See Who God is! Realize what this Mass is! See Christ here, on the Cross! See His wounds, see His torn hands, see how the King of Glory is crowned with thorns! Do you know what Love is? Here is Love, here on this Cross, here is Love, suffering these nails, these thorns, that scourge loaded with lead, smashed to pieces, bleeding to death because of your sins and bleeding to death because of people that will never know Him, and never think of Him and will never remember His Sacrifice. Learn from Him how to love God and how to love men! Learn of this Cross, this Love, how to give your life away to Him.
See, see Who God is, see the glory of God, going up to Him out of this incomprehensible and infinite Sacrifice in which all history begins and ends, all individual lives begin and end, in which every story is told, and finished, and settled for joy or for sorrow: the one point of reference for all the truths that are outside of God, their center, their focus: Love.
Do you know what Love is? You have never known the meaning of Love, never, you who have always drawn all things to the center of your own nothingness. Here is Love in this chalice full of Blood, Sacrifice, mactation. Do you not know that to love means to be killed for glory of the Beloved? And where is your love? Where is now your Cross, if you say you want to follow Me, if you pretend you love Me?
(The Seven Storey Mountain, pp.323f.)
The Pope gave a teaching on the sacrament of Confession. He has three points. Remember the Pope has a central emphasis for his ministry: MERCY. Today, begins a concerted effort on the part of the Bishop of Rome to encourage ALL priests to assist the faithful in this ministry of love and to embrace this gift given by the Lord. I think Pope Francis is quite clear, don’t you?
“24 hours for the Lord” is an initiative of Pope Francis to make room for the reception of Confession. Here is a video clip of the pope doing what he’s been teaching.
The Pope taught:
In the period of Lent, the Church, in the name of God, renews the call to conversion. It is the call to change one’s life. Conversion is not a matter of a moment or a year, is a commitment that lasts a lifetime. Who among us can be assumed not to be a sinner? No one. The Apostle John writes: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).” This is what happens in our celebration and throughout this day of penance. The Word of God we have heard introduces us to two essential elements of the Christian life.
The first: put on the new man. The new man, “created according to God(Eph 4:24),” is born in Baptism, where one receives the very life of God, which makes us His sons and incorporates us into Christ and his Church. This new life allows one to look at reality with different eyes, without being distracted by things that do not matter and cannot last long. For this we are called to abandon sinful behaviour and fix our gaze on that, which is essential. “Man is more precious for what he is than for what he has. (Gaudium et Spes, 35)” Behold the difference between the life deformed by sin and the life illumined by grace. From the heart of the man renewed according to God come good behaviors: always to speak with truth and avoid any lie; to steal not, but rather to share what you have with others; especially with those in need; not to give in to anger, resentment and revenge, but to be gentle, magnanimous and ready to forgive; not to fall into backbiting that ruins people’s good name, but to look more rather on each person’s positive side.
The second factor [is]: Remain in my love. The love of Jesus Christ lasts forever, will never end because it is the very life of God. This love conquers sin and gives strength to get up and start anew, because with pardon the heart is renewed and rejuvenated. Our Father never tires of loving and His eyes did not grow heavy in looking at the way home, to see if his Son who left and was lost will return. And this Father does not tire of loving even His other son, who, though he remains ever in the house with Him, nevertheless does not take part in His mercy, His compassion. God is not only the source of love, but in Jesus Christ calls us to imitate his own way of loving: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. (Jn 13:34)” To the extent that Christians live this love, they become credible disciples of Christ in the world. Love cannot stand to remain locked up in itself. By its very nature [Love] is open, it spreads and is fruitful, [it] always generates new love.
Dear brothers and sisters, after this celebration, many of you will make yourselves missionaries to the experience of reconciliation with God. “24 hours for the Lord” is an initiative in which many dioceses all over the world are participating. To everyone you meet, you will communicate the joy of receiving the Father’s forgiveness and regaining full friendship with Him. The one who experiences the mercy of God, is driven to be the creator of mercy among the poor and the least. In these “littlest brothers and sisters” Jesus waits for us (cf. Mt 25:40). Let us go to meet them! And we will celebrate Easter in the joy of God!
There are times we need help from God to get rid of mice and rats, locusts, worms, rats, etc. A deprecatory prayer expresses to God –the Creator of all things– our negative or disapproval of one His guests. The prayer speaks for itself.
The priest vests in surplice and purple stole, and coming to the field or place infested with these creatures, says:
Antiphon: Arise, Lord, help us; and deliver us for your kindness’ sake.
Psalm 43.1: O God, our ears have heard, our fathers have declared to us.
All: Glory be to the Father.
Priest: As it was in the beginning.
All say the Antiphon: Arise, Lord, help us; and deliver us for your kindness’ sake.
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry be heard by you.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.
Let us pray.
We entreat you, Lord, be pleased to hear our prayers; and even though we rightly deserve, on account of our sins, this plague of mice (or locusts, worms, etc.), yet mercifully deliver us for your kindness’ sake. Let this plague be expelled by your power, and our land and fields be left fertile, so that all it produces redound to your glory and serve our necessities; through Christ our Lord.
Let us pray.
