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Advent 2021 – Message from Bishop Denis

Advent is one of the shorter seasons in our Church calendar. It begins a new cycle of liturgy each year. I sometimes think the Church has struggled to convey the meaning of Advent – Lent is very much defined by fasting and abstinence, Eastertide by the empty tomb and the joy of resurrection and the Sacred Triduum by the different Passion narratives. Advent stands alone, ‘a waiting game’ in many respects, waiting to look upon Him who offers us hope, reassurance and joy.

Perhaps these pandemic times, with ever new variants and increasing COVID case numbers, it may seem we are still journeying through a very long Advent indeed. So often we have applauded our frontline workers, and all of us in many respects can lay some legitimate claim to serving on that frontline. Perhaps a certain fatigue or understandable tiredness has settled in around our need to take personal responsibility and play our part in protecting the most vulnerable and those we love from the effects of this virus. Journeys can tire us, can make us a little tetchy.

For people of faith, Advent is a journey firstly into a new Church Year. We will begin again to read the Gospel of St. Luke for Year C of the lectionary. I always like reading Luke. The one who was a medic, understood the pain and suffering that always preceded the healing and the miracle. Maybe Luke’s gospel will speak more to our time, to our lives as we continue our journey through the pandemic and all the other challenges that weigh heavy on our lives.   

For us our Advent also has a very clear end point as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Saviour at Bethlehem. He never leaves us. And throughout our pandemic journey He has always been by our side. Perhaps some of us had to use ‘Face Time’ more to keep in contact with our loved ones in recent times. Advent offers us a journey that leads to ‘Face Time’ with the Christ child lying in a manger. And we all know that is only the beginning of our many encounters in this new Church Year with the face of Christ.

Blessings on all as we begin our Advent journey.  

+Denis Nulty