New Youth Mass. Preparing for Advent.

Beginning this weekend our parish will feature a Youth Mass for the young and the ‘young at heart’ and they will provide the music every Saturday at the 5 pm. Mass.  The band, under the leadership and direction of parishioner Dennis Wardle, will play what is called contemporary Catholic music that is used in many parishes throughout North America.  St. Gertrude Parish in Oshawa has been using this music as well which has an upbeat, joyful rhythm with words that go to the heart of our relationship with the love of Christ Jesus.  Catholic music writers and recording artists have been taking the world by storm with these inspirational songs and they have increasingly grown in popularity in all Christian churches. Over time the youth band/choir will grow and improve as they work out the kinks, though they have had many practices already to prepare for this new and exciting venture.

As I mentioned last Sunday, we can only best work out any sound problems in the doing, which means that as we go along we will work on the balance between voices and instruments and the overall volume and clarity for all parishioners.  That’s why we need your prayers for the Youth Mass and your patience as we work to achieve what liturgical music ministry is supposed to do: enhance the worship of God in God’s people.  It’s not a show and it’s not about those who sing and play instruments because the reason for our Sunday coming together is to sing the praises of our God and offer Him true worship realized in song and in silence; in prayer and in praise.

As the music that will be used is not in any Catholic hymnals, a ‘Liturgy Aid’ will be provided for each Saturday Mass allowing parishioners to sing the words as well as the Psalm Response.

In our young parish we look forward to this youth-oriented, youth appealing music ministry.  (Fr. Charles)

PREPARING FOR ADVENT

At first glance it might seem a tad premature to be talking about Advent when we’ve still got a couple of weeks to go before it even begins.  However, on closer examination it’s pretty obvious that in our culture practically everything about the season of Advent, and/or in a more secular sense the “holiday season”, is essentially premature.  The reality is that office Christmas parties will start in a week or two because the entire month of December itself will find us preoccupied with so many preparations for Christmas that the only way we can fit in a party is by having it early.

Yet the very nature of the season of Advent, the four weeks prior to Christmas, stands seemingly in opposition to our preparations because Advent is all about doing something we don’t tend to do very well – waiting.  That’s right, hurry up and wait for Advent.

The Church in her great wisdom knows what we need to do for our own spiritual benefit and all the more at a time when we are prone to and urged to do the opposite.  If life all year round is hectic, Christmas and its many demands on our time and schedules is going to make it all the more so.  Hence the reason to take the time now to ensure our Advent has built-in time for personal preparation, which is to say, personal waiting.

I remember in my last parish I had put in quite a garden in my small fenced-in backyard.  There were pots of plants and flowers everywhere and it looked like a mini botanical garden.  I suppose I had envisioned that my garden with its many colours and flower varieties would be a place where I could sit and relax and enjoy the surroundings I had worked so hard to put in place.  And when the garden was in full bloom and the warm sunny days of summer had hastened its growth and splendour, do you think I was able to relax and sip a cup of coffee, take in my garden’s beauty and just enjoy it?  Not a chance.  The moment I’d sit down I would spy something that needed to be dead-headed, pruned a bit, moved slightly or arranged somewhat.  The garden I had as my place of refuge became my place of work instead.

In my preparations and plans I had lost sight of why I had the garden in the first place.  What I needed, I suppose, was someone else to tell me to sit down, relax and enjoy your garden. For me that is a good example of why I, why we all need Advent. The Church is that one who will tell me to sit down, relax and enjoy my garden, but not in a passive sense.  No, the Church will tell me to be actively waiting because we already know what December 25th is all about.  Oh sure, we will be and in many ways are already being bombarded with messages about the “reason for the season”, which, if it ain’t Christ it ain’t the reason.

For example, while Advent isn’t a penitential season as is Lent – a time to prepare our soul for Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection – what other preparation would be more important than preparing for and celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation (going to confession) before December 24th?

The Advent we enter into will determine the quality and joy of the Christmas we will celebrate.  How true.

Folks might believe that priests would themselves be the most spiritually prepared people for any religious season such as Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter, but they would be wrong.  We can become just as “preoccupied” with preparations and a long list of things to do that Christmas can find us grumpy rather than glad.  Deferred joys are always the sweetest.  If we all take time to slow down and even just use the times in Advent when we are waiting for the bus, the kids, the cashier, to use the bank machine – to do nothing else but use those brief and fleeting moments to drink in the beauty of the summons to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ that He Himself holds out to us, then we will have begun our waiting.  We will begin to thirst for the opportunities to drink in His presence and His invitation to “Come and sit with me awhile”.  (Fr. Charles)

 

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