The Ancient of Office of Tenebrae will be chanted on Good Friday again this year at Old St. Mary’s Church at 7 PM. This year, various polyphonic pieces by the composer Victoria, and others, will sung to add to the solemnity and somberness of the evening. Matins, with its nine psalms and nine lessons, followed by Lauds, with its five psalms and Gospel Canticle, are a good way to keep watch at the Tomb of Christ, waiting for the Resurrection. The whole office takes sometime, but is a good way to spend Good Friday, especially if someone was unable to attend the Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. Coming from a Latin word for darkness or shadows, Tenebrae is a reminder of the decent into darkness that the world experiences through sin and the Crucifixion and Death of Christ. Through Tenebrae, culminating in the loud banging at the end of the Office, the psalms and lessons highlight the emotions that one feels as a result of the Passion. The Church progressively gets darker through the Psalms and lessons, showing the decent of humanity into sin. In the end, we are left in total darkness because of our choice to sin, leading to the death of Christ. Completely in Latin, this part of the Divine Office may seem burdensome. But if one enters into the spirit of Tenebrae with all of the senses, observing the environment, listening to the chants, reading the texts, and chanting when possible, the soul will begin to realize to some degree the depth that Christ went to in order to save us from our sins. Please join us in prayer on this most solemn evening of the Church year…
“Let us offer our prayers and make sacrifices for the cardinals who will gather in conclave to elect the successor of St. Peter, whom we already love with all our heart.” Bishop Javier Echevarría, Prelate of Opus Dei.
The resignation of Benedict XVI reminds us that it is the Spirit of the Father and the Son who is the one guiding Holy Mother Church. Jesus Christ, Perfect Man and Perfect God, the Founder of the most holy Roman Church, wants a human instrument to make him visible before the community of disciples of faith, hope and charity.
And so even if the ‘Chair of Peter’ is vacant due to the resignation of Benedict XVI, which saddens us, the words of Jesus are consoling: “I will not leave you orphans … I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever. (John 14: 18 & 16).
When he ascended to the right hand of His Father, the Master conferred on Peter the tiller of his barque. And this chain of conferral continues, because after one pontificate comes another, in accord with Christ’s promise to Simon: And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt. 16:18)
Although Christ’s words do not pass away and He remains true to his promises, all of us Catholics must pray. We have to pray and pray, God wants us to pray, not for His good but for our good, for the good of the Church, and for the salvation of the world. In particular, because the election of the new Roman Pontiff is of such great importance for the whole world, it is especially important that we pray for the Cardinals in the Conclave, that they may elect one who will do God’s holy will.
Let us pray for the new Roman Pontiff, for after Jesus and Mary, we must love the Pope with all the strength of our heart, whoever he may be. We should already love the Roman Pontiff who is to come. We must be determined to serve him with our whole life.
In the Oratory, we are mindful of the example of our holy Father, St. Philip, whose mission and apostolate was to resanctify the City of Rome itself. He was the trusted counselor of many Popes, who even tried to persuade him to accept membership of the Sacred College, and who did name several of his closest disciples and penitents as Cardinals. St. Philip dearly loved and submitted himself in all things to the Vicar of Christ. Let us ask his intercession that God may send us a shepherd who will govern his Church faithfully and according to His Will.
“Pray, and offer to our Lord even your moments of relaxation. We offer even this for the Pope who is to come, just as we have offered the Mass during all these days, just as we have offered…even our breathing.” St. Josemaria Escriva.
Self-love and pride has been the plague of the human soul from the beginning of time. At that time, Adam and Eve felt in their hearts that what God had given them wasn’t enough for them. They needed more, even if that meant being disobedient to God. And so, we have that first sin, Original Sin, a sin that has been passed down to each one of us, from parent to child. This is a sin not in the sense that it is something that we have done, but rather a sin in the manner of being deprived of something, it is something we are missing. Adam and Eve deprived each of their children of grace, of that intimate friendship with God, in which God shared His own life with us. Adam and Eve robbed us of the gifts and graces that God showered upon mankind at the beginning of time. We have been robbed by the Father of Lies. And from that time forward, we have continued to rob ourselves of the freedom and the ability to love as we should through our own sins.
