The Archdiocese of Birmingham - The Parish of the Immaculate Conception

Saints and Feast Days this week.

Beginning Sunday, 10th December 2017 ~  The Second Sunday of Advent.

Lectionary - Sundays Year B, Weekdays Year 2.






Advent (the name means ‘coming’) is the start of the church’s year and runs from the Sunday that falls on or closest to the 30th of November. It ends with the first evening prayer of Christmas. It is a season of reflection and preparation, of hope and anticipation as we wait for the coming of Christ - at Christmas, at the end of our lives and at the end of time. Although the ‘Gloria’ is omitted, Advent is less severe than Lent: flowers can still decorate the church (in moderation), music, although reduced, is allowed and the Gospel acclamation still includes the word ‘alleluia’. “...Advent is a season of devout and joyful expectation.”

There are always four Sundays in Advent regardless of what day of the week Christmas Day falls on. The third is known as Gaudete Sunday and rose vestments may be worn – otherwise the colour is purple.

The origins of Advent go back to the early centuries of the church. In Spain and Gaul (modern France) a period of fast was observed before the Feat of the Epiphany (6th January) the original feast of Christ’s birth and an important date for Baptisms. By the end of the fifth century we have the first written evidence of Advent as a time of preparation. By the middle of the sixth century the beginnings of an Advent liturgy can be seen in Rome. By the time of Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) the four Sundays of Advent are being celebrated. This was not universal and the length of Advent could vary from diocese to diocese – Milan still celebrates Advent with six Sundays. We owe the omission of the Gloria, something of its penitential character and the purple vestments to the influence from Gaul on the Roman liturgy in the twelfth century.

The Gloria, “... is not omitted for the same reason as it is omitted in Lent, but in order that on the night of Christmas the angels’ song may ring out once again in all its newness.”

11th December - Optional memorial of St. Damasus I, Pope.

Born: c. 304, died: 384.

Damasus was born c. 304 in Rome but was of Spanish extraction. He became a deacon under Pope Liberius and succeeded him in 366. Damasus’ pontificate is notable for a number of reasons, mainly for the energetic manner in which he combated the heresies of his time notably the Arians, Macedonians and Donatists. Most notably he promulgated the canon of scripture and commissioned Jerome to revise the Latin text of the Bible by producing a single vulgate version to replace the many different versions then in circulation. He also saw to the collection and housing of the papal archives and took a special interest in the Roman martyrs whose relics formed a unique collection that made Rome especially glorious. This was manifested by the famous collections of inscriptions and epigrams in their honour, many composed by Damasus himself. He was responsible for one of the earliest Latin translations of the Scriptures. In 383 he appointed his secretary St. Jerome, and commissioned him to revise the Latin Bible this bringing about the version known as the Vulgate. He died in 384

Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may constantly exalt the merits of your blessed martyrs whom Pope St. Damasus so venerated and loved.

New Advent


12th December - Optional memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The celebration of this feast goes back to the sixteenth century. A poor Indian named Cuauhtlatohuac was baptized and given the name Juan Diego. He was a 57-year-old widower and lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning, 9th December 1531, he was on his way to a nearby barrio to attend Mass in honour of Our Lady. He was walking by a hill called Tepeyac when he heard beautiful music like the warbling of birds. A radiant cloud appeared and within it a young Native American maiden dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga. The bishop was to build a chapel in the place where the lady appeared. Eventually the bishop told Juan Diego to have the lady give him a sign. About this same time Juan Diego’s uncle became seriously ill. This led poor Diego to try to avoid the lady. The lady found Diego, nevertheless, assured him that his uncle would recover and provided roses for Juan to carry to the bishop in his cape or tilma. When Juan Diego opened his tilma in the bishop’s presence, the roses fell to the ground and the bishop sank to his knees. On Juan Diego’s tilma appeared an image of Mary exactly as she had appeared at the hill of Tepeyac.

