The Season of ADVENT

By | Christmas, News

Advent marks a time of spiritual preparation before Christmas

It begins on the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Nov. 30) and spans four Sundays or four weeks unless Christmas falls early.

The historical origins of Advent are hard to determine with great precision. From its earliest form in the 4th century, Advent has always been similar to Lent, with an emphasis on prayer and fasting.

The Gelasian Sacramentary, traditionally attributed to Pope St. Gelasius I (d. 496), was the first to provide Advent liturgies for five Sundays. Later, Pope St. Gregory I (d. 604) enhanced these liturgies composing prayers, antiphons, readings, and responses. Pope St. Gregory VII (d. 1095) later reduced the number of Sundays in Advent to four. Finally, about the ninth century, the Church designated the first Sunday of Advent as the beginning of the Church’s Liturgical Year.

The Catechism stresses the two-fold meaning of this coming : When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming (No. 524).

The importance of this season is therefore to focus on the coming of our Lord. Advent comes from the Latin adventus, meaning coming:

  • We REFLECT BACK and are encouraged to celebrate the anniversary of the Lords first coming into this world. We are invited to ponder more deeply into the great mystery of the incarnation when our Lord humbled Himself, taking on our humanity, and entered our time and space to free us from sin.

 

  • We LOOK FORWARD as we recall in the Creed that our Lord will come again to judge the living and the dead and that we must be ready to meet Him.

 

Our use of the Advent wreathe was inspired by the German Lutherans in the early 1500’s. The wreathe is a circle, which has no beginning or end: In this way, we call to mind how our lives, here and now, participate in the eternity of Gods plan of salvation and how we hope to share eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. The wreathe is made of fresh plant material, because Christ came to give us new life through His passion, death, and resurrection. Three candles are purple (the same colour as the Priest’s vestments in Advent), symbolizing penance, preparation, and sacrifice; the pink candle symbolizes the same but highlights the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, when we rejoice because our preparation is now half-way finished.

The light represents Christ, who entered this world to scatter the darkness of evil and show us the way of righteousness. The progression of lighting candles shows our increasing readiness to meet our Lord. Each family ought to have an Advent wreathe, light it at dinner time, and say the special prayers. This tradition will help each family keep its focus on the true meaning of Christmas. In all, during Advent we strive to fulfil the opening prayer for the Mass of the First Sunday of Advent:

 

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Christmas Anticipation Prayer

By | Christmas, News

Beginning on St. Andrew the Apostle’s feast day, November 30…

The following beautiful prayer is traditionally recited fifteen times a day until Christmas. This is a very meditative prayer that helps us increase our awareness of the real focus of Christmas and helps us prepare ourselves spiritually for His coming.

 

Hail and blessed

be the hour and moment

in which the Son of God was born

of the most pure Virgin Mary,

at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.

In that hour vouchsafe, O my God,

to hear my prayer and grant my desires,

[here mention your request]

through the merits of

our Saviour Jesus Christ,

and of His blessed Mother.

Amen.

Blessed John Henry Newman may be canonised as early as next year

By | News

Blessed John Henry Newman may be canonised as early as next year after a second miracle was approved.

Only two more stages remain: approval by a commission of bishops, and the final declaration by Supreme Pontiff.

The Archdiocese of Chicago had investigated the inexplicable healing of a woman who prayed for Newman’s intercession as she was undergoing a “life-threatening pregnancy”. Her doctors unanimously reported that they had no scientific explanation for her sudden recovery.

Blessed John Henry Newman was one of the most prominent converts to Catholicism from Anglicanism of the 19th century. He had already achieved an international reputation as an Anglican theologian, especially when he founded the Oxford Movement with the aim to return the Church of England to its Catholic roots. A deep, scholarly, reflection of several years led him to conclude that the Catholic faith was the same Church founded by Christ, which is testified in her indisputable historical continuity: she never separated from anyone!

