Tag Archives: Christmas

The Cathedral Connection – Christmas Newsletter 2019

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Christmas Newsletter 2019

Christmas is truly a feast of the heart. It reveals to us what the heart of God is like. He so loved humanity that He sent His only Son to redeem and save us.

It also reveals what the human heart is capable of. The nativity of Christ causes us to open our hearts and journey back to Bethlehem each year to rediscover our own roots in the gift of Jesus.

In Pope Francis Christmas message of 2018, ‘This truth is the basis of the Christian vision of humanity. Without the fraternity that Jesus Christ has bestowed on us, our efforts for a more just world fall short, and even our best plans and projects risk being soulless and empty.

For this reason, my wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity. Fraternity among individuals of every nation and culture.’ What makes us human is not so much our ability to think as our ability to love.

To the extent to which we open our hearts to God and to each other, we will experience something of the great joy the angels announced to the shepherds over two thousand years ago.

May great joy be yours this coming Christmas and always.

For what has been thanks for what is to come. Yes.

With every blessing, Fr Ron, Fr Doug, Debbie, Michael & Frank.

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The Cathedral Connection 22 December 2019

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ST MATTHEW’S GOSPEL

In Matthew’s infancy narrative, unlike Luke’s, it is Joseph who is the key character, and Matthew’s gospel surrounds the story with a great many allusions and quotations from the Old Testament.

For the people of Israel, Joseph was a significant figure – and Matthew draws out aspects that would be important for his Jewish Christian readers. Joseph is a beloved son who is rejected by his brothers and sold for silver and yet who turns out to be the saviour of his people.

These echoes of Jesus’ own mission help set the scene – as does the fact that Joseph is called the man of dreams and Joseph the husband of Mary has several dreams in which God communicates his plan to him. Joseph is regularly referred to as ‘Son of David’, a term that is applied to Jesus above all in Matthew’s Gospel.

These constant allusions remind us that we are in the place where God is at work and God’s work of salvation can be recognised by these common patterns. If we look to the writings of Paul or of the Evangelist John, there are often very striking theological statements that articulate the faith.

Matthew does something more subtle that his readers would recognise – by constantly touching on the familiar language and concepts of the Jewish faith he reveals the working of the God who has always been there for God’s people, and who is still working in similar ways.

Fr Ron.

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The Cathedral Connection 15 December 2019

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Oh Joyous Prepartion

Throughout Advent we are reminded that this is a ‘time of preparation’.
Preparation in the secular world often sees people rush about, perhaps
stressing as they ponder what presents to purchase, plan a Christmas
meal, a family gathering, at work prepare for the Christmas shutdown and
possibly a summer holiday. Added to our normal everyday tasks, these
preparations can be all consuming and possibly seem overwhelming at
times.

As Christians, Advent is a time – a call – for us to also prepare to celebrate
and remember Christ’s First Coming. It is also a time to look forward and
prepare our minds and hearts for His Second Coming at the end of time.
But what does that actually mean? The scriptures this weekend, which
refer to both mysteries, offer us pointers.

Our Advent readings promise God’s final act of salvation – but salvation
belongs to this world as well as the afterlife. We see this in the first reading
where Isaiah envisions salvation as healing of the blind, deaf, mute and
lame, which elicits songs of ‘’joy and gladness’’. James tells us how to wait,
patiently, making our hearts firm.

John the Baptist leads the way to God’s Kingdom. We, as Christ’s disciples
like John, are called to lead others joyously to God’s Kingdom. Who are
the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead, and the poor in our
world? How do we communicate the News of Great Joy to them? How do
you respond to the call to a life of prayer and action, and to be joyful
messengers of God’s Kingdom?

This weekend, as we move into the second half of Advent: with a sense of
joyful expectation, and an awareness that the fulfilment of God’s great plan
for us is near. Will your preparation this Advent lead you into a quiet time
for reflection and collection?

Debbie Matheson, Lay Pastoral Leader

Cardinal John’s Newsletter 12 December 2019

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Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou,

When my sisters and I were young and growing up in Waipukurau, we, like most families decorated a Christmas tree. We used to go out with Dad and find a pine branch somewhere and that became our Christmas tree. We also had a beautiful Nativity set prepared in the fireplace every year. A friend of Dad’s painted a scene of Bethlehem on a heavy kind of cardboard. That became the background as it was fitted into the back of the fireplace every year to help set the scene. Many of us will have such memories of preparing Nativity scenes to help us to reflect on the wonder and joy of Christmas.

Pope Francis has just a few days ago written a letter on the meaning and the importance of the Nativity scene. The letter was given from Greccio, the place in Italy where Francis of Assisi in 1224, replicated the manger scene and helped people to prayerfully contemplate the mystery of “God among us.”. Today, in Greccio, one can still see the stone on which the hay was placed, and where the image of the baby was laid. There were no figures of Joseph and Mary, just the baby and two animals.

In his letter Pope Francs says this “The enchanting image of the Christmas crèche, so dear to the Christian people, never ceases to arouse amazement and wonder. The depiction of Jesus’ birth is itself a simple and joyful proclamation of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. The nativity scene is like a living Gospel rising up from the pages of sacred Scripture. As we contemplate the Christmas story, we are invited to set out on a spiritual journey, drawn by the humility of the God who became man in order to encounter every man and woman. We come to realize that so great is his love for us that he became one of us, so that we in turn might become one with him.”

The Pope also encourages families to pick up this tradition once again of preparing a Nativity scene “in our homes, workplaces, schools’ hospitals, prisons and town squares.”

We will see many cribs over the next couple of weeks. Will they be an opportunity for prayer and reflection for us, will we stop in awe and give thanks that “a child is born to us, a son is given to us” (Isaiah 9:5-6)?

Please think of Pope Francis words to us this Christmas: “Dear brothers and sisters, the Christmas crèche is part of the precious yet demanding process of passing on the faith. Beginning in childhood, and at every stage of our lives, it teaches us to contemplate Jesus, to experience God’s love for us, to feel and believe that God is with us and that we are with him, his children, brothers and sisters all, thanks to that Child who is the Son of God and the Son of the Virgin Mary. And to realize that in that knowledge we find true happiness. Like Saint Francis, may we open our hearts to this simple grace, so that from our wonderment a humble prayer may arise: a prayer of thanksgiving to God, who wished to share with us his all, and thus never to leave us alone.”

With every blessing for Christmas

Naku noa
+John

The Cathedral Connection 8 December 2019

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As we celebrate the second Sunday of Advent, it is important not to lose track of the first. Last week, Michael Fletcher reminded us that Advent invites us to pay attention to what is going on in our own environment and our own hearts.

Today’s gospel is a further warning as John the Baptist encounters the Pharisees and Sadducees arriving for John’s baptism of repentance. John’s description of them as “progeny of vipers” seems a little harsh, but the Baptist exposes them as people who did not appreciate or chose to ignore what was in their hearts.

The Pharisees and Sadducees did not, in John’s words, produce fruit worthy of repentance and relied instead on their physical descent from Abraham.

As John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus, let us take his warnings seriously and look at our own hearts in preparation for the coming of Jesus.

Nicholas Burley
Parish Council Member 

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