On 24 May 2015, we celebrated the birth of our new Parish of St Charles Borromeo and Our Lady Queen of Peace Ryde-Gladesville. It is also the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, Patron of Australia. It begins a new chapter in the sacred story of St Charles Borromeo and Our Lady Queen of Peace communities, which cease to be separate and individual parishes. The futures of our communities are now intimately linked as in a marriage. We are supported by our parish priest Fr Richard Gates and Fr Daniel McCaughan our assistant priest.
So it begins. The First Sunday of Advent brings in a new Church year. After the glorious ending to the Year of Mercy with the Solemnity of Christ the King and the celebration of First Eucharist in our parish we now turn our hearts and minds to the mystery of the Incarnation; Jesus Christ, the Son of God as a child in the womb.
The beauty of this reality has been made more apparent to me in these last weeks and months with the birth of my first niece just two weeks ago. In the final weeks before birth I watched my sister glow as the baby bump became ever more visible. I also saw how the reality of the little girl within gradually took over more of my sister’s life as she had to slow down from her usual hectic pace and just sit, quietly pondering the gift she was carrying.
The best way to prepare for Christmas during this Advent season is to draw close to Mary. She is now in the final weeks before birth and her contemplation and love for the miraculous life within her grows by the day. When we pray we can ask her to give us an increase in our faith, a strengthening of our hope and a firing of our love from her own maternal heart. No one is closer to Jesus than his Mother. She is always the easiest and most beautiful pathway to Him. We shouldn’t be afraid of using our imaginations to contemplate Mary during these final weeks of pregnancy, allowing ourselves to be moved by her love and have our own yearning for the coming of Christ increased.
While Advent may not have the same gravitas as Lent it is still a period of interior preparation. Over these next four weeks let us make an extra effort to pray, to come to Mass, to look for ways to serve those around us, especially ways that won’t be noticed or draw attention to ourselves. Let us pray especially for peace in the world and that the extra grace on offer at Christmas may manifest itself in a cessation of hostilities both between nations and between ourselves. Let us also pray for all expectant mothers that they, like Mary will joyfully await the birth of their child and be gifted with children who are healthy, happy and grow to be holy.