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Topic 2- (Special days and pilgrimage):
Advent- four weeks leading up to Christmas. It is the Sunday after Christ the King. It's time of
preparation for the birth of Jesus. It has a two fold puprose: it reminds people of the wait for Christ's
birth/incarnation and when God took human form and lived in the world. We reflect on the Advent
then when we recall the expectation of Christ's birth. We reflect on the Advert Now when we
receive Christ into our lives in a deeper more intentional and committed way. We look to the future
as we proclaim the 3rd article of The mystery of our faith when we say: `Christ will come again'.
Ash Wednesday- there's a Mass on this day. The priest puts the sign of the cross with ashes on the
forehead saying `Repent and turn back to God' and `Remember you are dust and to dust you shall
return.' This is to remind that God created us and we should repent for all the sins we have
committed. The ashes used are typically from the previous year's Palm Sundays which are burnt. The
day is observed by fasting and abstinence from meat.
Bethlehem- The place of the birth of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It was the ancestral home of King
David. Joseph, Jesus' foster-father, was of the line of David and so that is why he took Mary and
Jesus to Bethlehem to be registered for the census. So, by virtue of this Jesus was of a royal line.
Christ was indeed a King yet we was to be born in a stable in Bethlehem. The `cave close to the
village' which Justin Martyr wrote about in the Second Century is the location of the Church of Nativity
today, where the Church believes Jesus was born.
Canterbury- in 597 AD, Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine to convert King Ethelbert of Kent to
Christianity. After the conversion, Canterbury, as a Roman town, was chosen by Augustine as the
centre for an episcopal see in Kent, and an abbey and cathedral were built. Augustine thus became
the first Archbishop of Canterbury, a position that now heads the Church of England and the
worldwide Anglican Communion. Thomas Becket's murder at Canterbury Cathedral in 1170 led to the
cathedral becoming a place of pilgrimage for Christians worldwide. This pilgrimage provided the
theme for Geoffery Chaucer's 14th-century literary classic the Canterbury Tales.
Easter Vigil- meaning of vigil is that Christians are faithfully waiting and watching for Jesus who will
return at midnight. The Paschal Fire is lit at the back of the Church, typically at the start of the Mass (8
or 9p.m.). A large Paschal candle (symbolising Christ's victory of sin and death and that Jesus is
the Light of the World) is lit from the fire to symbolise Christ, the Alpha (the Beginning) and
the Omega (the End), who has overcome sin and death and is Risen. He is our Light; the
Light of the World. The Paschal Candle is relit for Masses during Eastertide and for baptisms.
The small candles given to the congregation beforehand are lit from the Paschal Candle and the
church, previously in darkness, is symbolically lit by the light that the Risen Christ brings. There are
many readings in the Mass (9 readings and 8 psalms) and each is followed by an invitation to pray in
silence also followed by a special prayer. The readings help to reflect on the wonderful works God
has done for us since the creation. The waters of baptism are blessed and the priest passes through
the congregation to bless them with holy water. In entering the waters of baptism (in our own
baptism) it is as if we have died with Christ. And just as we have died in Christ, our prayer on
this night where Jesus rose is that we may also share in his resurrection. Catechumens (those who are
entering Catholicism) come forward (with their sponsors) to be baptised and some confirmed.
Those who are Christians of another denomination wishing to become a full part of the Roman
Catholic Church are called forward to be received in the Church. The Sacraments of Baptism,
Eucharist and Confirmation performed throughout the year in the Church's ministry, take on a
special note as we read them in a special joyful tone in the light of Christ's resurrection and the hope
that it brings. Whole congregation also renew baptismal promises.
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Epiphany- comes from the Greek word epiphanein meaning a `showing, appearance or revelation'. It
was traditionally celebrated on the 6th January. However, with the rearrangement of Holy Days of
Obligation, its liturgical celebration has now moved to the First Sunday in January. It is when the Wise
Men came to pay their homage to Christ, the new-born King.…read more
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Guadalupe- is a celebrated Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe.
According to the traditional account, the image appeared miraculously on the cloak of Juan Diego, a
simple peasant, on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City on December 12, 1531. The icon is on display
in the Basilica of Guadalupe in the same locality and is regarded as Mexico's most popular religious
and cultural image.…read more
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Lourdes and Fatima. One and a half million pilgrims visit Knock Shrine annually. It
was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1979 to commemorate the centenary of the apparition.
Lent- 40 days leading up to Easter. (40 for the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert and was tempted by
the devil as well as 40 years Moses spent in the wilderness with the Israelites.) Starts on Ash
Wednesday and finishes on Holy Saturday. It is a period of fasting, praying and almsgiving.…read more
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Santiago de Compostela- The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the destination of the
pilgrimage. The Way of St James has existed for over a 1000 years. People continue today to travel
on foot. It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times. Legend holds
that St. James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried
on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.
Taizé- a place of unity and reconciliation.…read more
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New knowledge of, say, the Holy Land and of the life of Jesus;
2. Unexpected benefits and graces, especially when looking back years later;
3. Like-minded people can sometimes meet on pilgrimage.
4. Many join the Handicapped Children's Pilgrimage Trust (HCPT) as organisers or helpers.
5. A deep sense of healing and closeness to the Lord;
6. Continuous thanksgiving to God for a `grace', a healing from addiction or sin or, even, a
miracle in one's life;