The traditional depiction of Our Lady of Guadalupe is based in Juan Diego's account of the apparition. She appears neither as a native goddess nor a European Maddona, but as a combination of the two. Her dress is European while the decoration on it are indigenous. Her face is Mestizo. In this she bridges the gap between the New World and the Old; she is the universal mother. She appears very human but her entire person radiates God's divinity. She appears pregnant and over her womb appears the Nahuatl symbol for the new centre of the universe, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, through Mary's obedience to the will of God, will become incarnate. She says the Juan Diego, "Do not be afraid, you have nothing to fear. Am I not here, your compassionate mother?"

Lord God, father of mercies, you placed your people under the singular protection of the blessed Mother of your Only Son, grant that all who invoke Our Lady of Guadalupe may seek her with an ever more lively faith and bring about your Kingdom on earth of love, justice and peace,

New Advent



13th December - Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr.

Born: unknown, died: 304. Patron of those suffering with eye disorders.

Little is known for certain about Lucy’s life. She died at Syracuse in 304 during the persecution of Diocletian and her name was included in the Canons of the Roman and Ambrosian rites and occurs in the oldest Roman sacramentaries. Her name was introduced into the Canon of the Mass by Pope Gregory I. According to legend she was a wealthy Sicilian who refused marriage offers, gave her goods to the poor and was accused by her suitor to the persecuting authority. The judge ordered that she should be violated in a brothel but she was made miraculously immobile. He then tried, unsuccessfully to have her burnt before she was finally put to death by the sword. In Christian iconography she is often depicted holding a dish containing her eyes which were reputed to have been torn out but which were miraculously restored. In Sweden, her feast on the shortest day of the year has become a festival of light where the youngest daughter, dressed in white, wakes the rest of the family with coffee, rolls and a special song.

In England, prior to the Reformation, her day was kept as one on which no work except tillage or the like was allowed. Her body remained in Syracuse for some time but at length were moved to Italy and subsequently, under the authority of Emperor Otto I, to Metz where it is exposed for public veneration in a rich chapel in St. Vincent's Church. A portion of her relics were then taken to Constantinople and then brought to Venice.

Lord God, may the intercession of the Virgin and Martyr, Saint Lucy give us new heart as we celebrate the day of her birth in heaven so that, in this present age we keep in mint the things that are eternal.

New Advent


14th December

Memorial of St. John of God, Priest and Doctor of the Church.

A Carmelite friar and the virtual founder of the Discalced Carmelite Friars, John was born in 1542 into a noble but impoverished Toledan family and was brought up by his widowed mother. He was apprentices to a silk weaver but showed no aptitude for his trade. Subsequently he went to a Jesuit college and joined the Carmelite Order in 1563 being ordained in 1567 following theological studies at Salamanca. At this time he thought of becoming a monk in the Carthusian Order but was persuaded by Teresa of Avila to join the Discalced Reform. In 1571 he became rector of Alcala, a study house attached to the University and between 1572 and 1577 the confessor to the nuns at Avila, the mother house of Teresa’s reforms. The reforms were not without opposition and in 1575 he had been seized and arrested by the Calced Carmelite friars following a General Chapter in Piacenza which both rejected the reforms and refused to give its houses independence. Imprisoned in appalling conditions in Toledo it was during this period that he wrote some of his finest poetry. After nine months captivity he escaped and shortly afterwards the Discalced and Calced branches separated. In 1579 John founded a college at Baeza where he was rector for three years. In 1582, the year of Teresa’s death, he was Prior at Grenada, and at Segovia from 1588. Suffering harsh treatment at the hands of Nicholas Doria, the vicar-general of the Discalced Carmelites, he was deprived of his offices and was banished to Ubeda in Andalusia where he died in 1591.

O God, who gave the Priest Saint John an outstanding dedication to perfect self-denial and love of the Cross, grant that, by imitating him closely at all times, that we may come to contemplate eternally your glory.

New Advent