Parish Lenten Retreat – Week III

Dona Nobis Pacem, Grant Us Peace

Throughout the season of Lent and culminating in our Easter celebration we are experiencing a Parish Retreat titled, Dona Nobis Pacem, Grant Us Peace. The Retreat is being presented through weekend homilies, bulletin and web-site reflections and workshop opportunities (music and to date content can be uploaded at stphilip.org).

The Peace of Christ

“Peace I grant you, my peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.” John 14:27

Peace is a most desirable gift. Jesus offers us the gift of peace. Our common world understanding of peace is an absence of disturbance or strife and a feeling of comfortableness accompanied by favorable circumstances. The peace that Jesus grants is not limited to good situations or even feelings of calmness. Jesus bestows peace that is God’s abundant action in our lives. Awareness of God’s presence even in the midst of conflict, discord and inner turmoil secures us with a blessed assurance that God is with us yesterday, today and forever. God’s peace supports us by changing the way that we see and experience ourselves, others and our world. God’s peace is the Spirit that moves us to wholeness, heals us for right relationships and renews us to be instruments of peace for one another. God’s power at work in our lives is our peace.

Paths to Peace – Pacem

P—Prayer

Our Lenten prayer Dona Nobis Pacem, Grant Us Peace awakens us to God’s peaceful presence dwelling deep within us. We pray Grant Us Peace and not Grant me Peace because our prayer, like the symbolic gestures in the sign of the cross, always reaches both to God and toward our brothers and sisters. Peace is experienced in relationships that reach out and are other directed.

A—Abundance

Prayer awakens us to God’s abundance and action in our lives. God is an ever-present and eternal source of what is needed for healing and peace.

C—Contrition

God’s abundance helps us to discover areas in our lives where we are lacking, sinful or broken. Contrition is the honest acknowledgment of our need for change. Contrition is the first step in the process of receiving God’s help, forgiveness and the grace of complete, life-giving reconciliation.

E—Encouragement

Encountering God with a contrite heart lifts us into God’s encouraging embrace, granting us the fortitude to live loving lives of service.

M—Mission

Our mission is to promote the flourishing of all peoples through spirituality, service and social ministry. God’s peace gives us the courage to stand for truth, walk toward beauty and work for goodness in word and deed. We become not only peace-lovers but peace-makers of Christ’s peace on earth.

Weekend Scripture

  • In the book of Exodus God provides for the people’s thirst even as they doubt God’s presence among them.
  • St. Paul reminds the Romans that peace is discoverable through the love of Jesus Christ poured into our hearts. Even though we are sinners we stand in the hope of the glory of God.
  • Jesus meets and enters a dialogue with a Samaritan woman at a well. In the course of conversation, the woman grows in faith in Jesus. She is opened to a deeper understanding of herself. The woman is sent on a mission to be a witness to the Lord and an instrument of Christ’s peace for all people.

Reflection on Contrition

While dismantling a Civil War prison, workers made a startling discovery. The prison had been hastily constructed. Iron bars and doors were actually wood painted to look like metal. The walls were only straw and mud shaped and whitewashed to look like stone. No prisoner in over 100 years realized that the walls and barriers that kept them from freedom could have been opened with a concentrated effort.

In our Gospel story, Jesus breaks down the barriers that separate him from the Samaritan woman through dialogue. Cultural, religious and national barriers stand between them. Yet these walls crumble as they converse with each other. The woman becomes open to her need for change and to her thirst for God. Jesus accepts her where she is while inviting her to take an honest look at her attitudes, choices and behaviors. She is invited into a relationship of conversion. With a contrite heart the Samaritan woman accepts God’s gift of reconciling freedom.

This week’s focus is on contrition. The word contrition comes from the Latin contritus meaning, “to crumble down.” We are invited to dialogue with God about our attitudes, choices and behavior. The walls that keep us from loving ourselves, others or God most fully can crumble through contrition. An honest appraisal of ourselves, called an examination of conscience, opens us to our need for God’s forgiveness and our need to forgive ourselves. Prayer draws us into a relationship of conversion. Our sacrament of Reconciliation is a powerful and healing way to experience freedom and peace through God’s grace.

Praying our Lenten prayer Dona Nobis Pacem is a way to open ourselves to a relationship of conversion. As with the Samaritan woman we can make a concentrated effort in dialogue with Jesus. With contrite hearts we learn what walls and barriers need to crumble. Dona Nobis Pacem can be the first step in our experience of God’s forgiveness, healing touch and the quenching of our thirst for the living waters of Christ’s peace.

Contrition Reflection and Prayer

Prayerfully read the words and text by David Haas in the Hymn, “The God of Second Chances.” (GIA Publications, Inc. 2005) Using each idea or verse, examine your conscience and enter a dialogue with Jesus. In a spirit of contrition reflect on the areas of your life that need to be open to God’s peace.

— Come now, O God, of second chances; open our lives to heal. Remove our hate, and melt our rage. Save us from ourselves.
— Come now, O God, release our demons; open our eyes to see the shame within, our guilt and pain. Mend us; make us whole.
— Come now, O God, and still our anger; open our minds to peace. Embrace our fear, and hold us close. Calm the storm within.
— Come now, O God, shake our resentment; open our way to choose the way of love over revenge. Show us a new way.
— Come now, O God, and grant compassion; open our hearts to love. May we let go of all our hurt. Help us to move on.
— Come now, O God, of second chances; may we forgive ourselves, may we become your living sign: children of God’s love.

Musical Component

Dona Nobis Pacem is the Latin translation of our English words Grant Us Peace. Peace is used in the New Testament eighty-five times. Peace is one of the last words that Jesus speaks to his disciples before his crucifixion and among his first words after the Resurrection. Dona Nobis Pacem, Grant Us Peace is taken from the last portion of the “Agnus Dei” of the Ordinary of the Mass. The musical setting of that text is an example of a round or canon comprised of a musical form that is defined by the use of strict imitative counterpoint spun out from a single melodic line. The Dona Nobis Pacem round, like many others of its type, is of folk or unknown origin, although stylistically it suggests that it may have first appeared in the late 18th or early 19th century. We will learn this prayer and song for our private devotion as well as our community celebration of our Liturgy.

Season of Lent Opportunities

  • Lenten Holy Hour – Tuesday, April 8
    9:45 – 10:45 AM & 7:00 – 8:00 PM in Church.
  • Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered every Saturday from 11 AM to 12 Noon and Monday from 7 to 8:30 PM in church on:
    March 24, 31 & April 7.
  • Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings at 7:00 PM as follows:
    March 28 – Living Stations with Youth Ministry
    April 4 – St. Philip School Children
    April 11 – Processional Stations
LENTEN BIBLE STUDY

The Bible Study group meets each Monday during Lent at 9:45 AM in the Molloy Center for its continuing discussion on the Word of God and prayer for the following Sunday’s readings. All are welcome!