Advent begins on Sunday 29 November and marks the start of a season of preparation. The season invokes feelings of expectation and hope! Now more than any other year, we are all looking forward to a wonderful Christmas with family and friends.
This week the Advent wreath will be placed in our front foyer. In this special season of Advent, we watch and wait for Christ’s coming! We light candles of hope, peace, joy, and love, remembering the promises of God with prayer. Next Monday, we will light the candle of joy and invite each student to embrace the opportunities to see joy in each other and to be a person of joyfulness in all our words and actions to each other during the week.
Each of the Advent liturgies will be shared with you via a link, so that as a family you can join in this time of waiting, preparation and prayer. I encourage all families to take advantage of this special opportunity.
Why Do People Celebrate Advent with a Wreath & Candles?
The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839. A Lutheran minister working at a mission for children created a wreath out of the wheel of a cart. He placed twenty small red candles and four large white candles inside the ring. The red candles were lit on weekdays and the four white candles were lit on Sundays. Eventually, the Advent wreath was created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life in the midst of winter and death. The circle reminds us of God’s unending love and the eternal life He makes possible. Advent candles are often nestled in the evergreen wreath. Additional decorations, like holly and berries, are sometimes added. Their red color points ahead to Jesus’ sacrifice and death. Pinecones can symbolize the new life that Jesus brings through His resurrection. Families can begin lighting a candle on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and light another candle each subsequent Sunday.
- The first candle symbolizes hope and is called the “Prophet’s Candle.” The prophets of the Old Testament, especially Isaiah, waited in hope for the Messiah’s arrival.
- The second candle represents faith and is called “Bethlehem’s Candle.” Micah had foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which is also the birthplace of King David.
- The third candle symbolizes joy and is called the “Shepherd’s Candle.” To the shepherd’s great joy, the angels announced that Jesus came for humble, unimportant people like them, too. In liturgy, the color rose signifies joy.
- The fourth candle represents peace and is called the “Angel’s Candle.” The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace—He came to bring people closer to God and to each other again.
- The (optional) fifth candle represents light and purity and is called “Christ’s candle.” It is placed in the middle and is lit on Christmas Day.
Excerpt from Advent Wreath & Candles by Laura Richie
Prep Orientation 2021
During the last few weeks, small groups of children have been allowed onsite to visit the Prep classroom and meet the teachers as they prepare for “big school”. With eyes wide open and the occasional backward glance, the students skipped through the gates and enjoyed an hour of fun. The current Year 4 students prepared and decorated ‘care bags ‘ for their buddies, whom they will have to wait until next year to meet.
Yr 6 Graduation
Under the current Covid restrictions we have been looking at new ways to celebrate this very special time in the lives of the Yr 6 students and their families. The Graduation Liturgy will be held in the church and live streamed, thanks to the very generous support of the PnF, into the homes of the families who have a child in Yr 6. The Liturgy will be followed by refreshments and final speeches in the amphitheatre. The Yr 6 teachers will be sending home a comprehensive list of all the fun activities planned for the coming weeks.
A Mother's Story:
"Hair with Heart" helps make wigs for kids who have lost their hair due to various medical conditions. I am incredibly proud of April for going through with it - she did get a bit wobbly as the plaits were being cut and handed to her! - and thinking of others. In the end, April did get her short haircut and another child will benefit from her sacrifice. I know from talking with other Mums their kids have been considering doing the same thing and I think it would be wonderful if this is the catalyst for even one more donation from the St Pauls community!
Prayers from Heston in Prep
I hope that you play with Jesus and God.
I hope that you find your toys and your mother.
I love you because you are the best father.
Preps are making great progress.
Government Increased Support for Mental Health
- As part of the 2020–21 Federal Budget, the Australian Government will provide 10 additional psychological support sessions subsidised by Medicare. The purpose of these is for young people and adults to continue to receive mental health care from their psychologist, counsellor or other eligible allied health worker.
- Additional in-person mental health support sessions may be accessed through a medical general practitioner referral until 30 June 2022.
- For people accessing telehealth support services, additional sessions are available until 31 March 2021.
- To be eligible for the 10 additional mental health support sessions, a person must have:
- an approved treatment plan developed by their medical practitioner
- used their initial 10 individual sessions
- a referral from their reviewing practitioner.
- People who do not use all of the 10 additional sessions by the end of the calendar year may continue to access the remaining services in the next calendar year.
There will be a school closure day on 27 November as staff meet for Curriculum planning for 2021.
This Friday students are invited to wear anything BUT school shoes as part of our Fun Friday. Normal uniform to be worn.
Swimming Program Rebate
Due to the current restrictions and the focus on our three priorities for the remainder of the Term, the Swimming Program for this year has been cancelled. Rebate information for the Swimming Levy was attached in the Fees letter sent out with the last Newsletter.
Classes for 2021
Teachers are currently looking at class groupings for 2021. Due to the limited time students had in their class groupings this year, only minor changes will be made for next year.
