Sunday, 21 December 2014

The last days of Advent: A priest thinks out loud!

The days of advent are quickly coming to a conclusion. The readings speak of the urgency of being prepared to meet the Lord when he comes again. The lowly maiden Mary, hears the angels greeting, and the words he speaks fills her with wonder and praise. The psalmist tells us to lift our heads for our salvation is near at hand. Our hearts are to exalt in the Lord, his closeness to us is exciting, joyful. The longing of our hearts is satisfied when the Love of God descends to the earth in the humility and poverty of the stable at Bethlehem. This is a birth that is to be celebrated with great joy. In the tiny figure of the baby Jesus we see the lengths to which God goes to confirm how much we are loved! And in return our love is to be a gift offered to the poor, the needy, those who hunger and thirst for that message we hear loud and clear at this wonderful time of Christmas, a message that says “You are loved by God, look, here is the proof!”

The great joy of Christmas as a priest is to see first hand, the transformation of the church. The regal advent wreath with all candles lit, with the building of the stable, the decoration of the church adorned with fresh colourful flowers, the beautiful fixtures, the trees, the stars, the growing feeling of hope, the anticipation of joy, the increasing light shining in the darkness, the small whisper of hope, that emanates from the scene, as that whisper become a booming cry!

Advent is a gift, for amidst the frantic shopping days, the fraught misery of trying to buy Christmas, it is all there before us, in the simplicity of a stable where in advent, we are journeying towards. So special to kneel down at the stable, and offer a prayer of adoration and thanksgiving. We celebrate that our lives have been validated by love, we are the shepherds arriving, peering in with curiosity, with faith. We are Mary and Joseph, with happiness beyond our understanding. We are the kings, the wise ones, seeking the truth and finding it here. We are humanity that is touched and changed forever by this selfless act of God, our God who come to visit us, who loves us, and who always will love us.

So become still in these last few days of advent my soul, be calm, be calm, my longing heart, and be ready to receive the joy of the good news, that God loves you very much!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Angel Left

The last line of the gospel at Mass today always makes me think. Luke says quite simply after the angel had brought God’s words to Mary…then the angel left her. 

The Angel Left

A light shone before this lowly maiden, brightly it blazed
Pondering in her heart all these events the angel had raised
The light in the room faded as the angel left her quite alone
Her head filled with wonder, at the message that was sown
Its meaning revealed when sorrow and joy pierced her heart
Faithfulness led this woman, ensuring she would do her part
For now the mystery of God’s love held her in an embrace
A love divine, that would shine brightly in Jesus’ holy face. 

Fr Patrick Brennan © 2014

Homily Notes: 4th Sunday Advent B

The Love of God is a reality in our lives. We celebrate that love each time we gather for the Eucharist. The love of the Lord is our strength. It is that love which casts out fear. To be able to lean close to the Lord in prayer and know we are loved is the antidote to fear and the recipe for a sustaining and fulfilling Christian life. There is a story that illustrates the effects of worry and fear. It is an old legend about death.
Death was walking toward a city one morning and a man asked, "What are you going to do?" "I'm going to take 100 people," Death replied. "That's horrible!" the man said. "That's the way it is," Death said. "That's what I do." The man hurried to warn everyone he could about Death's plan. As evening fell, he met Death again. "You told me you were going to take 100 people," the man said. "Why did 1,000 die?" "I kept my word," Death responded. "I only took 100 people. Worry took the others!
We worry and fret about many things! Not least in Advent when we are worrying about how Christmas will work out, we fear and we worry and it does not change a thing about our lives.
Mary is told “do not be afraid!” by the angel. Sound advice when you are confronted by the voice and messenger of God! But sound advice too in the living out of life in any circumstance, being not afraid takes trust and trust leads to peace of mind and serenity too. These words would be echoed by Mary to Jesus as an infant, “do not be afraid” and then Jesus would speak these same words to his disciples… “do not be afraid!” On many occasions Jesus spoke these words, from the fear of the storm to the fear of death, Jesus addressed these situation in the same way…. do not be afraid! This is very much learnt, passed on through a loving nurturing spirit. Fear holds us back, stops us from fully realising our potential as children of God. Advent is summed up in the words spoken by the angel Gabriel to Mary “do not be afraid!”

Mary’s response is wonderful for it negates all fear. Be it done to me as you would will it Lord! So much of our fretting and worrying and fear in our life of faith comes from a inability to let go and allow God to guide, an inability to see the loving hands of God clasping us and holding us tight.

Mary is our role model this advent, as she is for all our striving to be a Christian. Leaving fear behind she embraces God’s will, no easy thing, but a life giving and life changing challenge that each of us have when we take our faith seriously.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Advent Memory

Advent Memory

Recalling a memory, amidst advent waiting, a precious thought
A stable in Bethlehem where loves very meaning was sought 
A bright star arose in the beautiful stillness of a silent night sky
A hush of holiness, of creation holding its breath, an angelic sigh
A maiden tenderly carried by God's word, while carrying his Son
Accompanied by Joseph, an extraordinarily faithful companion 
Seeking shelter in this humble place, to bring forth the Saviour
A tiny infant arrives, dependent upon his parents loving nurture  
Shepherds from nearby fields gaze upon the scene in adoration
Angel's voices become a melody of praise at this holy Incarnation
Recalling a memory, amidst advent waiting, celebrating a reality 
A stable in Bethlehem where loves very meaning reveals eternity.

