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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the category “LITURGY”

TRINITY SUNDAY

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This Sunday we celebrate Trinity Sunday, which is the celebration of the Father, Son and Holy spirit the three equal persons that make up the Holy Trinity. When we make the sign of the cross we say In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit which is the invocation of the Holy Trinity. The feast of Holy Trinity goes back to 12th century England and St Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Historians say the great Thomas celebrated a Liturgy in honor of the Trinity in his cathedral. In the 14th century, the feast came to be observed by the universal Church. One week after the end of the Easter season, in which we gave thanks for the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday.

The feast of the Holy Trinity invites us to contemplate the mystery of God Father Son and Holy Spirit.  Paul in the Letter to the Romans reminds us that the Spirit of God makes us God’s children, destined to share in the life of God, as Christ does. The gospel reading speaks of the power of presence and the power of the name. Ancient people placed great weight in presence; the way someone dressed and acted spoke of social power. Ancient people also chose names carefully; they believed a person’s name defined their strength of character.

Both outward presence and inward character are part of the disciples’ experience. When the followers of Jesus  saw the resurrected Lord and heard his command to evangelize the entire world, they saw for themselves the Trinity in action. When we live as followers of Christ, we invite others to join us not because they see nice people living good lives. No, they, too, see the Trinity in action as God works through us. Each Trinity Sunday, we only scratch the surface of this great mystery of our faith. In gratitude and faith, let us begin and end every prayer with greater faith and reverence “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

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FEAST OF THE ASCENSION

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Over our lives we have seen or we will see the departure of so many people, Perhaps it is a son or daughter leaving for university or maybe it was someone leaving to go to another country on the other side of the world or the hardest departure of all someone close to us dying. Our lives are made up of so many different times and places of leave-taking and that is what Ascension is really about Jesus leaving the Apostles to return to the Father. The Apostles must have felt awful as  Jesus  told them and us go therefore make disciples of all the nations and know that I am with you yes to the end of time. This Gospel reading is all about the past the present and the future. It is about ourselves in the here and now of today, and what we are doing to make disciples of all the nations in 2019 or at least making disciples of those around us perhaps our families and friends.

In this gospel reading Jesus has little to say, but he is definite about what he has to say when he speaks. This is in sharp contrast to the fact that, even at this last minute, some of his disciples still doubted. The disciples did what he told them to do. He asked them to meet him on the mountain, and they did that. Like any gathering of people, their feelings were varied. Some of them worshipped him, while some of them still doubted. Jesus didn’t seem to have any great problem with that, because he knew that, when the Spirit came, all of those doubts would be ended. It would seem, indeed, that he was in a hurry to take his leave of them, so that the second part of his plan of salvation could get underway. The mission of the apostles was simple to understand; difficult to carry out. It was to teach others all that Jesus had taught them. Just as he asked his disciples to follow him, they were to ask that others should follow him which was so hard then and especially hard in the world of today.The programme of redemption and salvation was to begin at Pentecost and continue from generation to generation, until the end of time.

So many things have changed in the Church and society       over the years especially in more recent times. However two things that have not changed are Jesus himself and every word of his message as they are ever old and always new in each generation. The message of Jesus is ignored by many people inside and outside the Church for their own reasons. The essential message of God and Jesus his Son have never changed up to now and I don’t think that the message  will ever change. Again and again we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to make disciples of all the nations realizing that Jesus and his message are always new for each generation. May we be heralds of the message of Jesus this Ascension as we go forward with faith.

6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

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This weekend we celebrate the 6th Sunday and soon we will be at Ascension and then Pentecost Sunday which is often called the birthday of the Church. In this Sunday Gospel Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to the apostles as the advocate. Although Jesus had spoken to the Apostles and told them many different things, he knew them well and realized that they wouldn’t remember everything he said Jesus also knew that they would have to endure many struggles, that they would have to face ambiguity and confusion, difference and disagreement. We see all of this in the Church today with many people agreeing with Pope Francis and many others disagreeing with him on issues of faith. The Apostles would not see eye to eye on everything; they would have different memories of Jesus; they would emphasise different things. In the conflicts that would arise they would have to put their faith to work. That is why he told them and he tells us that the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in his name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.