A short while ago, we celebrated that wonderful Feast of Christmas, the day in which the Incarnate Word of God was born. For centuries, the Israelites tried to atone for that Original Sin, and all sin. They sacrificed animals, they did penance, and established Feast Days such as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. But these ended up not being profitable to restoring our friendship with God. It was only with the birth of the Christ Child that the wages of sin and death could finally begin to be reversed.
Original Sin had wounded us so much that we were powerless against it. We became slaves to our own sinfulness. But God, in His rich mercy and love for His creation, sent to us the long awaited Redeemer. For just as Adam is the Father of the human race. Christ has become the new Adam for the recreated human race. The Sacrifice Christ had to make to accomplish this for us was not a debt that any of us had the ability to pay.
As we prepare to embark upon the Lenten Journey, it is good for us to consider all of this. Consider the fact that each of us, just like Adam and Eve, have turned away from God. Each of us have contributed to the Sacrifice that Christ accomplished on Calvary. We have each sinned and rejected the manifold mercy and graces of God. But at the same time, having been baptized, we are a redeemed race. A people that have had the floodgates of mercy and grace re-opened to us through the Sacraments of the Church. A people that has had the friendship of God offered to us again because of our Baptism. Do we appreciate our redemption as much as we should, or do we still hold on somehow to that original sin? The sin that constantly drags humanity down, the sins of self-love and pride.
Lent is a perfect time to contemplate our own pride and sinfulness. It is a Season that challenges us. Lent challenges our pride and sin, because we come face to face with the reality that we are sinners and stand with the enemies of Christ when we sin. Lent is a season when we see the Divine Redeemer so humbled and emptied of His Divinity, that even the faith of the Apostles was challenged at the sight of Christ at His Crucifixion. And yet, the Crucifixion, an image of a debased man, is where Christians find their strength. The Crucifixion is the key to our own sanctity. The key because it shows us that penance and sacrifice is the way we can be more united to Christ in His Redemptive Act.
As we begin to prepare to make this Lenten Journey with Christ, may we contemplate the extent that he went to in order to save us from our sins. To again, offer us the freedom that properly belongs to sons and daughters of God. Lent is the season of penance and sacrifice. And without penance and sacrifice, Salvation would be impossible.
As Lent begins, do not limit yourself to simply abstaining from meat on Fridays and giving up sweets. Truly consider the areas in your life that drives wedges between you and God; between you and your neighbors. Mortify yourself so that you can more freely respond to the love that God calls us. Love is not just a feeling we get, but is something that is shown through our actions and sacrifices for others. As we contemplate what challenges our ability to love, prepare to make worthwhile sacrifices this Lent. Make it a habit to attend Daily Mass and the Sacrament of Penance more often. Resolve to attend the Liturgies of the Church as often as possible, spending time at events particular to the Lenten Season; in particular, Sunday Vespers, Tenebrae, and Stations of the Cross. Increase your prayer, perhaps by attending Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and praying in Adoration. Take time serve our brothers and sisters in some way, perhaps by volunteering at a Soup Kitchen or donating money. Instruct yourself more deeply in the Mysteries of the Church by attending Lenten Talks and Missions. Lent is a time to remind us of our sinfulness, to atone for our own sins, and to walk the journey to the Cross with Christ. If we aren’t different on Easter Sunday, that Feast and Feasts, then Lent was not practiced as it should have been. We failed somehow to understand the Sacrifice of Christ.
Between now and Wednesday, contemplate the Sacrifice of Christ. Contemplate what it means to be sinful beings. And to aid in your own call to sanctification, take to heart the Church’s call for each of us to participate in Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. The Church requires very little of us during Lent. All in the hope that we will make efficacious and worthwhile sacrifices on our own. Christ did so much for us, and is willing to journey with, and support, us during this Lenten Season. What we are willing to do for Christ?
The Community will be holding its Second Annual Fundraising Banquet this April 20th. The event will be held at the Phoenix, in Downtown Cincinnati. The cost will be $50 a person. For reservations or more information, please email email@example.com. More formal information will be available soon. Hope to see you there!
On behalf of the Community-in-Formation, we wish you all a very Blessed and Merry Christmas!
“Thanks to Rack Photography!”
From Rorate Mass 2012, posted by Community-in-Formation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri in Cincinnati on 12/17/2012 (33 items)
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