29 Nov 2015

Advent Reflections 2015

For the last number of years we have asked various contributors to consider sharing reflections with us on the blog from the beginning of Advent up until December 16th when we move our reflections to the great O’ Antiphons. This year people have offered us some thoughts and reflections around the theme of “Advent – a time to begin again”

Advent of course is the beginning of the new liturgical year and like its secular counterpart in January some people may take the opportunity to take up new-year resolutions. Brendan Kennelly the great Kerry poet has a wonderful poem called "Begin" which may inspire you to think about new beginnings during this preparatory season.

Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of the light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark
determination and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and future
old friends passing though with us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.
Advent is especially a time for us to look and see about our prayer lives and how well we are doing making time and encounters with God. 

In his book “Patterns of Prayer” Fr Eugene McCaffery OCD makes the point that “perhaps encouragement is what we all need most in prayer. Most people want to pray and are, in fact, praying far better and more often then they realise. But what is happening in their lives does not seem to fit in to the standard definitions of prayer!” 

For Roman Catholics the new liturgical year will also be an extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis to remind us that God is Love and from that love there is mercy to be had no matter what once we turn back to him. But sometimes people aren’t quite sure how to turn back to God in prayer, how to begin again. 

Advent offers us the opportunity to 'begin again,' whether that is to begin praying again if we have lapsed, or to begin again with new vigour, or to begin perhaps a new way of praying or a new prayer resource.We hope that these reflections over Advent will help and encourage you in prayer or beginning to pray.

St. Bonaventure tells us in his Life of St. Francis, that towards the end of his life, St Francis would say to the friars, “Let us begin again, brothers. For up till now we have done little or nothing.” What a wonderful and renewing phrase that is, “Let us begin again.” It speaks of renewal; it speaks of resurrection; it speaks of new beginnings and a newness of life and it is a reminder that we are part and parcel of the remarkable cycle of renewal that our God offers us; that the Paschal Mystery is not something we observe from the outside, but something we participate in from within. That today, and every day, we continually have that opportunity before us to begin again.

So as we head into Advent 2016, you are invited to join in the preparations with SS102fm and invited to "begin again"

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