Recent Addresses and Pastoral Letters

Message of Archbishop Denis Hart for Advent 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have now begun the season of Advent. We await the coming of the Saviour, Jesus Christ, at Christmas. We repent and believe that our mighty God has become one like us in all things but sin.

This essential focus of Christmas has a special meaning for us as we await World Youth Day 2008: (15-20 July in Sydney), preceded by Days in our Diocese (10-14 July), when some 25,000 young people from all over the world will visit Melbourne parishes and communities. A great preparation that all of us can make for Christmas and WYD08 and DID08 is to repent and believe that our God is calling us to greatness. I recommend to you the Sacrament of Penance and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They are important elements of WYD. They are important elements of the season of Advent, when we need to pause in quiet prayer to wait eagerly for the coming of God.

The Sacrament of Penance is a real feature of World Youth Day. Some suggest that people have abandoned this Sacrament. During WYD, nothing could be further from the truth. Young people are very keen to scrutinise their life under the forgiving light of a fresh encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus. They make a deep examination of their conscience, courageously tell their sins to the confessor and receive the absolution of the Church. With their penance they re-enter the world with sharper faith and commitment. I pray that all of us will do the same in our parishes before Christmas.

Also, the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a real feature of WYD. When young people come closer to Jesus, they yearn for silence in their hearts before the presence of the Lord. It is a deep silence. It is a Holy silence. Perhaps it mirrors the silence of Mary and Joseph, the three wise men and the Shepherds and all creation on the night of the Saviour’s Birth. We follow their wise example. It is something natural and not imposed. It is a delight to simply “be” with Jesus in our “do” world.

So in Advent, as we await so many things in the life ahead of us, let us ask forgiveness of Jesus for our confusion and bad choices. Let us ask in silence, with simplicity, for the real power of the Gospel that will make us the kind of persons Jesus wants us to be – real witnesses of his life among us as a humble child.

This Advent we prepare for WYD08, and DID08 here in Melbourne. Both are concerned with the coming of a young person – Jesus the Lord. It is all about youth meeting youth in Jesus. Let us go out and meet Jesus in all the hard work of preparation that we undertake. Thank you so much for what you are doing, especially in the silence of your heart, in preparing for the coming of the Saviour.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.
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