truly feel that in some way you have brought Jesus to birth.

 

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun

 


 



Happy ... HOLIDAY ?

Christmas Cards



We have a responsibility when we select Christmas cards to send to our family members, co-workers etc. – the responsibility of witnessing to Christ, and not of witnessing to worldly values and tastes.

For HEAVEN'S SAKE ... never utter the inanity "HAPPY HOLIDAYS"! You are not a pagan ... you are a Catholic, a Christian! It is the birth of Jesus Christ that we rejoice over! Don't sound like a commercial. Forget your "correctness" for one day of the year ... if truly you celebrate HIM!

The Christmas Card trade rakes in enormous amounts of money every year; all too often it has become merely a social custom, and most often contains a great deal of insincerity and untruthfulness. How often we are often prompted to send cards simply because someone has sent us a card! We scribble some really meaningless message and that is it! How much have we really given of ourselves to others in this?

This attitude is an area that needs, in a practical sense, a conversion, a metanoia, a "rethinking".

Sometimes we are influenced by so called, "political or social correctness"... we are reluctant to send a card to someone whom we think has lost Christian values, someone who is lapsed, or someone who openly opposes God ...

Instead of just going with the flow, would it not be far better to send something that the Holy Spirit might just use to re-ignite faith in the person who has become lost? Do not loose these opportunities to bring back the light of Christ.

The sending of cards which depict, plum puddings, Robins, even cats or dogs, have nothing at all to do with the Christian message, and most probably to the recipient they are also meaningless, as well, for most people do appreciate a creation of beauty, a poem, a flower for instance, but so many of the cards are a complete waste of money.

Christmas, the Nativity, was the celebration of the Mass of Christmas, a celebration rejoicing in the birth of Jesus Christ Our Saviour, and when we send greetings to people our cards should in some way express that. We are rejoicing that Jesus became man to save us! So when you write Happy Christmas on your cards, reflect what you are actually saying.

Take the time to pray, that you may discern what you write on your card; for some, it may be, sadly, the only card they will get, and it may take a central place on a table or cupboard, so make sure that it has a message to give !

For those who can, handmade cards are undoubtedly the better choice, and it is with computer technology comparatively easy to produce something, but even a simple drawing executed by one of your children or grandchildren would make a better card than much of what one sees.

Personalized cards are always appreciated, cards where the recipient feels you have really thought of them.

Cards showing the Christ child are cards that show a pro-life choice.

Cards sent to those of different nationalities are greatly appreciated when they bear the Christmas greeting in their own language, it shows thoughtfulness and recognition of the others roots.

The following list is to assist you in case you have any such person living in your neighbourhood, or place of work.
May The Holy Spirit guide you as you now begin to choose your cards for the festive season.

 

Afrikaner................Een Plesierige Kerfees.
Argentine...............Felices Pasquas Y Felices Ano Nuevo
Bohemian...............Vesele Vanoce
Brazilian.................Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo
Bulgarian................Chestita Koleda
Chinease................Kung Hsi Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan.
Croatian.................Sretan Bozic
Danish....................Glaedelig Jul
English....................Happy Christmas
Esperanto...............Gajan Kristnaskon
Esthonian................Roomsaid Joulu Puhi
French....................Joyeux Noel
German..................Froehliche Weihnachten
Holland..................Vrolyk Kerstfeest en Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar
Hungarian...............Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket
Iraquian..................Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Irish........................Nodlaig mhaith chugnat
Italian.....................Buone Festa Natalizie
Jugoslavian.............Cestitamo Bozic
Lettish....................Priecigus Ziemassvetkus
Lithuanian...............linksmu Kalendu
Norwegian.............God Jul Og Godt Nytt Aar
Polish.....................Boze Narodzenie
Portuguese.............Boas festas
Rumanian...............Sarbatori vesele
Serbian..................Hristos se rodi
Slovakian...............Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoce
Spanish..................Feliz Navidad
Swedish.................God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nyatt Ar
Turkish...................Noeliniz Ve Yeni yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian................Srozhdestvom Kristovym
Welsh.....................Nadolig Llawen

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun



Angels in Advent



During the season of Advent and in indeed well before Advent even commences, we see in superstores, gift shops, catalogues, and glossy magazines, numerous paintings, images, statues, decorations, of angels on sale for the Christmas celebrations.

Some are well made, and others less so. Most people find them attractive, colourful and an indispensable part of the Christmas abundance! But what and why have they really been purchased? artistic merit, beauty, symbolism, good luck charm, a vague religious thought, floss on top of everything else?

Ask yourself, what does the presence, the representation of an angel in Advent through Christmas actually mean and say to you?

Advent is the time to reflect more deeply on the mystery of our salvation, of God becoming man, and of all the participants in the drama.

All too often we allow ourselves to regard these images superficially, we should not then be surprised that when the actual Nativity is celebrated we greet it with inner emptiness and barrenness. We need to prepare well for the feast and enter into whatever dimension of the Nativity that the Holy Spirit will draw us into.

The Angels are messengers and servants of the Most High God, created by God, they are pure spiritual creatures, with mighty intelligence and of a powerful will. They are individual, personal, and the angels once created are immortal, they surpass in perfection and beauty all visible creatures.

The angels dwell in beauty and in Light for they ever behold the very face, the very face of God.

We each have a guardian angel, from the moment of our very conception until our death; the angels task is to guide us, protect us, and like a shepherd , lead us to eternal life. Our angel is ever interceding for us before the throne of God ...

Dwell upon this thought, every child conceived in the womb, from the very moment of its conception is gifted with an angelic protector, even though through human sin this Child's life be terminated, or lost through sickness, its angel has charge over it in all its ways.

Already here in this life we share in the heavenly life of the angels, they have one purpose: to bring us to our God. So let us not trivialise, minimise, the role of our angel guardians, but think about them, reflect on these truths anew.

