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.

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,
God, for ever and ever.

BISHOP’S PASTORAL LETTER FOR ADVENT

By | Bishop Carmel, Christmas

Bishop Zammit has issued the traditional

Advent Pastoral Letter

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We have entered the Holy Season of Advent.
What is Advent? The simple answer to this question is that Advent is a period of four weeks in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas and also of preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.  It is our spiritual journey to celebrate Christmas.  But if we do not know what Christmas is we will fail to know what Advent is for.
In the readings of the Mass on this First Sunday of Advent, we find Jesus referring to the end of the world and the Last Judgement, when Christ will come in glory.  Jesus exhorts us to be ready and to hold our heads high, because our redemption is at hand.
It may seem strange that at the beginning of our preparation for Christmas, the message is centred on the end of the world and the coming of Christ in glory.  This is the second coming of Jesus, and the church tells us that as we prepare for the birth of Jesus, we are really preparing for the meeting we will eventually have with the Lord when our time comes to give an account of our life.  Christmas is not just a memory of the day when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but it is also a reminder that there will be, so to say, another coming of Jesus, another final encounter with him, for which we are constantly preparing, but around Christmas this preparation is put more into focus.
Advent is the beginning of a new Liturgical Year in the Church.   In a way we continue our journey but at the same time we renew and give more impetus to our preparation to welcome Christ in our lives as he is always knocking on our door.  As we read in the Book of Revelation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3, 20).
How do we prepare for Christmas?  For many the reaction to this question will be buying presents, preparing shopping lists for when family gathers to celebrate.  There is nothing wrong in the material preparations for Christmas, but if the spiritual preparation is missing then it is a half-baked preparation and the whole point of Christmas is lost.
This four-week preparation invites us to reflect on how much God has loved us, in sending His own Son to be born to show us the face of God and to save us through his death and resurrection from sin and assuring us of eternal life.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn 2, 16).
While reflecting on God’s love for us, we are invited to respond to God’s love, and Christ tells us how this response should be. “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34).  Loving our neighbour is the measure of our love of God.  As James tells us in his letter, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead”. (James 2, 17).  Jesus himself tells us what it means to love one another, when he describes the last judgement.  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and … “ (cf. Mt 25, 35-40).  Pope Francis is all the time reminding us of our duties as Christians and as members of the family of humankind, to remember the poor, the homeless, the underprivileged, the refugees, those suffering from disasters whether natural or created by wars and persecutions.  God did not close his eyes to our needs, and we are called to open our eyes to the needs of others and be ready to help according to our means and circumstances.
In the last two years, due to the pandemic which unfortunately is still with us, so much has changed, and we have changed.  Nobody and no institution can boast of not having been affected by the pandemic.  We all suffered and are suffering in some way or other, whether financially, emotionally, psychologically, and physically.
We are living in uncertain times.  In these times the best in us has come out, trying to help those who needed our help and support.  We are not out of the woods yet, and we pray that we may see the end of the tunnel in the near future.
What has not changed despite the difficult times we have and are experiencing is the message of Advent.  That message tells us of God’s love for us and of our need for that saving love.  Our whole life is our Advent, during which time we prepare ourselves for the moment when we enter fully into the life of God.  This Advent may something more of Christ enter us.
With the assurance of my prayers and a blessing on you all.
Given on the 24th November 2021, feast of Saints Andrew-Luc and his Companions, Martyrs.
+Carmel Zammit
Bishop of Gibraltar

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,
God, for ever and ever.

BISHOP’S MESSAGE FOR CHRISTMAS DAY

By | Bishop Carmel, Christmas

Bishop Zammit sends greetings to everyone this Christmas

 

Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Lk 2:11)  

This is the news of great joy that we, as Christians, are called to share with all of humanity.  This is what Christmas is all about, the birth of Christ, our Saviour and Lord.   We are celebrating the Incarnation of God as a reality and not as a mythological story.

