FEAST OF ST OSCAR ROMERO, MARTYR & BISHOP

This took place after the Homily of the Mass, an alternative ‘Litany of the Saints’

SUMMONING THE MARTYRS       Oscar and other names of El Salvadoran martyrs  are called, all respond ‘Presente!’ 

Not long before his death, Oscar Romero said:
‘My Life has been threatened many times. I have to confess that, as a Christian, I don’t believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will rise again in the People of El Salvador. If they carry out their threats, I want you to know that I now offer my blood to God for justice and the resurrection of El Salvador. Martyrdom is a grace of God I do not feel worthy of. But if God accepts the sacrifice of my life, my hope is that my blood will be like a seed of liberty and a sign that our hopes will soon be a reality.’

It is our firm belief as Christians that those who have died in Christ are now fully alive in the Risen Lord, and that they are present with us in the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ that spurs us on to serve the Kingdom even at the cost of our own lives. Let us now, in a manner traditional in Latin America, recognise the living and life-giving presence of the martyrs for Justice in El Salvador and elsewhere in Latin America.

St Oscar Romero Archbishop of San Salvador, Saint of the Americas     PRESENTE

Bishop Juan Gerardi of Guatemala, killed for telling the truth     PRESENTE

Dom Helder Camara of Brazil, who lived for the Poor     PRESENTE

Fr Rutilio Grande, whose death challenged Oscar with reality     PRESENTE

Sr Maura Clarke and Sr Ita Ford, Maryknoll Missionaries in El Salvador         PRESENTE

Jean Donovan and Sr Dorothy Kazel, who loved the Roses in December         PRESENTE

Fr Alfonso Navarro, Fr Rafael Palacios, Fr Alirio Macias and Fr Manuel Reyes, 

who were buried by Oscar Romero and the prepared the way for him       PRESENTE

The Jesuit Martyrs of the University of Central America, who died because they unmasked the lies:

Fr Ignatio Ellacuria and Fr Segundo Montes     PRESENTE

Fr Ignatio Martin-Baro and Fr Amando Lopez     PRESENTE

Fr Juan Ramon Moreno and Fr Joaquin Lopez y Lopez     PRESENTE

Their co-workers Elba and Celina Ramos, beloved daughters of God            PRESENTE

And the 80,000 other men, women and children killed by the politics of terror and the servants of death     PRESENTE

ACT OF COMMITMENT      Pledge of our Commitment

On this 40th Anniversary of the martyrdom of St Oscar Arnulfo Romero, we stand alongside the people of El Salvador in their rejoicing and their sorrow; we stand alongside the oppressed and impoverished people through Latin America; we stand alongside everyone scattered over the face of our beautiful but unjust world who are dehumanised by injustice, oppression, violence and discrimination; we stand alongside our refugee and sanctuary-seeking sisters and brothers; and we stand alongside Pope Francis as he calls us to be ‘a Church of the Poor, a Church for the Poor’, a ‘field hospital’ for the oppressed.

And as we stand alongside them in this sacred moment of remembering, of solidarity and communion, we wish to renew our commitment to the Gospel as Good News to the Poor, and to humanity clothed in divine dignity.

ALL: We believe in a God who has created all the world and its resources to be shared by all the world’s people…

Therefore we commit ourselves to a life-style that seeks to share more than possess and to struggle for a more just distribution of the world’s resources and wealth.

 We believe in a God who has made every human person in the divine image and likeness, worthy of an infinite dignity and reverence…

Therefore we commit ourselves to working for justice and challenging everything that dehumanises and brutalises our brothers and sisters.

We believe that human beings are capable  of living together in peace and sharing together with equality and justice…

Therefore we commit ourselves to challenging the violence and naming the evil that is war and the arms trade, to live in peace with all people and our creation, and to seek peaceful ways of resolving every conflict.

Inspired by St Oscar Romero and the multitude of unnamed prophets for Justice who have given their lives in the struggle, we commit ourselves to walk the same path of the Kingdom, to live out our lives in solidarity with the poor, in communion with our planet and to build always the ‘civilisation of love’ for all the world’s children.