We do not worship angels – Jesus Christ is Lord, and the angels are His, they belong to Him for they were created through Him, for Him and His will and purposes. But we honour them and we pray to them.

Mary is the Queen of Angels, they attend her and all that is hers.

The angels serve ... they adore ... let us imitate them, focusing upon the Godhead and seeking his face. No greater happiness can ever come to us in this life than that of being totally surrendered to God and seeking his kingdom.

Give thanks to God, and ask him this Advent to allow you see more clearly the role of the angels in human existence.
Enjoy the angels that you purchase, display them to their best advantage, but above all look beneath the surface at what they represent, listen to the angelic song at the great feast of the Nativity, Glory to God in the highest ...

We can have no happiness apart from God ... all else will pass ..
.
Seek the things above, not the things of earth.

 

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun



 
 


On November 27th the beautiful season of Advent will begin, when the Church will celebrate in her liturgy the first Sunday of Advent.

Spend some time today in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to guide you through this very special time of grace, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in prayer, and to place within your heart some seed of the story of salvation.

What the Spirit gives you carry within you all this Advent, nurture it with love, with reading, with prayer so that by the time the Nativity arrives it will of been brought to fullness within you.

It may be that you will like to meditate more deeply on the joyful mysteries of the Rosary in union with Mary, it maybe that you will feel drawn to reflect on the daily readings at Mass, or even from the Divine Office, or it maybe to concentrate on the various Advent themes of Light and the coming of the Lord.
 
Whatever inspiration the Lord gives you strive to be faithful to it during this Advent, because that, for YOU, is the way you are being led by God.

Ideally today is also the day when you will gather your branches and make your Advent wreath, or set up an Advent Candle or Calendar in your home.

Pray that Jesus will come more fully into your life, into your family, and into our world.

A Blessed and fruitful Advent to you all!

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun



Feasts of Advent
 

Advent Wreath


Feast of  Saint Barbara

December 4th



The Feast of Saint Barbara falls on December 4th, during the first week of Advent.

The day before her feast we collect bunches of suitable twigs/branches from various trees and bushes, namely, Pear, Apple, Chestnut, Poplar, Birch, Forsythia etc, bind 4 -5 branches together and place in individual jam jars filled with water.

These so called, " Barbara branches" are distributed the following day on her feast, after the Legend of Saint Barbara has been read.

If the twigs are placed in a warm room, everyone hopes that, her branches will the the first to burst into leaf on Christmas day, thus celebrating the birthday of life, Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Children of all ages would enjoy this, and it is another good object lesson of having to wait patiently until its, "Time has come".......until the branches burst into leaf and life.
Perhaps you would like to read the legend of Saint Barbara, celebrate this feast as a family or within a prayer group context, or even just with a friend.

 




The Legend of Saint Barbara



A long, long time ago in Syria there lived a rich merchant who had a very beautiful daughter called Barbara. The Merchants name was Diokurus. He lived alone in a magnificent house with his daughter. He was fiercely protective and possessive of his daughter Barbara, and no one was allowed to speak to her, communicate with her, without his prior permission. He organised her meal times, her daily life, and bought all her clothing.

One day he made it known that he had to go on a long business journey, and as he was wont to do, in his absence Barbara was led and bidden to exist in a very great tower, her accommodation was on the very top floor, only Barbara and Diokurus possessed a key for the tower.

The room had two windows out of which Barbara could contemplate the view.

"Barbara", he said," This time I will be away longer than usual, but you will be quite safe, time will pass and I will bring you something back from my travels which will bring you joy for the rest of your life". "What is it Father?", enquired Barbara. But Diokurus only laughed.

But as it so happened one day, Barbara heard the good News of Christ Jesus being preached in the market place below, she quickly learnt of the birth of Jesus, his wonders, his suffering , death and his return to his Father in Heaven.

Barbara was secretly baptised into the Christian faith. And because she always wanted to have the Holy Trinity before her eyes, she had an additional window set in her flat at the top of the tower. So that whenever the light broke through the window she gave praise and thanks to the Trinity.

After some time her father returned from his journey, and on seeing the alterations and the addition of the third window his face fell, who had been in the tower in his absence and what was the meaning of the third window?

Diokurus was furious when he heard that Barbara was a Christian and adoring the Blessed Trinity. He fell into a rage and commanded her to end such nonsense and that she was to marry the suitor that he had brought back with him, and with that he locked the door, imprisoning her in the tower.

Diokurus thought quite wrongly that his beautiful daughter would change her mind, but Barbara remained fast in her choice.

For four weeks her father held her a prisoner in the tower allowing her only bread and water, demanding that she abandon Christ and promising her all the riches and blessings of the world. Barbara refused.

Outraged the father had Barbara thrown into prison, he handed her over into the power of the executioner. The Executioner tried with sweet words of persuasion to win Barbara back to her fathers will, but she would not yield.

One day within the precincts of the prison, Barbara's dress became entangled around a little pear tree and a small twig caught in her dress, on returning to her cell, she placed the twig in a container of water, then after some days the twig developed buds, and a little longer still, it blossomed. Barbara was overjoyed she clasped the twig in her hands and exclaimed, " I thought you were a dead twig, but out of your wood new life has sprung ".

On this very day, Barbara was dragged out by the executioner and beheaded by the sword.

We know in faith that the appearance and the reality were something different, she appeared dead, but in reality her soul had flown before the throne of God, for she had been faithful to Christ until the end.

