On Sunday, December 3rd, the Church started its liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time during which the Church urges all Christians to concentrate more on the second coming of Christ while preparing for Christmas. Advent is a particular time in the Seminary calendar. The building itself is donned with Christmas decorations and the daily programme of events takes on a different schedule.
The Seminary community started this time of year on Saturday, October 1st, with the proclamation of Advent. It is an annual celebration which includes the reading and explanation of an extract from the Scriptures which exhorts the faithful to prepare themselves for the coming of Chirst and the presentation and blessing of the icon for the year. Following some invocations, the Rector indicated changes in the daily programme of the community. The icon, written by Vincent Mangari, was inspired by the verse: “She sat by the Lord s feet, listening to what he said” (Lk 10,39). This verse refers to the visit Jesus paid to Martha and Mary.
During Advent, the world dons its Christmas decorations and so does the Seminary. The seminarians and formators decorate the building with images of Baby Jesus, the crib, the Christmas Tree and Christmas lights.
At this time of year, the liturgy is different. Every day, early in the morning, there are the Morning Vespers, read in a dim light as a sign of expectation. At Mass, one of our formators gives a short explanation of the Liturgy of the Word. The seminarians conduct the Novena. Every year too, Mass is said in a cave at Xaghra. The cave itself and the sunlight which filters in help the individual to embrace the Christmas spirit and help the mind re-enact the Nativity scene in Betlehem when the Son of God became man.
Christmas time is associated with gifts. The seminarians and formatiors too exchange gifts, which are appreciated not for what they are worth but for what they represent: a sense of generosity on the part of an individual who is ready to give and expects nothing in return. This gesture is especially evident in the annual activity when the community pays a visit to a home which houses needy persons. This year, the community visited the Home for the Elderly of the Domenican Sisters.
Christmas time is also holiday time for the seminarians. The holidays started on Friday, December 22nd. That Friday afternoon, Bishop Grech celebrated Mass at the Seminary. The parents of seminarians were invided to join the community at Mass. The second term at the Seminary will start on Monday, January 8th, 2018.
We wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.