Almighty everlasting God, the donor of all good things, and the most merciful pardoner of our sins; before whom all creatures bow down in adoration, those in heaven, on earth, and below the earth; preserve us sinners by your might, that whatever we undertake with trust in your protection may meet with success by your grace. And now as we utter a curse on these noxious pests, may they be cursed by you; as we seek to destroy them, may they be destroyed by you; as we seek to exterminate them, may they be exterminated by you; so that delivered from this plague by your goodness, we may freely offer thanks to your majesty; through Christ our Lord.
I cast out you noxious vermin, by God the Father almighty, by Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son, and by the Holy Spirit. May you speedily be banished from our land and fields, lingering here no longer, but passing on to places where you can do no harm. In the name of the almighty God and the entire heavenly court, as well as in the name of the holy Church of God, we pronounce a curse on you, that wherever you go you may be cursed, decreasing from day to day until you are obliterated. Let no remnant of you remain anywhere, except what might be necessary for the welfare and use of mankind. Be pleased to grant our request, you who are coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.
The places infested are sprinkled with holy water.
Do you ever think about our use of light in the Church? Does the use of light in the Liturgy ever cross your mind other than what you have experienced at annual the Easter Vigil? Even those churches with dedication candles rarely, if ever, get used. So, it seems fair to say that we don’t think of lighting the Church as remotely significant to the liturgical act, not at least since Thomas Edison. The use of electricity has minimized the sensual experience of light and darkness as part of the litugical-theological drama in the Latin Church, and in the Eastern Churches where it was more developed over the centuries. But the Easterns have burned through tradition.
I have tried to get priests and altar servers to be more attentive to the use of light and shadow in the time prior to and following the Mass but efforts have been rather difficult. More often we think of convenience, that is utility, as having a higher value than biblical typology. Think of the various points found in the Pentateuch, the prophets and the gospel of John. I happen to think that we need a recovery of biblical typology influencing liturgical ritual in concrete ways. Benedict XVI taught us this fact, too. Surely you might concede that Divine Revelation and development of biblical imagery in the Liturgy of Christ the Light has much to teach us —the lex orandi, lex credendi— thus having an educative side to our Catholic worship and imagination. The worship of God educates us as well as give proper glory and honor to God.
Catholic liturgy over the years has taught us that the burning candle is a form of sacrifice, a gift consuming itself just like the fire consuming the animal sacrifice; it also serves as a reminder of the prayerful intentions of the faithful. Churches have vigil lights at shrines imploring intercession. Even more poignant is the Paschal Candle because of its symbolism of the risen Christ Jesus. Some will recall that the wax made by honey bees is said to represent the flesh of Jesus; the wick and the wax working together is understood as a symbol of the hypostatic union of the Lord’s humanity and divinity; the flame recalls the Lord’s divinity. The biblical readings and prayers prayed at the Easter Vigil will remind the faithful of God’s presence among the Israelites in a pillar of flame. And no Catholic Church with the Eucharistic Presence is left without a vigil light continuously lit indicating the presence of Jesus Christ.
Imagine what our worship of the Triune God would be like if we were slightly more attentive to revelation and biblical premise! Certainly, our Christian anthropology would be keener. Little known is the Syriac liturgical tradition of which the Maronite Church belongs, has the unique ritual in the Liturgy of Lighting the Church. Yet, the lighting ritual has not really been seen in the USA too much until recently when Maronite Bishop Gregory Mansour asked the priests of the Eparchy of St Maron to shed some good light with both the candle lighting and the preparation of the gifts using the ritual the of “Lighting of the Church.”
Chorchishop Seely Beggiani, a liturgical theologian and recently the former rector of the Maronite Seminary in Washington, wrote about Light in the ritual of the Maronites.
Light is taken for granted by most people in the twentieth century. Our modern science has demystified the sun, the cycle of the seasons and the solar year. The invention of electricity has given ordinary human creatures power over light and darkness. Earlier generations were in awe of the sun and light. When day came to a close and pitch darkness covered the earth, they prayed that the sun would rise again and that warmth and life would again deliver them from the seemingly endless cold and a dying earth. Our ancestors had a deep awareness of their total dependence on light.
However, modern science can also make us aware of the absolute necessity of light in our lives. Photosynthesis is critical to any life at all on earth. If humans were deprived absolutely of light for even a short time, they would go mad and ultimately die. It is no accident that according to Albert Einstein the speed of light is the absolute for our universe.
Our faith tradition teaches us that primordial light was the first creation of God and thus the very stuff of the universe. God is portrayed as the “Father of Lights” and Christ is the Light of the World. The Bible often teaches us that we ultimately choose to live our lives either according to the Way of Light or the Way of Darkness; and that light leads to life while darkness leads to death. The true nature of Christ was revealed as uncreated light at the transfiguration, and it was the light of Christ at his death that destroyed the darkness of Sheol (the region of the dead.) Our immortal destiny is presented as the eighth day of creation where the sun will never set, where we are called to view the shining face of Christ.
It is for all these reasons that the lighting of the Church in preparation for the divine liturgy has such a great significance. In participating in this act we are proclaiming our readiness to be children of the light and to allow our deeds to be judged in the open light of day. The lighting of the candles announces the presence of Christ, the light of the world, whom we welcome among us. In the fully lighted church which represents the universe in miniature, we give thanks for the light and warmth of God’s creation.”