Fraternal greetings to each one of you in the name of the Lord!
As the season of Advent is round the corner, I am writing to you on the significance of it. For many Christians unfamiliar with the liturgical year, there may be some confusion surrounding the meaning of the Advent season. Some people may know that the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. This is part of the story, but there’s more to Advent.
The History of Advent
The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word Parousia. Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Mathew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 2:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas.
By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas.
Today, the Advent season lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. At that time, the new Christian year begins with the twelve-day celebration of Christmastide, which lasts from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6. (Advent begins on the Sunday that falls between November 27th and December 3rd each year.)
Advent symbolizes the present situation of the church in these “last days” (Acts 2:17, Hebrews 1:2), as God’s people wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom. The church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis they called for God once again to act for them. In the same way, the church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. In this light, the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” perfectly represents the church’s cry during the Advent season:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
While Israel would have sung the song in expectation of Christ’s first coming, the church now sings the song in commemoration of that first coming and in expectation of the second coming in the future.
Advent Liturgy and Practice
To balance the two elements of remembrance and anticipation, the first two Sundays in Advent (through December 16th) look forward to Christ’s second coming, and the last two Sundays (December 17th – 24th) look backward to remember Christ’s first coming. Over the course of the four weeks, Scripture readings move from passages about Christ’s return in judgment, to Old Testament passages about the expectation of the coming Messiah, to New Testament passages about the announcements of Christ’s arrival by John the Baptist and the Angels.
While it is difficult to keep in mind in the midst of holiday celebrations, shopping, lights and decorations, and joyful carols, Advent is intended to be a season of fasting, much like Lent, and there are a variety of ways that this time of mourning works itself out in the season. Reflection on the violence and evil in the world cause us to cry out to God to make things right—to put death’s dark shadows to flight. Our exile in the present makes us look forward to our future Exodus. And our own sinfulness and need for grace leads us to pray for the Holy Spirit to renew his work in conforming us into the image of Christ.
One catechism describes Advent spirituality beautifully: “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. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’”
Advent and the Christian Life
While Advent is certainly a time of celebration and anticipation of Christ’s birth, it is more than that. It is only in the shadow of Advent that the miracle of Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated; and it is only in the light of Christmas that the Christian life makes any sense. It is between the fulfilled promise of Christ’s first coming and the yet-to-be-fulfilled promise of his second coming that Karl Barth penned these words: “Unfulfilled and fulfilled promise are related to each other, as are dawn and sunrise. Both are promise and in fact the same promise. If anywhere at all, then it is precisely in the light of the coming of Christ that faith has become Advent faith, the expectation of future revelation. But faith knows for whom and for what it is waiting. It is fulfilled faith because it lays hold on the fulfilled promise.” The promise for Israel and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come, and he will come again. This is the essence of Advent.
Let the season of advent fill us with God’s love and mercy!!!
ANNUAL RETREAT 2016 – II
The Special Retreat For Priests:
An annual retreat for priests was organized by FIAT Mission, at Velankanni Basilica Retreat Centre, from 14th November to 18th November 2016. There were about 144 priests from four different dioceses, such as, Kurnool, Kadappa, Patna and Gumla (Jarkand) and also priests from five religious congregations such as, MSFS, OFM, OCAM, CMF and SVD. The retreat was preached by lay brothers, belonging to the FIAT Mission team namely, Bro. Savi Joseph, Bro. Colin and Bro. Anil. The priest in charge was Rev. Fr. Jeno, CMI. Thirteen of us attended the retreat.
This retreat has brought a charismatic renewal in our life. It was really a time of great renewal and re-energizing. It was a time of great witnessing. The preachers were simple lay people, who were touched by Jesus Christ and they were all very much familiar with the word of God. Their preaching gave us a thirst once again for reading the Word of God. Their simple faith and God experience was a great witness to each one of us who were attending the retreat. They exhorted us to prepare well for the spiritual warfare that we face at our current worldly situations. At the final day of the retreat there were few priests who gave their testimony of physical healing and inner healing. As a whole, we all enjoyed our retreat. The atmosphere was very much conducive. We thank our provincial administration for helping us to have this beautiful God experience.
