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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

HOLY SATURDAY AND EASTER SUNDAY

 

triduum

Having  completed our Lenten observance and after the liturgies of Holy Thursday and  Good Friday we  are now at the stage of celebrating the Easter Vigil and the day of resurrection that is Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday is about emptiness, ‘The cross is empty now Jesus lies in the tomb and everything around us is still.’ The heavens and the earth cry out with longing for the sinless one who is not to be found, if we stop to think for a moment we remember that Jesus died and rose again on the third day. We wait, as mourners beside a grave, unsettled, ill at ease, almost not knowing what to do with ourselves. The Church has only one thing to do today: to pray through the emptiness of Holy Saturday. Holy Saturday then is the day when we experience watching and waiting at the tomb as we await the celebration of the Resurrection which we celebrate in the Easter Vigil and the season of Easter. The Psalm for Easter Sunday says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”Above all days, Easter is a day of joy .

But what is joy? The answer St. Francis gave to this question is famous. St. Francis said to his Brother Leo, “When we come to St. Mary of the Angels [our house], soaked by the rain and frozen by the cold, all soiled with mud and suffering from hunger, and we ring at the gate of the place and the brother porter comes and says angrily: ‘Who are you?’ And we say: ‘We are two of your brothers.’ And … he does not open for us, but makes us stand outside in the snow and rain, cold and hungry, until night falls—then if we endure all those insults and cruel rebuffs patiently, … oh, Brother Leo, … perfect joy is there!”

Whatever we may think of St. Francis’s explanation of perfect joy, Easter reminds us that Francis’s kind of joy is not the end of the story. At Easter, we celebrate the other kind of joy, the kind each of us longs for, when every tear is wiped away, and there is no sorrow any more no more suffering from weather or hunger or hurtful human beings. As we sing in the much-loved hymn by Fr. John Foley, S. J., at Easter, “the cross and passion past, dark night is done, bright morning come at last!” When we ourselves rise to meet our risen Lord, in that bright morning we will hear him say, “Come away, beloved. The winter is past; the rain is gone, and the flowers return to the earth” (Song of Songs 2:10-12). In the loving union of that encounter, all the heart brokenness of our lives will be redeemed. That will be perfect  joy.

So in that same vein of perfect joy we say “this is the ‘day which the Lord has made.’ Alleluia!  let us take fresh hope,  with Christ our Passover everything is possible! Christ goes forward with us in our future!” Let us go forward together as Easter people rejoicing in the Resurrection.

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Holy Thursday 2013

EUCHARISTIC CROSS

Today is Holy Thursday and the theme that runs through the entire day is one of service or more exactly humble service. This morning in the cathedral the priests con celebrated the Chrism Mass with our bishops. Holy Thursday is all about the  priesthood and the  institution of the Eucharist on the first Holy Thursday in the upper room. During this morning’s Chrism Mass our priests  renewed their commitment to serving the people of god in the parishes and the various chaplaincies that there are. We in our turn were asked to support our priests and our bishops by our prayers.

The evening Liturgy, marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the sacred “Triduum” (“three days”) of Holy Week, which culminates in the Easter Vigil, and concludes at Vespers on the evening of Easter day. The Evening Mass commemorating the Last Supper has, as its theme, service and sacrifice – which are aspects of the same mystery.  We see Jesus as one who serves, who gives himself. Just as he gives himself in washing the feet of his disciples, so he gives himself in the bread and wine he takes, blesses and hands to them. And in the same way he will give himself on the cross tomorrow.  All these acts of self-giving are the same act – that of the Son of Man who came ‘not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

The action of the Church that is our action on this night also witnesses to the Church’s respect for Christ’s Body present in the consecrated Host in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, carried in solemn procession to the  Altar of Repose. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church throughout the world until the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening proclaims the Resurrection that is the light of Christ. In the words of the liturgy let us go forth to meet the Lord in peace and thanksgiving as we celebrate the three days of the Easter Triduum

PALM SUNDAY 2013

palmsunday

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday when Jesus entered his own city From the ashes on Ash Wednesday we have almost gone full circle through the six weeks of Lent and here we are at Palm Sunday with three more days to come as we head towards the last round up that is the Easter Triduum. On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshipping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week, with the greatest tragedy and sorrow and then the greatest triumph of the year on Easter Sunday.

