Bishop’s Christmas Message

By | Christmas, News

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus!

I would like to share with you something that the great preacher, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, said, “I think God must have said to Himself: Man does not love Me because He does not see Me; I will show Myself to him and thus make him love Me.  God’s love for man was very great, and had been great from all eternity, but this love had not yet become visible… Then, it really appeared; the Son of God let Himself be seen as a tiny Baby in a stable, lying on a little straw”.  Christmas is about God making himself visible in Jesus to show his love for us.

The Gospel of St Luke Chapter 2 gives us a snapshot of what happened on the night when Jesus was born. When Mary gave birth to her son, Jesus, She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room available for them at the Inn. There were shepherds around minding their flocks when an angel appeared to them and told them: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” The shepherds went and found the baby and then they returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen,

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. The letters M – A – S after a word mean “the feast of”. Therefore the actual word “Christmas” means the feast of Christ. It would be a great pity if we were to ignore the meaning of the word Christmas and refer to this period of joy and peace in other terms, like the festive season or the holiday season. Christmas is festive in nature and we do enjoy a holiday in this period, but we must not eliminate the word Christmas for this period with the excuse that the word may offend others who do not share our belief. I can assure you that no other religion ever objected to the word Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Christ. No one objects to the celebration of the Chinese New Year, because of a fear that it might offend persons who are not Chinese or Buddhist; no-one objects to the celebration of Diwali, on the grounds that it might offend persons who are not Hindus. And rightly so. Why, then, should Christians be treated differently? To eliminate anything that refers to Christ in shops and superstores full of Christmas goods shows which way we are heading if we do not put back Jesus in Christmas.

We pride ourselves on this blessed Rock for being a tolerant and friendly people, respecting each other and living in harmony with each other. That is essentially the message that Christmas brings to all of us. The birth of Christ was not glamorous. What the gospels tell us is that God in Christ stepped into the depths of our broken, sad and troubled world to bring us what we need: peace, reconciliation, forgiveness and a transformation of our lives.

It is sad to notice that although we pride ourselves on being friendly and generous, when an issue arises which leads to different attitudes and opinions, the language that is at times used towards one another and about one another may be bitter, vindictive and hurtful.

On social media in particular, people seem to lose all restraint in attacking those with whom they disagree.

We have a choice. We can treat one another as a threat, abuse those who are different from us, misrepresent people’s motives and spread lies about them; or we can follow a better way, reaching out to others with care, attention and service.

If that sounds simple, it is; and it is the simple message at the heart of the Christmas festival.

As we celebrate Christmas this year and bring to mind the birth of Jesus, may our lives be deeply touched by God’s love. As we contemplate the child Jesus who is born, may our hearts be filled with joy. This is the time when we reach out to others who are in need of our support, care and love, those who are suffering in some way or other. Let us also remember and help out those in other places who are being persecuted, tortured and even martyred due to their beliefs.

God is with us and shares our human life, the joys and challenges along with our pain and suffering. The word Emmanuel beautifully describes the gift of Christmas, it means ‘God is with us’.   This is the main message of Christmas.

Christmas presents a challenge to all of us. We are called to become messengers of Emmanuel, to help bring Christ’s love to the world. Let us be Emmanuel’s messengers, let us be his hands, feet and voice. Let us bring his love to all.

May I suggest that now is the time to make an extra effort to keep Christmas not just on the 25th of December but throughout the year, by getting closer to Jesus.

I wish you peace and joy this Christmas. I pray that our Heavenly Father will abundantly bless you and all those you love this day. May he shower you with every grace and blessing throughout the coming year. Happy Christmas.

O Antiphons

By | Christmas, News

O Sapientia… O Emmanuel

O Sapientia ~ O Wisdom (December 17)
O Wisdom (Sirach 24:3),
You came forth from the mouth of the Most High (Sirach 24:3), and reaching from beginning to end You ordered all things mightily and sweetly (Wisdom 8:1). * Come, and teach us the way of prudence (Isaiah 40:14).

O Adonai ~ O Lord and Ruler (December 18)
O Adonai (Exod 3:14)
and Ruler of the house of Israel (Matt 2:6; Micah 5:1; 2 Sam 5:2), You appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush (Exod 3:2) and on Mount Sinai gave him Your Law (Exod 20). * Come, and with an outstretched arm redeem us (Jeremiah 32:21).

O Radix Jesse ~ O Root of Jesse (December 19)
O Root of Jesse, (Isaiah 11:1)
You stand for the ensign of mankind (Isaiah 11:10); before You kings shall keep silence and to You all nations shall have recourse (Isaiah 52:15). * Come, save us, and do not delay (Habakkuk 2:3).

O Clavis David ~ O Key of David (December 20)
O Key of David, (Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7)
and Sceptre of the house of Israel (Numbers 24:17): You open and no man closes; you close and no man opens (Isaiah 22:22). * Come, and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death (Ps 107:10).

O Oriens ~ O Rising Dawn or Morning Star (December 21)
O Rising Dawn, (Jer 23:5; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12),
Radiance of the Light eternal (Habakkuk 3:4; Wisdom 7:26; Hebrews 1:3) and Sun of Justice (Malachi 3:20): * come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death (Ps 107:10; Lk 1:78).

O Rex Gentium ~ O King of the Nations (December 22)
O King of the Gentiles (Jeremiah 10:7; Haggai 2:7),
and the Desired of all, You are the Cornerstone that binds two into one (Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42; Ephesians 2:20). * Come, and save man whom You fashioned out of clay (Genesis 2:7).

O Emmanuel (December 23)
O Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8; Luke 1:31-33),
our King and Lawgiver (Genesis 49:10; cf. Ezekiel 21:32), the Expected of the nations and their Saviour (Isa 33:22): Come, and save us, O Lord our God.

The truly ancient tradition of reciting the O Antiphons refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23.

Tradition explains that the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one – Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia – the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, Tomorrow, I will come.

Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, Tomorrow, I will come.

Pope Francis visits Benedict XVI

By | Christmas, News

Lieber Vater, Frohe Weihnachten!

As is his custom every year, on 21st December at 18:15 the Holy Father, Pope Francis, went to the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery to visit Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

He also gave him his Christmas presents!

Although Benedict XVI at 91 understandably appears enfeebled with age, he remains in great spirits.

He is looking forward to his brother Monsignor Georg Ratzinger’s visit for two weeks after Christmas when he will be bringing him gifts from their birthplace in Bavaria.

Despite Mgr. Georg’s almost total blindness, the two look forward to playing the piano and singing traditional Christmas carols!

Christmas Season Holy Days of Obligation

By | Christmas, News

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

 

Tuesday 25th December:                   CHRISTMAS DAY

Tuesday 1st January:                           MARY, MOTHER of GOD

THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY MOVEMENT

By | Events, News

are organizing the annual Diocesan

‘WEDDING ANNIVERSRAY CELEBARTION’

Have you Celebrated or will be Celebrating your

25th, 40th, 50th or 60th Wedding Anniversary

during 2018?

 

THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY MOVEMENT will once again be hosting the annual Diocesan Wedding Anniversary Celebration.

 

Information and forms are provided in the link below. Also in the Upon this Rock Magazine.

 We look forward to celebrating with you and your families!

Click here for more information

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