These words are a direct pointer towards Pentecost and the gifts that the Holy Spirit would bring to them as well as us.  We don’t have the physical presence of Jesus with us the way his first disciples did when he talked with them around the table at the Last Supper, washed their feet, and gave them his reassuring promises. His farewell to them was a real farewell he was going, he would no longer be with them as he had been. But he assured them and us that he is present in a different way, in his gift of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel Reading Jesus also promised the Apostles Peace  ‘A peace that the world cannot give.’ Sometimes we mistake this peace for our idea of quietness or tranquility, but the peace the Jesus gives is a peace that can be found even in the midst of turmoil. This peace is not something we can manufacture ourselves by our own power. It’s a gift that comes from Jesus, who doesn’t want to lose touch with us. Jesus chose his followers to carry out God’s plan of salvation. He chooses us today to do the same. By allowing us to participate in his work of redemption, he gives us a personal stake in the Kingdom of God.

With all the confusion ambiguity and disagreement that we see as people of faith we remember the great gift that is the Holy spirit is something that unites us. If we keep on trusting in the presence of the Spirit of God we will have peace in the midst of any personal, family, or community turmoil that comes our way as well as someone who will keep us going along the right Road!

5th Sunday of Easter

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This weekend we stop and say a prayer for all those who are doing exams at the moment A levels GCSE’S or University exams, Our world puts great store on education and sometimes it forgets the pressure that this puts on our young people especially at exam time and not all of them are able to deal with that pressure. During this exam season we remember all those who are finding the exams hard to get through and we pray for all those who are doing exams in the days ahead that they may be inspired to do their best and know that there are people out there family, friends teachers and lecturers who value them no matter about the exam results.

In this Sundays Gospel Jesus calls us to a new way of living when he tells us to love one another as I have loved you.  At one level this is a simple call to love, at another it is a big challenge for us to be Christ like  to others in this sometimes horrible world. This means that we should love as Jesus loves, in order to be the face and heart of Christ to a wounded and hurting world.

It seems to me that our faith should constantly challenge us to live lives of love, love of God and love of one another and this ideal is so very hard to achieve. The love Jesus speaks of seems to be narrow and restrictive. He is addressing his disciples when he says, “love one another.”  This love may seem insular and applicable just to an inner circle of his followers. Is he telling us that the sacrificial love he calls us to applies only to those around us in the Church? No, of course he is not saying that because we know from other parts of John’s gospel that Jesus’ mission of love includes an outreach to the world That outreach in our modern times must include all those who have left the Church for many reasons we should not leave them behind as many people might want to do. Jesus wants us to be united with him and one another in A loving and caring community. A loving and caring community that has a great effect on others bringing those who might be doubtful with it. What more articulate proclamation of the gospel can there be than a group of diverse people drawn together, not by similarities in education, economic status, neighborhood, citizenship, race, etc., but by the love that God has for them and their bringing that love for one another to other people? A community such as this couldn’t help but draw others into it and to one who is the source of their universal love. We are called to be that community showing the love of God to those around us and this is not easy to do but we should try and not be afraid to do that as we go forward.

5th Sunday of Easter

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This weekend we stop and say a prayer for all those who are doing exams at the moment A levels GCSE’S or University exams, Our world puts great store on education and sometimes it forgets the pressure that this puts on our young people especially at exam time and not all of them are able to deal with that pressure. During this exam season we remember all those who are finding the exams hard to get through and we pray for all those who are doing exams in the days ahead that they may be inspired to do their best and know that there are people out there family, friends teachers and lecturers who value them no matter about the exam results.

In this Sundays Gospel Jesus calls us to a new way of living when he tells us to love one another as I have loved you.  At one level this is a simple call to love, at another it is a big challenge for us to be Christ like  to others in this sometimes horrible world. This means that we should love as Jesus loves, in order to be the face and heart of Christ to a wounded and hurting world.

It seems to me that our faith should constantly challenge us to live lives of love, love of God and love of one another and this ideal is so very hard to achieve. The love Jesus speaks of seems to be narrow and restrictive. He is addressing his disciples when he says, “love one another.”  This love may seem insular and applicable just to an inner circle of his followers. Is he telling us that the sacrificial love he calls us to applies only to those around us in the Church? No, of course he is not saying that because we know from other parts of John’s gospel that Jesus’ mission of love includes an outreach to the world That outreach in our modern times must include all those who have left the Church for many reasons we should not leave them behind as many people might want to do. Jesus wants us to be united with him and one another in A loving and caring community. A loving and caring community that has a great effect on others bringing those who might be doubtful with it. What more articulate proclamation of the gospel can there be than a group of diverse people drawn together, not by similarities in education, economic status, neighborhood, citizenship, race, etc., but by the love that God has for them and their bringing that love for one another to other people? A community such as this couldn’t help but draw others into it and to one who is the source of their universal love. We are called to be that community showing the love of God to those around us and this is not easy to do but we should try and not be afraid to do that as we go forward.