There are so many different aspects to this particular week it is so hard to flag up all of them on this day and i’m not going to do that.   They each have their own emphasis and there will be time to comment on them later on in the week.  Holy Week and the events within it give all of us an opportunity to look at our lives and to accept responsibility for all that is within our lives good bad or indifferent. It is important that we who say we are Christians accept the truth about ourselves and then in our acceptance of the truth we will be able to look at the Cross and recognise the love of God our Father for us and for everyone.

This week  and indeed the whole of our Lenten Journey that we will soon finish give  us the opportunity to look hard at ourselves and see exactly where we have come from and where we are going and perhaps were we should be going. We have always to remember that Jesus came to take away our sins and to point us in the right direction that is towards our father in heaven and all that is good.  During this week we remember that Christ came to give his life as a ransom for many and as a result of this he points us to God. Christ took our sinful ways on himself because of his love for us. May the passion story inspire all of us to try to imitate in some small way the all loving all forgiving Jesus who went through betrayal to death and finally to resurrection for us so that we will have life and have it to the full.  Over the next few days let us prepare with greater intensity for the Easter Triduum and then we will really be able to enjoy Easter feast which we have been preparing for since Ash Wednesday.

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THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK.

THE WOMAN CAUGHT COMMITTING ADULTERY

THE WOMAN CAUGHT COMMITTING ADULTERY

 

Today is the 17th March and  for anyone who is Irish or claims to have Irish ancestry we celebrate the feast of our National Saint. That said  this year our readings are for the 5th Sunday of Lent and we reflect on them in a moment. It is good to have an opportunity to remember what today is really about – not parades, not entertainment, not drink, not sporting events, not all the other stuff that goes with St Patrick’s Day. This day is about remembering the arrival of the Christian faith upon the  shores of Ireland. The vibrancy and the power of that faith come to us  through in the writings of the time. Being a Christian wasn’t just about attending a church on a Sunday, it was about living every second and every minute and every hour under the protection of God. There was a belief inherited from the Celtic past that there was an energy, a force, a power, a strength behind all things, the God proclaimed by Patrick fulfilled this belief. Through all the experiences of life Patrick has a sense of Christ with him and within him. Patrick shows his familiarity with the writings of Saint Paul in the penultimate verse. Paul writes to the Galatians, ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’.

At the end of St. Patrick’s Breastplate  Patrick has come full circle – back to the Trinity, back to God and in the closing two lines he expresses the message of the Gospel, “Praise to the Lord of my salvation, Salvation is of Christ the Lord’. May we follow Patrick’s example: may we bind God to ourselves and may we, like Patrick, know Christ as our Lord.

Today is also the Fifth Sunday of Lent – the final Sunday prior to Palm Sunday and Holy Week. We pray for our Holy Father Pope Francis that he will be accompanied by the prayers of the Church throughout the world as he begins his ministry as Pope. Lent is a time of endless opportunity for new growth, a time for insights into the meaning of God’s love for us. On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, we need to perk up the ears of our hearts when God says to a despondent people in exile, to look forward not backward, as though this moment in which they hear Isaiah’s prophecy is really the first day of their lives. He tells them to forget the past, for He has decided to do something new! This prophecy is really a veiled reference to the Father’s decision to send His Son Jesus as Messiah. By His sacrifice, He will bring them out of their vicious cycle of sinning. How sad that hundreds of years later, when their descendants actually saw their Messiah in the flesh, they failed to remember Isaiah’s words that God was doing something new!

In today’s Gospel Jesus meets the woman who was caught in adultery. He frees her from captivity to the crowd, the Pharisees and the Law. The “courtroom” tension is resolved by Jesus’ inviting her fellow-sinners to keep the Law by stoning her, if they themselves are without sin.  Nobody is left to throw stones as they were all sinners as we all are. We can understand why Israel had a “zero tolerance” policy against adultery. But Jesus is not about policies or procedures; he is about people and all the concerns and needs that they have. He knows that we all have in some way turned against God. And Jesus wants to free each one including us in our present time and place. He faces the woman’s accusers and his look causes each to examine his conscience. Then he speaks to the woman. Instead of condemnation, he offers a new beginning, “Go and from now on do not sin any more ” This is really what Lent is about, it is about all of us recognising that we are sinners, confessing our sins and then going out to try and sin no more.