As a Catholic, Blessed John Henry Newman continued to shine out as an outstanding theologian and brilliant thinker. For this reason, he was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. His prolific and original writings have led many to call for him to be declared a Doctor of the Church. He died in Birmingham in 1890, aged 89, after founding the Birmingham Oratory.

Pope Benedict XVI beatified Newman in Birmingham in 2010 after the Vatican approved the first miracle: the inexplicable healing of Deacon Jack Sullivan, an American who recovered from a crippling spinal condition. It is worth reading the Pope’s homily for the Beatification.

According to Newman, the reason why he converted was that “I consider the Roman Catholic Communion the Church of the Apostles.”  For Newman, Catholicism did not just claim to offer the truth; it was the Truth.  He had dedicated his whole life to the pursuit of truth, wherever it might lead.  This was the theme of his greatest poem, “The Pillar of the Cloud” written in 1833. He had already visited Gibraltar in 1832 on board the mail steamship the Hermes, so one wonders if our Rock and its friendly Levanter might have influenced him kindly?

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.


I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will.  Remember not past years!


So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Cathedral: sound system appeal

By | News

we are installing a new sound system and are inviting contributions. Thank you!

…..FROM THE CATHEDRAL ADMINISTRATOR
__________________________________________________________
Dear Parishioners
For these last 17 months I have been listening to your wishes, ideas, expectations
and suggestions on how to improve the Cathedral. After consultations and through
reflection and prayer, I decided on the priorities for a number of projects (both
URGENT and IMPORTANT) which need to be addressed and accomplished. And
there are several !
Today I am pleased to announce the first project: we shall shortly have A NEW
SOUND SYSTEM in the cathedral.
Many of you constantly complain about the poor and substandard quality of the
audio system in the Cathedral. It deprives many of you from hearing clearly the
proclamation of God’s Word in our liturgical celebrations. This makes this project a
priority. What is the point of attending Mass or other celebrations and not being
able to fully participate through not hearing properly and clearly the Word of life,
prayers and sermons?
I am greatly indebted to Mr Stephen Cummings who for several months
volunteered his services and committed himself to help us find the most suitable
and cost effective solution. It became obvious that it is no use trying to tamper with
a now old and worn-out system. After looking at a series of options, Stephen
presented for your consideration and recommended the system we are installing.
He even went to check and hear for himself the actual sound at the Cathedral in
Seville where an identical system has been installed.
This recommendation was approved by the Diocesan Committee for Property and
Restoration.
In the insert in the Cathedral Newsletter there is an informative presentation about
the new system by Mr Stephen Cummings and the estimated costs from the
company installing the system.
The new system and its installation will cost around £30,000. The work is planned
to start on Monday 26th November, and in to weeks time it should be operational.
Please consider contributing generously so that we can meet the cost of this
project. Your donation will help to make God’s Word clearly audible to all who
come to worship here.
There are several ways in which you can make a donation. You can place it in the
envelope provided and put it in the collection box at Sunday Masses. You can give
it personally to His Lordship the Bishop or myself. If you prefer, you can make a
direct bank transfer to the Cathedral Account on…
Gibraltar International Bank
Account Name – RTCC-Cathedral Administration a/c               Account Number 01076301
Sort Code 60-83-14
Every donation is welcome
Your donations are an offering to God to enhance our worship at the Cathedral.
Your donations are a a gift to all who need to hear God’s Word which enlightens
and motivates all our lives.May God bless you
Fr Mario Tong

 

 

