On a liturgical note : May 2019

By Canon Philip Gillespie

A late Easter means that the entirety of May is spent within Eastertide and, therefore, also within the period when the anthem to Our Lady in the liturgy is the Regina Caeli, laetare – Queen of Heaven, rejoice – with its multiple Alleluias.

Having restrained from (or ‘fasted from’, you could say) the use of the Alleluia during the 40 days of Lent, the liturgy gives us ample opportunity to catch up during the 50 days of Eastertide (indeed the double Alleluia at the dismissal from the liturgy makes a comeback for the Feast of Pentecost, this year Sunday 9 June, just to give a final blast). Why is Alleluia such a significant word? Because it sums up the spirituality of the Christian life: praise of the Lord.

We give praise and we give honour and, in that sense, we put the Lord in his rightful place at the heart of our lives when we gather in liturgy and pray together. We do the same, equally as importantly, when we apply those sentiments of prayer to our ‘right living’, our everyday words and actions, which may not be within a church building but certainly form part of the liturgy of our daily lives. This is the dignity to which we are called – recognising that we give right praise to the Lord and live our ‘Alleluia’ wherever we find ourselves in the day and according to whichever means (words or actions) present themselves.

A simple act of recollection for the close of the day (the ‘examen’, or examination of conscience, which is part of our Catholic devotional tradition) would be to ask the following: How have I lived my ‘Alleluia’ today? How have I brought my relationship with Jesus to bear on choices and decisions of the day? How have I been a bringer of happiness and joy and the warmth of the love of Christ into a world which at times can be dark and cold and unforgiving?

So Alleluia is not only a word but also an invitation and a challenge – sing it with gusto in the liturgy and live it with gusto in the day.