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To mark the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act, over 100 people, including our very own Sr. Andrea came together to form a human chain in silent witness on Lothian Road, Edinburgh last Saturday. Old, young and the very young made the journey to witness to life. There were lollies, balloons and a wee bit of sun intermittently to help us on our way. Next year marks the 50th year since abortion was made legal in Britain and the witness to the lives lost grows steadily…
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At Mass in our church today the Feast of the Annunciation was celebrated. Its official date is March 25 but because of the date of Easter this year it has been delayed. In the Liturgical Year the Church celebrates many significant feasts of Our Lady; if there is a hierarchy of these memorable occasions that of the Immaculate Conception will be first, because it is this unique privilege that points towards every other event of Our Lady’s life on earth and her approved apparitions during the Church’s subsequent history.
Nonetheless, the subject-matter of the Annunciation has inspired more artists because of the very human drama of the event described in the Gospels: the angel Gabriel’s momentous communication, followed by Our Lady’s life-changing “Fiat”. My own favourite painting is Fra Angelico’s, because it so beautifully conveys Our Lady’s humility. It reminds one that one of the most attractive features of Catholicism is the person of Our Lady herself and the role she has played in salvation history. Although our love for her is incomprehensible to those outside the Faith, she fulfils our human longing for a mother infinitely compassionate and loving – and especially for a mother who will unceasingly intercede for us with her Son.
This particular feast in honour of Our Lady is also significant because it is intrinsically bound up with the pro-life movement. If Jesus became a human being at the Annunciation of his conception, so does every baby in the womb. Thus to be a Catholic is to be pro-life. Other Churches may quibble about a time when a baby is “less” than human and a time when it becomes “more” human; the Feast of the Annunciation tells it like it is
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The other day we asked for prayers for a very ill unborn baby. Thank you to all who have been praying. Could we ask that you keep this baby and his mum, who has gone into very difficult labour, in your prayers. The doctors say that the wee one won’t survive and we indeed need a miracle.
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Tags: children, Mothers, Prayer, pregnancy, prenatal diagnosis
This July, Sr Andrea will be one of the leaders of a group of pilgrims who are heading to World Youth Day in Krakow – many of whom are volunteers for the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative.
In order to make this pilgrimage a reality – the group need to raise funds for travel and accommodation costs.
Please support this event by coming along to the concert they have organised. There will be some great entertainment through a mix of musical genres and it’s BYOB too – why not make a wee night of it.
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The Easter Exsultet (The most beautiful prayer of the Church) proclaimed last night: “Rejoice, heavenly powers! Rejoice, O Earth! Rejoice, O Mother Church! For Christ has ransomed us with his blood, and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our Eternal Father!”
We press the issue and boldly sing that ancient text, “What good would life have been to us, had Christ not come as our Redeemer? Father, how wonderful your care for us! How boundless your merciful love! To ransom a slave, you gave away your Son.” He is risen! Anyone who has faith and contemplates the Resurrection of Christ simply cannot live an ordinaryexistence anymore. Our response to Christ’s victory over death is proclamation. This news simply must be shared and all people deserve an opportunity to hear it! Happy Easter!
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On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Good Friday, in the Adoration of the Cross, in the chanting of the ‘Reproaches’, in the reading of the Passion, and in receiving the pre-consecrated Host, we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord.
The Church – stripped of its ornaments, the altar bare, and with the door of the empty tabernacle standing open – is as if in mourning. In the fourth century the Apostolic Constitutions described this day as a ‘day of mourning, not a day of festive joy,’ and this day was called the ‘Pasch (passage) of the Crucifixion.’
The liturgical observance of this day of Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death evidently has been in existence from the earliest days of the Church. No Mass is celebrated on this day, but the service of Good Friday is called the Mass of the Presanctified because Communion (in the species of bread) which had already been consecrated on Holy Thursday is given to the people .
Traditionally, the organ is silent from Holy Thursday until the Alleluia at the Easter Vigil , as are all bells or other instruments, the only music during this period being unaccompanied chant.
The omission of the prayer of consecration deepens our sense of loss because Mass throughout the year reminds us of the Lord’s triumph over death, the source of our joy and blessing. The desolate quality of the rites of this day reminds us of Christ’s humiliation and suffering during his Passion. We can see that the parts of the Good Friday service correspond to the divisions of Mass:
- Liturgy of the Word – reading of the Passion.
- Intercessory prayers for the Church and the entire world, Christian and non-Christian.
- Veneration of the Cross
- Communion, or the ‘Mass of the Pre-Sanctified.’
