It is hard to believe that 2024 is only around the corner and it is during this period before the new year we wait with anticipation and joy. Advent, which will begin in four weeks, is a time for us to understand that God is always doing something new for us. Unlike the commencement of the new year, the Universal Church begins its new liturgical year on the first Sunday of Advent which will lead us to Year B and the Gospel of Mark. With this newness comes the revelation of seeing the world with fresh eyes so we can view the future and God’s divine plan for us more clearly. This year we welcome Dr Debra Snoddy, a lecturer in biblical studies at the Catholic Institute of Sydney a partner of the University of Notre Dame Australia to our diocese to explore the gospel of the new liturgical year.
Debra promises to inform us, nourish us, and challenge us to hear Mark’s words in ways old and new. The Gospel of Mark is a treasure trove for the nurturing and nourishing of our faith. Mark brings us face-to-face with the One who came to serve and not to be served, to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). But what does Jesus’ service look like according to this Gospel? What can we learn? And is any of it still relevant for the world we live in today? The day will include an overview of the Gospel and a detailed treatment of some of the most illuminating texts from the Gospel of Mark. This is a wonderful formation opportunity for us to prepare for the new year. In preparation for the end of the year and Christmas, we are called during this holy time to wait with anticipation knowing the joys of what is to come with the arrival of Christ.
With Anticipation and Joy, the 2023 Advent reflection is an invitation to encounter the mystery of Christ present in the Advent Gospels and artwork.
Having recently enjoyed reading, How Catholic Art Saved the Faith: The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art by Elizabeth Lev, I was delighted by her account of the impact the visual arts had on this period in the Church’s history. She believes that this discipline was a major contributor to the Catholic Restoration, a term which she adopts and uses throughout the publication.
Lev believes, “The challenges and circumstances that the Church faced five hundred years ago bear a striking similarity to the ones the faithful face today, while the truths of the Church that artists so deftly displayed half a millennium ago have remained the same. Even today, art can assist the Church with several of her needs. Art is useful in evangelization, the mission of the Church and her faithful to telling the great story of our salvation. Just as Jesus told stories, Christians recount their personal witness. Artists can make stories, old and new, come alive in paint, marble, or, in this age, film. Art can bring clarity. In a world of ambiguity and confusion, art allows for the serene discussion of different interpretations of events but can also provide guidance—the tradition of belief and the tradition of beauty go hand in hand, ultimately meeting in transcendentals: truth, beauty, and goodness. Art is uplifting. The language of art affirmed Church teaching but also delighted the faithful and enjoyed a universality, thanks to the attraction of the beautiful.”
Our task during the Advent season is to imitate Mary by pondering the Word of God and allowing it to resonate within our hearts and pour into our lives, we can also ponder God’s creations through the arts. We are invited to gather, encounter, recall, reflect, share, connect and consider how we will live differently as a result of what we have experienced through words, images and each other.
By being together with our stories, our questions, our open hearts and minds, we can form a community that lifts, honours and learns from each other as we are sent out with anticipation and joy this Advent season.
Some spaces still exist for the Gospel of Mark with Dr Debra Snoddy on 15 November, to register go to:
To access the Advent Reflection: With Anticipation and Joy, go to:
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