 

Fourth Sunday of Lent Year C Laetare Sunday

Copy (2) of Project32

Rose Sunday or Laetare Sunday will be very different this year in Rome. Since Benedict XVI is no longer Pope, there will be no one to send a Golden Rose to Catholic kings and presidents. There is not quite the same reason to rejoice as in recent years, for now we await the election of a new Holy Father to shepherd the Church. The Conclave to elect a new pope will begin on  Tuesday 12th March and we pray for the election as we will pray for the man elected. On this fourth Sunday of Lent the focus of our readings for the liturgy is on coming back home and this is also about the Lenten season. The gospel reading is the story of the prodigal son which is about coming back to the Father. The story tells us about son who asked and got his inheritance and  then where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery. Then after a period in the wilderness of having little or nothing and recognising the error of his ways the son decides to return to his Father. The father welcomes back the return of his younger son with great extravagance. The contrasting attitude of the elder son is the main message of the parable, which is told for those who contest Jesus’ welcoming attitude to sinners (15:1-3). Perhaps the elder son has a reasonable grievance. Did the father never show gratitude to him for his commitment, his ‘slaving’? The words of the father to this elder son are truly healing words: ‘My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours.’ The elder brother is of course a type for ourselves. He had absolutely no sympathy for his brother. Had he had the opportunity, he would have tarred and feathered his younger brother. He would then have run him off the property on a rail. But his sibling’s misadventures cost him nothing. As the elder brother, two thirds of his father’s estate was legally his. His money was safe and protected.His brother had wasted the third of the estate that was rightfully his own by law. Notice too the older brother had an ugly mindset. It was he who suggested that his brother had spent his inheritance on fast women and slow horses.

The Master then is telling us that God will forgive even the worst rogue among us unconditionally. All we have to do is start walking back to God. Like the prodigal son, our motives may not be the purest. Nor do we have to even finish the journey. God is quite willing to meet us before our trip is finished as the saying goes he will come to meet us half way along the road. He will bring us to honours which we humanly speaking do not deserve. Obviously God merits the label “this tremendous lover.No sacred book other than the Bible proclaims the love of God or a god for his people and then Jesus the only Son of the Father came. His whole life was a statement of Love, love for the Father, love for us. His death was a proclamation of this love. “Is this enough for you?” he asks the mystic Julian of Norwich. He was saying, “If you need more, I will do more.”  Of course, it is enough. We live under the mercy of God, under the compassion of God. We live in the Love of Jesus Christ. 

The parable of the Prodigal Son, Forgiving Father or Elder Brother, is calling us to reflect on the depth of our own commitment to the Lord, and our own determination to live His Love. Nothing is too much to offer. Such is God’s delight at the return of a sinner.

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

Copy (2) of Project33

Well here we are nearly at the midpoint of Lent the third Sunday, of course the midpoint is next Wednesday 3 weeks in with three more to go. With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the thought that came into my mind on Friday was Here today gone tomorrow. After his resignation coming into force at 8pm on Thursday the popes name is automatically taken out of the intercession in the Eucharistic Prayer  and all other official references made of him in the Liturgy cease. In the same way when a pope dies his ring and seal are both smashed by the Cardinal Camerlengo and the papal apartments are sealed until the new pope is elected this all took place on Thursday evening. I’m sitting here just after 8pm on Thursday evening thinking has all this happened and as we know it has and so life goes on as we reflect on the readings for this Sunday

In this Sundays  gospel we hear again the urgent call of the Christ to change our way of life, to repent, to begin a new relationship with God our Father. The passage shows the compassion of Jesus, but this compassion does not exclude the need for repentance. To undergo resurrection in Christ is to undergo the judgment of God! Indeed, the time of Lent is nothing other than the time of the life of the Church: these forty days of repentance are the days given to the Church in order that she might prepare for her meeting with the risen Jesus, the Lord of Lords, He who is “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 21:6). 

God, in his mercy, gives us time to get right with him, but that time is here and now not in the past and not in the future. We must not assume that there is no hurry. There is always a hurry when it comes to faith because a sudden and unexpected death leaves us no time to prepare to settle one’s accounts when we must stand before the Lord on the day of judgment. Jesus warns us that we must be ready at all times. The Lord in his mercy gives us both grace and time to turn away from sin, but that time is right now. If we delay, even for a day, we may discover that grace has passed us by and our time is up.  

As a Church, we learn from the lessons of history and we remind ourselves that we the people of god  and the Church  we are part of are always in need of renewal and purification. We are in the middle of Lent; it is that time of the year when we have a lot to think about but the message of today’s readings is clear. It is that the task that lies before us is one of repentance. This means that we need to examine our consciences carefully and admit to God our sin and unworthiness and in all humility seek his forgiveness.  In simple terms the urgent call of the Christ to change our way of life and leave all the sinful ways behind us as  we look forward in hope to a better life  the eternal life offered us by the risen Lord at Easter.

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