This year we are doing a gold coin donation instead of our usual Vinnie’s Hamper Drive. (see info in last Newsletter)
However, I would like to invite families to donate non perishable goods to be made into hampers for our own St Pauls families who will be in need this Christmas. None of us ever know when our lives can change and we need to accept help from others.
Thank you for your generosity. Donations can be left by your children under the Christmas tree in the Library.
Have a great week
One of the great attributes about reading is that sometimes the words, phrases or sentences jump out at you. They give you the stimulus of meaning and understanding. In this short piece by Joan Chittister the line: It is God that religion must be about, not itself. When religion makes itself God, it ceases to be religion.
I always found it strange when countries are at war, they all believe that God is on their side. How often have we heard the US President say at the end of a speech, sending troops to war, “May God Bless America.” At the same time, we hear the other side they: May God Bless our particular country. Do you really believe that God is weighing up which side to support? When we think this way all we are doing is believing in a God who is limited rather than a God who is unlimited. It also shows we have never understood the doctrine of Free Will. God does not wake up one day and say, Well, Edward has been going really well so I will make him suffer. That is not the God I believe in.
I believe in a God who works with me at every moment of every day and in every situation, which I find myself in.
I believe in an all-powerful, perfect and loving God who created an imperfect world.
Hopefully a sign of maturity or wisdom is the realisation that God is above all religions. Religion in itself is our outward expression of our belief in God.
If we believe that Christianity is above Judaism, Islam or Buddhism, and the only way to live and believe, then we live a very narrow life and will ultimately be disappointed.
The Priest was in the front row of a boxing match. At the start of the match one of the boxers made the sign of the Cross. The person sitting next to the Priest asked him, “Will that help him?” The priest replied, “Not if he can’t box!!!!!!”
God works with us but we have to do some of the work!
Edward Dooley (Mission and Faith Leader)
A finger pointing to the moon
The problem of the nature of faith plagues us all our lives. Is openness to other ideas infidelity, or is it the beginning of spiritual maturity? What is it that can possibly take us so far afield from the initial believing self? How do we explain to ourselves the journey of getting from there to here, from unquestioning adherence to institutional answers, to the point of asking faithful questions? It took years before I realized that maybe it is belief itself, if it is real, that carries us there. Maybe if we really believe about God what we say we believe, there comes a time when we have to go beyond the parochialisms of law. Maybe, if we are to be really spiritual people, we can’t afford the mind-binding of denominationalism. In order to find the God of life in all of life, maybe we have to be willing to open ourselves to the part of it that lies outside the circles of our tiny little worlds
The Sufi tell of disciples who, when the death of their master was clearly imminent, became totally bereft. “If you leave us, Master,” they pleaded, “how will we know what to do?” And the master relied, “I am nothing but a finger pointing at the moon. Perhaps when I am gone you will see the moon.” The meaning is clear: It is God that religion must be about, not itself. When religion makes itself God, it ceases to be religion.
But when religion becomes the bridge that leads to God, it stretches us to live to the limits of human possibility. It requires us to be everything we can possibly be: kind, generous, honest, loving, compassionate, just. It defines the standards of the human condition. It sets the parameters within which we direct our institutions. It provides the basis for the ethics that guide our human relationships. It sets out to enable us to be fully human, human beings. Clearly, religion is much more than dogmatism. And thank God for that, because dogmatism would not take religion very far at all.
Every time dogmatism reigns, in fact, religion is diminished. When a religion knows when the end of the world will come, and the date passes without incident, that religion fails itself. When religion decrees salvation for some, for our kind, and moral disaster for the rest of humankind—and that in the face of the goodness we see everywhere in every people on earth—it betrays the very God of love it teaches. When religion divides people on the basis of spiritual superiority, rather than unites them as common creatures of a common God, it rends the garment of humanity. It gives the lie to the God of cosmic creation. Hildegard of Bingen wrote, “Just as a circle embraces all that is within it, so does the Godhead embrace all.
It is this awareness of the universal God that we miss in life. Our God has always been a Catholic God—or at least a Christian God. We have, as a result, missed so much of God’s revelation. So I fail to find God in the rest of the world. That makes other people so easy to kill … Indians, Arabs, Jews, and Asians don’t have much of a chance when our God wants their God eradicated.
Indeed, religion at its worst is a sham. But religion at its best anchors us to the best in ourselves.
Most of all, religion enables us to find meaning in life. It gives purpose to the human condition. It sets the human compass toward home. It requires us to be more than we ever thought we could become. It raises our sights beyond ourselves. It sets standards for us that are above the lowest level of the self.
—from Called to Question (Rowman & Littlefield), by Joan Chittister
A big congratulations to Maddie and Sam Harris on the safe arrival of their beautiful baby girl, Grace Madeleine Harris. Grace was born on Friday 13th November and is going really well! Jack (Prep M) and Molly are thrilled to have a new baby sister.