Sunday, November 27, 2016 First Sunday of Advent
Psalm 122, Verse 6
For the peace of Jerusalem pray: “May those who love you prosper!
This Christmas when you make out your gift list try to give a gift to those you love that truly helps them to prosper!
Let us pray for the conversion of Jerusalem and the fullness of Christ to all mankind. Let us reflect on the catechism of the Holy Catholic Church which states:
GOD COMES TO MEET MAN
ü 50 Through an utterly free decision, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. This he does by revealing the mystery, his plan of loving goodness, formed from all eternity in Christ, for the benefit of all men. God has fully revealed this plan by sending us his beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
ü 51 "It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature."
ü 52 God, who "dwells in unapproachable light", wants to communicate his own divine life to the men he freely created, in order to adopt them as his sons in his only-begotten Son.3 By revealing himself God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity.
ü 64 Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts. The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations. Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel's salvation. The purest figure among them is Mary.
There will be no further Revelation
ü 66 "The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ."
ü 67 Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.
ü 68 By love, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. He has thus provided the definitive, superabundant answer to the questions that man asks himself about the meaning and purpose of his life.
ü 69 God has revealed himself to man by gradually communicating his own mystery in deeds and in words.
ü 70 Beyond the witness to himself that God gives in created things, he manifested himself to our first parents, spoke to them and, after the fall, promised them salvation (cf. Gen 3:15) and offered them his covenant.
ü 71 God made an everlasting covenant with Noah and with all living beings (cf. Gen 9:16). It will remain in force as long as the world lasts.
ü 72 God chose Abraham and made a covenant with him and his descendants. By the covenant God formed his people and revealed his law to them through Moses. Through the prophets, he prepared them to accept the salvation destined for all humanity.
ü 73 God has revealed himself fully by sending his own Son, in whom he has established his covenant forever. The Son is his Father's definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him.
Advent wreath and calendar
Many Catholics may be surprised to learn that the Advent wreath actually came from Lutherans living in east Germany. Yet though this custom is relatively recent as far as tradition goes, it has rightly earned a place of prominence among our Advent customs. A simple wreath made of evergreen (yew or fir or laurel) is adorned with four candles equidistant from each other. These candles may be of any color: in some European countries they are all white, though in the U.S. they generally correspond to the liturgical colors of the four Sundays of Advent (three purple and one pink or rose). In a dark room, a purple candle is lit on the First Sunday of Advent, another on the Second, the rose candle on the Third Sunday (in commemoration of Gaudete Sunday), and the last purple candle on the Fourth Sunday. Thus, all four candles will be lit for the week before Christmas. There is no formal ceremony for the lighting of the wreath or for the prayers that are said around it; there is not even an official Roman formula for blessing the wreath. Catholic families simply pray together for a holy preparation and a holy Christmas, concluding with a traditional Advent hymn. The symbolism of the Advent wreath is simple but effective. The wreath, with its crown-like character, reminds us of the King, while its circular shape betokens the "fulfillment of time" that both Comings bring about. The candles, on the other hand, represent the prophets whose inspired words pierced the darkness under which mankind groaned while waiting for the Messiah; they also represent the elects' hearts burning for Christ.
Another popular Advent custom, also from Germany, creates a similar build-up of anticipation. Advent calendars are colorful pieces of cardboard on which is depicted a many-windowed house. Behind the shutters of each house is a picture or symbol that points to the coming of Christmas. Beginning December 1, the children are allowed to open the shutters of one window per day. Finally, on December 24, the front door of the house is opened, showing the nativity.
The Jesse Tree dates back to the middle ages and came from Europe. Even some ancient cathedrals have Jesse Tree designs in their stained glass windows. The "tree" is usually a branch or sapling and is decorated with various symbols that remind us of the purpose and promises of God from Creation to the Birth of Jesus Christ. Jesse was the father of King David and God promised David that his Kingdom would last forever. Two centuries after the death of King David, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-2) Each Jesse Tree ornament usually consists of a handmade symbol or drawing that represents one of the major stories of the Old Testament along with a brief verse of Scripture from that story.
Jesse Tree Ornaments
Jesse Tree Scriptures (The Symbols Are Only Suggestions)
December 1 Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4 Symbols: sun, moon, stars, animals, earth
December 2 Adam and Eve: Gen. 2:7-9, 18-24 Symbols: tree, man, woman
December 3 Fall of Man: Gen. 3:1-7 and 23-24 Symbols: tree, serpent, apple with bite
December 4 Noah: Gen. 6:5-8, 13-22; 7:17, 23, 24; 8:1, 6-22 Symbols: ark, animals, dove, rainbow
December 5 Abraham: Gen. 12:1-3 Symbols: torch, sword, mountain
December 6 Isaac: Gen. 22:1-14 Symbols: bundle of wood, altar, ram in bush
December 7 Jacob: Gen. 25:1-34; 28:10-15 Symbols: kettle, ladder
December 8 Joseph: Gen. 37:23-28; 45:3-15 Symbols: bucket, well, silver coins, tunic
December 9 Moses: Ex. 2:1-10 Symbols: baby in basket, river and rushes
December 10 Samuel: 1 Sam. 3:1-18 Symbols: lamp, temple
December 11 Jesse: 1 Sam. 16:1-13 Symbols: crimson robe, shepherd's staff
December 12 David: 1 Sam. 17:12-51 Symbols: slingshot, 6-pointed star
December 13 Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5-14, 16-28 Symbols: scales of justice, temple, two babies and sword
December 14 Joseph: Matt. 1:18-25 Symbols: hammer, saw, chisel, angle
December 15 Mary: Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38 Symbols: lily, crown of stars, pierced heart
December 16 John the Baptist: Mark 1:1-8 Symbols: shell with water, river
On December 17, the Church begins to intensify the preparation for Christmas with the use of the "O" Antiphons during the Liturgy of the Hours. The symbols for the Jesse Tree from December 17 to 23 are based on the "O" Antiphons.
December 17 Jesus is Wisdom: Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus in old Bibles) 24:2; Wisdom 8:1 Symbols: oil lamp, open book
December 18 Jesus is Lord: Ex. 3:2; 20:1 Symbols: burning bush, stone tablets
December 19 Jesus is Flower of Jesse: Isaiah 11:1-3 Symbols: flower, plant with flower
December 20 Jesus is Key of David: Isaiah 22:22 Symbols: key, broken chains
December 21 Jesus is the Radiant Dawn: Psalm 19:6-7 (in older Bibles this will be Psalm 18) Symbols: sun rising or high in sky
December 22 Jesus is King of the Gentiles: Psalm 2:7-8; Ephesians 2:14-20 Symbols: crown, scepter
December 23 Jesus is Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14; 33:22 Symbols: tablets of stone, chalice and host
December 24 Jesus is Light of the World: John 1:1-14 Symbols: candle, flame, sun
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