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER

A DIVINE MERCY

DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY

This Sunday we celebrate the great Mercy of God on the second Sunday of Easter that has come to be known as Divine Mercy Sunday. We celebrate the mercy of God made known to us in a particular way by Saint Faustina the polish nun.

I was sitting here a few days ago  thinking that the season of Lent, Holy Week and  Easter  Sunday have come and gone so quickly this year  and are now a distant memory. Many people think that Easter begins and ends on Easter Sunday but it doesn’t end there, the celebration of the season of Easter goes on for 50 days and ends on Pentecost Sunday. I wonder what the Apostles would think if they were to come down to us these days and find that we are celebrating the Death and Resurrection of Jesus that took place over 2000 years ago, they would be amazed especially as they thought everything was over with the Crucifixion on Good Friday.

In this Sundays Gospel reading the Apostles were still huddled together behind locked doors, pondering the shocking experience from the week before when all seemed to be lost. Then we are told that Jesus appeared  to them and to assure them that He was alive. His message must have troubled them as well when he told them: “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”   In the same way as the apostles were sent out we are sent out to bring his message of god’s mercy  and love to other people wherever we are. Then of course there is doubting Thomas who heard the witness of the those who saw Jesus but, like so many of us today he wanted more proof. Jesus says to Thomas, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” That is a favorite quote for many of us, who have not “seen” the risen Christ in person as the disciples did. We have come to believe though we have not seen him in the flesh but he is with us in the midst of our communities through so many different people. When Jesus says to the Apostles Peace be with you the Peace he is talking about is much more than the lack of conflict.

True peace, gives us happiness, since it is built on trust in God and one another.  The gospel tells us how Jesus gave his followers peace because they trusted him. In spite of the skepticism of Thomas and so many others, Jesus  offers us the same peace of heart mind and soul.  As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday we remember the joy, the hope, the grief and the anxieties of the people in our time those we know and those unknown to us and we bring them to the merciful Lord. Our world is hurting so much because of the things that are happening within it with so many people at each other’s throats for so many reasons. May all of us be witnesses to the love  and mercy of the Gospel as we bring the caring face of God’s mercy to the people in our own communities wherever we are called to be.

EASTER

 

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The Forty Days of Lent are over.  We have celebrated the beginning of the priesthood  and the Eucharist on Holy Thursday. We have also celebrated The Passion and Death of the Lamb of God  and the tomb is  now empty as we wait on the joyful call that Christ has  risen from the dead.  The darkness of good Friday is gone and the flowers in our churches symbolize the New Life that has come into the world. Jesus Christ lives! He has Risen as he said he would and his light lights up our world.  During the Easter Vigil we lit the Easter fire and from that fire we have lit the Paschal Candle that will be used over the next year.

Our Gospel story for the vigil tells us that we should not look for Jesus among the dead for he has risen and the light of Christ lights up the darkness of our lives and our world. The Easter celebration is an invitation to come out of darkness into the light of the risen Christ. In that light we see him and recognise each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord. It is that light which summons us to leave the darkness of our lives behind and all of us have some of those dark places.  As a  result of Jesus conquering death on the cross nobody can be written off as a lost cause ever again. Year after year when we celebrate Easter we hold as holy the memory of God’s great love for us  when he raised Jesus from the dead.  We believe that God’s graciousness will be extended to ourselves and that our own death will not be the final word. Our faith tells us that  we will participate in Jesus resurrection on the last day. But a question raises itself: is our faith in the resurrection limited to remembering Jesus’ resurrection and hoping for our own on the last day? Hopefully it will mean more to us than that.

The resurrection of Jesus is a proclamation that this outcast from Galilee is the beloved Son of God who cannot be held in the darkness of death because someone else takes action. Jesus did not raise himself; he was raised by God his father. All of us believe that God’s work continues not least because we believe Jesus’ words: “I am the resurrection and the life.” Our celebration of the Easter Season begins with our celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday with the Vigil on Holy Saturday evening during which we welcome and baptise Adult converts to the faith Then  on Easter morning  we celebrate our Easter masses as we renew our baptismal promises and don’t forget that the feast of Easter continues for 50 days until Pentecost.  So full of gratitude for Christ’s passion, with joy in his resurrection and, strengthened by the Spirit, we continue our Christian journey this Easter time.