So make plans now, locate the trees from which you will be able to obtain your branches, and share this beautiful feast with us all.
 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun



Graphic by Ken Widing, courtesy of "the St. Nicholas Center" www.stnicholascenter.org
Graphic by Ken Widing,
Courtesy of the St. Nicholas Center
(www.stnicholascenter.org )
 

 December 6th

Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra

 
 
The feast of Saint Nicholas is really a feast for children. In many countries Christmas proper is reserved as a religious festival, the Feast of Saint Nicholas being the day when children receive gifts of oranges, sweets, nuts and other surprises.
 
The feast is regarded as one of enjoyment, entertainment, laughter and general merry making after which the whole family get down to the more serious preparations of Advent.
 
We always enjoy this feast, traditionally in the Community Saint Nicholas, accompanied by his secretary arrive on the evening of the Feast, one of the sisters being dressed as the good Bishop, Saint Nicholas. He reads out to each sister a summary of what she has been doing during the past year, and thanks her for some specific services to the community, and then gives her a bag of goodies!!! After the Bishop's visit, the community enjoy a party collation. It is always much fun and greatly enjoyed by all the sisters.
 
The celebration of the visit of Bishop Nicholas could easily be transferred to a family or group situation.  Saint Nicolas could read amusing events in the life of the individual family members over the past year, and rewarding them with sweets, chocolates, nuts and oranges.
 
The real Saint Nicholas was an early Christian Bishop who presided over Myra, a city in Asia Minor . Because of his truly remarkable childhood and his selection while still a youth as a high church official, he has become known as the boy bishop. Because of his great love for children and his wonderful relationships with them, and because of his selfless generosity, many chapels and churches have been dedicated to his memory.
 
Russia took him as a patron Saint and so did Greece. More churches have been named after him than any  of the apostles- three hundred in Belgium,  sixty in Rome, and four hundred in England. Dutch seamen are supposed to have first carried reports of Saint Nicholas's generosity  to Europe, as a result of which children in Holland receive special gifts on December 6th.
 
Let us pray on this feast day for all children of whatever age they may be.

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun


Mary, Mother of God ... a photograph

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 


We can always find gems of great beauty within the daily liturgy of the Church, so many of her prayers, readings, and prefaces in the Holy Mass can be potentially so enriching, if we do but take time to reflect upon them. God has provided so much for us to feed our souls upon in his Word and in the liturgy.

Such is the alternative opening prayer of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception that we are celebrating today.



'Father the image of the Virgin is found in the Church.
Mary had a faith that your Spirit prepared
and a love that never knew sin,
for you kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception.

Trace in our actions the lines of her love,
in our hearts her readiness of faith.
Prepare once again a world for your Son
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.'



A love that never knew sin!

What a tremendous, magnificent, beautiful statement! Take time to ponder this truth in your heart! A love that never knew sin. Mary Our Mother, Our Queen, Our Sister, Our Companion, Mary, the Beloved of our souls, was, is, that love which has never known sin. She loves perfectly, totally utterly, you, me ... all of Creation and all God's children, with a love that never knew sin.

Mary is the embodiment of Saint Paul's image of love,

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

The love of Mary, for her God, for her children, for you, for m,e is perfect. It has never been tainted by any shadow or sin, her love is possessed of no judgment, a love which carries us and loves us in all our weakness and fragility, a love that can see to the very depths of our being – and still loves us; a love that knows the plans that God has for us, a love that can see what we can become and will become by Gods grace, a love that calls us ever onwards and upwards to do better, to be better; a love that will stand fast and faithful to us in all our sufferings, a love that will never desert us.

We are so loved by Our Heavenly Mother ...!

Trace in our actions the lines of her love.

Today let us pray that we may see anew the beauty, the tenderness, the great love of Mary, for her God and for us, and that we too may aim for the higher gifts ... for the greatest of these is love.

Let us keep Mary before our eyes, as an icon of perfect love, imitating her life of love and service, prayer, and inner pondering of the Word of God.

A grace filled Feast you to all of you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Poor Clare Colettine Nuns



The Feast of Saint Lucy

December 13th

a Feast of Light



On the 13th of December we celebrate the feast of Saint Lucy (Lucia).

Lucia means , light, and so it is fitting to celebrate this beautiful feast on a winter evening.

Traditionally in community, a sister is chosen to be Saint Lucy, she is dressed in a long white dress, and upon her head she wears a simple crown on to which 4 long candles are fixed. She is the " Queen of the Night", light over darkness.

Her task is to call us all into the light of Christ.

Late in the day, all the electric lights are extinguished, and each sister goes to her cell in the dormitory , having been given an unlighted candle.

Soon Lucy appears, bearing a lighted taper and a lantern, she sings as she comes, " The Light of Christ is coming into the world... Lucy knocks at each sister's door, ignites the sister's candle from her own, and then beckons the sister to follow her in the ever growing procession downstairs into the cloister, where a beautiful song is sung by all. Lucy then leads us into the refectory where we have our evening meal all by candlelight.... It is always such a beautiful celebration.... it prefigures, as it were, the fullness of light that will come at Christmas.

Of course, the principle of this could be applied in a family home too, and perhaps the reading of the following legend of Saint Lucy will give you further inspiration of your own.



The Legend of the Lucia Queen

This is a feast traditional to Sweden but has now become world wide.

Saint Lucy was a Christian maiden who lived many years ago in Rome. Because she refused to give up her religion she was burnt at the stake by the order of the Emperor Diocletian.

Her Saint's Day falls on Dec 13th, a day that was actually already celebrated in pre-Christian Sweden as the beginning of the festival of light- the Winter solstice, the day when the sun was said to stand still. Because Saint Lucy's feast coincided with the time of year when daylight was at its minimum, she was especially loved by the peoples living in lands that had long winter nights.

In Swedish homes, usually the youngest daughter is chosen to be the Lucy Queen. On Christmas morning wearing a white gown and a crown of lighted candles, she brings breakfast and a Christmas song to all the family assembled.