INAGUATION OF THE FRIENDLY HOME UNIT- II
12th October 2016 was a joyous day for the MSFS – South East India Province because it witnessed the grant opening of the extension of the friendly home. SFS Community at Vaniyambadi was delighted to welcome all the dignitaries for the inauguration of Unit II of the friendly home.
The event began with the planting of saplings in the school campus. Rev.Fr. Antony Dharma Raj, the provincial of South-East India blessed the new building of Unit II of the friendly home and Mr. Jurgen Steinmetz opened it. Rev. Fr. C. Sebastin Raj and Rev. Fr. Jeya Kumar unveiled the stone. The day was cheered with a multi linguistic cultural programme, organized by our Friendly Home Children & House Mothers from Alangayam and Vaniyambadi. There after a delicious lunch was served.
We, the SFS Community at Vaniyambadi whole heartedly thank the Provincial, Councillors, confreres, Sisters, benefactors, teachers, Students and guests for their great support and encouragement in our undertaking of this ministry.
Fr. D. Johnson
Inauguration of the ADJ Community Hall and the Laying of the Foundation for Mermier Home at All Saints Church, R. S. Nagar, Chennai
It was another proof of the blessings from God for All Saints Parish to have the ADJ Community Hall, renovated into an entirely New look with all facilities for the use of the public and the parishioners. It was a blessed by Most. Rev. Dr. George Anthonysamy DD, STD, JCL, the Archbishop of Madras Mylapore and opened by Rev. Fr. A. Dharmaraj MSFS, the Provincial of South – East India Province.
On the same day the Foundation stone for Mermier Home was blessed by His grace and opened by our dear Fr. Provincial in the presence of the parish community and neighbouring religious sisters and vicariate fathers. A tree plantation was organized in the church campus, followed by a solemn festal Eucharistic celebration by the bishop, concelebrated by our confreres and diocesan clergies. The feast came to an end with a grand car procession on 30th and a fellowship meal in the new community hall. We thank His Grace and our beloved Provincial for their love and support towards the growth of this parish.
Fr. G. David
Golden Jubilee Of Holy Cross Parish Desruisseaux (West Indies) (1966-2016)
20th October 2016 was the greatest joyous day for the parish of Holy Cross, Desruisseaux. The golden jubilee celebration began at 2:45pm with praise and worship which was followed by a report on the history of the parish and the welcome dance. The Most Holy Eucharistic celebration began with a procession. The presence His Grace Robert Rivas, OP and our Prime Minister, Mr. Allen Chastanet, priests, friends and well wishers and various groups of parishes added colour to this great event. Fr. John Milton welcomed all the dignitaries and the faithful to the Eucharistic celebration. His Grace Robert Rivas preached a vibrant homily focusing on the theme that there is no victory without cross. After Communion Dance the people who whole heartily served the parish for the past fifty years were honoured with gifts. Words of gratitude was extended to all those who were present. Finally the whole event came to an end with a fellowship meal.
Fr. John Milton
APPOINTMENT OF DEACONS
|1. Dn. S. Arockiam||–||Kodungal|
|2. Dn. M. Joseph Anish Kumar||–||Ammapatti|
|3. Dn. A. Jerome||–||Kadayal|
|4. Dn. D. Jaya Kumar||–||Perungozhi|
|5. Dn. S. Ashir Johnson||–||Othaiyal|
|6. Dn. L. John Peter||–||Mariapuram|
|7. Dn. S. Antony Raj||–||Elapakkam|
|8. Bro. M. John Fernandez||–||Adanur|
1. DN. M. Joseph Anish Kumar
DN. M. Joseph Anish Kumar hails from Kadiapattanam, Kanyakumari (Dt), Tamil Nadu. His parents are Mr. M. Maria Stephen and Mrs. S. Kalist Mary. He has three elder brothers, two elder sisters and two younger brothers. He had his primary schooling at St. Peter’s Middle School and his high schooling at Sacred Heart’s High School at Kadiapattanam. He had his higher secondary education at St. Mary’s Higher Sec. School at Colachel. He began his Minor Seminary Formation at S.F.S. Minor Seminary, Pudukkottai in 2006 and had his Novitiate at Salesianum, Visakhapatnam. He made his First Profession on 10th June, 2009. He pursued his Philosophical and B.A. studies at Suvidya College, Bangalore.
