Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
How much do you know about the history of Advent?
Some fascinating and little known facts about these precious days before Christmas.
- Dr. Taylor Marshall
- December 20, 2012
I was recently wondering about the origins of Advent and its history. So I did a little research and came up with the Top Ten Things You Need to Know about Advent:
1. The first recorded "preparation for Christmas" is found in the acts of the Synod of Saragossa, Spain in A.D. 380. This synod declared that all baptized Christians should be present in Church from December 17 till December 25. If you do the math, that comes out to the eight days before Christmas--not quite a full Advent season, but it's a start.
2. Saint Caesarius of Arles (502-542) is recorded to have delivered the first document homilies on Advent.
3. The Synod of Macon in Gaul (modern day France) in A.D. 581 is our first firm witness of what we might call the season of Advent. It states that the liturgical norms for Lent be kept from November 11 to December 24 (about 40 days). The connection made here between Advent and Lent reflects the reason why the penitential color of purple is common to both Advent and Lent.
4. We also have a copy of a sermon given by Pope Saint Gregory the Great (590-604) for the second Sunday of Advent.
5. In the seventh century, Advent was celebrated in Spain with five Sundays! The Gelasian Sacramentary also gives liturgical propers for the "five Sundays of Advent."
6. The Eastern Churches began celebrating Advent in the eighth century as a time of strict fasting and abstinence--a practice still common Eastern Orthodoxy. This practice also reflects the season's similarity to Lent. Incidentally, red is the most common liturgical color for Advent in the Eastern churches.
7. Pope St. Gregory VII (1073-85) apparently reduced the number of Sundays in Advent from five to four--the current practice.
8. The third Sunday of Advent is technically called Gaudete Sunday and it is marked by rose vestments (don't ask your priest why he's wearing "pink"!) and rose hangings. Gaudete means rejoice because the third Sunday marks the over-half-way-point of Advent. This usage corresponds to the rose vestments used on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent (also the over-half-way-point of Lent).
9. The Advent wreath, found in many Catholic homes, is a rather modern invention. It derives to a 19th century German custom, apparently Lutheran in origin. The practice was soon adopted by Bavarian Catholics and spread all over the world.
10. The liturgical season of Advent anticipates Second Advent (Coming) of Christ while also remembering the First Advent (Coming) of Christ at Christmas. Thus, the season generally celebrates the activity of God in history in and through our Lord Jesus Christ. Advent is the parenthesis in which falls all of Christian history.
I hope you found this helpful. Please send it along to friends and family and have a Happy Advent.
Have a Happy and Holy Advent,
Full Story: 10 Things You Should Know About Advent
Source: Canterbury Tales