New Year’s Eve Watchnight Mass

[NB Hymn numbers refer to the ‘Laudate’ Hymnal]

ENTRANCE HYMN No 883

PENITENTIAL RITE Taizé ‘Kyrie’

GLORIA ‘Glory to God…’ (Peruvian Gloria)

LITURGY OF THE WORD
            First Reading Acts of the Apostles 2: 42-47
           Responsorial Song No 948
           Second Reading Philippians c2: vv1-11
           Gospel Acclamation African ‘Alleluia!’
           Gospel Luke 4: 16-22
           Homily

LITURGY OF DEDICATION TO THE MISSION OF CHRIST THIS NEW YEAR

Priest: Last year we concluded our celebration of 170 years of mission, service and presence here in the inner city of Bristol. We gave thanks for the riches of faith and love handed on to us by those who have gone before and are present with us still in the Communion of Saints.  As we accept the challenge to continue into a new decade and beyond, to be a light of faith, a vision of hope and a heart of love for the poor, the broken and the excluded of our city and our world we know that we cannot serve God’s Option for the Poor and proclaim the Gospel of Joy without a deep communion with our God Who is Love, an unbreakable communion with the Universal Church and a close communion with each other in our parish family. 

Deacon:  In this Diocesan Year of Communion we confess with sorrow that too often we have failed to be a ‘Living Parable of Communion’: too often we have not welcomed with a warm and open heart those different from us; too often we have wanted to remain cosy in our own small religious world, while God was calling us to engage compassionately and with the courage of prophets, with the real world of pain and hope, of despair and joy.  So we acknowledge that we, the Church in this place, have failed our God,  our city and our world.

Priest: As we are about to set foot upon this Year of Our Lord, 2020 (and with it a new decade), we come to affirm our faith in the Living God, Creator, Redeemer, Life-Giver; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nourished as we are by God’s Word and guided by God’s Spirit, we dedicate ourselves anew to the work of the Kingdom, to fill this Year with the Mercy, Compassion and Love of Christ and His Holy Spirit.

So now I ask you, my brothers and sisters,
Will you affirm your faith in the Father, the Creator, the Life-giver?

PEOPLE:     I affirm with joy that I am a child of God created in the Divine image,
                          called and gifted to continue God’s creation of our Universe.

Deacon:    Will you affirm your faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God, Brother and Redeemer,
                      who gives Himself to you in Word and Eucharist?

PEOPLE:    I affirm with gratitude that Jesus is my Saving Brother,
                          speaking Divine Truth to my mind and heart by His Word,
                          and nourishing His Love in me by the great gift of the Eucharist;
                          calling me to a life of prayer and contemplation
                          so that I may live as brother and sister with all people;
                          challenging me to strive for peace and justice in a broken world,
                          urging me to proclaim the Good News of Mercy and Healing
                          by my action, life-style and words.

Priest: Will you affirm your faith in the Holy Spirit, Breath and Flame of God?

PEOPLE:    I affirm with profound openness of heart that the Holy Spirit
                         is the breath of God’s Life and the Fire of God’s Love within me:
                         bidding me to welcome and use the Spirit’s Power
                         for deep prayer, radical action and loving community
                         and so to be part of God’s Renewal of the Face of the Earth.

Deacon:    Will you, as we  set out together on this New Year,
affirm your faith in the Church of God as a living Bread of Christ
in God’s Hands to be broken and given for the life of the world?

PEOPLE:   I affirm with deep love that,
                        despite its many failures and profound inadequacies,
                         the Church will always remain God’s gift
                         proclaiming the Gospel down the centuries, calling me to prayer,
                         challenging me to live community with love, to heal every disunity,
                         to share my gifts and insights,
                         to foster Christian freedom and mission
                         and to be Bread in God’s Hands broken to give life to the world.

