Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    Faith Matters - Abode

    Article by Mr Brendan Nicholls

    Faith Matters – Abode 

    On Tuesday our Year 9 and 10 students celebrated their final day for 2019. After the exams concluded we came together in the afternoon to celebrate a liturgy of thanks and contemplation. The theme of the liturgy was Advent and the question, “Is there room in your heart?” was the central component of our time together. The following day we said farewell to our Year 7 and 8 students for the year. As they head off to their long break we pray that they will all make use of the time to create balance and wholeness in their life. The central question of our middle school Advent liturgy and the vision it offers is just as relevant to our junior students, staff and parents.

    During Advent we prepare for and celebrate the birth of Jesus. The narrative we know so well is woven together from the Gospels of Mark and Luke. This miraculous event begins with the Annunciation where the angel Gabriel reveals God’s plan to Mary. Her response leads to the incarnation of the third person of the Trinity. Jesus enters the world in humble, even dire, circumstances. Jesus knew stability for a short period of his youth. Throughout most of his life he had no home.

    Exploring the birth of Jesus and his life is cyclic in our Church as we live through the liturgical seasons each year our beliefs are questioned, nourished and strengthened. These beliefs unite us as a faith community. Although these beliefs are communal they are deeply personal in nature. Faith is a choice. 

    To come to a mature decision about their personal faith the young people in our community need to grapple with the extraordinary events of his life, death and resurrection. These questions are balanced by spiritual experiences and personal encounters with Jesus. For our young people the core beliefs of our Church were accepted as children through the lens of literalism and accepted without question. As young adults we encourage them to question the reason for their belief. Determining the foundation of their faith brings maturity and commitment to our shared beliefs.

    For young adults the Annunciation and the Nativity require careful consideration and discernment. Important questions arise in contemplating the coming of Jesus. Why did God choose Mary? How could she believe in this revelation and be open to God’s plan? Why was Jesus born in a stable and how does this reflect his divinity? Was it all as clean and pleasant as they Christmas cards portray? Who is this Jesus? How can I believe? Why do I believe? Is my belief based on truth? What is truth and how can I know it?

    In leaving us for the summer holidays we encourage them to explore their beliefs and to question how they know truth. Discerning the reason for their belief is vital if they are to grow in faith. To grow they need to spend time listening. The Holy Spirit moves within each of us but the busyness of life and the distractions that surround us can make it hard to experience this fact. 

    During Advent our students are able to use their time as they choose. The challenge presented in our liturgy on Tuesday was to make a decision to use this time to explore their belief in the Annunciation and Nativity by making room in their heart for the Spirit to move. This challenge can be entered into in an unlimited number of ways. St Ignatius teaches us to “find God in all things”. During these weeks of preparation, we encourage our students to use this as a guide in their search. Their search should be intentional and active. With vision that is not obscured by routines, assignments and community they are better able to see clearly what is before them. If they look they will find Jesus.

    Seeking Jesus will lead to encounter. When they encounter Jesus they will experience wholeness. A moment with Jesus is often described as a perfect moment or transcendent. These moments of encounter are often fleeting and unexpected. Even though we can’t predict these encounters the more we seek him the more aware of his presence we become. 

    Our students have much time to explore this Advent. They have been sent out on a mission and challenged to make a commitment to examining their beliefs and the reason for them. To do so they need to make a choice. The question, “Is there room in your heart for Jesus?”, is the prompt we offer through our Advent liturgy to enter into the season and seek our Lord in their lives.

    Although we will not see our students for almost two months we know that they have been inspired to reflect upon Advent and their faith. If belief has a weak foundation it waivers when challenged. If belief is founded on a personal encounter with Jesus it’s unbreakable. During Advent we are called to make room for Jesus. Making room requires our young people to seek truth and experience Jesus in their lives. When these events occur Jesus has an abode, a place to rest and live eternally. Our heart becomes his home.

    Yours in faith,

    Brendan Nicholls  Liturgy Coordinator



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