Sunday, December 13, 2009

'Gaudete', the 3rd Sunday of Advent - OLYMPIC TORCH IN NEIGHBOURHOOD - CL Advent Retreat Day

Although Gaudete Sunday has lost much of its penitential character (see the historical note that follows) and, indeed, Advent has in some sense socially become an anticipation of Christmas itself, we still call the third Sunday of Advent "Rejoicing Sunday", when possible have a different colour for the third candle of the Advent wreath (pink instead of violet) and rose colour vestments instead of purple may be worn this day.

Gaudete Sunday: the third Sunday of Advent, so called from the first word of the Introit at Mass (Gaudete, i.e. Rejoice).

The season of Advent originated as a fast of forty days in preparation for Christmas, commencing on the day after the feast of St. Martin (12 November), whence it was often called "St. Martin's Lent"--a name by which it was known as early as the fifth century.

The introduction of the Advent fast cannot be placed much earlier, because there is no evidence of Christmas being kept on 25 December before the end of the fourth century (Duchesne, "Origines du culte chrétien", Paris, 1889), and the preparation for the feast could not have been of earlier date than the feast itself.

In the ninth century, the duration of Advent was reduced to four weeks, the first allusion to the shortened season being in a letter of St. Nicholas I (858-867) to the Bulgarians, and by the twelfth century the fast had been replaced by simple abstinence. St. Gregory the Great was the first to draw up an Office for the Advent season, and the Gregorian Sacramentary is the earliest to provide Masses for the Sundays of Advent. In both Office and Mass provision is made for five Sundays, but by the tenth century four was the usual number, though some churches of France observed five as late as the thirteenth century.

Notwithstanding all these modifications, however, Advent still preserved most of the characteristics of a penitential seasons which made it a kind of counterpart to Lent, the middle (or third) Sunday corresponding with Laetare or Mid-Lent Sunday. On it, as on Laetare Sunday, the organ and flowers, forbidden during the rest of the season, were, permitted to be used; rose-coloured vestments were allowed instead of purple (or black, as formerly); the deacon and subdeacon reassumed the dalmatic and tunicle at the chief Mass, and cardinals wore rose-colour instead of purple.

All these distinguishing marks have continued in use, and are the present discipline of the Latin Church. Gaudete Sunday, therefore, makes a breaker like Laetare Sunday, about midway through a season which is otherwise of a penitential character, and signifies the nearness of the Lord's coming. Of the "stations" kept in Rome the four Sundays of Advent, that at the Vatican basilica is assigned to Gaudete, as being the most important and imposing of the four.

In both Office and Mass throughout Advent continual reference is made to our Lord's second coming, and this is emphasized on the third Sunday by the additional signs of gladness permitted on that day. Gaudete Sunday is further marked by a new Invitatory, the Church no longer inviting the faithful to adore merely "The Lord who is to come", but calling upon them to worship and hail with joy "The Lord who is now nigh and close at hand".

Olympic Torch Comes to the Neighbourhood

The Olympic Flame has been wending its way across the country and eliciting a great deal of excitement (and occasional controversy) wherever it has gone. This weekend we have faced occasional rotating road closures in the Capital as the symbol of the coming Vancouver Winter Games traversed our city.

At noon yesterday, there was an exchange of torches on the plaza outside the National Gallery of Art (under the giant spider sculpture "Maman"), across the street from Notre Dame Cathedral.

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Communion & Liberation

Communion and Liberation is an ecclesial movement whose purpose is the education to Christian maturity of its adherents and collaboration in the mission of the Church in all the spheres of contemporary life.

It began in Italy in 1954 when Fr Luigi Giussani established a Christian presence in a Milan high school with a group called Gioventù Studentesca (Student Youth), GS for short.

The current name of the movement, Communion and Liberation (CL), appeared for the first time in 1969. It synthesizes the conviction that the Christian event, lived in communion, is the foundation of the authentic liberation of man. Communion and Liberation is today present in about seventy countries throughout the world.

There is no type of membership card, but only the free participation of persons. The basic instrument for the formation of adherents is weekly catechesis, called School of Community.

Those interested in CL's School of Community and other activities meet every second Friday in the rectory of Notre Dame Cathedral Parish. They also have occasional other activities, including an Advent Day of Retreat, which they asked me to direct. This took place yesterday afternoon at the Diocesan Centre.

I gave some thoughts for spiritual reflection from 1:45-2:15, after which those taking part prayed in the chapel for a half hour (while some celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation), then had a spiritual exchange (which I found quite rich and edifying) until 3:30 when we celebrated the Mass in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel.

After Mass, we had refreshments (I got my first taste of panettone of this season) and, of course, took the mandatory photo:

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