Christians began keeping the season of Advent from the sixth century, first for six weeks, then for four. However, it took a long time for the season to be given a secure place in the life of the church. In fact it wasn’t until three hundred years later that liturgical books contained the liturgies for Advent.
The Advent Candles, which are lit at the beginning of the Mass and which continue to burn throughout Christmas, represent the four advent figures, the Advent people with whom we share this season. The candles remind us of the patriarchs (and matriarchs), the prophets, St John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The traditional colour for the candles is red, although in some churches liturgical colours are used: purple for Advent 1, 2 and 4 and rose for Advent 3, Gaudete Sunday, traditionally a day of refreshment during this season. In different ways each of these groups of people or individuals point towards the coming of God and the coming of his Messiah. The patriarchs lived according to promise and covenant; the prophets spoke in good and bad times of the one who would fulfil the law and establish the people; John pointed to Jesus and prepared the people for the immanence of the kingdom; and Mary, in her own person, made ready for the incarnation, the birth of the one to whom the fathers of the nation looked, of whom the prophets spoken and for whom John was forerunner.
We too are Advent People. We look in hope to the fulfilment of the promise and with the patriarchs we travel in faith. We have a prophetic message which speaks of the establishment of the kingdom of justice and peace, of inclusiveness and love, here and now. We have a duty to call people from where they are to become one with Christ through the way they live their lives and to share in his life through the sacramental life of the church. We are one with Mary in being ‘God-bearers’ to the world, carrying Christ in our hearts into every situation we go, being people of the word, his broken bread to feed the world.
Fr Stephen is running an Advent Course with 2 sessions of 90 minutes, including coffee and cake – very little happens at St Andrew’s without the help of cake!
‘How we got our Bible…an easy look at the way the Scriptures come to us today’
This is happening on two Saturdays:
- 2nd December, 11.45am to 1.15pm
- 16th December, 11.45am to 1.15pm
Please bring a bible plus notebook and pens.
Compline and Benediction, Sunday 3rd December, Advent Sunday, 7pm
We are singing Compline, keep 10 minutes silence in front of the Blessed Sacrament and (those who want to) socialise for an hour in the pub afterwards.
Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Friday 8th December, 7pm
We are celebrating an extra Mass that day at 7pm in addition to the usual 8am Mass as many people cannot attend early in the morning. This is for everybody, but also especially for the Cell of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Leicestershire Chorale Christmas Concert, Saturday 9th December, 7.30pm
Many will remember their beautiful concerts from the last three years – their Christmas Concert has now become a tradition in our December diary.
De Montfort University Carol Concert, Tuesday 12th December, 4pm
I am delighted this returns to St Andrew’s this year – please join the Vice Chancellor, students and staff for this traditional Carol Service.
Let’s decorate the church! Friday 22nd December, 4pm to 7pm
Please give us a hand to decorate the tree and the rest of the church and get everything ready for Christmas! Obviously some serious work needs doing, but this is an occasion for all the family. I can also promise an abundance of cake and mince pies for this one!
Christmas Service Schedule:
Christmas Eve, Sunday 24th December, 6pm: 1st Mass of Christmas
This is a full Mass for Christmas, not a service specifically designed for children. Nevertheless, it’s sufficiently short and varied to be suitable for all the family. The service should be over by around 7pm and is followed by a celebratory glass and some plum cake.
Midnight Mass @ St Mary de Castro, Castle View, Leicester LE1 5WH, 11.30pm
You are most welcome to join St Mary’s congregation for their Midnight Mass with choir. They are keen for people able to support their choir for the night – please have a word with me if you would like to sing!
Christmas Day, Monday 25th December, 10.30am: Mass of Christmas Day
Please join us for the Solemn High Mass of Christmas Day. As everybody wants to open their presents there won’t be any hospitality offered after Mass.
New Years Eve, Sunday 31st December, 2023, 10.30am: Mass of the Holy Family
The days following Christmas are crowded with feasts and celebrations, join us on the Sunday after Christmas! Again, as everybody wants to get home for their own NYE celebrations, there is no hospitality after Mass.