For us, our Christmas day is usually already full, but you might like to think of ways of creating a Lucy celebration of your own on her actual feast.

Lucy is the source of much beautiful imagery, not least in Dante's "Purgatory", where she wanders through purgatory bearing a light for those sojourning there. A beautiful touch from a great poet.

Enjoy your feast of Light with Queen Lucia.
 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun



Understanding
 

Far off it seemed, and half a fantasy,
that moment when time ceased, and she had been
alive with joy, a swift sweet answering
to that deep love which once had waked the world.

No dream it was indeed, for well she knew
the burden that now she bore within
her solitary darkness was of Him - Its life
had cast a silent shadow on her day,
which fell between her and the one she loved
of all men on earth. She sensed
what people thought, and what they said, and how
they stopped when she came near, and turned to stare -
knew how he tried to smile, but could not hide
the hurt behind his eyes, the pain
to think that they must part, whose ways
were ever one, whose hearts had shared one dream.

She walked in quietness, still a wordless prayer
of waiting on God's will, at peace despite
the rush of furtive whisperings round her name.
Now he knew all, and what had seemed to bring
a sundering as sharp as death, was changed, become
their greatest bond, a future child of joy.

And she too saw that they had not been lost,
those long heart-aching months of sorrowing,
for only through them was she shaped to be
herself the cradle compassing that love
which heals a broken world.

The path was dark, and yet they trusted that
the One who first had formed in her
this strange new life which grew
each day towards its hour, its so longed-for hour,
would bring it to its birth. And so,
slowly, in the fullness of her time,
sharing one faith, hearts holding to one hope,
they took the unknown road to Bethlehem

 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun
 


Bystander


The air is cold, and round about us lies
the vastness of the night,
while overhead the stars shine true and clear
and bright with hope.

From far-off come the city's sounds,
confused and distant,
there where the crowds are met, where all the world
is gathering for the enrolment.
Laughter and anger, merriment, abuse,
song and speculation mingle in
the icy winter of the wind.
Inside the stable all is dark,
save for the lanterns glowing,
shining softly, warm and welcoming.

Many are there.
I saw shepherds enter.
They came excitedly with wonder in their eyes,
their voices hushed to tiptoe at the door.
And now they kneel inside,
joyful welcome shining in their eyes,
hearts stirred with hope
and strange sweet exultation.

And I stand here. I too would go with them,
would enter in to greet the child of peace -
Yet here I stand.
Hesitation clutches at my heart
and bids me stay.
The city lies behind - it does not call me back,
for I have seen and know
my life is here - and yet....

Have mercy on me, Lord, on all
who stand without, afraid to enter in,
daunted by dread of love so great, so near,
fearing the freedom of the sons of God.

Have mercy on us now - compel us in.
Lord, let me know the joy of giving all,
surrendering to a child's defenceless love,
grace answering his grace

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun



Christ-Child


Chill blows the winter wind:
men's hearts are dark within,
faith has grown cold and dim --
yet here is light.
Here, in the mother bending
in silent love, her babe attending,
here there is peace unending,
though it is night.

The world's expectation,
joy of all nations,
the Lord of creation,
born as a child -
Born as our brother,
a maiden his mother,
her heart, as none other,
by sin undefiled.

For souls unheeding,
God's pity needing,
in silence pleading
lies here the Word;
here with us dwelling
in love beyond telling
all our fears quelling,
all sorrows heard.

Cold in the straw he lies,
born like us to die,
Lord and King of paradise,
might with mercy blending.
Mary, gentle mother, hear us -
ever, with your child be near us,
with his love and blessing cheer us
till our journey's ending.


 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun



Emmanuel


Child of our longing, born in a stable,
King of high haven, yet poverty's guest:
Mary of Nazareth, his maiden mother;
God in a manger, laid to rest.

Our lost hearts are seeking the home of the homeless,
the child of God's mercy, who knows not man's sin -
In need of his presence, the light to our darkness,
beggars we come to our beggar-king;
and low we stoop at the stable door,
for only the poor may enter in.

 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun



Words
 

Forgive me, Lord, my words,
The world waits hungrily some sound of God --
I cast them to it --Hollowly they fall.
They shrink to emptiness,
an echo fading far, its meaning lost,
a mocking shadow of reality.

They come too easily these words of mine,
too simply, phantoms of the truth.
They do not know
the sharing of man's sorrow, blood and pain.
his haunting fears, his questionings
of life cut short by death's dark wall of night.

They are not the words of life, clear-ringing, strong,
summoning man back from drifting dreams
to Yahweh, He who is.
How can I speak of You, Lord?
A child am I, whose stutterings
but blur Your image, mar and mark your light.

Yet he is here, Your Word made flesh,
in silence swathed,
before whom earth and heaven itself
are hushed in adoration.
These words of mine, poor though they be,
a beggar's alms, I give to Him, the child,
God's Word engraved in flesh --
praying He may touch them with His power,
transforming them to words of hallowing,
of consecrating love,
so that, through them, this world of pain and laughter
may all become Himself, the Word of Life.

 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun



God with us
 

That God is great, we know,
for men may see 'tis so --
He spoke his Word of Power, and flung
a million whirling worlds afar,
and straightway hung
a throng of shining stars in space,
all for His praise.

But that love could bend so low,
with such great grace,
such tininess, that He should take
enclosed in flesh, nine months to shape
a human form,
our lives to share through joy and care --
it is most strange,
surpassing human thought,
to come, not as He ought,
the one true living Lord
beyond all time and change.

