There are many opportunities during Advent and Christmas for reflection, prayer and worship. Pope Francis encourages us to be inspired by the experience of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary: “The model of this spiritual disposition, of this way of being and journeying in life, is the Virgin Mary. A simple girl from the country who carries within her heart the fullness of hope in God! In her womb, God’s hope took flesh, it became man, it became history: Jesus Christ. Her Magnificat is the canticle of the People of God on a journey, and of all men and women who hope in God and in the power of his mercy. Let us allow ourselves to be guided by her, she who is mother, a mamma and knows how to guide us. Let us allow ourselves to be guided by her during this season of active waiting and watchfulness.”
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
Consider reading some more excerpts from the Bible before Christmas. You might start with some from the selection below.
- John 1: 1-24 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+1&version=NRSV
- Isaiah 40: 3-5 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isaiah+40+&version=NRSV
- Luke 3: 2-18 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+3&version=NRSV
- Luke 2: 1-20 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+2&version=NRSV
- Luke 1: 26-56 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+1+&version=NRSV
Within the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, you can find details about Christmas services via two web pages:
- The Many Days of Christmas at St Mary’s Cathedral http://www.sydneycatholic.org/news/latest_news/2016/20161215_1234.shtml
- You can look up your local parish or a particular parish near family or friends on the ‘Our Parishes’ webpage http://www.sydneycatholic.org/parishes/
You can also check out individual websites of parishes via this page. Keep an eye out for Christmas Carols and Rorate Caeli Mass, which is a traditional Advent devotion, a candlelight Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, offered just before dawn. You can also watch the Christmas Lights at St Mary’s Cathedral each night until Christmas: http://www.xt3.com/lights2016/
Also, there are a number of reflection & prayer resources, which you might find useful:
- The Perfect Prayer for Advent: the Angelus http://melbournecatholic.org.au/News/the-perfect-prayer-for-advent-the-angelus
- Advent 2016: In Praise of Light https://ecospiritualityresources.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/advent-2016.pdf
- Xt3 Advent Calendar http://www.xt3.com/advent/
- Mid-Atlantic Community Examen regarding our participation in consumerism and the “stuff” we have http://www.mercymidatlantic.org/PDF/MAC%20examen%20OctNovDec2016.pdf
- Advent Resource: Whispers of God https://www.columban.org.au/resources/advent-resource-whispers-of-god
- Parish Advent Resource: A Journey of Hope, Peace, Joy & Love http://www.caritas.org.au/docs/default-source/advent-resources-2016/advent_parish_final.pdf?sfvrsn=8
- Advent Resources http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/advent
- Forgive – and give someone the best Christmas gift of all! http://www.marymackillop.org.au/legacy/fx-articles.cfm?loadref=249&id=846
- Reflect and Pray this Advent: http://cafod.org.uk/News/UK-news/Reflect-and-pray-this-Advent
- Advent Resources for your Parish: http://www.crs.org/resource-center/advent-resources-your-parish
- 2016 Advent Catholic Resource: “Lead Kindly Light” (Year A): https://www.columban.org.au/resources/2016-advent-catholic-resource-lead-kindly-light-year-a
- ‘Stuck for Grace? Archbishop Anthony has you covered.’ Catholic Weekly, December 19, 2016 https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/for-those-about-to-feast-archbishop-anthony-fishers-grace/