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Faith, hope, love and Our Lady

A talk given for the Advent Day of recollection by Sr Ann  Catherine Swailes

One of the most wonderful things about being human is surely the gift of language, and it's one that perhaps we rather often take for granted. I regularly Skype with a dear friend and former colleague now living in the mid-west of the United States, and I'm in awe of the technology that makes it possible for us to converse as we used to do when we were sitting next to each other in my office in Cambridge. And yet, in a certain sense, the physical distance between us is irrelevant. The very fact that human language can do the job it does at all, that the noises we make with our mouths or the marks we make with ink on paper can communicate such complex concepts and desires, is the real miracle wherever we are. And perhaps it's one we only really notice on those occasions when it doesn't work. I was once working as an au pair for a German family, and was bewildered when the lady of the house told me one morning that we were going to have mice for supper. I spent the day in some trepidation, but at the evening meal nothing more challenging than sweetcorn appeared on the table - for which the German word, is indeed Maiss, clearly, when I was capable of thinking calmly about it, related to the English “maize”. On another occasion, I was utterly baffled by a friend's telling me  that there were several labour wards in her part of town, until I realised she was talking, not, as I'd initially assumed, about hospital maternity units, but about voting patterns in local elections.

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And the Word was Made Flesh

A Thomistic Look at the Incarnation by Sr Mary Magdalene Eitenmiller

“Whatever is pleasing to you, O merciful God, may I ardently desire, wisely pursue, truly recognize, and bring to perfect completion, to the praise and glory of your name. Amen.” 

copyright Lawrence Lew o.p.
The Long-desired of Nations photograph by Lawrence Lew o.p.

            St. John begins his Gospel with the mysterious sentence, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” After telling us that all things were made through this Word, and that this Word was Light and Life, he proclaims in verse 14 the good news that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” and “we have seen His glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father.” It is from the fullness of His grace that we have received “grace upon grace.” “No one has ever seen God;” says John, “the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him” to us.

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Prophets and Prophecy

by Sr Tamsin Geach o.p.


As it says in the section of the letter of St Paul to the Romans that we read on the 2nd Sunday of Advent,  'Everything that was written long ago in the scriptures was meant to teach us something about hope from the examples scripture gives of how people who did not give up were helped by God.'  This second Sunday of Advent we are given the figure of John the Baptist in the Gospel.  John 'wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather belt round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey'  Matthew adds that John is to be identified as the one spoken of in Isaiah who will 'Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’ 

Traditionally, based on this and other Gospel accounts John the Baptist is seen in a prophetic role, so I thought tonight we would explore the concept of prophecy -  particularly as on most Sundays of the year we hear a reading from one or other of the Old Testament prophets, but also to open up what is meant when John is seen as the last of them. 

In the Old Testament the first five books are called the books of the law, the Jewish Torah.  They are followed by books which are broadly speaking historical, from Judges to Maccabees, then the wisdom literature, including the psalms, and then the prophets.  There are 18 prophetical books from Isaiah to Malachi. 

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by Sr Jadwiga Swiatecka

4th. Sunday of Advent: Yr. A: In today’s readings, we are reminded three times that He who is to be born is to be called Emmanuel, which means, God-with-us, so perhaps it’s a good idea to remind ourselves how God IS with us and not only, of course, at Christmas.

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