by Sr Jadwiga Swiatecka o.p.
by Sr Jadwiga o.p.
'The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.'
'O dark, dark, dark
Amidst the blaze of noon
Irrevocably dark, total eclipse
Without the hope of day!'
This is what John Milton – who himself became blind - has Samson (of Samson and Delilah) say in his poem about this blind but heroic figure in the Bible. And perhaps one of the difficulties of talking about the overwhelming phenomenon of light, all that it brings, and all that it does, (of appreciating Christ as the light of the world, whose symbol is the white candle on our Advent wreathes)
by Sr Tamsin Mary o.p.
As you may have noticed the focus of this year’s Advent talks has been the Blessed Virgin Mary – in her Conception, in the Annunciation, in the Visitation, and now finally in the Nativity. As this last is a very large topic, I have decided to focus upon the ‘O Antiphons’ as a starting point for reflection upon the birth of Christ and Mary’s role therein. At this time of year these seven antiphons are used as the Alleluia versicle, but also in the Divine Office we sing the seven antiphons at Vespers in conjunction with the Magnificat – thus a link to our Lady is intrinsic to their position in the liturgy.
by Sr Ann Catherine o.p.
I once heard the story of a Christmastide service of Nine Lessons and Carols held in the chapel of a military base. A similar service took place every year, and, in the best traditions of the regiment, the custom was that the last lesson, the Annunciation from St Luke’s Gospel that we have just heard, was always read by the Commanding Officer. On this particular occasion, the man, who was not a habitual church-goer, began well. He had conscientiously practiced, in a way that would put many regular readers at Mass to shame; indeed, he’d taken the trouble to learn his lines. Or, at least, he’d learnt half his lines. Striding up to the lectern, he adjusted his spectacles, gazed out over the congregation and proclaimed: “And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.” It was at that point, apparently, that things went a little pear-shaped. “ And the virgin’s name was” – pause, squint in puzzlement over the top of his spectacles at the Authorized Version in front of him – “Mary”.
Clearly Our Lady is not named “Seat of Wisdom” solely because she bore Christ in her womb and held him in her lap. Our Lady was most blessed in her Faith, by which she believed and accepted the message of the angel. She was blessed in the love with which she lived out the fulfilment of that message and her docility to the work of the Holy Spirit within her. Faith (as we have seen) is the pre-requisite of the wonderful gifts of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us from Baptism, but in Our lady, by special dispensation, from her conception in her mother’s womb. Nor does her fullness of grace separate her from the rest of us; the special graces and gifts of Mary, writes Fr Durrwell, are “those of fullness not of exception….In contemplating (Mary) Christians have the joy of discovering the grace that God intends for them,” and consequently the discipleship of Christ that God desires of us.