NORWALK— Low notes of chanting reverberated through the beautifully ornate St. Mary’s Church in Norwalk for a Sunday evening “Lessons and Carols,” as a prayerful and reverent way to welcome in the Season of Advent.
On this First Sunday of Advent, December 2, over 100 people including children and families gathered together to enjoy the evening filled with the sounds of Advent. Seminarians processed in to Veni, Veni Emmanuel and sang hymns such as Savior of the Nations, Come; Comfort, Comfort Ye My People and Lo, He comes with Clouds Descending.
The seminarians of St. John Fisher in Stamford, accompanied by Father Paul Check, rector and Father John Connaughton, director of vocations, joined in Advent song with David Hughes, director of music and Samuel Schmitt, organist and choirmaster of the Cathedral Parish, Bridgeport.
The Festival of Lessons and Carols is a service of Scripture and song that dates to the late 19th century. In this service, the faithful listen to nine Scripture lessons which recount the Fall, the promise of a Messiah, the Incarnation, and the Great Commission to preach the Good News. Each lesson is followed by a carol or other song that reflects on the lesson’s message and a brief prayer.
Seminarians of the Diocese of Bridgeport came forward to present a reading pertaining to the Season of Advent and the coming of Christ, followed by an Advent hymn centered on the subject of the reading.
Readings included the angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-38), John the Baptist appears in the wilderness, proclaiming the baptism of repentance for sins(Matthew 3:1-12) and many others.
One reading, The Season of Advent from St. Charles Borromeo, explained the importance and holiness of the Season of Advent in the following way: “The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace. In her concern for our salvation, our loving mother the Church uses this holy season to teach us through hymns, canticles and other forms of expression, of voice or ritual, used by the Holy Spirit. She shows us how grateful we should be for so great a blessing, and how to gain its benefit: our hearts should be as much prepared for the coming of Christ as if he were still to come into this world.”
St. John Fisher Seminary is an initiative of the Diocese of Bridgeport to prepare college-aged men and young adults for entrance into major seminary and eventual ordination to the Catholic priesthood. Founded in 1989 by Most Rev. Edward M. Egan, the third bishop of Bridgeport, the St. John Fisher Seminary program exists to provide young men with a place in which they can come to a deeper relationship with Christ Jesus as they discern whether He is calling them to His priesthood.
For more information, please contact Fr. John Connaughton, vocation director by phone at: 203.322.5331 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.