Mary,Mother, may we see
in our flesh his,
eternity;
such silent love so helpless lies;
its weakness all our pride defies -
that we may kneel His love to head,
beg Him to heal our sorry need,
mend what's amiss, and bring is bliss,
and on this day be born indeed

 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun
 



Prince of Peace
 

Where can our peace be found ?
What will restore
a strife-torn world and give it hope again ?
For love is broken, man despises man,
race spurns race and might alone holds sway;
violence and hatred poison earth's fair air,
and in our inmost hearts division lurks,
for we are strangers even to ourselves.

At best our words and deeds are faltering --
their peace is barren, subject to decay,
a puny posturing, a flickering flame
against the growing darkness of the night.

What power can heal a whole world reft in turmoil,
give life again, reclothe our poor dry bones,
a scattered shattered host, with hope and breath,
bind them in love, cause them to rise again
to springtime joy, secure from clutching dread ?

A singing stillness stirs within God's heart --
His hands shaped us for gladness, not for death --
There, in true bliss the Three are ever One
in love unfailing, whole and full and free.

The Father spoke the Word, His gift of peace,
clothed it in flesh, a tiny whispering child,
prisoned in time and space, and born to die.
In suffering love His wounded hands stretched wide
to gather all the world, reach for the lost,
bridge the great chasms carved by sin and fear,
forging fresh oneness far beyond earth's dreams.

His heart was pierced to wake our deadened hearts,
fire them to walk with joy, if we but will,
with healing hope our tangled mortal ways,
sharing his love, strong in his pardoning pain,
His wounds our own, bright bearers of His peace.

 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun



Epiphany


We waited and watched
the turning stars,
the orbiting world's
eternal round.

They laughed us to scorn:
'Where is your God?'
The silent heavens
mocked at our dreams.

Many long nights
we searched in vain
though we trusted to see
His shining light.

We awaited His word,
the sound of His name
when resplendent He came
from the age-old hills

Then it shone —
the star that rose in the east,
at whose sight we rejoiced
for the time had come.

We were led by a long
and weary road,
till our hopes and our dreams
fell by the way,
till at last we came
by a path unchosen
to our journey's end
to Bethlehem.

As we entered the house
there we saw in its shadows
a mother and child,
and suddenly
we knew it was He,
and kneeling adored
the folly of God.

 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun



Fulfilment
 

No solitary God was He
who made the world's immensity
and formed the sun a ball of flame,
a blazing brightness none might tame.
Yet time and space are trifling things
to Yahweh, Lord and King of Kings.
From Him they come, the One and Three,
fullness of life eternally,
Love knowing love in ceaseless sharing,
rejoicing the Spirit bearing —
till, when our world seems growing old
and living faith and hope were cold,
from heaven flashed the Word of grace
and found in Mary's heart a place.
Its singing silence formed His flesh,
in darkness made mankind afresh,
God with man for ever binding,
with His life our lives entwining,
that human love may also be
a part of his eternity,
with Love divine for ever blending
the Three and One that knows no ending,
Love ever giving, ever growing,
returning still, still freely flowing,
until at last creation's yearning,
its time and tides and restless turning,
shall be no more, and gladly cease
in harmony and living peace,
and all things made at last shall be
fulfilled in Love's great destiny.

 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun



Nativity


Our words are many, Lord, and meaningless,
mere words of men;
noisome our minds, and full of busyness
lest in a second's silence they should hear
the one still word of God, the Word made flesh.

Too wise we are, O Lord, to see
this thing of foolishness,
too deafened, dulled by self deceit to catch
this single helpless cry,
a poor weak bairn
born in our darkness, to become its light.

Yet even now, remembering the past
when faith was fresh,
and God was but a child,
and paradise so near, we stood
afraid to breathe
lest breathing break its beauty --


Even now, for this, hope's healing hurt
we thank thee Lord,
the gentle growth in darkness, waiting time
till Christ conceived at last is born again,
poor in our poverty to give us peace.
 

 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun



Journey
 

Far have I traveled through the years to bring
a little gold, some frankincense and myrrh
because I saw a star.
And now it seems that I have reached my end —
Wander-weary am I, glad to rest. I see
and do not see. I do not understand, and yet
content am I to wait dark-cradled here
and know him to be nigh — though, who he is
my wisdom cannot say.
This child, this scrap of folly puts
my learning all to flight,
turns back the locust years and makes
me but a child again. Yet I must go,
retrace my desert paths, return
from whence I came and bear
the burden of being once again,
and yet, strangely with joy, with hope sprung new
because a child is born in Bethlehem.

 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun

 


 

 
"O, Great God of glory, my Lord Jesus Christ, I entreat You, put light into the darkness of my mind. Give me right faith, firm hope, and a perfect charity. Help me learn to know You, Lord, so well, that in all things I may do everything this day in keeping with your holy will.
Amen."

This prayer of Saint Francis, is, in fact, a very suitable prayer to be reflected on during this season of Advent and indeed at all other times too.
This is the prayer of a truly humble man, Saint Francis, who is called, the most Christ-like of Saints.A humble prayer from the lips of a humble man, acknowledging his own emptiness, acknowledging the darkness of his own mind, reaching our to Christ as the one true light.

A man who knew well the dark ways of faith, crying our to God to illumine his path. A man who knew despair, sadness and discouragement, asking God to bless him with the beautiful gift of hope, desiring also to attain to the most perfect gift, that of love, of receiving and giving love.

Francis is aware that he is ever a pilgrim, a disciple at the feet of the Lord, ever aware of the need to grow, grow in truth and understanding: 'Help me Lord to learn to know you' such a humble and beautiful supplication, for we can only love that which we know
.
Francis reveals a deep desire to be so united to the will of God, that he may live in the knowledge that everything he does
is pleasing to his Lord and God.

Ponder, take some time to reflect upon this prayer, uncover the darkness of your mind and reveal yourself in all truth, in all humility to your God, and He will give you light.

