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Put Jesus First: Advent & Fasting

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Put Jesus First: Advent & Fasting
While it is difficult to keep in mind in the midst of holiday celebrations, shopping, lights and decorations, and joyful carols, Advent is actually intended to be a season of fasting, much like Lent. It probably doesn’t feel that way, but any time the Church asks us to prepare for something, there’s an element of penance that goes along with that preparation.There’s something very appropriate about penance in this holy season of waiting. Because we spend time reflecting on the ...
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Put Jesus First: Advent & Almsgiving

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Put Jesus First: Advent & Almsgiving
The early Church’s three “pillars” of faith, were (as we’ve seen) prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Almsgiving is a very specific part of charity: it means giving of the blessings that you’ve received to those less fortunate than you but who are in a special way part of who you are.And, like the other two pillars, it’s not always easy to practice. Many of us are already trying to “make do” with just enough money to cover our essential needs; we don&...
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14

Savior of the Nations, Come

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Savior of the Nations, Come
The final Advent hymn in this series is not only the oldest Advent hymn still being sung, it was written by one of the greatest saints and Doctors of the Church: St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. St Augustine (Ambrose's most outstanding convert) testified in his Confessions to the power that the music in Ambrose's church had in winning him to the Christian faith: “I remember the tears I shed at the psalmody of thy Church, in the beginning of my recovered faith.” Augustine may be r...
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14

Gabriel's Message (Basque Carol)

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Gabriel's Message (Basque Carol)
“The angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emma...
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14

Creator of the Stars of Night

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Creator of the Stars of Night
Today's feast of St Lucy, whose very name means “light,” is a suitable moment to take a look at an ancient Advent hymn whose primary image for Jesus is light.As with O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Creator of the Stars of Night has its origin in the Divine Office, where it has long served as the hymn for Advent Vespers (Evening Prayer). While the original Latin hymn dates to about the 7th century, it was translated into English as early as the 14th.With Creator of the Stars of Night we ...
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14

Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus

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Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus
“When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question: ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’” (Mt 11:2-3)Come Thou Long-Expected JesusThe lyrics of Charles Wesley's hymn evoke the message and ardor of John the Baptist, and perhaps some of the ardor of Charles Wesley himself. Wesley was a man of deep devotion; he and his brother John were ridiculed as students because of their alm...
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14

On Jordan's Bank

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On Jordan's Bank
John the Baptist is our guide for the first part of Advent, and the lyrics of On Jordan's Bank continue his mission of preparing hearts for the coming of the Savior. The hymn was written in Latin (Jordanis Oras Prævia) by Charles Coffin, priest and rector of the great University of Paris at the time most of his hymns were published (1736). Coffin wrote over 100 hymns, including The Coming of Our God and the Christmas carol What Star Is This with Beams So Bright, both of which appear in...
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14

Hear the Herald's Voice Resounding

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Hear the Herald's Voice Resounding
“John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ …. The one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals.” (Mt 3:1-2, 11b)Hear the Herald's Voice ResoundingThe Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent (Year A) gives us the mighty figure of John the Baptist, the Precursor of the Lord, a “voice crying out in the desert” to prepare the way for the L...
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14

Wake, O Wake and Sleep No Longer

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Wake, O Wake and Sleep No Longer
“Therefore, stay awake!For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” (Mt 24:4)Wake, O Wake and Sleep No LongerThe Advent hymn that most closely matches Sunday's Gospel (Wake, O Wake and Sleep No Longer) was not written as an Advent hymn at all. In fact, the hymn (both text and melody) was composed by a Lutheran pastor named Philipp Nicolai during a tragic epidemic in his parish in Westphalia, Germany in 1598. Seeking comfort for himself as much as for his flock, the past...
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14

The Sounds of Advent

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The Sounds of Advent
During the four weeks of Advent, Sister Anne Flanagan of the Daughters of St. Paul choir will share some of the background of favorite Advent hymns.O Come, O Come Emmanuel!Advent begins this Sunday, and that means a very good chance of singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel  this weekend.The words of this best-known of Advent hymns are based on a series of short texts from Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours (“Breviary”) for the week before Christmas. The texts (antiphons) call...
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