The law of four – part 1

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The new parish logo has been inspired by a much larger and more ancient reality. Looking at the nature of church and our involvement within it, as well as the structure of the liturgical year and the arrangement of the readings from the Gospels is part of what we will be considering over the next four Sundays of this new season of Advent and this new liturgical year – in this four-part series called ‘The law of four.”

These are the notes from my presentation. You can also download them as Adobe PDF

Over the last 1000 years & more:

  • The world dominated by science & rationalism
  • Emerging desire for music + art; emotion + spirit

“Four” occurs often in nature

  • Four seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter)
  • Four compass points (north, south, east and west)
  • Four stages of life (Childhood, Adolescence, Adulthood & Busyness & Babysitting)

Four occurs in other ways in nature

  • Four chords of popular music
  • Every great story – four parts
  1. Hearing the summons
  2. Enduring the obstacles
  3. Receiving the prize/favour
  4. Returning to the community

Four occurs in the great World Religions

– Jewish Passover has four stages

  1. Being freed from slavery
  2. Wandering in the wilderness
  3. Arriving in the promised land
  4. Creating a fruitful home there

Four occurs often in the church

  • Four liturgical colours (purple, red, white, green)
  • Four cardinal virtues (prudence, temperance, fortitude & justice)
  • Four marks of the Church (one, holy, Catholic & apostolic)
  • Four Marian dogmas (mother of God; ever-virgin; immaculate conception; assumption)
  • Four vocations or states of life (single, married, ordained & consecrated)
  • Four parts to the celebration of the Mass (Introductory Rites; Liturgy of the Word; Liturgy of the Eucharist; Concluding Rites)
  • Four transcendentals (one, good, true & beautiful – or in Latin: omnia ens est unum, bonum, verum et pulchrum)

Four occurs often in spirituality

  • Four stages of initiation (evangelisation; catechesis & catechumenate; reception of the sacraments of initiation; post-baptismal catechesis)
  • Four stages of religious life (postulancy; novitiate; simple profession; solemn profession)
  • Four loves (storge/family; philia/friends; agape/objective; eros/spousal)
  • Four temperaments (sanguine (optimistic & social); choleric (irritable); melancholic (analytical & quiet); phlegmatic (relaxed & peaceful))
  • Four weeks of the Spiritual Exercises

Four seasonal clusters

  • Seasons of Advent & Christmas
  • Season of Growth (Ordinary Time 1)
  • Seasons of Lent & Easter
  • Season of Growth (Ordinary Time 2)

Four Gospels

  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John

As to why we have four Gospels, how and why they were written, and why we read them in the order that we do – is the story for next week…

Play MP3

Three versions were recorded. All are available at

Season of Advent, Sunday 1, Year C.





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