 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun
 



The Christmas Office of the Passion



The Office of the Passion was greatly loved by Saint Francis of Assisi and by Saint Clare and her daughters. We present here the so called, Christmas Office, taken from the Office of the Passion.

It is prayed from the Eve of Christmas through to the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, which is celebrated on February the 2nd.

Perhaps you would like to unite your prayers to ours at this time, primarily to thank God for the great gift of the Incarnation, the Word made flesh who gives us life. But also to bring in spirit all the intentions, and burdens that lie deep within your own heart, to the manger,


The prayer before the Office

Open my lips Lord, to praise your holy name.
Cleanse my heart of any vain, evil, or distracting thoughts.
Give light to my mind and fervour to my will;
enable me to recite this office worthily, attentively and devoutly,
so that my prayer may be heard in the presence
of your divine majesty, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Lord, I offer you this hour with the divine intention
You had while here on earth offering praises to God.


The Antiphon

Holy Virgin Mary,
of all women on earth
there is none like you;
you are the daughter and handmaid
of the Most High King and Father in heaven;
you are the Mother
of Our Most Holy Lord Jesus Christ;
you are Bride of the Spirit.
Pray for us,
with Saint Michael the Archangel
and all the powers of heaven
and all the saints,
to your most holy beloved Son,
Our Lord and Master. Amen.

The Psalm

Ring out to God our Strength.
Shout in triumph to the true and living God
with a loud voice.

For the Lord, the Most High, we must fear,
great King over all the earth.
Our Most holy Father of heaven,
our King before time was,
sent his beloved Son from on high
and he was born of the blessed and holy Virgin Mary.

He will say to me: "You are my Father",
and I will make him my first-born,
the highest of the kings of the earth.

By day the Lord will send
his loving kindness.
by night I will sing to Him,
praise the God of my life.
This day was made by the Lord
we rejoice and are glad.

To our race, this most holy and well-beloved son is given:
for our sakes, a child is born at the wayside
and laid in a manger,
because there was no room at the inn.

Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to men of good will.
Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad;
Let the sea and all within it thunder praise.
Let the land and all it bears rejoice,
all the trees of the forest shout for joy.

Sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
The Lord is great and worthy of all praise,
high above all gods.

Give to the Lord you families of peoples,
give the Lord glory and power,
give to the Lord the glory of his name,
Prepare your hearts and take up his cross;
live by his holy commandments to the end.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit ,
as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be,
His love without end end. Amen.

The concluding versicle.

Let us praise the Lord Our God,
living and true
to Him be all praise,
all glory,
all honour,
all blessing
and every good.
Amen.

Prayer after the Office

Let every creature give unending praise, honour ,power
and glory throughout all eternity to the most holy and
undivided Trinity, the crucified humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
the chaste motherhood of Mary, the ever glorious and blessed Virgin,
and to the entire assembly of saints, and may we be granted
forgiveness of all our sins. Amen.


 

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun
 


 

An Interview with Saint Nick



One does not often meet a member of the College of Bishops [and Common of Confessors] who looks seriously as if he might turn cartwheels - but it has been the experience of several who have seen our Lady and other visions from Above, that the inhabitants of heaven look infinitely more alive than we do.

The Metropolitan of Myra, swept in, a splendid tatterdemalion of ecclesiastical outfitting. Over an Eastern Rite tunica, the Metropolitan wore a Gothic cope with, swatched round his neck like an undergraduate scarf, the old style Pallium, over this again was a scarlet mozzetta edged with swansdown. With a magnificent gesture he removed his twelfth century Abbot¹s mitre, to which someone had thoughtfully appended a crystal icicle, and after bowing, cast it, and his crook, unerringly into the hands of the Sacristan, Sr Marion. After a few centuries in the red, one can presumably recognise a Sacristan on sight. We applauded. His Grace held up his hand. He is the first person we have interviewed who even beat us to the first question.


St Nick: "No. I didn't. Or don¹t. The thing I remember best about earth was the Council of Nicea."

TMD: (amazed) "Were you and it contemporaries?"

St Nick: In my opinion, which I trust now no one will be so presumptuous as to contest, I was. I remember it as if it were yesterday, even after all these centuries. Not, you understand with any shame, though as it happens I disgraced myself.

TMD: "What did you do?!"

St Nick: "I Didn't care for Arius with his low, loose comments on the Mother of God. I hit him on the head. With the first thing to hand, which of course happened to be my crozier. They didn¹t like it - the Council Fathers - the Church has never thought that a blunt weapon constitutes a good argument. They jailed me. The Press Office did a superb public relations job on our Episcopal Unity and omitted all mention of my maladventures - but they lived on in legend - the best things do, like St George and the Dragon."

TMD: "What happened to you in prison?"

St Nick: "Oh. After my salutary stint on bread and water, our Lady came and let me out, thanked me for my efforts and suggested I channeled my undoubted enthusiasm into more productive courses. This was after I had provided dowries for the three young ladies whose father was going to raffle them at an All Night Saturnalia, and brought in the Three Ships (whom you affectionately commemorate in the carol) full of grain for the starving, and resurrected three children who had been murdered without the last rites and pickled, but before I rescued a lot of mariners in a storm - only One Ship, that time. In between I got martyred. It might have been Diocletian - but you know how it is, if you are going to be martyred you don't go around amassing data on the axeman."

TMD: "In between you presumably ruled your diocese?"

St Nick: "Certainly not, sister. From time to time, when not praying and performing needful miracles I served my diocese. Now I¹d like to ask you some questions."

TMD: "Submit them in writing and come back in a fortnight."

St Nick: " Certainly not! This is my busiest season. After the Holy Father I am the Church¹s most extensive outreach man. My missionary possibilities are almost unlimited. Mine is the most graphically reproduced countenance in creation. I am venerated from the tropics to the Polar Caps. I am ecumenical, non-denominational and interfaith. I¹ve brought you all a chocolate St Nick and a bar of soap and I¹m not coming twice in one year.... There, you¹ve distracted me, what was I going to say?"