…….FROM THE INSTALLATION CO-ORDINATOR
__________________________________________________________
A NEW PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM FOR THE CATHEDRAL OF St. MARY THE CROWNED
– November 2108
It has been difficult to determine when the current sound system was installed at
the Cathedral. From what I can gather it would have been between 12 and 15 years
ago. Ad hoc alterations have been made over the years and some components have
not survived to date. It appears that only the speakers and the main power
amplifiers remain usable from the last renovation. A crucial component that
enabled the system to be adapted to the specific acoustics of the building is no
longer serviceable.
This is one of the reasons that the audibility is poor. To replace this alone, however
would not resolve the issue. The microphones have also been changed as required
over time and no longer match each other. Reliability is another concern especially
in respect of the two power amplifiers, which have given good service but are likely
not to last very much longer.
The proposed replacement therefore would serve to mitigate this inevitable
eventuality and will also bring to the Cathedral the latest technology developed
specifically for this environment.
The system being proposed has been developed by an Italian firm specifically in
order to address the difficult acoustics of most churches and similar buildings. The
Cathedral presents us with various challenges. It’s internal height, the number of
columns and the consequent “shadow” areas.
The proposed system tackles these issues by allowing each component of each
speaker column to be adjusted to suit its immediate surroundings. This allows for
the sound to be directed down to the congregation whilst avoiding unnecessary
reflection from walls columns and the ceiling. This does however, necessitate
speaker units on all the columns but allows the individual volume to be low and the
overall effect to be distinct and clear.
The speakers will be provided with their own individual power supplies, thus doing
away with the need for a common power amplifier. On the one hand this requires
additional work to be carried out to run power cables to the speakers but on the
plus side avoids a single point of failure. In other words the system would continue
operational if any one internal amplifiers fail.
The suppliers and installers are authorised by the manufacturers and will be
responsible for adjusting the system precisely to the Cathedrals acoustic. They have
great experience in this field and are easily contactable for any future adjustments
and maintenance. The system is capable of online access to authorised persons,
which allows also for ongoing remote adjustment whenever needed.
Stephen Cumming

Pope: ‘politics is a commitment to humanity and holiness’

By | News

Pope Francis on Friday pointed to the figure of the Venerable Giorgio La Pira as a model for Italian and international statesmen in their duty to work for the common good.

By Linda Bordoni

“At a time when the complexity of Italian and international political life requires statesmen of substantial human and Christian” value in the service of common good, Pope Francis held up the figure of the Venerable Giorgio La Pira saying he is an exemplary model for the Church and for the contemporary world.

The Pope was addressing some 200 members of the “Giorgio La Pira Foundation” whom he received in the Vatican.

The Venerable Giorgio La Pira

Giorgio La Pira, whose cause for beatification was approved by Pope Francis this year, was a committed Catholic MP in the years after World War II and then mayor of Florence until 1966. He was known well beyond the Florentine borders for his evangelical inspired social battles and for promoting peace events.

St. Pope John Paul II recalled La Pira several times pointing out his “extraordinary experience as a politician and a believer, capable of uniting contemplation and prayer to social and administrative activity, with a preference for the poor and the suffering”.

In his speech, Pope Francis described La Pira as “an enthusiastic witness to the Gospel and a prophet of modern times” saying that his attitudes were always inspired by a Christian perspective, while his action was often ahead of his time.

He mentioned his long career in the public space, of how he gave life to charitable works, and of how, when persecuted by the fascist regime he took refuge in the Vatican before being able to join the Constituent Assembly and to contribute to the drafting of the Italian Constitution.

“But his mission in the service of the common good found its summit in the period when he was mayor of Florence, in the fifties” the Pope said, when “La Pira took a political line open to the needs of social Catholicism and always on the side of the last and most fragile sections of the population.”

He also upheld La Pira’s work to promote social and international peace, with diplomatic activity, international conferences, a strong stance against nuclear war and the war in Vietnam.

Prophets of peace and workers for the common good

He encouraged those present to “keep alive and to spread the patrimony of ecclesial and social action of Venerable Giorgio La Pira; in particular his integral witness of faith, his love for the poor and marginalized, his work for peace, the implementation of the social message of the Church and his great fidelity to Catholic guidelines”.

“These are all elements which constitute a valid message for the Church and society today” he said.

Example for those who work in public sector

Pope Francis noted that La Pira’s example “is especially valuable for those who work in the public sector” and are called to be vigilant towards those negative situations that undermine the common good and the dignity of the person.

