21th Sunday in Ordinary Time
[ now playing? ] eric carmen – all by myself
Earlier on in the week, I did blog that I was going to be in the CBD on Friday night for a WYD08 prayer vigil. Well I was there, for part of it. Not all of it (5:30pm on Friday until 4:30am on Saturday morning) though.
Still, the time that I was there was a refreshing time for me. I stayed there in St. Stephen’s from about 6pm until 8:45pm. Bumped into Chris on my way out from Queens Plaza to St. Stephen’s after having dinner at Oporto’s before walking over.
Was blessed to be able to join with brothers and sisters from the Roman Catholic church for a time of Eucharistic adoration from 6 till 6:30 (joined halfway through) before having an hour’s break so others could go out onto the lawn of the Francis Rush Centre (Francis Rush being the Roman Catholic archbishop of Brisbane from 1973 to 1991).
Evening prayer (vespers) commenced outside the entrance of St. Stephen’s around 7:30pm with the WYD Cross there outside with us as we prayed the penitential litany (the Kyrie). After that, we sung the three most common verses of “Amazing Grace”, before all processed into the cathedral behind those who carried the Cross inside. It was good to see not only laypeople present (including a number of youngens like myself who attended the Eucharistic adoration before dinner and vespers), but also consecrated religious there too. I thought I saw Jesuits there (going by their garb) until they were introduced as Passionists (Congregation of the Passionists of St. Paul of the Cross [CP]) as well as some Canossian sisters (I’m taking a stab in the dark there given the habits the sisters were wearing: grey colored sweaters, some with grey veils/”duckbills”, long grey skirts and white blouses).
Silence and the two lights shining on the altar and sanctuary area were the only two things that remained until Archbishop John Bathersby, DD processed in along with his liturgical assistant for the time of prayer that we were all about to embark on. Incense was lit and it was entirely appropriate as we were censed after our opening psalm, Psalm 141. My body, tired and fatigued after a long week was awoken and refreshed by the fresh and sweet scent of the incense that was burning.
It was so refreshing to be in a prayer service where the Psalms were responsively read attentively, deliberately and slowly. The cantor led us in singing the antiphon for the first one and refrain for the second psalm and in the litany as well. I now also have a new way of singing the Magnificat for vespers as well, as you will see in the pics below.
Archbishop John’s homily on 1 Corinthians 1:17-25 was one that gave me a lot of meat to chew on. Christ’s presence is signified through the WYD Cross there as it recalls to God’s children the love and sacrifice that Jesus made for us on it. The instrument of cruel punishment, terror and hatred transformed into an instrument of salvation, hope and love. The icon of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, with Christ as a child seated on her lap recalled for me her obedience to God and as Christ sits on her lap, I recall that I am a child of God that is loved by Him and by the one who gave birth to God, the Theotokos, no matter how old or how screwed up I really am (that part is definitely true, I am screwed up beyond normal belief).
Archbishop John mentioned about the absence of God in our lives being palpable as we replace Him with material goods and/or the latest fad. Instead God calls us to make Him a part of our lives and having material items (like a cross or an icon) present in front of us can aid us in refocusing our lenses back to our actual picture when we focus on something else. It was incarnational language he was using that night (reminded me of St. John of Damascus’ comments on the legitimacy of the use of icons and of St. Athanasius’ On The Incarnation).
Secondly, he also touched on the absence of prayer in our lives. About how we all pray when things are going gangbusters but once our lives go “all a bit Pete Tong” (i.e. wrong), prayer sometimes doesn’t even rank a mention. Instead our prayers become whingeing and we start to complain to God. And that was where the Psalms spoke so deeply to us that night (Psalm 42 was the second one).
Continually the foe delights in taunting me: “Where is God, where is your God?” Where, O where are you?
However the next line should be what we do when we hit a rough patch in life to bring our prayers from mere whingeing and complaining to God:
Defend me God, send forth your light and your truth, they will lead me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place. Then I shall go unto the altar of my God. Praising you, O my joy and gladness, I shall praise your name.
It was all over for me at 8:45 when I trundled off back to Central Station to catch my train home. I went up to touch the Cross one last time before veneration and saying a quick prayer of thanksgiving for being able to join in corporate prayer with those from another Christian communion. And also for all those who were going to be there for the entire vigil (all 11 or so hours of it) and my train ride home.
Am hoping that there will be more occasions when I can join for formal liturgical prayer in community in the near future. Anyway, here are some photos of the night (taken on my old crappy 3.2MP Panasonic digicam and my slightly better camera on my 3MP Sony Ericsson K800i). Click on them for enlarged pics.
+ bf 1433hrs