We have spent the last two months witnessing the attractions that commercial venues present to us to entice us to shop and prepare for all that is culturally and socially expected of us during this period. For some time, many would have been buying food and drinks, together with all other sorts of Christmas attractions and presents.

All this is commendable, since there is always in this preoccupation to prepare for Christmas that element of good will towards others. This, thank God, has remained as the main feeling during this period even for those who are not Christians, or who do not practice their Christian religion. There are those who have taken Christ out of Christmas, but there is no taking away from us that Christmas is about loving, wishing well to each other and advocating peace. Even in our secularist society, which unfortunately have lost the sense of God and of the sacred, such sentiments are still felt during this period.

The key words that are often repeated at Christmas time are love and peace.

The ultimate truth that we celebrate at Christmas is summarized in one of the most often quoted verses from St John’s Gospel: “For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn 3: 16).

God’s love for us, with all our deficiencies and failures, remains the central message, as we reflect on the events around the birth of Jesus.

For those who celebrate the birth of Christ as the coming of the Saviour, and embrace the Gospel, this annual observance provides the opportunity to be grounded once again at the very core of our being, to understand that the purpose of all humanity is to live in the knowledge of the love of God and thus to live peaceably with all men and women.

It is important that we remember those who are suffering during this Christmas, and try to show our solidarity with them. The love that God has shown us by becoming one of us should be shared amongst us.

The Angels sang, when they appeared to the shepherds, peace on earth on those of good will. If we want peace to reign in the world, that peace has to start existing within us. Unless we feel at peace, we cannot make peace a possible reality around us. Places of conflict are all around us. Achieving world peace seems to be a far-fetched dream, but however impossible it may seem we need to pray and hope that the peace that Christ came to bring on earth may one day be achieved.

To live the love and peace that Christmas announces, here in Gibraltar, we have to learn to concretely show respect towards each other in the way we talk about each other and what we write on the social media, which may be detrimental to the wellbeing of others. When there is disagreement, it is time that we show respect in the way we argue what we believe in. Hiding behind the social media to vent hatred and insults against others is certainly not the best way to behave in a civilized society.

Let us enjoy ourselves this Christmas, let us strengthen the ties that bind families together, but let us also find some time to reflect on our lives and see whether there are areas where we need to revise and change our behaviour so that the love and peace which Christmas is meant to bring with it is realized in the way we live.

I wish you all a very joyful Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Christmas Season: Holy Masses at the Cathedral

By | Christmas, News

MASS TIMES

 

December 2019/January 2020

 

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

The Nativity of Our Lord

Tuesday 24th December:

5.30 p.m: Family Mass

11.30 p.m: Carols

12.00 a.m. Midnight Mass

 

Wednesday 25th December:

9 a.m.

10.30 a.m.

12 noon

6.30 p.m.

 

The Feast of the Holy Family

Saturday 28th December:

6.30 p.m

 

Sunday 29th December:

9 a.m.

10.30 a.m.

12 noon

6.30 p.m.

 

 

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

(Holy Day of Obligation)

Tuesday 31st December: 6.30 p.m.

Mass and Te Deum

 

Wednesday 1st January:

9 a.m.

10.30 a.m.

12 noon

6.30 p.m.

 

2nd Sunday of Christmas

Saturday 4th January:

6.30 p.m.

 

Sunday 5th January:

9 a.m.

10.30 a.m.

12 noon

 

Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord

(Holy Day of Obligation)

Sunday 5th January:

6.30 p.m.

 

Monday 6th January:

9 a.m.

10.30 a.m.

12 noon

6.30 p.m.

 

Weekday Mass times

(except for above Solemnities)

 

Monday – Friday:

9.15, 12.25, 18.30

Saturday:

9.15, 12.25

Christmas Season: Holy Days of Obligation

By | Christmas, News

Apart from our Sunday Mass commitment, the Church asks us to honour these three special days during the Christmas Liturgical season:

 

Wednesday 25th December:                   CHRISTMAS DAY

Wednesday 1st January:                           MARY, MOTHER of GOD

Monday 6th January:                                THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD

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.