Fr. Patrick Brennan © 2014

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Homily Notes: Third Sunday of Advent Year B

Today we are in the pink as it were! The vestments for today are pink or rose in colour. This is the Third Sunday of Advent or “Gaudate” Sunday, a chance to rejoice that the Lord’s coming is near at hand. Being in the pink is a phrase that came originally from fox hunting and the pink jacket worn by the best huntsman but we won’t go there! It has come to mean to be in the best of health, referring to the rosy colour of the cheeks. As Christians today this third Sunday of advent we are to be in the best of health through our trusting in the Lord to come and save or shelter us, as he reveals the nearness of his presence to us.

John the Baptist is confronted today with the question: “Who are you?” by the religious authorities. He had turned a few heads since coming out of the wilderness. John says he is merely a servant, a voice who proclaims another. He is pointing towards the Christ who has come. His voice calls for the people to make themselves ready to welcome the Christ.

John’s is a voice crying in the wilderness. He says prepare for the Lord, straighten out your affairs, be quick about it for he coming soon! The wilderness in spiritual terms may be a retreat we undertake. It may not mean going away for days on end, it may be something we understand each day, a quiet examination of conscience perhaps. It is a place of purification, a place for stepping back and taking a look at our living, examining who we are. John was asked who are you? We too are asked that question when it comes to our faith. How we answer that is very important, who are we? Can we say with John the Baptist that we are merely servants? Or a voice? A voice that is encouraging, gentle, reassuring, truthful, loving?

This advent a voice cries, prepare for the Lord’s coming, meaning get your house in order, be at peace with yourself, your neighbour and with God too! So as we rush around the shops, emptying the supermarkets of food and goods, snapping up presents and sending out cards, we can ask what are we preparing for? Our efforts in advent are to lead us to kneel at the feet of the Infant King Jesus, in adoration, wonder and awe.

May this third Sunday of Advent find us in the pink or in the best of health and order when it comes to our faith!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Cardinal Griffin Catholic College: Advent House Mass; homily notes.

This week I put up my Christmas tree and decorated it. It looks great, I finished by adding the lights and plugged the lights in, and it made a beautiful looking tree even more appealing to the eye. The tree glows with a warm light, looking at the tree in the corner of the room the glow of it’s lights remind me of the descend from heaven of the light of the world, Jesus, who arrives at Christmas as a tiny baby in a stable in Bethlehem. And who arrives in the hearts of Christians everywhere, who are preparing to celebrate the arrival of Christ.
Advent is the Latin word for “arrival” and during this season we anticipate the arrival of Christ. That is why we put trees up, send cards, search for special presents for those we love, we do this as we anticipate the arrival of Christ.
When I am waiting for a package to arrive in the post there is still a part of me that feels excitement when the parcel comes, especially if I really want what is being delivered. Advent is waiting for Christ to come and the excitement we will feel is how much we have prepared our hearts to be ready to receive him. If it is any old package that is coming, we may not feel that bothered, but if we see Christ as the most important arrival into our lives then our excitement will be real.

Come Lord, do not delay!

Come Lord, do not delay!

Mourning, in floods of despair your people wait
Surrounded by a world of Indifference, of hate
Come Lord, do not delay, put our fears to flight
Dispel the gloom, the misery of the dark night
Bring eternal light, swoop down to our rescue
In life’s pilgrimage, it’s journeying, we need you
Transform hearts to experience a gentle humility
As we kneel at that stable to worship the nativity
Joyful of spirit, we come, bowed down in adoration
From heaven you descend, offering sweet affirmation. 

Fr Patrick Brennan © 2014 all rights reserved

Monday, 8 December 2014

Homily Notes for the Solemnity of The Immaculate Conception

In the gospel for this solemnity Mary is left alone by the angel, after his encounter with her, announcing to her the good news that she was the most blessed of all women, and the Lord was with her. She had said her “yes” to God’s word, and then was left alone with her thoughts.
She is the only one of our race who is immaculately conceived and assumed body and soul into heaven. Where she has gone we hope to follow, for she is as we say in the Hail Holy Queen, our sweetness and our hope.
When Bernadette in Lourdes saw the beautiful woman and asked her name, Mary simply said,” I am the Immaculate Conception” not one of many, the only one. And yet Mary in her nothingness and aloneness is aware that the Lord is with her. And in trusting in that promise, her strength grows, her faithfulness comes from her trusting that the Lord is close to her.
She is our mother, our hope, our assured refuge in prayer, a kind intercessor, and a devotion to Mary leads naturally to a devotion to her son, Jesus. For her faithfulness comes from her loving gaze towards him, a look of a mother’s love.
We ask her prayers this evening as we venerate her holiness and seek her maternal care and support in our faith and in our journey towards her Son, and our Saviour