The Veneration of the Cross
In the seventh century, the Church in Rome adopted the practice of Adoration of the Cross from the Church in Jerusalem, where a fragment of wood believed to be the Lord’s cross had been venerated every year on Good Friday since the fourth century. According to tradition, a part of the Holy Cross was discovered by the mother of the emperor Constantine, St. Helen, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326. A fifth century account describes this service in Jerusalem. A coffer of gold-plated silver containing the wood of the cross was brought forward. The bishop placed the relic on the a table in the chapel of the Crucifixion and the faithful approached it, touching brow and eyes and lips to the wood as the priest said (as every priest has done ever since): ‘Behold, the Wood of the Cross.’
Adoration or veneration of an image or representation of Christ’s cross does not mean that we are actually adoring the material image, of course, but rather what it represents. In kneeling before the crucifix and kissing it we are paying the highest honor to the our Lord’s cross as the instrument of our salvation. Because the Cross is inseparable from His sacrifice, in reverencing His Cross we are, in effect, adoring Christ. Thus we affirm: ‘We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross Thou has Redeemed the World.’
The Reproaches and the Reading of the Passion
The Reproaches (Improperia), are often chanted by a priest during the Good Friday service as the people are venerating the Cross. In this haunting and poignant poem-like chant of very ancient origin, Christ himself ‘reproaches’ us, making us more deeply aware of how our sinfulness and hardness of heart caused such agony for our sinless and loving Savior. A modern translation of the some of the Reproaches, originally in Latin follows:
My people, What have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!
I led you out of Egypt; but you led your Savior to the Cross.
For forty years I led you safely through the desert,
I fed you with manna from heaven,
and brought you to the land of plenty; But you led your Savior to the Cross.
O, My people! What have I done to you that you should testify against me?
Holy God. Holy God. Holy Mighty One. Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.
Three times during Holy Week the Passion is read – on Passion Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday. By very ancient tradition, three clergy read the three principal parts from the sanctuary: Jesus (always read by a priest), Narrator, and all the other individual parts. The people also have a role in this – we are those who condemn the Lord to death. Hearing our own voices say ‘Away with Him! Crucify him!’ heightens our consciousness of our complicity by our personal sinfulness in causing His death.
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HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances, saving only the Easter Vigil. It celebrates both the institution by Christ himself of the Eucharist and of the institution of the sacerdotal priesthood (as distinct from the ‘priesthood of all believers’) for in this, His last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover, He is the self-offered Passover Victim, and every ordained priest to this day presents this same sacrifice, by Christ’s authority and command, in exactly the same way. The Last Supper was also Christ’s farewell to His assembled disciples, some of whom would betray, desert or deny Him before the sun rose again.
On Holy Thursday there is a special Mass in Cathedral Churches, attended by as many priests of the diocese as can attend, because it is a solemn observance of Christ’s institution of the priesthood. At this ‘Chrism Mass’ the bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism used for Baptism and Confirmation. The bishop may wash the feet of twelve of the priests, to symbolize Christ’s washing the feet of his Apostles, the first priests.
The Holy Thursday liturgy, celebrated in the evening because Passover began at sundown, also shows both the worth God ascribes to the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water (a symbol of baptism) in the Mandatum, or washing in Jesus’ washing the feet of His disciples, and in the priest’s stripping and washing of the altar. Cleansing, in fact, gave this day of Holy Week the name Maundy Thursday.
The action of the Church on this night also witnesses to the Church’s esteem for Christ’s Body present in the consecrated Host in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, carried in solemn procession to the flower-bedecked Altar of Repose, where it will remain ‘entombed’ until the communion service on Good Friday. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil proclaims the Resurrection.
And finally, there is the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by the people during the night, just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during His agony on the Mount of Olives before the betrayal by Judas.
**Pope Francis will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at a Rome rehabilitation facility for the elderly and people with disabilities.
He will preside over the Holy Thursday evening Mass and foot-washing ritual at the Father Carlo Gnocchi Foundation’s Our Lady of Providence Center on the outskirts of Rome, the Vatican announced on April 8.
Last year, the pope celebrate the Holy Thursday liturgy at Rome’s Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center, where he washed the feet of young male and female offenders.
Moving the Holy Thursday evening ceremony out of either St. Peter’s Basilica or the Basilica of St John Lateran marked a change in papal tradition, but it reflected the traditional practice of then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires. The future pope used to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper — which reflects on the call to imitate Christ by serving one another — in prisons, hospitals or shelters for the poor and marginalised.
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Jackie Eve was tagged in this.
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