Each Advent, as we usher in a new Church year and patiently count down the days to the arrival of the Christ Child, our sense of hope is stoked by glimpses of a world transformed—of life blossoming, like a Jacaranda, into all it its promised fullness. Advent invites us to see each life as a gift, and to see Jesus Christ—God’s gift of himself—as the most wonderful gift of all.
We meet Sr Joan Healy RSJ, someone who has sought to live in the light of this Advent hope and to share it with those on the margins, walking closely with asylum seekers on the Thai–Cambodia border and with Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples, among others.
For 20 years, the Australian Nativity Scene at St Elizabeth’s Dandenong—regarded as one of the largest and best in the country—has drawn people from far and wide, helping them journey through Advent and enter into the story of Christmas. We hear about the anniversary celebrations and speak with its creator, Wilson Fernandez.
Also this week, we consider the legacy of St Nicholas, and how the idea of ‘gift-giving’ is deeply engrained in the Catholic faith. Hundreds of young people gathered from across Melbourne at St Patrick's Cathedral for prayer and an end-of-year SummerFest celebration. We take a look at just a few of the many exciting Advent and Christmas events happening in our local communities of grace. And we hear from Abbot Steele Hartmann of Tarrawarra Abbey on the Advent call to live as children of God.
Finally, at this time of year, it can be hard to sift through the many, often superficial Christmas messages presented to us by Hollywood and the media, so we make a few recommendations for your Advent and Christmas ‘cultural consumption’ that might help you and your family to connect more meaningfully to the spirit of the season.
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