Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    Faith Matters - Initium Novum

    Article by Mr Brendan Nicholls

    Faith Matters – Initium Novum

    As the year concludes, we enter into the last week of Advent. We joyfully await the coming of Jesus and the time spent with loved ones. The school year has ended and soon we will all be enjoying a well-deserved rest and some extended time with family and friends. This last week for many is the pinnacle of the year, with the end of the working year and vacation. There is a lovely synergy with this excitement and the coming of Jesus which we prepare for throughout Advent.

    Christmas and the New Year are times of initium novum (new beginnings). To be able to encounter new beginnings we must review the past and discern a path forward. I invite you to enter into this Ignatian context as you read the following, prepare for Christmas and consider the future.


    At this time of the year we should all pause to consider the year that has passed and all of the experiences we have had. Set aside some time to review the year from beginning to end. It may be helpful to write down all of the memories and experiences that you recall.

    Consider: What was good about the year? What was challenging? What new things did I see and do? What skills do I have now that I did not at the beginning of the year? Who did I help? How have I grown? Where did I find God in my journey? Who helped me? What hurt me? What or who was I unable to forgive? Who cared for me in a way I did not expect? How have I become more whole?


    Being more aware of the year that has passed I encourage you to take some time to celebrate what you have found; both positive and challenging. Life consists of a mosaic of experiences that bring us joy and sadly pain. Being human and in experiencing the fullness of life we are exposed to infinite experiences and emotions. Therefore, we are called to celebrate every experience – ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Consider that even the ‘bad’ things in our lives bring about growth and in turn good. For Ignatius the ‘bad’ came in the form of a cannon ball. Without that terrible event would Ignatius have had an alternative conversion experience? In the bad there is always some good that can be found. Reviewing your reflection of the year take some time to celebrate everything that has passed – ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Combined, these things make living what it is and that in itself is worth celebrating.

    Pause to consider the following reading anew in light of your own reflection and ‘celebration’:

    In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”… …the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

    (Luke 2:8-12,15-20)

    Reflect upon what you have found in re-reading the above and celebrate your year as the shepherds did the arrive of Jesus.

    Give thanks

    Gratitude is a noble virtue and one that can be cultivated. Take a few moments to give thanks to Our Lord for the experiences of the past year. Every day you are offered a myriad of choices and experiences that may or may not be connected. The great gift of free will allows you the grace to decide how you will enter into the day. In light of these thoughts spend some time giving thanks for the year that you have lived and all of the experiences both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’. It may be helpful to view the less positive or painful moments by seeking the growth that occurred or by identifying those who cared for you or offered their love during these times – for these things we should surely be grateful.


    As we await the coming of Jesus at Christmas take a moment consider the gifts you bring into the world and the lives of others. What joy do you bring to each day in the way you live your life and love others? What can you do in the future to share your presence and love more freely and completely? Who do you need to seek and offer mercy, love or forgiveness? The greatest gift you have to offer is in fact yourself.

    Pause to consider the following reading anew in light of your own reflection and the ‘gifts’ you offer:

    In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem… …and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

    (Matthew 2:1,9-12)

    Reflect upon what you have discovered in re-reading the above and continue to seek those whom you have gifts to offer. 

    As Christmas draws near I hope that you find the reflection offered helpful. I also hope that you have been able to reflect upon the year and make a connection between what we await and all that has occurred in your life. Each day we have the opportunity to live our lives more like the vision God has of us. As we await the coming of Jesus we are called to reflect on what has passed, who we are and who we are able to be. I wish you well on our journey and pray that you enjoy peace, joy and contentment with your love ones over this holy time and your vacation.

    Yours in Christ,
    Brendan Nicholls  
    Liturgy Coordinator



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