Advent Readings

Tomorrow Advent starts – this year we have the shortest number of days possible for this lovely season. Blessed Advent to All.
During Advent I intend to post a few readings and, as the weeks go by, I hope to share a few thoughts on these. These Christmas readings are a taster.
Also, I hope very soon to have time to report at least the highlights of a particularly busy time since late Summer as there is much to share.
From Francis’ Later Admonition and Exhortation:
The most high Father made known from heaven, through His holy angel Gabriel, this Word of the Father – so worthy, so holy and glorious – in the womb of the holy and glorious Virgin Mary, from whose womb He received the flesh of our humanity and our frailty. Though He was rich, He wished, together with the most Blessed Virgin, His mother, to choose poverty in the world beyond all else.
Preface III of the Nativity of the Lord includes:
For through him the holy exchange that restores our life has shone forth today in splendour: when our frailty is assumed by your Word not only does human mortality receive unending honour but by this wondrous union we, too, are made eternal.
A poem by William Alabaster 1567 – 1640
Incarnatio est Maximum Dei Donum (The Incarnation is the Greatest Gift of God)
Like as the fountain of all light created
Doth power our streams of brightness undefined
Through all the conduits of transparent kind
That heaven and air are both illuminated
And yet his light is not thereby abated;
So God’s eternal bounty ever shined
The beams of being, moving, life, sense and mind,
And to all things Himself communicated.
But see the violent diffusive pleasure
Of goodness, that left not, till God had spent
Himself by giving us Himself His treasure
In making man a God omnipotent.
How might this goodness draw our souls above
Which drew down God with such attractive love.

Paula ofs

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Children Praying for Peace

children-for-peace

Michael Martin, of our Oxford fraternity, has alerted us to a letter “Children praying for peace” from the Minister General of the OFM (Fr. Michael Perry OFM), and from the new Custos of the Holy Land (Fr. Francesco Patton OFM). The letter was posted on the First Sunday of Advent on both the OFM website, and on the website of the Custodia Terrae Sanctae (The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land).

The letter is addressed “to all the friars of the Order of Friars Minor, to the Poor Clares, to the sisters to the brothers of the Secular Franciscan Order, and to all women and men of good will.”

This text follows Fr. Michael’s recent message, at the time of the feast of St Francis, regarding Syria and Aleppo, which we posted here.

A PDF of the letter, which you may download, is available here.

children-in-aleppo

Fathers Michael and Francesco say in the letter that they wish to join, and “want to propose to all our communities”, the “Children praying for peace” initiative that began with “Aid to the Church in Need.” They say that “our Parish of St. Francis in Aleppo, which has been strongly affected by the tragedy of war and which has been tenaciously anchored to its hope for peace, has already joined the initiative. From Aleppo, we are now sending out our invitation to the whole world.”

“We believe that the Lord hears the cry of the “little ones” and that their prayer will become an opportunity for reflection and conversion for those who are “big.”

“We are asking each community to dedicate their children’s mass, or the mass most frequented by children, on the first Sunday of every month, to prayer for peace, according to what is locally possible. The same thing can be done in a celebration during the Oratory or by involving the schools, thus, in this way giving an ecumenical and interreligious spirit to the initiative. If a community does not have a children’s liturgy or if it does not have a ministry for Oratories or a school, it can make the gesture during the communal Praises or Vespers, or on an occasion created especially for this initiative.”

They offer, in the letter, some practical suggestions using the example of how it is done in Aleppo.

They ask all those who take heed to their proposal to report it on to their Facebook page “Children in prayer for peace” which is based at St Francis parish, Aleppo.

If you do not have access to facebook, then add a comment to this post mentioning your community’s response to the initiative, which we can pass on to them, to assure them of the solidarity of the various communities / fraternities that make up the Secular Franciscan Order in Great Britain.

As Fathers Michael and Francesco mention, “Children Praying for Peace” is an Aid to the Church in Need initiative. In May this year Aid to the Church in Need reported that children from Syria’s different Christian denominations (Catholic and Orthodox) would be joining together to pray for peace in that country on International Children’s Day.

And on 7th October Aid to the Church in Need reported that More than one million children in Syria have been calling for peace as part of a fresh appeal to political leaders to end the violence engulfing the country. “At least 2,000 schools from many parts of Syria are taking part in the initiative in which youngsters have been drawing pictures and writing messages for the attention of the United Nations in Geneva and the European Union in Brussels. Children of all denominations in the capital, Damascus, as well as in Homs, Yabroud, Marmarita as well as Aleppo have been taking part in the Peace for Children initiative with songs, dances, drama and prayer, all calling for peace.”

Aid to the Church in Need project partners including Aleppo-based Sister Annie Demerjian have stressed the number of traumatised children, with many experiencing violence, sexual exploitation, abduction and the loss of loved ones. Sister Annie Demerjian (pictured below), was recently in London at an Aid to the Church in Need event, and spoke of the extremely difficult conditions they faced in Aleppo.

Fathers Michael and Francesco suggest that the prayers of the “little ones” will become an opportunity for reflection and conversion for those who are “big.” Grown-Ups wishing to add their prayers to those of the children may find an additional resource on this page.

Sister Annie Demerjian:

sister-annie

Children from Al Nouzha, Homs showing pictures of the Infant of Prague which they drew in Catechism classes – from Aid to the Church in Need:

children-homs

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Update: the Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera; Other Matters.

At the foot of this post you will find the Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera, mentioned by Paula in her Advent greeting posted here earlier. The Letter was given by Pope Francis on 20 November, the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Misericordia et misera is a phrase used by Saint Augustine in recounting the story of Jesus’ meeting with the woman taken in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11).

Have you booked yet for the 2017 OFSGB National Assembly entitled “Upon This Rock: Rebuild My Church” which will be held in Gibraltar from Friday 21st April to Monday 24th April 2017. Those who book later may well have to pay more to the airline for a flight. This is a great opportunity to meet the successful and growing Gibraltar fraternity, the largest fraternity in OFSGB, numbering about sixty. Gibraltar fully supported the Youth Gather held at Cold Ash, and has already established a Young Franciscan Group.

Please note that Come and See is a brief introduction to the OFS that fraternities may print, fold and distribute in churches and at public meetings. It may also be given to visitors attending meetings for the first time.

Initial Formation: We hope that everyone has now had an opportunity to review and make use of the Initial Formation material for candidates that is introduced here.

Note that we have these pages on the website that members may use to update us all:

Anniversaries: Fraternities may notify us of members anniversaries by adding a comment to this “Anniversaries” post which can be easily accessed at any time, either in the near future, or many months hence, by going to the right hand sidebar of the website, scrolling down to the heading “Categories” and clicking on the category “Anniversaries”. Or notify us by an email to info@ofsgb.org .

Requiescant in Pace: This is a post that we may use to notify each other of the deaths of our members. Please do so by including your text as a comment to this post, which can also be easily accessed at any time, in this case by clicking on the category “Requiescant in Pace”.

Perfect Computer Joy: Members with technical computer issues may use this post. To find it click on the category “Website”.

We hope to introduce a similar “general” page entitled “Members Musings”, and another page “Reviews” where members can share the titles of books and articles that they have found interesting in their spiritual development. And not only Books and Articles. We could share Music, Cinema also. Would members like to have this facility?

This post “On Using This Website” may also be of use to many.

And here follows the Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera:

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