TMD: "Something about service?"

St Nick: " Ah, yes, and then, no, possibly. People, while they are children, frequently pray to me - as I have said I am the Bottom Line - they do it instinctively, they don't have to go to a Catholic school to learn. Even you prayed to me" (he waved courteously at Sr Electra).

Sr Electra (blushing): "Er, Yes. I wanted a red skirt and crossover top with white mohair edging."

St Nick: " Did you get it?"

Sr Electra: "Er. N..."

St Nick: "Well, look what your wearing now, didn't I do better for you [there¹s certainly more of it.]"

Sr Electra: " Er..."

St Nick: "Don't mumble sister, you¹re not handicapped by this mothy theatrical beard. As I was saying, what was I saying...? Catholic Schools! [He seized his crozier from the Sacristan - only three members of the community went to Catholic Schools, and most of those were expelled, but they all ducked guiltily] Woe to those, [not you dear], woe to those who had the Faith given to them on a plate and would not eat, woe to those who received the Gospel, unearned, from the angels - and cast their crowns into the mud. Woe to those who were loved and cherished AND TAUGHT THE TRUTH AT THE KNEES OF MOTHERS AND NUNS and have cast their pearl before the circus of success. Woe to those who have filled their bellies with husks and have said no word to the million uninstructed prodigals at their side in the swine pen. I tell you they have had their reward." (The saint raised his crozier above his head - there was a flash of lightening and we all covered our eyes, then an unmistakable voice with a Swiss French accent spoke softly).

St Francis de Sales: "Nick, mon cher, you can attract more flies with a teaspoon of honey than with a barrel of vinegar."

St Nick: "Thank you, François. Well, sisters, you can see why I¹m only in charge of Children, Moneylenders, Mariners, Myra and such like rough folk - and why I spend my eternity distributing presents. Happy Christmas. If you've got the Faith, let the Faith get you, and pass it on - that¹s the best Christmas present.

Till we meet again.


TMD 1998 Reprinted (with grateful thanks) from the Catholic Times

 

 

Editor's note:
TMD is the abbreviation for Ty Mam Duw, ("Our Mother's House" in Welsh) a Community of Contemplative and Cloistered Poor Clare Nuns  in Wales, United Kingdom.

ex corde  -  a Poor Clare Nun
 



"Frauentragen"



There was a very beautiful German custom celebrated in Germany in former years called, the "Frauentragen", in fact in some country districts it is still maintained. It is suitable within village life, but also in private homes and between neighbours or within a parish.


We as a community have often celebrated this Journey, within the precincts of the community with great joy.

On December 15th the Journey to Bethlehem begins, it is a 9 day Novena of preparation in union with Our Lady and Saint Joseph, pilgrimmaging to Bethlehem.

Traditionally it was a statue of Mary that was carried to a specific house, accompanied by lights, and at the destination, the Statue would be received and prayers of welcome, intercession would be shared at the door, after which the Statue would remain overnight in that home. Then the following day Our Lady would be accompanied to the next place of reception. It was a very spiritual and enriching custom for it brought the Visitation, The Journey, and the Seeking for a lodging alive for all the participants.

Who can really ever forget the joy, at this blessed time of Advent, to have had the experience of Mary coming to our own home?

An Icon of Mary could be used with equal effectiveness for the journey.

In community Our Lady stayed with an individual sister and then moved on to the next door of welcome, this could be performed as well in a family home.

All these customs sprung from a profound faith, a childlike trust, and had tremendous catechetical opportunities.

Pray and discern how you can make Advent come more fully alive for your family and friends this year.


 

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun
 




Mary and Joseph

The Trouble with Christmas



As Christmas is coming near, your thoughts will turn to the coming festivities, maybe with an expectation, maybe with foreboding; sadly, not every Christmas celebration is necessarily joyful, not every family reunion an occasion for gladness.

Maybe as you go down memory lane, there are the occasions when you have tried your hardest and it has ended up in disarray, leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth.

My first Christmas as a Poor Clare was such an occasion, for a long time I had yearned for Advent to be a time of reflection, peace, and prayerfulness. Instead, I was put in a place we called Providence, which is the equivalent to a larder, and as we live on gifts (alms), Advent was the busiest time of the year, with even the smallest gifts having to be acknowledged.

Can you imagine what it meant to acknowledge every egg and loaf of bread? Of course we were also asked to put up Christmas decorations to prepare for a sharing, and few things like that. At that time the kitchen was manned by an elderly sister who had converted from Judaism, and true to her character, was a tower of strength. When she saw me so downcast she said, "When Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem, do you not think that they had a lot of trouble, that Joseph was anxious, and troubled? Don't you think that Mary was anticipating the birth of her child with growing anxiety? and worse still, where was the Almighty Father looking after his child?"

Now as you know between the two somehow they managed, but only just about.

You see, what really matters is that we do our best in circumstances not of our own choosing.

If this is the case with you, you can see that you keep good company ...

Peace and joy to you and your kin!
 

Your little Poor Clare Sister
 

Top
 


 

Meditation on an Old German Carol


Dear Mary walked through the tangled thorn,
Kyrie Eleison,
Dear Mary walked through the tangled thorn
that for seven years no leaves had borne,
Mary and sweet Jesus.

What did she bear beneath her breast?
Kyrie Eleison.
She carried there beneath her breast
The Holy Child in peaceful rest,
Mary and sweet Jesus.

The barren Thornwood bloomed anew,
Kyrie Eleison.
The barren thorn wood bloomed anew,
On every branch white roses grew,
Mary and sweet Jesus.