Quoting Giorgio La Pira who said ‘Politics is a commitment to humanity and holiness’, the Pope underscored this concept saying politics is “therefore a demanding way of service and responsibility for the lay faithful, called to animate temporal realities in a Christian way, as the Second Vatican Council teaches”.

He urged those present to treasure the legacy of La Pira and to “be peacemakers, architects of justice, witnesses of solidarity and charity”.

Speaking off-the-cuff the Pope concluded his discourse with an encouragement to be bringers of a “new spring” by being prophets of hope and of holiness, and by never being afraid to soil one’s hands to work and go forward.

“Swallows, he said, are needed today: you are swallows!”

Diocese begins to tweet!

By | News

Title

Today we celebrate the Presentation of Mary.

Today the #DioceseofGibraltar tweets for the first time! 

You can find us at :

We commend this new project to our Blessed Mother and ask her to help us spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all.

Sub tuum praesidium

confugimus,

Sancta Dei Genetrix.

Nostras deprecationes ne despicias

in necessitatibus nostris,

sed a periculis cunctis

libera nos semper,

Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Ameni

(3rd Century prayer, recommended to us by Pope Francis)

November: All Souls

By | News

NOVEMBER is traditionally the month when Catholics everywhere remember those who have gone to God.

NOVEMBER is traditionally the month when Catholics everywhere remember those who have gone to God.

Our Faith teaches that through their lifetime journey, every person has a moral freedom to choose, with three possible ultimate outcomes:

we attain beatitude, which expresses the joy and peace of being eternally with God in Heaven;

that journey had not completely resulted, at the time of their departure from this life, in the total conversion and renewal of the person and so, by an act of sheer Divine compassion, they are held in God’s love and ‘purified’ of their defects, so as to enter eventually into Heaven, where no imperfection can coexist;

  • or, they freely and willingly, as witnessed by their moral actions on earth, reject God and are therefore destined for Hell. God accepts that this is their sovereign decision and so, Hell is where those who wish to have no relationship, nothing to do with God, will go. For the damned, there is no possible alternative afterwards. It is an eternal state.

 

We all choose one of these outcome through our way of life. You can read more in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, particularly paragraphs 1020-1060.

 

Holy Souls in Purgatory

The Church has always taught us to pray for those who have gone to eternity. Even in the late Old Testament book of Maccabees (2 Maccabees 12:38-46), prayers and alms were offered for the souls of the dead by those who thought “well and religiously concerning the resurrection.” It was believed that “they who had fallen asleep with godliness had great grace laid up for them” and that “it is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” We know that a defiled soul cannot enter into Heaven. We are all in need of grace to come into the perfection of charity. We cannot enter Heaven if we have not been completely cleansed of sin and all punishment due to sin, c.f. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1031 and 1472.

 

Purgatory is not eternal. Its duration depends upon the particular judgment each have received from Christ. By Divine Mercy, they have not merited hell, because in their lives, they honoured God and developed their relationship with him, despite any limitations and failures. It is difficult to speak in terms of earthly time, since Purgatory is a temporary state, not a place as such. It is therefore not bound by space and time in the same way we are, but it is connected; and certainly it is connected with the definitive Second Coming of the Son of Man at the end of time, when Purgatory will also cease to exist.

 

 

The Church has always taught that we can pray for the dead and assist them in their purification. We can shorten therefore their time in Purgatory, because our prayers of love supplicate for them before the Mercy of God. The most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is THE WAY to help the dead in Purgatory, because it is the Altar of hope and consolation for us all. That is why it is a most honourable act of charity to have a Priest offer a Mass for the Dead, or as an intention for a given Mass offered for a dearly departed person. Please be aware that sometimes people confuse offering a Mass themselves in person, as in going specially to one for someone or having in mind some intention of our own, and the actual application of the Mass by the Priest for the specific intention requested as he does so in persona Christi.

The ancient practice of Indulgences is also to be recommended for the Faithful Departed. You can read more on this in the Catechism, paragraphs 1471 to 1479.

 

 

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and

let perpetual light shine upon them.

May the souls of the faithful departed,

through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Amen.