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Holy Saturday

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We await the resurrection at the tomb in the quietness of Holy Saturday. All seems to have ended yet this is only the beginning As we wait at the tomb we think about Mary the mother of Jesus and the disciples who were the witnesses to Good Friday how must they feel? As we think about them we also remember that we are the inheritors of this great salvation event and we pray:

Almighty, ever-living God, whose Only-begotten Son

descended to the realm of the dead,

and rose from there to glory,

grant that your faithful people,

who were buried with him in baptism,

may, by his resurrection, obtain eternal life.

 

GOOD FRIDAY

 

CROSS

On this day in the liturgy we read St. Johns account of the passion, we pray for the needs of the Church and the world, we venerate the Cross and we receive the blessed Eucharist. We think of the death of Jesus on the cross, his death was a result of the courage of his convictions. He lived his life with a message of compassion, of equality and love, Jesus was often critical of those who lorded it over those who were less well off or who had little or even nothing at all. The cross of Good Friday is a sign and a symbol that all of us recognise, it is a sign of the completeness of the love that God has for each one of us faults and failings included.

It is not accidental that the Passion according to John is always read on this day.  This account shows that Jesus is always in charge, in total command of his situation.  John’s Passion is an extended commentary on an earlier statement of Jesus found in John 10:17-18:  “I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”    The focus of the liturgy of Good Friday, is not primarily a meditation on Jesus’ pain, nor on our sinfulness, or our imitation of Jesus’ humility.  Instead  the focus on the cross is a reminder to us that we are beneficiaries of this event  and so we call the Friday “Good” by thanking God for what God has done for us .  The final words of Jesus from the cross say it all for us, “It is accomplished!”  Jesus is not overcome. On the contrary!  He has overcome and the fact that we are celebrating Good Friday in 2019 bears witness to this.  When we go up to venerate the cross on Good Friday we should allow the cross to move us to be better people. Consoling, comforting and challenging the people we meet with the values of Jesus and the Cross.

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How splendid is the Cross- of Christ! It brings life,

not death;

Light not darkness; Paradise, not its loss.

It is the wood on which the Lord, like a great warrior;

was wounded in hands, and feet and side,

but healed thereby our wounds.A tree had destroyed us,

a tree now brought us life.

 

Theodore of Studios

HOLY THURSDAY 2019

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Lent has ended and now we begin the Holy Week Triduum. The word Triduum is the Latin for three days that is Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The Church celebrates one liturgy each day. We should not think of the liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil as three separate events, all three form part of one single extended liturgy. In fact at the end of the Mass on Holy Thursday there is no dismissal and blessing instead we accompany Jesus to the Altar of repose and then leave in silence. In the same way there is no formal beginning and end to the Good Friday liturgy we enter in silence and again we leave in silence.  This three-day liturgy concludes with the solemn blessing at the end of the Easter Vigil or at the morning Mass on Easter Sunday.

On Holy Thursday morning the sacramental oils of the sick and catechumens are blessed and the Chrism is consecrated. Also during the Chrism Mass the priests renew their commitment to serve the people of God. If we think about our priests they bring the love of God into the lives of so many people through their work in the parishes, in the chaplaincies to Hospitals, schools and so many other places as well. We pray in a special way for our diocesan priests as well as those who are members of religious and Missionary Orders that God will uphold them in their ministry. We also remember in a special way  the Archbishop Bishops priests  deacons religious and people of the Archdiocese of Paris today as they would have been having this Mass in Notre Dame this morning and we pray that god will get them through these days safe in the knowledge that many people are praying for them throughout the world.

During the celebration of the Mass of the Lords Supper on Holy Thursday evening  we hear two readings, Paul’s account of the institution of the Eucharist and John’s account of the washing of the feet during the last supper.  John’s Gospel is full of signs of the Eucharist which are not read.  Instead, we hear about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. In the loving act of washing feet, Jesus demonstrates that one’s love of another is humble service, a bond of charity filled with grace and love.  When supper had ended, Jesus took water in a basin and a towel and began to wash his disciples’ feet. He then commanded his disciples to follow his example by giving such loving service to others. On this night we act out Jesus’ command by participating in the foot washing. We are invited to have our feet washed and to watch the feet of others being washed. These readings make us aware that the institution of the Eucharist is tied to the demand of mutual love for one another.

Following the celebration of the Eucharist, we move in procession  with the Blessed Sacrament to the  chapel Of reservation there parishioners keep a watch through the night up to midnight. The custom of spending some time with our Lord on this night comes  from the desire to give an affirmative answer to Jesus’ question, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” Participating in the Holy Thursday liturgy prepares us for the events of the next days in which we see betrayal ,death and resurrection.

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