What shall the name of this child be?
Kyrie Eleison.
Emmanuel his name shall be
As was foretold from eternity,
Mary and sweet Jesus.



Mary, Mother, she who carries, who bears the sorrows of this world within her heart.
Mary, my Mother, my sister,
Mary, the Icon of my vocation, the Icon of perfect womanhood ...
Mary, you are the sign of hope, you are the mother,
who has walked through all the tangled thorns,
the brambles, the sufferings of my life.
Mary you are ever with me,
and because of your love and your blessing,
the thorns have flowered.
You have brought your child Jesus to me,
Emmanuel,
My God is with me!!

 

 

Your little Poor Clare Sister

 




Mary the Bakerwoman



Each year as the Holy season of Advent approaches there is a need within us to find an inspiration that will contribute to making our Advent more meaningful for ourselves, our families, our children and our communities.

It is always preferable if the inspiration also provides an invitation to prayerful participation, for symbols are powerful ways of communicating the divine.

We would like to share with you our own inspiration for this year, some of you may like to utilize and use it in your own homes, others may simply like to reflect and dwell on the deeper, inner spiritual meaning.

Advent is a time of waiting, a time of preparation, a time for nurturing the inner life in union with Mary, Spouse and Bride of the Holy Spirit, so soon to give birth to the Saviour of the world.

To contemplate, to keep Mary company in her expectancy can be very fruitful for our own understanding of Christ's very humanity, for truly He was flesh of her flesh and bone of her bone.

Our theme is Mary the Bakerwoman, Mary was the spiritual oven in which Christ the living bread was formed, born and ultimately offered to us in the Most Holy Eucharist! He is the living bread from heaven!

Jesus Christ truly is our daily bread, that which gives sustenance, meaning and body to our daily lives , Did not Christ himself teach us to pray, "Give us today our daily bread"?

Mary the Bakerwoman ... there is a hymn that has been in circulation now for many years called precisely this, "The Bakerwoman". The following are the lyrics:

The Bakerwoman


The Bakerwoman in her humble lodge
received a grain of wheat from God.
For nine whole months the grain she stored Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
Make us the bread Mary Mary
we need to be fed.

The Bakerwoman took the road which led
to Bethlehem the house of bread.
To knead the bread she laboured through the night, and brought it forth about midnight.
Bake us the bread Mary, Mary
we need to be fed.

She baked the bread for thirty years
by the fire of her love and the salt of her tears, by the warmth of her heart so tender and bright, and the bread was golden brown and white.
Bring us the bread Mary, Mary we need to be fed.

After thirty years the bread was done.
It was taken to the town by her only son; the soft white bread to be given free to the hungry people of Galilee.
Give us the bread Mary, Mary we need to be fed.

For thirty coins the bread was sold,
and a thousand teeth so cold, so cold
tore it to pieces on a Friday at noon
when the sun turned black and red the moon.
Break us the bread Mary, Mary we need to be fed.

And when she saw the bread so white,
the living bread she had made at night,
devoured as wolves might devour a sheep, the bakerwoman began to weep.
Weep for the bread, Mary Mary,
Weep for the bread we need to be fed.

But the bakerwoman's only son
appeared to his friends when three days had run on the road which to Emmaus led, and there she knew him in the breaking of bread.
Lift up your head, Mary Mary.
Lift up your head for now we've been fed.


Translated from the French by Hubert Richards

 



The Mary-the-Bakerwoman Statue and its Presentation



In order to make this concept, this inspiration visible we have formed this seated sculpture of Mary out of clay, as you see Mary's posture is one of anticipation , she is already fecund ... her womb forms the oven in which the living Bread of Life, Jesus, will be formed and brought forth.

Christ came among us, He became flesh out of love of all humanity and for us each individually, and He remains among us in love; our acts of loving service and suffering with and for others makes Him present. There is no greater pursuit, no greater or more valuable and worthwhile thing than loving and being love for others... for where there is love there is God himself. Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

Conscious of this, during this advent our statue will be placed adjacent to our advent wreath, and in order for the infant Jesus to be formed through Mary as the Bakerwoman, every act of charity, no matter how small will earn a sister the joy of placing within the aperture over the womb of Mary on the statue, a small spoonful of flour ...

Just prior to the great feast of Christmas the flour will be taken out of the container (the womb of Mary) and formed and baked into a baby Jesus, so that on Christmas morning , resting over the aperture wherein the flour laid, will be the Christ Child!

This also gives a daily opportunity within your family or community to spend a few moments in the presence of Mary and your advent wreath reflecting upon Christ as Living Bread, and or any Eucharistic theme, this making your advent more alive and real.

Some of the more talented among you could make your own copies of the statue, but may we suggest the following.

That you print off the picture of the statue (see picture above) from your computer onto a card, leaving tabs on the bottom left an right of the picture in order that it can stand up like a card.

Cut out a hole in the area where you see Mary's womb to be and stand the card in front of a small container ... this way you will have your own Bakerwoman and you can encourage your children and others to place a small amount of flour into the womb of Mary. Every act of charity, kindness will win them the opportunity to do this.

As Christmas grows nearer remove the flour, mix with a little water and butter into a dough and make the form of a baby, it can be something very simple, and place it on a baking tray and bake in the oven ... when completed place the child in the area of the aperture or at Mary's feet ... if your efforts do not turn out as well as you anticipated, that is no problem, swaddle the baby in a little cloth leaving only the face visible, and just paint on the eyes with a little water colour.

Alternatively, you could cut out of a sliced piece of bread with a biscuit cutter a round of bread which you could then stand up in the hole representing Jesus as Eucharist! Some of you may even use and make both...

A blessed Advent to you all in the company of Mary the Bakerwoman!

A Poor Clare Colettine Nun

 

 


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