Making preparation for one of the biggest events of the year
St Francis is thought to be the first to have brought nativity scenes into our homes and churches. He did so way back in 1223.
Putting out the nativity scene can be an unfolding story. Maybe this year you start with an empty stable full of farm animals, then on Christmas Eve Mary and Joseph might arrive. Finally, on Christmas Day the baby Jesus can arrive, followed by shepherds and wise men.
The Christmas tree’s origins go way back to the time of Saint Boniface (634–709), who was a missionary in Germany. He is said to have taken an axe to an oak tree dedicated to Thor from German mythology and pointed out a fir tree, which he stated was a more fitting object of reverence because it pointed to heaven and it had a triangular shape, which he said was symbolic of the Trinity.
Putting a tree up in your lounge where everyone can see it is a great way of letting people know that the Jesus and the Christmas holiday season is coming. Now is the time to take things easy and get ready to celebrate something special: the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, coming to live amongst us.
The traditional colors of Christmas decorations are red, green, and gold. Red symbolises the blood of Jesus, which was shed in his crucifixion; green symbolises eternal life and the evergreen tree, which does not lose its leaves in the winter; and gold is the first colour associated with Christmas, as one of the three gifts of the Wise Men, symbolising royalty.
These are age old traditions. We can add traditions of our own. In New Zealand traditions that have become common are gathering for community carol singing in early December. This year carols are being sung at Te Papa led by the Salvation Army band. Another tradition is giving aid to people less fortunate than ourselves as a present to family and friends. Child Fund has gift options ranging from seeds to cows to help poor communities overseas. Some new traditions like a friendly Christmas post on social media and a simple BBQ on the day help us to relax and enjoy the occasion.
Every year the St Vincent de Paul group lead our parish in collecting items like sauce, jams, pasta, biscuits, chocolates and presents to make up Christmas hampers that go to over 50 families and individuals really struggling over the Christmas period and in real need of support.
With the compassionate support of our parishioners, Holy Cross and St Anthony’s Schools along with New World Miramar and Repco Lyall Bay the St Vincent de Paul Society puts the hampers together and delivers them.
Recipients in hardship include house-bound people, struggling families with young children, large extended families on a single or state income as well as refugees finding it hard to cope.
Parishioners are encouraged to leave food items, toiletries, treats and gifts in or beside the sign posted boxes in our church foyers any time the churches are open. You might like to make up a hamper.
On Friday 14 December the St Vincent de Paul Society will be having a working bee at Holy Cross Church Hall and in the afternoon a team of drivers and helpers will deliver the boxes of food and items to households.
This year we are preparing for Christmas with nine novena Masses
Different Christian cultures have adapted a way of celebrating the season of Advent.
In the Roman tradition, it is a time of expectant waiting and preparing for the celebration of the nativity of Jesus at Christmas.
In the Philippines Simbang Gabi is a typical way of preparing for the great feast of Christmas. This religious tradition was brought to the Philippines by the Spanish evangelizers through Mexico.
The faithful wake up early morning for nine days before Christmas to join in the celebration of the dawn Mass. The faithful make this their gift to God for the great gift of Jesus.
Simbang Gabi is also called Misa de Gallo or Mass of the Rooster based on the time of day it is celebrated; at dawn, at rooster crow.
The practice can also be understood as the preparation to receive from God the great gift of Jesus the saviour of the world. Celebrating the Masses early in the morning there is interplay of dark turning to the light of day.
Fr Ephrem asks us to acknowledge the need to prepare ourselves spiritually for the coming of the Lord and to live the Gospel’s message of love and charity to our brothers and sisters.
As a community, no matter who we may be, let us welcome and encourage one another to participate in this liturgical celebration.
Let us put our resources together to continue this rich and meaningful Filipino tradition and make it part of our faith community’s Advent preparations.
All nine Novena Masses will be held at 7pm at St Patrick’s Church.
Congratulations to Andrew Greening who last month received an award for excellence in the workplace from the Wellington South Rotary Club. The nomination came from the Home of Compassion and recognises Andrew’s great work for the Sisters. We also note the wonderful service he has provided the parish in maintenance of St Patrick’s Church.
Welcome Gerald Birss, our new Parish Manager
Gerald Birss is and old-boy of St Patrick’s College, Wellington who went on to study at Greenmedows.
He has a wealth of experience in marketing communications both with agencies and corporates. Gerald spent many years in advertising and promotion with Philips Industries in New Zealand and in the UK, then was advertising manager for Lion Breweries Hotels Division for 8 years; general manager for Gestro Horne, Wellington; of Lintas, Wellington; and of Grey Advertising, Wellington. He was Chief Examiner in Advertising and a Moderator in Marketing for a number of years with the Authority for Advanced Vocational Awards (now incorporated into the NZ Qualifications Authority).
More recently his marketing communications consultancy was established principally to handle writing projects, but he also continued to handle strategy, media and print work.
Over the past 15-20 years he has done more and more writing work - not the creative kind - but writing for annual reports, marketing materials, the occasional speech, website work, reports and newsletters, press releases, documents and proposals, direct marketing sales letters and suchlike. He can also work from technical copy to provide plain English interpretation for lay people.
His work is clear plain English, ordered, persuasive, grammatical, free of jargon and 'corporate-speak', and tailored for a particular audience.
It starts from an agreement as to what the objective of the communication is. This isn't always clear, so he often asks a series of questions which, when answered, form a brief which all involved can agree to before work begins.
This disciplined approach makes the task crystal-clear, provides a proper basis for useful discussion, describes what is required as a result of the communication, and enables objective judgement of the solution - rather than a series of opinions not based on an agreed purpose.
With experience like this Holy Trinity Parish can expect a quantum leap in its communications!
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