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December 2018



What is Advent and why is it very important to us as Catholics?

Happy New Year! No, it is not January 1! The liturgical year does not match New Year’s Day, the beginning of the calendar year. The Church year is distinctive. It always begins on the first Sunday of Advent, and with it comes a shift in the cycle of readings. The Feast of Christ the King signals the end of Ordinary Time.

Advent is the four-week liturgical season that precedes Christmas. The term “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus which means “coming,” and it focuses not only on the past coming of Jesus on the first Christmas; but also on the present coming of Jesus in the gospels, the sacraments, other people, prayer, love, truth, and personal experience; and the future coming of Jesus at the Second or Final Coming at the end of the world, the Parousia or the Last Judgment.

Advent is not Lent or a miniature version of Lent. In fact, the two seasons are extremely different. Advent stresses hope and joy, Lent stresses penance and sorrow; Advent emphasizes what we need to add to our lives (e.g., grace, light, joy), while Lent emphasizes what we need to remove (i.e., sin); Advent lasts for four Sundays and 28 days, Lent lasts for six Sundays and forty days; Advent is a liturgical season, Lent is an ascetical season (i.e., fasting, almsgiving, prayer, acts of charity); Advent stresses preparation with festivity, Lent stresses preparation with sackcloth and ashes; Advent features the prophet Isaiah, Lent features the prophet Jeremiah.

The main saint of Advent is John the Baptist. He is “the prophet of the Most High” (Lk 1:76), the immediate forerunner of Jesus, and the link between the Old Testament prophets and Jesus himself. His story is recounted on the Second and Third Sundays of Advent. The Baptist was the voice crying out in the desert, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” (Is 40:3; Mt 3:3), which is what we are called to do during this holy season. He also directed peoples’ attention from himself to Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29,36), and made one of the momentous statements in the gospels as he declared, “He [Jesus] must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). If we hope to have a spiritually profitable Advent, we, like the Baptist, must diminish, while Jesus increases in power and brilliance in our lives.




Four Things Mary Taught Us During the First Advent

Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus. Although we observe this holy season every year, the question remains baffling: How can we adequately prepare for our Messiah, for the Word made Flesh who came into the world to save us? It’s a tall order, and we know that even the best preparation is only a pittance compared to what Jesus has done and continues to do for us.

The good news is that God can do amazing things with our pittance. When we approach Advent with faith, hope, and repentance, we can work toward making straight the path of the Lord (John 1: 23). Plus, God has given us a wonderful model of the Blessed Virgin Mary to prepare for Jesus. During that first Advent before the birth of Jesus, Mary prepared with unmatched faith, grace, and love. Here are four things we can learn from her actions during the first Advent.

1. Be willing to say, “Fiat!”

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary at the Annunciation, Mary was a young, unmarried woman. She was certainly a person of great faith, and her life was a holy one. But what God was asking her to do was unprecedented—and risky. It was scandalous for a young woman to be pregnant out of wedlock. Mary trusted, however, that God would make this remarkable event happen and sustain her through it. This trust allowed her to give her “Fiat” to God—“Let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

2. Look for the little ways you can help others.

During the Annunciation, Mary learned of another miraculous pregnancy: that of her cousin, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was much older and was believed to be barren before she carried John the Baptist in her womb. When Mary heard about her cousin, she immediately left to help her. Journeying far away to help a relative would be a challenge for anyone, but it was especially challenging for a young, pregnant woman who had just received an extraordinary vocation from God. Yet Mary did not think of herself—her first thought was to help someone in need.

3. Glorify God in all you do.

Mary also taught us a great lesson about humility that first Advent. It would no doubt be tempting to puff yourself up a bit if you have just been given the news that you are to become the Mother of God. But Mary did just the opposite. She recognized that it was God who was working in her. Her understanding and sentiments are clear in the beautiful prayer of the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), when she said, “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Luke 1:46), and went on to proclaim, “For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49), and to praise all his works.

4. Make the best of what you have.

The familiar Christmas story tells us that there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn when it was time for Jesus to be born, and so Mary had to give birth to Jesus among the animals and lay him in a manger. This was certainly not an easy way to give birth and welcome the Messiah into the world. Yet Mary never uttered a word of complaint, and she made the site of Jesus’ birth into one we remember today in the beauty of the Crib. Despite not having much, Mary persevered in faith and made the best of it, resulting in a gift that continues to this day.

This Advent season, may we follow Mary’s example of humble faith. As Mary bore the Incarnate Word, let us also prepare a place in our hearts to carry Jesus.




Where to Find the Christmas Story in Your Bible

Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-20.

The Conception of Jesus

Mary, a young teenager living in the village of Nazareth, was engaged to be married to Joseph, a Jewish carpenter. One day God sent an angel to visit Mary. The angel told Mary that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. She would give birth to this child and name him Jesus.

At first, Mary was afraid and troubled by the angel's words. Being a virgin, Mary questioned the angel, "How can this happen?"

