Advent is a time when we are called to look ahead with hope, setting our eyes on God’s promised kingdom as we wait expectantly for that moment when all striving will cease and all will be made whole.

In Jesus Christ, of course, this glorious future breaks into the here and now. As we approach the great feast of Christmas, Advent invites us to dwell on all the ways that God has already come near to us in Jesus. We are invited to be attentive to God’s gracious presence in those everyday moments when we glimpse what it means to experience life in all its fullness.

In their Advent writings and homilies, a number of recent popes have illuminated this idea of God’s presence for us, helping us to understand that God is closer than we could possibly imagine. To help deepen our experience of Advent, we reflect on some of their insights, asking how we might be more attentive to the presence of God in our lives.

James Murnane is a Melbourne artist whose striking abstract artworks attempt to bring together his own ‘everyday experiences’ with a sense of God’s mysterious presence, pointing his audience to ‘the mystery of the One who is Love.’ We spoke with James about his spiritual life, his artistic practice and his upcoming exhibition, The present demands of love.

Another significant way that God is present to us is in the vulnerable and marginalised. As Christmas preparations and shopping threaten to distract and overwhelm us, one way to be more attuned to God‘s presence this Advent might be to ‘share the love‘ with those in our communities and our world who are most in need of our support. To this end, we’ve suggested a few Catholic organisations that you might like to consider supporting this Christmas.

For 70 years, the people of St Benedict’s Parish in Burwood have been a faithful sign of God’s presence and promise in their local community, especially as they have gathered at Mass through the years, but also through a variety of creative ministries. Last Sunday, they gathered for a special anniversary Mass celebrated by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, who gave thanks for all those moments ‘when the closeness of God’s kingdom has been revealed in your time and place’.

Finally, tomorrow is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when we celebrate a dogma first proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854. We hear the story of how the gift of a bag of gold led to Victoria becoming connected to this extraordinary moment in the life of the Church.

May the presence and promise of God sustain and inspire you this week, and throughout this season of Advent.

St Benedict’s Parish: serving the Burwood community for 70 years
On Sunday 4 December—the Second Sunday of Advent—St Benedict’s Parish Burwood marked its 70th anniversary at a special Mass celebrated by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli. As parishioners and well-wishers gathered to give thanks for the life and legacy of this vibrant community of faith, the sense of joyful celebration and gratitude was palpable.
Artist James Murnane on the present demands of love
For the past 14 years, Melbourne artist James Murnane has dedicated his life to creating abstract artworks that he hopes provide a ‘glimpse or signpost’, pointing to the mystery of God. Fiona Basile spoke to the 38-year-old contemporary artist, husband and father from Melbourne about his spiritual life and the recent ‘everyday experiences’ that have intertwined to form the works for his upcoming exhibition, ‘The present demands of love‘.
4 ways to share the love this Christmas
As we count down the days to Christmas, it’s easy to become stressed and overwhelmed, even as we prepare ourselves for the coming of the ‘Prince of Peace’. The tradition of Christmas gift-giving took its inspiration from the Magi and began as a way of responding to and participating in God’s love. One way we might reclaim the more life-affirming origins of this tradition is by ‘sharing the love’ and giving to those who are most vulnerable. In that spirit, we suggest a few Catholic organisations that you might like to consider supporting this Christmas.
Recognising the presence of God: advice from the popes for this Advent
In their writings and speeches on Advent, many popes have reflected on the presence of God, and how Christian hope is born from an understanding that God is closer than we could possibly imagine. To help deepen our experience of Advent, we reflect on the words of a few recent popes—words that display a profound spiritual simplicity and attentiveness to this presence.
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception—minted in Victorian gold
Written by:
In 1854, Pope Pius IX pronounced the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in ‘Ineffabilis Deus’. Although Melbourne’s first bishop, James Alipius Goold, wasn’t able to join the hundreds of dignitaries who gathered for the dogma's solemn proclamation in Rome, a generous gesture on his part meant that the newly established Diocese of Melbourne became inextricably and perhaps surprisingly connected to this extraordinary moment in the life of the Church.
‘Advent is a continuous call to hope.’
Pope Francis
Upcoming events
Cathedral concert: ‘A Christmas Celebration’
Sunday 18 December 2022
3.00pm–4.30pm
Join us as we celebrate the spirit of Christmas with carols across space and time, including an Acknowledgement of Country through music. A family concert of traditional and modern Christmas favourites, featuring Brass, organ and choir in the beautiful and inspiring space of St Patrick’s Cathedral. Performance will include audience...
Christmas Eve Masses, St Patrick’s Cathedral
Saturday 24 December 2022
6.00pm–1.00am
We look forward to welcoming the community to St Patrick's Cathedral to celebrate the great feast of Christmas! Christmas Eve Masses (24 December) will take place at 6pm, 8pm and 11.30pm* (carols followed by Midnight Mass). On Christmas Day (25 December), Masses will take place at 8am, 9.30am and 11am*...
Christmas Day Masses, St Patrick’s Cathedral
Sunday 25 December 2022
8.00am–12.00pm
We look forward to welcoming the community to St Patrick's Cathedral to celebrate the great feast of Christmas! On Christmas Day (25 December), Masses will be celebrated at 8am, 9.30am and 11am. The 11am Mass will be livestreamed to the Archdiocesan YouTube Channel. For all enquiries, email communication@cam.org.au.
‘The Australian Nativity Scene’, St Elizabeth’s Parish
Monday 5 December 2022
– Friday 13 January 2023
St Elizabeth’s Parish invites you to visit its Australian nativity scene on its 19th year of display. The nativity scene was created by artist Wilson Fernandez, and it has been regarded as one of Australia's most traditional nativity scenes and the largest of its kind in the country. The nativity...
Good Shepherd Church: feast of the Infant Jesus of Prague
Sunday 15 January 2023
1.40pm–2.40pm
Join the Good Shepherd Church and the Disciples of the Infant Jesus of Prague in the 20th celebration of the feast of the holy and miraculous Infant Jesus of Prague. There will be Mass, Rosary and special prayers consisting of novenas and chaplets. After Mass, a procession will carry the...

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of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

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