Priest:   At the turning of the Year may this affirmation deepen our faith,
                   envision our hope and enlarge our love;
                   as this Year of our Lord 2020 and this New Decade begins
may the Holy Trinity continue always to empower
                   our Mission of Mercy and Healing to our torn world.

PEOPLE:  AMEN! AMEN! ALLELUIA!

Renewal of our Allegiance to Jesus Christ No 777 & Song of Africa
[each one is invited to approach the Baptismal Water, bless themselves and then be anointed with Blessed Oil for the Mission of Christ in this New Year]

Bidding Prayers        People’s Response ‘Renew the Face of the Earth’

LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
           Offertory Hymn No 858
           Eucharistic Acclamations
                   Sanctus No 553
                   Memorial No 761 [v1]
Our Father said
Peace ‘Let there be love…’
Communion Hymn No 633 (Eat this Bread)
African
No 932
 Recessional No 854    [Final Blessing and Hymn after all have processed outside the church to greet the New Year in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ]

ASSEMBLING OFTHE CRIB (during Midnight Mass)

[PRIEST]      We come to bless our crib … by that we mean to ask God to bless everyone who will come to pray, with wonder, awe and love, before this visual image of the poverty and simplicity of our Saviour’s birth. St Francis of Assisi, who lived over 800 years ago, was the first to make a crib … then he used live animals and people: today we use figures to help us celebrate and ponder the mystery of God’s love appearing in human form.

[READER    the Ox]     For the People of God the Ox was a symbol of strength, ruggedness and power, all of which is to be harnessed to the service of humankind and the Kingdom of God.

[CONGREGATION]    Lord God, help us to harness our power and gifts to Your Service.

[READER     the Donkey] The Donkey’s wandering is a symbol of freedom and choice. It is also a reminder that our   forebears, the People of Israel, wandered aimlessly away from God and His Covenant.  An uncommon animal in Israel, and ritually unclean, yet it was good enough to carry Mary to Bethlehem, and later to carry Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to face His Passion.

[CONGREGATION]   Lord God, never let us wander away from You, but help us use our freedom to carry your love to the world.

[READER     the Shepherds]  Shepherds, especially the night  watch, were among the lowest paid workers of the time. Despised, placed on the margins of society and religion, without power or influence, these men of poverty were the first to hear the Good News that ‘Today a Saviour has been born to you’.

[CONGREGATION]   Lord God, give us the love and the insight to welcome the poor into our hearts and homes and then discover that we have welcomed Christ Jesus.

[READER -Joseph]   Joseph, the man of dreams, and strong gentle man of faith: silent in the background, but ready to do whatever God might ask of him.

[CONGREGATION]    Lord God, come and gentle our strength; deepen in each of us the strong faith and  tender love of Joseph that we may dream Your Kingdom, and serve its Coming.

[READER     Mary]    Behold the handmaid of the Lord…the one who bore Jesus in her heart’s love before ever in her body’s womb.  Blessed is she who believed the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.

[CONGREGATION]   Lord God, fill us with grace that we may always say ‘YES’ to Your Word and overshadowing Spirit, that Jesus may ever take flesh in our lives.

[READER ]    Now all is ready.  We will sing one verse of ‘Away in a Manger’, as the Christ Child is carried to the Crib.

[PRIEST]   Let us now dedicate our Crib, and pray God’s Blessing upon all who gaze with wonder and pray with love before our God made man, Jesus!

Blessed are You, Lord God of all creation.  Through all ages you prepared a people as Your own.  When the time was ripe, You sent us a Saviour, conceived by the Spirit and born of the Virgin, a man like us in all things but sin. Loving Father, we pray, bless this our Crib + that we may marvel at Your goodness, imitate Your love, and journey in Your light, until the great day of Jesus coming in Glory, when we will live for ever and ever…AMEN!

