Lent: Farewell to Alleluia

To our dear friends,

Alas … the beginning of Lent. Blessed Ash Wednesday to you, and Happy Valentine's Day to our true Love, Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church!

We hope you are keeping well and surviving the flu season. Our sisters finally succumbed to the bug and are now trying to recover with the help of medicine, rest, chicken soup and fluids. One of the intercessions in today’s Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours for Ash Wednesday helps put our little sufferings in the perspective of our Faith:

          May we bear the wounds of your Son in our bodies;
                   --for through his body he gave us life.

To start this solemn season we would like to share with you another custom of our Carmel called “Goodbye to Alleluia”.  We hope you enjoy it. We have simply copied the ceremony below as we use it each year.

Our sincere hope and prayer is that we all have the grace to fully enter in to the desert with Jesus this Lent in the particular way our Lord desires for each one of us, and know that our prayers are with you!


Shrove Tuesday “Goodbye, Farewell, to Alleluia”

I. Opening Reading:

The calendar of the Liturgical Year will, in less than seven weeks, bring us to the great solemnities of the commemoration of the Passion and Resurrection of Our Redeemer. It is time for us Christians to prepare our souls. Holy Mother Church wants to rouse our hearts and to infuse her spirit into our minds.

On this eve of Ash Wednesday, she takes the song of heaven away from us—the “Alleluia”—which gives us a fellowship with the choirs of angels. How have we mortals, poor sinners become so familiar with it? To sing it worthily, we must have our hearts set on the heaven from which it came It is not a mere word, nor a profane unmeaning melody. It is the song that recalls for us the land we are banished from. For us, it is the sweet sigh of the soul longing to be at home.

The word “Alleluia” signifies “Praise God” but it says much more and it says it as no other word could. Its mysterious beauty is a s though a drop of heaven’s overflowing joy had fallen on our earth. It signifies the eternal feast of the beauty of God’s Face.

Holy Mother Church will not interrupt her praise to God but she will replace the heaven-lent word with our language of earth: “Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ.” By this taking away of our Alleluia, she is telling us that our lips must be cleansed before they are again permitted to utter this word of angels and saints and our hearts purified by repentance and love. Let us with humble hearts confess we are sinners.

Farewell to Alleluia in the Middle Ages varied. Sometimes an antiphon of affectionate enthusiasm for the beauty of the word; sometimes heart-felt regret at its departure as companion of our prayers, or sometimes hope of its return when Jesus’ Resurrection brightens the Church.

II. SELECTION OF ANCIENT ANTIPHONS READ BY INDIVIDUAL SISTERS:

May the good angel of the Lord accompany thee, Alleluia, and give thee a good journey, that thou mayst come back to us in joy, Alleluia, Alleluia.
Alleluia, abide with us today; and tomorrow thou shalt set forth, Alleluia; and when the day shall have risen, thou shalt proceed on thy way, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
To thee, Jesus almighty! our voices give glory: to thee we say: Eternal Alleluia! Eternal Alleluia! Amen.
Be glad on the day of its happy return; and return to your Lord with your melody of glory, the eternal Alleluia.

III. PROCESSION TO CHOIR SINGING VARIETY OF ALLELUIAS INTONED BY EACH SISTER:

IV. CHOIR IS DARK. WE ENTER IN PROCESSION GENUFLECTING TWO BY TWO AND GOING TO OUR PLACES HOLDING THE CANDLES.

PRIORESS: May Alleluia, that sacred and joyful word resound to God’s praise from the lips of all people.
ALL: Amen.

PRIORESS: May this word, which expresses glory as chanted by the choirs of angels, be sweet as sung by the voices of believers.
ALL: Amen.

ALL: May the Lord’s good angel go with thee, Alleluia, and prepare all good things for thy journey. And again come back to us with joy, Alleluia.

V. WHOLE CHOIR SINGS FINAL FAREWELL ALLELUIA.

VII. PRIORESS COVERS ALLELUIA BANNER AT THE ALTAR. ALL BLOW OUT THEIR CANDLES.

Comments 3

  1. One of my favorite prophets is Hosea. During Len, I often pray over Hosea 2.:16-25: “Assuredly I will speak coaxingly to her and lead her through the wilderness and speak to her tenderly. I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a plowland of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, when she came from the land of Egypt…. And I will espouse her forever; I will espouse you with righteousness and justice, and with goodness and mercy, and I will espouse you with faithfulness. Then you shall be devoted to the Lord,. In that day, I will respond–declares the Lord– I will respond to the sky, and it shall respond to the earth, and the earth will respond with new grain and wine and oil, and they shall respond to Jezreel. I will sow her in the land as My own; and take Lo-ruhama back in favor; and I will say to Lo-ammi, “You are my people”, and he will respond, “You are my God”.

    Text is taken from the Hebrew Tanakh. I’ve tried to translate it the best I could. I may have fallen short of conveying the best meaning… but my heart was in the right place when trying to bring the Hebrew nuances into English.

    A blessed Lent to all my Sisters. I’ve already taken out of my recipe box Sister Ann’s recipe for cinnamon rolls (which I always bake for Easter Sunday!) It is so dog-eared (it’s 42 years old, written by Sr. Ann in a piece of stationary) that if I had not memorized most of it, it would be impossible to read.

    My regards and prayers to Sisters Jean, Ann, Camilla, Mary Alice and Bernadette. And please keep me in your prayers during this Lent, that I may truly enter into the desert and may the Lord speak to my heart; that I may, like St. Benedict says in the Prologue to his Rule…”Listen, my son, pay attention with the ears of your heart.”

    Raul

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      Author

      A beautiful reflection. Thank you for sharing. I will give greetings to the sisters. And we will pray for you this Lent! God bless you, Raul.

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