The Church inaugurated the Season of Lent with the liturgy of Ash Wednesday, which included the iconic ritual of the Imposition of Ashes, in which all members of the Church all over the world, from our Holy Father, Pope Francis to the youngest of children in the pew, took part in. Today’s readings in a sense echoes either verse the minister would say when distributing the ashes: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:19) and “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk 1:15).
It is evident that today’s readings speaks about the T-word of temptation. This theme is always evident in the Lectionary readings provided for the First Sunday of Lent in all three Sunday Lectionary cycles in some capacity or another. Rather than focusing on the Gospel alone, I want to take a look a all three readings and how they are threaded together.
I don’t know about you, but the more Ash Wednesdays that I experience, the deeper I think about who I am and how I should live. When I was younger, precisely in Junior Kindergarten, attending an Ash Wednesday Service at my elementary school back then, Our Lady of Lourdes in Downtown Toronto, presided by Fr. Michael Coutts, S.J. (don’t ask me why I still remember the name of the priest from 15 years ago), I remember dislike having black stuff put on my forehead and for years after, I dreaded Ash Wednesday simply because of that liturgical gesture. To me, I saw it as unsanitary, and “weird”. However, when I grew a little older, I slowly began to understand the meaning of Ash Wednesday.
Some people may ask, “Is Vincent Pham (a.k.a. The Catholic Man) liturgy crazy?” Well, I think that is the case sometimes. While I love all things Catholic, there is something about the liturgy that has captivated me as a young child. I often used to do “fake” Mass at home and tried to imitate everything the priest had, from vestments to furnishings. Slowly, the “fake” Masses turned into serious matter when our pastor asked me to be the Liturgical Master of Ceremonies for major celebrations at our Parish over four years ago (a position which I still hold today), while being a part-time sacristan at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica just less than year ago. Then, just in recent years, I became interested in the Mass in “Ad Orientem” in the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary form and for many years, I have been reading about liturgy, its developments, its theology, its form, its rubrics… all matters liturgical.
Where can I start when I think of when I speak of 2019? It was honestly a very busy year that in ways, turned my life around and gave me different perspectives for the new decade ahead. As 2019 winds down, as customary for the last few years now, I am going to speak about five notable moments of 2019. Why not “top 5” moments as I used to call it? After my the events of last year, I found that some events that occur during a year may not be happy events at all and is precisely the opposite. To me, notable moments during a year are moments of epiphany, when you realize and receive some sort of “revelation” about life. These events are not listed in any particular order – these events are listed after a period of reflection.
“Ite Missa Est,” in its english translation, “Go, the Mass is ended,” are the common words heard, in one formula or another by a priest or deacon to conclude the Celebration of Mass. These are words of mission, these words prompt up to get up on our feet, to go out and serve the Lord.
Lectionary Readings: Is 52:7-10 / Ps 98 / Heb 1:1-16 / Jn 1:1-18 Note: This reflection is based on the readings for Mass During the Day. Unfortunately, the Canadian Lectionary readings are not made available online for this specific set of readings. Therefore, a link leading to the American translation is used instead.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
The Masses of Christmas comes with a variety of readings – precisely four options provided for the four different Masses from Christmas Eve to Mass during the Day. Most of them vary between Year A, B and C. However, the readings for the Mass During the Day of December 25 remains the same throughout the Lectionary Cycle. Therefore, if you go to Christmas Day Mass, the excerpt of the first chapter of John is read, the Gospel of the “Logos”.
Vincent Pham, known as The Catholic Man by many of his friends, is a student at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College of the Faculty of Arts and Science. He hopes to pursue a double major in Ethics, Law and Society, and Christianity and Culture. Vincent is an alumni of Chaminade College School in Toronto (Class of 2019). He has a great love for all things Catholic, especially Catholic liturgy.