BLESSING OF CHRISTMAS TREE

READER: The erecting and decorating of Christmas Trees originated in Germany some three hundred years ago, and came to this country during the reign of Queen Victoria. It’s meaning comes from the story of the Fall in the Garden of Eden which we find in the Book of Genesis. It was originally called the ‘Paradise Tree’, symbolising the Tree of Life in the Garden. It was decorated by apples (and we have some apples on our tree), symbolic of the fruit of the tree of Good and Evil that the first Eve and the first Adam ate in disobedience to God. It also carried candles – lights to express the Jesus Light of the World,  Light of Forgiveness scattering the darkness. And it was decorated on Christmas Eve – the traditional Feast of Adam and Eve in the Eastern Church.

So, as we draw close to Christmas Eve, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Second Adam, gift of the Second Eve, Mary, we put in place the symbols of the First Adam and Eve. This reminds us that Mary’s loving obedience ‘untied the knot’ of Eve’s disobedience, and that Jesus, the New Adam, came to be the One who saves us from the First Adam’s sin. The Tree that brought death is transformed by the Cross of Jesus Christ into the Tree of Everlasting Life. For tomorrow, Christmas Day, we do indeed greet the Saviour!

DEACON:   O God, who by the Power of Your Word and Hovering Spirit
                        did create all things and made them good
                        and created men and women in your own image and likeness:
                       pour your blessing upon this Paradise Tree …

PEOPLE:    BLESSED BE GOD!

DEACON:   May it be a sign for us children of Adam of our need of a Saviour
                        and of the sublime gift of Jesus Christ who recreates us
                        in the glorious image of the Second Adam …

PEOPLE:    BLESSED BE GOD!

DEACON:   May it be a sign for us of the Tree of the Redeeming Adam, Jesus,
                         who embraced the Wood of the Cross for our Salvation and Healing …

PEOPLE:    BLESSED BE GOD!

PRIEST:    We bless and dedicate, O God, this Tree to your Honour and Glory
that it might shine with Light where once there was darkness,
that it might express the fruit of Redemption where once sin held the sway,
that it might stand to remind us that Jesus came as the Saviour
who died on the Tree so that the Tree of the Cross might ever give Life
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER + AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

PEOPLE:    AMEN!

ASSEMBLING AND BLESSING CRIB

[PRIEST]    We come to bless our crib … by that we mean to ask God to bless everyone who will come to pray, with wonder, awe and love, before this visual image of the poverty and simplicity of our Saviour’s birth. St Francis of Assisi, who lived over 800 years ago, was the first to make a crib … then he used live animals and people: today we use figures to help us celebrate and ponder the mystery of God’s love appearing in human form.

[READER    the Ox]    For the People of God the Ox was a symbol of strength, ruggedness and power, all of which is to be harnessed to the service of humankind and the Kingdom of God.

[CONGREGATION]     Lord God, help us to harness our power and gifts to Your Service.

[READER     the Donkey]    The Donkey’s wandering is a symbol of freedom and choice. It is also a reminder that our forebears, the People of Israel, wandered aimlessly away from God and His Covenant.  An uncommon animal in Israel, and ritually unclean, yet it was good enough to carry Mary to Bethlehem, and later to carry Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to face His Passion.

[CONGREGATION]    Lord God, never let us wander away from You, but help us use our freedom to carry your love to the world.

[READER     the Shepherds]      Shepherds, especially the night   watch, were among the lowest paid workers of the time. Despised, placed on the margins of society and religion, without power or influence, these men of poverty were the first to hear the Good News that ‘Today a Saviour has been born to you’.

[CONGREGATION]    Lord God, give us the love and the insight to welcome the poor into our hearts and homes and then discover that we have welcomed Christ Jesus.

[READER     Joseph]    Joseph, the man of dreams, and strong gentle man of faith: silent in the background, but ready to do whatever God might ask of him.

[CONGREGATION]   Lord God, come and gentle our strength; deepen in each of us the strong faith and  tender love of Joseph that we may dream Your Kingdom, and serve its Coming.

[READER     Mary]    Behold the handmaid of the Lord…the one who bore Jesus in her heart’s love before ever in her body’s womb.  Blessed is she who believed the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.

