Advent

O Antiphons
I once heard a memorable homily that gave eloquent expression to the idea that the structure of the liturgical year is not a matter of doing what we did last year again and in exactly the same way. Yes, each year we live the same sequence of Advent and Christmas, then Lent and Easter, with blocks of Ordinary Time in between. But every time we approach one of those seasons, each of us is changed from the person who celebrated it the previous year. So it’s never a matter of doing it all...
O Rex Gentium
 Antiphons. They’re the lines you say before and after the psalms during morning and evening prayer, aren’t they? In the case of the O Antiphons, they also find expression in daily Mass in the days leading up to Christmas, and in the hymn ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’.The liturgical context is all well and good, but how do you pray with an antiphon? We know how to recite them, how to sing them, but there must be a way for us to make them more personal, to draw food for...
Light shining in darkness
A few weeks before he died, I got a letter from my grandfather. I remember laughing as I read it – it was vintage Grandpa. I’d written to him a few weeks earlier, telling him about my experience of walking the first part of the Camino Ignaciano, as he had always been a keen hill walker. He wanted to know whether I had been with a companion, or whether the photographs I had sent of me sitting on a rock were ‘selfies’, a concept with which he was only vaguely acquainted,...
Jo Boyce & Friends at SFX in Liverpool
Christmas concert-goers at St Francis Xavier’s Church in Liverpool (SFX) have supported a local initiative for homeless people, as well as raising funds for the church's own ministry in the city, with an event to celebrate the Feast of their patron saint, St Francis Xavier. The SFX Advent and Christmas Concert featured Jo Boyce and Friends (CJM Music Collective); it was sponsored by the Jesuit Fund for Social Justice to help the parish raise much needed funds for the church to...
Wimbledon College's Advent Calendar
Wimbledon College in south west London has produced an online Advent Calendar with daily reflections for the journey through Advent. The College is celebrating 125 years of Jesuit education and its Advent Fundraising Campaign this year is for the Jesuit Refugee Service, with boys (and staff) taking on sponsored 125 themed challenges to raise money.Wimbledon College started its life in the parlour of the presbytery of the newly established Sacred Heart Church and was based at 3 Cranbrook Road:...
I remember the day, in fact the exact moment, when I learned to pray – really, really hard.It was when I was about 12 and my family went for a holiday to France. My father drove the car as far as Dover, we got the ferry to Calais and my mother drove down to Paris – at least that was the plan. And it worked fine until we were about twenty minutes down the big motorway from Calais to Paris.Now, as everyone knows, the key thing to remember about driving on French roads is that you are...
Burning bush
O Adonai! This series on the O Antiphons promised us trauma and balm. Well there has been trauma aplenty in these last months. Trauma registers in the body’s feelings. These are my feelings and I apologise if they are not yours, which they may not be – even if you and I have been preoccupied with the same events, the odds are 50/50 that we feel differently about them. What’s more, I know these feelings don’t make an argument. But these are my feelings, mornings after,...
Two hands holding scrabble letters that spell forever: Photo by Gabby Orrcutt
“Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come.”Do you believe in love at first sight?When I was at college I had a friend called Mark. And, one evening, we went out to dinner with a group of other students. At the dinner he met a young lady called Laura and they seemed to get on very well together. And, as we walked home, he told me that he had fallen in love with her. This was the woman for him, there would be no other. They would get married, live...
The O Antiphons
The O Antiphons shape the Church’s liturgy in the days leading up to Christmas. Liturgist Andrew Cameron-Mowat SJ explains how the antiphons function during Evening Prayer and as Gospel Acclamations, and introduces the ancient texts that Thinking Faith will explore over the coming weeks. The O Antiphons, as they are commonly called, are the chants of ancient origin sung or recited at the beginning and end of the Magnificat during the service of Evening Prayer on each of the days...
Journeying with the Magi: Advent Retreat 2015
The Advent Retreat offered by Pray As You Go and Sacred Space has prompted a wave of appreciative messages from across the world.A joint initiative by the Jesuits of Britain and Ireland, the retreat provided weekly reflections during the Advent and Christmas season and participants from as far away as Canada and India, the USA and Germany – as well as the UK and Ireland – have written to say how much they have appreciated the opportunity to reflect on the Christmas story of the Magi (or Wise...

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