The angel explained that the child would be God's own Son and that nothing is impossible to God.  Humbled and in awe, Mary believed the angel of the Lord and rejoiced in God her Saviour.

Surely Mary reflected with wonder on the words of Isaiah 7:14:

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." 

The Birth of Jesus

So, while Mary was still engaged to Joseph, she miraculously became pregnant just as the angel had said. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he must have felt disgraced. He knew the child was not his own, and Mary's apparent unfaithfulness carried a grave social stigma. Joseph had the right to divorce Mary, and under Jewish law, she could be put to death by stoning.

Although Joseph's initial reaction was to break the engagement, the appropriate thing for a righteous man to do, he treated Mary with extreme kindness. He did not want to cause her further shame and decided to act quietly.

But God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream to verify Mary's story and reassure him that his marriage to her was God's will. The angel explained that the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that his name would be Jesus, and that he was the Messiah.

When Joseph woke from his dream, he willingly obeyed God and took Mary to be his wife in spite of the public humiliation he would face. Joseph's noble character was one reason God chose him to be Messiah's earthly father.

At that time, Caesar Augustus decreed that a census would be taken. Every person in the Roman world had to return to his or her hometown to register. Joseph, being of the line of David, was required to go to Bethlehem to register with Mary.

While in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus. Because of the census, the inn was overcrowded, and Mary gave birth in a crude stable. She wrapped the baby in cloths and placed him in a manger.

Shepherds Worship the Saviour

In a nearby field an angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds who were tending flocks of sheep by night. The angel announced that the Saviour of the world had been born in the town of David. Suddenly a great host of heavenly beings appeared with the angel and began singing praises to God. As the angelic beings departed, the shepherds said to each other, "Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see the Christ-child!"

They hurried to the village and found Mary, Joseph, and the baby. The shepherds shared with everyone what the angel had said about the newborn Messiah. Then they went on their way praising and glorifying God. But Mary kept quiet, treasuring their words in her heart.

The Magi Bring Gifts

Jesus' birth took place when Herod was king of Judea. At this time, wise men (Magi) from the east saw a great star. They followed it, knowing the star signified the birth of the king of the Jews.

The wise men came to the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem and asked where the Christ was to be born. The rulers explained, "In Bethlehem in Judea," referring to Micah 5:2. Herod secretly met with the Magi and asked them to report back after they found the child. Herod told the Magi that he wanted to worship the babe. But secretly Herod was plotting to kill the child.

The wise men continued to follow the star in search of the newborn king. They found Jesus with his mother in Bethlehem

The Magi bowed and worshiped him, offering treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When they departed, they did not return to Herod. They had been warned in a dream of his plot to destroy the child.




“Brothers and sisters, it is now the season of the Lord’s coming, and we must use the time to prepare ourselves by some spiritual devotion...We must strive to enter the house of our hearts. Open the windows, and notice what is seemly and what is unseemly in that house. We must brush away the cobwebs, sweep the floor, clear out the dust and dirt, strew the clean floors with freshly gathered rushes, fragrant herbs, and sweet-smelling flowers.”

Hugh of St. Victor (1096-1141)

German monk and writer



Parish Advent Retreat

Parish Advent Retreat will take place in N.S. Navegantes Cascais 5th, 6th, 7th December 2018.

Preacher: Fr. Colm Mannion OP

Time – 8.00pm -9.30pm(approx)

Format: Talk at 8.00pm followed by Mass.




Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Saturday 8th December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a holy day of obligation.

Mass times: St Marys S. Pedro do Estoril 10.15am

                   N.S. Navegantes 12.00 noon.





Confession and Reconciliation

Monday 17th December – Penitential Service N.S. dos Navegantes Cascais 7.30pm

Saturday 22nd December – Confession in St. Mary’s Rua do Murtal 12.00am-1.00pm

The confession of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1455)



You are invited……..

To a Parish celebration of Christmas on Sunday 16th December at St. Mary’s Pastoral Centre 368 Rua do Murtal S. Pedro do Estoril.

Festivities begin at 6.00pm with wine, soft drinks, sandwichs and mince pies followed by communal carol singing led by Toze Brito.

Admission: The best things in life are free!!



Christmas Mass Times


Sunday 16th December

vChildren’s Mass N.S. dos Navegantes Cascais --12.00 noon



Christmas Eve - Monday 24th December

Mass of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

vN.S. dos Navegantes Cascais --11.00 pm


Christmas Day – Tuesday 25th December

vSt. Mary’s Pastoral Centre --10.15am

vN.S dos Navegantes -- 12.00 noon




There is faint music in the night

And pale wings fanned by silver flight;

A frosty hill with tender glow

Of countless stars that shine on snow.


A shelter from the winter storm,

A straw from the winter storm,

A straw-lined manger, safe and warm,

And Mary crooning lullabies,

To hush her Baby’s sleepy sighs.


Her eyes are rapt under His face,

Unheeded here is time and space;

Her heart filled with blinding joy,

For God’s own son, her little Boy!

Nancy Buckley