[CONGREGATION]    Lord God, fill us with grace that we may always say ‘YES’ to Your Word and overshadowing Spirit, that Jesus may ever take flesh in our lives.

[READER ]

Now all is ready.  We will sing one verse of ‘Away in a Manger’,  as the Christ Child is carried to the Crib.

[PRIEST]     Let us now dedicate our Crib, and pray God’s Blessing upon all who gaze with wonder and pray with love before our God made man, Jesus!

Blessed are You, Lord God of all creation.  Through all ages you prepared a people as Your own.  When the time was ripe, You sent us a Saviour, conceived by the Spirit and born of the Virgin, a man like us in all things but sin. Loving Father, we pray, bless this our Crib + that we may marvel at Your goodness, imitate Your love, and journey in Your light, until the great day of Jesus coming in Glory, when we will live for ever and ever…AMEN!

BLESSING OF CHRISTMAS TREE

READER: The erecting and decorating of Christmas Trees originated in Germany some three hundred years ago, and came to this country during the reign of Queen Victoria. It’s meaning comes from the story of the Fall in the Garden of Eden which we find in the Book of Genesis. It was originally called the ‘Paradise Tree’, symbolising the Tree of Life in the Garden. It was decorated by apples (and we have some apples on our tree), symbolic of the fruit of the tree of Good and Evil that the first Eve and the first Adam ate in disobedience to God. It also carried candles – lights to express the Jesus Light of the World,  Light of Forgiveness scattering the darkness. And it was decorated on Christmas Eve – the traditional Feast of Adam and Eve in the Eastern Church.

So, as we draw close to Christmas Eve, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Second Adam, gift of the Second Eve, Mary, we put in place the symbols of the First Adam and Eve. This reminds us that Mary’s loving obedience ‘untied the knot’ of Eve’s disobedience, and that Jesus, the New Adam, came to be the One who saves us from the First Adam’s sin. The Tree that brought death is transformed by the Cross of Jesus Christ into the Tree of Everlasting Life. For tomorrow, Christmas Day, we do indeed greet the Saviour!

DEACON:    O God, who by the Power of Your Word and Hovering Spirit
                        did create all things and made them good
                        and created men and women in your own image and likeness:
                       pour your blessing upon this Paradise Tree …

PEOPLE:    BLESSED BE GOD!

DEACON:   May it be a sign for us children of Adam of our need of a Saviour
                        and of the sublime gift of Jesus Christ who recreates us
                        in the glorious image of the Second Adam …

PEOPLE:    BLESSED BE GOD!

DEACON:    May it be a sign for us of the Tree of the Redeeming Adam, Jesus,
                          who embraced the Wood of the Cross for our Salvation and Healing …

PEOPLE:      BLESSED BE GOD!

PRIEST:     We bless and dedicate, O God, this Tree to your Honour and Glory
that it might shine with Light where once there was darkness,
that it might express the fruit of Redemption
where once sin held the sway,
that it might stand to remind us that Jesus came as the Saviour
who died on the Tree so that the Tree of the Cross might ever give Life
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER + AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

PEOPLE:    AMEN!

St Nicholas Blessing of Bread and Consecrating Icon

BLESSING OF ST NICHOLAS BREAD

READER:

As a child, St Nicholas went to the homes of the poor with his parents to bring food, clothes and comfort;
as an Augustinian novice he gave the Priory’s food away to the poor and converted his brothers to generosity;
as a priest he organised the distribution of food to poor families during time of famine;
as God’s servant of healing Nicholas blessed bread and placed it on the lips of a dead child who came to life;
and every day he broke the bread of the Word and the bread of life for God’s people.

PRIEST:

Hear our prayer O Lord and with the intercession of St Nicholas of Tolentino bless this bread that it might bring healing and strength to Your People today, encouraging us to share with love, touch with gentleness and speak with courage so that we might be Good News to the Poor, Bread in your hands to be broken  for a New World of justice and equality

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

AMEN! 

