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Stay Awake, Avoid Callousness toward Evil: Pope Asks the Faithful to Keep Vigil

By Deacon Keith Fournier
April 22nd, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pope Benedict XVI reminded those who gathered in St Peters square - and all who participate in the great three days - that, like the disciples who fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, we also tend to lethargy when we are called to watch with Him. There is a maxim that addresses the centrality of worship in the Catholic Church; "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi". Law of Worship is the Law of Belief.

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - We enter into the Sacred Triduum, the three days which communicate the heart of the mystery of our redemption. Pope Benedict XVI spoke to over 13,000 people who gathered in Saint Peters square for his general audience on Wednesday. He used the occasion to communicate the deep truth contained in the liturgical services which we celebrate over the next three days. 

There is a maxim that addresses the centrality of worship in the life, identity and mission of the Catholic Church; "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi". The phrase in Latin literally means the law of prayer ("the way we worship") is the law of belief ("what we believe"). It is sometimes expanded to as, "lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi", further deepening the implications of this truth - how we worship reflects what we believe and determines how we will live.

The Church has long understood that part of her role as mother and teacher is to watch over worship, for the sake of the faithful and in obedience to the God whom she serves. How we worship not only reveals and guards what we believe but guides us in how we live our Christian faith and fulfill our Christian mission in the world by manifesting the continuing presence of the Risen Jesus Christ. 

Liturgical worship is not an "add on" for a Catholic Christian. It is the foundation of Catholic identity; expressing our highest purpose. Worship reveals what we truly believe and how we view ourselves in relationship to God, one another and the world into which we are sent to carry forward the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ.

How the Church worships is a prophetic witness to the truth of what she professes. Good worship becomes a dynamic means of drawing the entire human community into the fullness of life in Jesus Christ. It attracts - through beauty to Beauty. Liturgical worship informs and transforms both the person and the worshipping community which participates in it. There is reciprocity between worship and life.

Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Resurrection of the Lord, is called the Sacred "Triduum", meaning three days. Good Liturgy is not simply a re-enactment of something that happened over 2000 years ago but an actual participation in the events themselves through living faith. These events are outside of time and made present in our Liturgical celebrations.

On Wednesday, Pope Benedict, whose depth of understanding of liturgical worship is unequaled, reminded those who gathered in St Peters square - and all who participate in the great three days - that, like the disciples who fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, we also tend to lethargy when we are called to watch with Him. He reminded us that the invitation to stay awake is "a permanent message for all times because the drowsiness of his disciples was not just a problem in that moment; it is a problem throughout history".

He warned us all of a "certain insensitivity of the soul to the power of evil, insensitivity to all the evil in the world; we don't want to let ourselves be too bothered by these things. We want to forget them or we try to think they aren't so serious."

Vatican Radio is an excellent source for following what the Pope teaches. It should be bookmarked, put in "favorites", by every Catholic Christian who "gets it". By "gets it" I mean those who understand - and actually believe - that the Pope really is the successor of the Apostle Peter.

This Pope is a great teacher who will go down in Church history for his locutions to the faithful. Our mission at Catholic Online is to "inform, inspire and ignite" the faithful. These next three days are where "the rubber hits the road". We present the Vatican Radio report on the Pope's message below. 

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"There is "a certain callousness of the soul towards the power of evil, an insensitivity to all the evil in the world: we do not want to be disturbed by these things, we want to forget, perhaps, we think, it is not important. It is not only insensitivity to evil, but also insensitivity to God", said Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday as he dedicated his last catechesis before Easter to the Holy Week Triduum.

He said "Dear Brothers and Sisters, Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum, the three days in which the Church commemorates the mystery of the Lord's passion, death and resurrection. The liturgies of these days invite us to ponder the loving obedience of Christ who, having become like us in all things but sin, resisted temptation and freely surrendered himself to the Father's will.

"Tomorrow, at the Chrism Mass, priests renew their ordination promises, the sacred oils are blessed, and we celebrate the grace of the crucified and risen Lord which comes to us through the Church's sacramental life. On the evening of Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord's Supper begins the actual Triduum and recalls the institution of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders".

Reflecting more specifically on the episode of Christ's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, in comments in Italian the Pope noted that - not unlike the apostles who failed to hold vigil with Christ and were overcome by a "sleepiness" - "It 's our very sleepiness to the presence of God that renders us insensitive to evil: we don't hear God because we don't want to be disturbed, and so we remain indifferent to evil"

Pope Benedict said that "Jesus experienced great anguish, such suffering as to sweat blood, aware of his imminent death on the cross", but chooses to keep watch. This is "a matter of great importance for the Church" said Pope Benedict: "Jesus says to his disciples 'stay here and keep vigil', and this appeal to be vigilant concerns precisely this moment of anguish, of threat, but it also covers the entire history of the Church, it is a permanent message for all time because the disciples' sleepiness is not a problem of that one moment, rather of the whole of history, "the sleepiness" is ours, of those of us who do not want to see the full force of evil and do not want to enter into his Passion".

He concluded "The Liturgy of Good Friday invites us to share in Christ's sufferings through penance and fasting, and to receive the gift of God's love flowing from the Lord's pierced Heart. The Easter Vigil joyfully proclaims Christ's resurrection from the dead and the new life received in Baptism. By your prayers and our sharing in these liturgies, let us resolve to imitate Christ's loving obedience to the Father's saving plan, which is the source of authentic freedom and the path of eternal life".

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