He did his Regency at SFS Minor Seminary, Pudukkottai and Theology at Tejas Vidya Peetha, Bangaluru. He was ordained a Deacon by his Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Robert Miranda, the Bishop of Gulbarga, at Tejas Vidya Peetha, Bangaluru on 20th February, 2016. He will be ordained a Priest by his Lordship, Most Rev. Peter Remigius, the Bishop of Kottar, at Sts. Peter & Paul Church, Kadiapattanam, on 27th December, 2016.
2. DN. S. Arockiam
DS. S. Arockiam hails from Nagavayal from the Parish of Koothalur, Sivagangai (Dt), Tamil Nadu. His parents are (Late).Mr. Santhanam and Mrs. Kueel Mary. He has only one elder brother. He had his primary schooling at St. Mary’s primary school at Nagavayal and his high schooling at St. Sebastian’s High School at Koothalur. He had his higher secondary education at De Britto Higher Sec. School at Devakottai. He began his Minor Seminary Formation at S.F.S. Minor Seminary, Pudukkottai in 2006 and had his Novitiate at Salesianum, Visakhapatnam. He made his First Profession on 10th June, 2009. He pursued his Philosophical and B.A. studies at Suvidya College, Bangalore.
He did his Regency at SFS Matriculation School, Vaniyambadi and Theology at Tejas Vidya Peetha, Bangaluru. He was ordained a Deacon by his Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Robert Miranda, the Bishop of Gulbarga, at Tejas Vidya Peetha, Bangaluru on 20th February, 2016. He will be ordained a Priest by his Lordship, Rt. Rev. Dr. Susaimanickam, the Bishop of Sivagangai, at our Lady of Good Health Church, at Nagavayal, on 26th December, 2016.
- Fr. S. Arockia Charles,
Parish of St. Peter, Colihaud,
The Common Wealth of Dominica,
Wind ward Islands,
+1767 446 6479 [office]
- Fr. A. Maria John Franklin,
St. Andrew’s parish,
The common wealth of Dominica,
Wind ward Islands
+1767 445557 [office]
+1767 613 3689
- Fr. P. Maria Pushpam
Tel: 0043 2612 422 32 (for the present)
Mobile: 0043 676 880 703 100
ON HOME HOLIDAYS FROM ABROAD
|Fr. G. Viswasam (Germany)||–||From 2nd November to 23rd November|
|Fr. A. Joseph Amalraj (Germany)||–||From 7th November to 17th November|
We wish them a good time with their dear and near ones.
LET US PRAY FOR THE DEPARTED
- Mr. Daniel, aged 75, the Father of Fr. D. Kanikkai Nathan, expired on 15th October, 2016.
- Mrs. Usha Mary, aged 45, the paternal aunt of Fr. A. Doss, expired on 22nd October, 2016.
- Mr. Amalraj, the uncle of Fr. K. Joseph Xavier, expired on 1st November 2016.
- Mrs. Jesu Mary, the grandmother of Fr. Rex, expired on 10th November 2016.
May their souls rest in peace!
2nd Provincials India Forum Meeting at Bangalore
3rd Suvidya College Governing Body Meeting at Suvidya, Bangalore
5th Inauguration of De addiction center at Dharmapuri
7th Provincial Council Meeting
8th Fr. Gabriel Memorial lectures at Suvidya College, Bangalore
10th Salesian Seminar at Nagamangalam Trichy
11th Provincial Congress preparatory meeting at Provincialate
26th Priestly Ordination of Dn Arockiam
27th Priestly Ordination of Dn Anish
29th Regents Mid Year evaluation in Trichy
30th Perpetual Profession
Yours Fraternally in Christ,
Rev. Fr. Anthony Dharmaraj, Msfs
Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.
– Saint Francis de Sales