CONSECRATION OF THE ICON OF ST NICHOLAS OF TOLENTINO

READER:

Our Icon beautifully expresses so much of our Patron Saint’s life, prayer and mission:
his birth was God’s gift to his then childless parents who dedicated him to God;
he grew up with both a love for the poor and and a love for the Eucharist;
he heard God’s call to join the Augustinians to live a life of prayer and service;
he prayed often for the ‘Holy Souls’ – the dead journeying into God’s presence;
he overflowed with God’s healing and love to the wounded and broken;
he preached with great power to convert his listeners to holiness;
he struggled against evil of every kind;
he gave bread and more to the hungry, poor and starving.

PRIEST:

O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Trinity of Love and source of Life,
we dedicate and consecrate this Icon of our Patron, St Nicholas of Tolentino.
St Nicholas so overflowed with Your love, healing and generosity that
we behold You shining like a great light through him, guiding us to yourself.
May Your presence and Light shine upon us through this Sacred Icon,
drawing our parish community and all who gaze upon it ever deeper
into the mystery of Your Love and Your Option for the Poor
which St Nicholas so joyously lived.
And so we consecrate this Icon with the sacred Oil of Chrism

In the Name of the Father…and of the Son…and of the Holy Spirit…

ALL SING:   ALLELUIA… 

Statement of Belief from LGBT Mass

A Statement of Belief

Side A
We believe in God, Who is Love, creating all things in an
explosion of love and affirming that everything and everyone
created is very good. We believe that God has created each one
of us without exception in the Divine image and likeness.

Side B
Therefore, we commit ourselves to recognising that we all share our
deepest identity as Children of God. We rejoice with gratitude in the
rich diversity of all creation and the diverse identities of all human
persons.

Side A
We believe in Jesus Christ, the Immanuel who reveals a God who
walks lovingly with us in our human condition and in all the
struggles we encounter in life’s pilgrimage. He listens to the cries
of every human heart for acceptance and love.

Side B
Therefore, we commit ourselves to making real His love for every
human person of whatever identity, to walk alongside each other with
compassion and care, protecting each other from all harm and
discrimination.

Side A
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the life-giver, the love-maker, the
source of all unity and community. We believe that we are each a
dwelling place of this Holy Spirit of God’s loving and that there is
no genuine love that is not Divine and Holy.

Side B
Therefore, we commit ourselves to respect and to understand the
different paths to holiness and love that the Holy Spirit calls each of
us to walk; and we will support each other as we journey together as
a gifted people of Mission.

Side A
We believe that the Church is the Body of Christ, a Pilgrim
People, a Sacrament of Christ’s loving presence in the world, a
Universal community of welcome for all people of every kind of
diversity.

Side B
Therefore we commit ourselves to building the Church as One, Holy,
Catholic and Apostolic – One family where we all belong equally; a
Holy People where all help each other grow in the Holiness of loving;
a truly Universal community where all humanity know they can
flourish in their uniqueness and diversity; a community of Apostles and
Prophets where each has the right and responsibility to speak their
voice, to proclaim the Gospel, to serve the Kingdom and to protect
the human dignity of every person in every place.

All Together: As we believe, so may we live. Amen!

ACT OF DEDICATION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT (Pentecost)

Priest Do you believe in the Creator Spirit given by the Father?

PEOPLE    We believe that God breathed the Spirit over the chaos
                       at the dawning of creation;
                       that the Spirit hovered over the dark waters and
                       brought forth Light and creation’s order and beauty.
… And so we will reverence all creation and
care for our earth and fragile environment.

Priest Do you believe in the Spirit of Love flowing from the Heart of Christ?

PEOPLE    We believe that God overshadowed Mary
                       so that Jesus’ flesh was conceived in the Holy Spirit;
                       that God anointed Jesus with the Spirit in the Jordan River
                       for a life of Loving Service of the Kingdom – of love in word and action;
                       and that from His broken Heart on the Cross
                       Jesus poured forth the Water of the Spirit upon all humankind
…. And so we will share the Mission of Christ,
                       welcome the Spirit’s Gifts and
                       work with Jesus in the Power of His Spirit for the Kingdom.

