Mission & Identity Resources | April 2023
April begins just one day from the commencement of Holy Week, the week beginning with Palm Sunday and ending on Holy Saturday. Throughout Holy Week and on Easter Sunday, during various rituals and in private prayer, we have many opportunities to engage with familiar (and famous) stories from the Gospels. When doing so, we are invited into an understanding of the Gospel vision that brings new meaning to the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
The most recent topic of the Loreto Formation Framework (distributed in early March) explores `Gospel Vision’ and provides opportunities to reflect on the invitation inherent in the Gospels to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. It asks us to explore how we, through our work, are supporting the shared mission of Loreto `to transform the Church and world particularly by empowering women to seek truth and do justice’.
The Introduction to this topic notes that
Mary Ward and her companions drew great inspiration from the Gospel vision and attempted to put it into action. They interpreted the Gospels as a compelling vision of inner freedom, justice, sincerity, verity and felicity, and they modelled themselves on Christ’s vision of servant leadership. Just as Mary Ward did, we who answer the call to `seek truth and do justice’ are to continue to search for how best we can give witness to God’s love in this world. “When we witness to the Gospel of Jesus in our doing and our being, God’s love is promoted and served.” (www.loreto.org.au/spirituality/gospel_foundations/)
The Gospel of Jesus is the foundation stone of all that inspires and directs Loreto life and ministry. Responses to this foundation take on various expressions, in ministries of education, welfare and healing, but together we witness to all that a Christian way of life invites. To be `Loreto’ is to be inspired by the Gospel values which Jesus lived so fully: essentially to love God and to love others.
As we enter Holy Week and the Easter Season, may we embrace opportunities to stop, to engage, and to reflect on how we can more effectively enable the light of Christ to guide us.
Palm Sunday | 2nd April
“The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying:
‘Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.’” (Mt 21:9)
The readings for Palm Sunday take us from the love for Jesus shown by the crowd that welcomes him to Jerusalem; to the crowd’s cries of `Crucify him!’, Jesus’ crucifixion and his willing sacrifice for us. The following reflection invokes the practice of imaginative prayer, one of the hallmarks of Ignatian spirituality:
“The readings of Palm Sunday give us the opportunity to place ourselves in the events of Holy Week and consider how we would have responded had we been there. Perhaps we would have been among the crowd on the street singing Hosanna. Or maybe we would have been complaining about the demonstrators who were disrupting our preparations for the Passover. We might have been sitting next to Peter, denying we even know the Lord, fearful and afraid. Or we might have been among the crowd calling for the crucifixion of Jesus. There are other people to identify with: Simon of Cyrene who was forced to serve, the women at the foot of the cross who steadfastly stayed close to Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea who provides what he can, the women who keep vigil at the tomb. Chances are we can see ourselves in many of these people.” (Palm Sunday Thoughts)
Engaging with the readings for Palm Sunday provides the opportunity to reflect on how we respond to Jesus in our own lives – not only in Holy Week, but each day.
Holy Thursday | 6th April
“I give you a new commandment, says the Lord: love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 13:34)
Holy Thursday begins the Easter Triduum, the three days concerning the events of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. On this night, the Church remembers Jesus’ Last Supper and, from the Gospel of John (John 13:1-15), the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. By his actions and words, Jesus demonstrates that no one is above serving others: “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:15) If even the Son of God acts as a servant for other people, then we too must be people of service.
Good Friday | 7th April
“Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name.” (Phil 2:8-9)
The veneration of the cross on Good Friday reminds us that, as Christians, we believe that Jesus can overcome anything, even death. By praying the Stations of the Cross, we can meditate on Jesus’ sacrifice for us and the enormity of God’s love that it reflects. They remind us that Jesus is with us in our suffering, and invite us into deep prayer. This scriptural Way of the Cross has been developed incorporating images, Scripture, music, reflection and prayer. “It has been crafted predominantly using the Gospel of Mark and follows the scriptural Way of the Cross inaugurated by Pope John Paul II. St Mark invites us to listen attentively to Jesus, the beloved Son of God, to look closely at his actions and faithfulness to his mission and, as disciples, to follow him decisively. Mark reveals that suffering is part of the journey, but Jesus’ way of love and fidelity promises us new life.” (Way of the Cross)
Easter Sunday | 9th April
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” (Ps 118:24)
Christ’s resurrection brings us the hope of new life. We are called to exercise this new life by our actions in helping those in need; by emulating Jesus’ example and living as people of service. In a world that provides us with abundant comfort and luxury, the challenge is to not forget those who don’t have this comfort and luxury that we have been blessed with.
Jesus tells us to “love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 13:34) At this time of year, we celebrate the love that Jesus showed for us through willingly dying for our sake. May we take time to reflect upon this love and see that, ultimately, it can lead to justice, peace and happiness for all.
ECOSOC Youth Forum | April 18-20th / 25-27th
The United Nation’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum provides a platform for young people to engage in a dialogue with Member States and other actors to voice their views and concerns. It is a key platform where young people, high-level government representatives and other stakeholders contribute to policy discussions through sharing their ideas, solutions, and innovations to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This Youth Forum, supported by the IBVM/CJ NGO at the UN, gathers young people to share their recommendations and innovative ideas in preparation of the SDG Summit, to be held under the auspices of the UN General Assembly in September.
Earth Day | 22nd April
Today is recognised as Earth Day – sadly, not every day is. The United Nations tells us that “Mother Earth is clearly urging a call to action. Nature is suffering.” Various fact sheets from www.earthday.org present concerning data about the state of our planet, as well as helpful toolkits that offer practical ways to reduce the negative impact our lifestyles are having. The theme for 2023 is `Invest in our Planet’. The Earth Day Action Toolkit provides background information and plenty of suggestions about how you can get involved.
On this day, and every day, may we pray for the strength to commit to living sustainably, respectful of the gift of this earth and conscious of our responsibility to nourish it for future generations.