Priest Do you believe in the Spirit that unites us and leads us into all truth?

PEOPLE     We believe that from all eternity the Spirit
                         has united the Father and the Son in a Trinity of Love;
                         that the Spirit brought the Church to birth
                         in a ferment of Mission and Praise;
                         that the Spirit challenges the People of God in every age and place
                         to be the One Loving Body of Christ;
                         that the Spirit through the ages guides His People to proclaim
                         the Truth that is Christ with greater courage and deeper insight.
… And so we will seek the new ways of the Spirit
                         for the Church in our time;
                         to unite all God’s People that together we might Proclaim the Gospel
                         with a renewed Power to the world of the Third Millennium.

Reflection upon Readings of the Vigil Mass of Pentecost

PENITENTIAL READING: Genesis 11: 1-9

The early chapters of the Book of Genesis speak both of the beauty and goodness of creation and how our sin disfigures that creation. They also trace how sin begins with the small act of self-will by Adam and Eve but grows to a level of destructiveness that engulfs all in the Flood. The story of Babel and its tower, which follows the end of the Flood, shows well how humanity has not learnt, and our continued self-will and rebelliousness leads even to the divine gift of language becoming a source of division rather than unity. On Pentecost Day, the nations are reunited in the Market Place by the Universal Tongue of faith … the Holy Spirit heals Babel’s babble of division into a new unity.

FIRST VIGIL READING: Exodus 19: 3-8. 16-20

Our God is the God of Covenant Love. From Noah and Abraham to Moses and Joshua,  God is binding the Divine Presence and Plan to the story of a People journeying in Faith. At Sinai the Covenant is witnessed in cloud, fire and storm. But this Covenant reaches its most intense expression as the the apostles, disciples and Mary experience the fullest outpouring of Love in the form of the Mighty Wind of Divine Energy and God’s Love being burned into the hearts and melting them into Unity in Pentecost’s Upper Room.  

SECOND VIGIL READING: Isaiah 61: 1-3, 6, 8-9

Jesus was to quote this wonderful Prophecy of Isaiah when he describes his own ministry in the Synagogue of Nazareth. It expresses not only his work in the world – raising up the poor, enlightening rich and poor alike when we are blind to each other plight, serving freedom and human rights everywhere – but also the work of every Christian, and every Christian community anointed by the Spirit. The Spirit seeks to renew and heal the face of the wounded earth and all its peoples – to bring about the endless Jubilee of justice, mercy and joy, the ‘Year of Favour’.

THIRD VIGIL READING: Ezechiel 37: 1-14

The first name for the Spirit in the Bible is the ‘Ruah’, or breath or wind of God. The Upper Room of Pentecost morning was filled with the same mighty wind as that described by Ezechiel in this prophetic vision. The Wind of the Spirit breathes New Life, brings us fully alive in Christ, and enables us to be an ‘army for the Lord’ – an army of peace and healing and life-giving. Let us allow the Spirit to blow through our lives and our community.

FOURTH VIGIL READING: Joel 3: 1-5

Peter quotes from this passage when trying to explain the extraordinary event of God that is Pentecost’s outpouring of life and joy. Even the excluded ones – the slaves, the women – now receive the boundless generosity of God, as all are welcomed to share the dream of God, the Vision of the Kingdom – a world renewed in the Holy Spirit. As we dream and share the vision, so we are empowered to work in the power of the Spirit to make a new world … a world of true Jubilee!

EPISTLE READING: Romans 8: 22-27

The Gift of Tongues is one expression of the groaning of the Spirit deep within us … and deep within creation itself, as Paul tells us. Creation’s freedom and our own are bound together in the Spirit who comes to us in our weakness to be the flame of salvation and hope. In the Spirit we yearn for a freedom that is total.