DIVINE OFFICE

 

From ancient times the Church has had the custom of celebrating each day the liturgy of the hours. In this way the Church fulfills the Lords precept to pray without ceasing, at once offering its praise to God the Father and interceding for the salvation of the world.  – Office of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. So what is the Liturgy of the Hours? The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the whole People of God. In it, Christ himself continues his priestly work through his Church. His members participate according to their own place in the Church and the circumstances of their lives. The laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office either with the priests, among themselves, or individually.

 

The celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours demands not only harmonizing the voice with the praying heart, but also a deeper understanding of the liturgy and of the Bible, especially of the Psalms.

 

The hymns and litanies of the Liturgy of the Hours integrate the prayer of the psalms into the age of the Church, expressing the symbolism of the time of day, the liturgical season, or the feast being celebrated. Moreover, the reading from the Word of God at each Hour with the subsequent responses or troparia and readings from the Fathers and spiritual masters at certain Hours, reveal the deeper meanings of the mystery being celebrated, assist in understanding the psalms, and help one prepare for silent prayer.

 

The lectio divina, where the Word of God is so read and meditated that it becomes prayer, is thus rooted in the liturgical celebration. The Liturgy of the Hours, which is like an extension of the Eucharistic celebration, does not exclude but rather (in a complementary way) calls forth the various devotions of the People of God, especially adoration and worship of the Blessed Sacrament.

 

The worship in Spirit and in truth of the New Covenant is not tied exclusively to any one place. The whole earth is sacred and entrusted to the children of men. What matters above all is that, when the faithful assemble in the same place, they are the living stones, gathered to be built into a spiritual house.

 

The Body of the risen Christ is the spiritual temple from which the source of living water emanates. Incorporated into Christ by the Holy Spirit, we are the temple of the living God.

FAITH DEVELOPMENT

 

 

"Faith is both a gift of God and an authentically human response - a recognition of God's call in one's life and a free decision to follow this call by accepting and living the truth of the Gospel. As such, faith is living and active, sharing many of the qualities of living things: it grows and develops over time; it learns from experience; it adapts to changing conditions while maintaining its essential identity; it goes through seasons, some apparently dormant, others fruitful, though wherever faith is present the Holy Spirit is at work in the life of the disciple.

 

Like all living things, a living faith needs nourishment, which the mature adult disciple finds above all in union with Christ"the way and the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6). "This life of intimate union with Christ in the Church is maintained by the spiritual helps common to all the faithful, chiefly by active participation in the liturgy."

 

A living faith is a searching faithit "seeks understanding." Adults need to question, probe, and critically reflect on the meaning of God's revelation in their unique lives in order to grow closer to God. A searching faith leads to deepening conversion. Along the way, it may even experience doubt. Yet the essence of this quality of adult faith is not doubt, but searcha trusting, hopeful, persistent "seeking" or "hunger" for a deeper appropriation of the Gospel and its power to guide, transform, and fulfill our lives."

 

Opportunities to experience "growth in faith" are offered throA living faith is a searching faith—it "seeks understanding." Adults need to question, probe, and critically reflect on the meaning of God's revelation in their unique lives in order to grow closer to God. A searching faith leads to deepening conversion. Along the way, it may even experience doubt. Yet the essence of this quality of adult faith is not doubt, but search—a trusting, hopeful, persistent "seeking" or "hunger" for a deeper appropriation of the Gospel and its power to guide, transform, and fulfill our lives." Opportunities to experience "growth in faith" are offered throughout the year.

THE SACRAMENTS

 

"Faith is both a gift of God and an authentically human response - a recognition of God's call in one's life and a free decision to follow this call by accepting and living the truth of the Gospel. As such, faith is living and active, sharing many of the qualities of living things: it grows and develops over time; it learns from experience; it adapts to changing conditions while maintaining its essential identity; it goes through seasons, some apparently dormant, others fruitful, though wherever faith is present the Holy Spirit is at work in the life of the disciple.

 

Like all living things, a living faith needs nourishment, which the mature adult disciple finds above all in union with Christ"the way and the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6). "This life of intimate union with Christ in the Church is maintained by the spiritual helps common to all the faithful, chiefly by active participation in the liturgy."

 

A living faith is a searching faithit "seeks understanding." Adults need to question, probe, and critically reflect on the meaning of God's revelation in their unique lives in order to grow closer to God. A searching faith leads to deepening conversion. Along the way, it may even experience doubt. Yet the essence of this quality of adult faith is not doubt, but searcha trusting, hopeful, persistent "seeking" or "hunger" for a deeper appropriation of the Gospel and its power to guide, transform, and fulfill our lives."

 

Opportunities to experience "growth in faith" are offered throA living faith is a searching faith—it "seeks understanding." Adults need to question, probe, and critically reflect on the meaning of God's revelation in their unique lives in order to grow closer to God. A searching faith leads to deepening conversion. Along the way, it may even experience doubt. Yet the essence of this quality of adult faith is not doubt, but search—a trusting, hopeful, persistent "seeking" or "hunger" for a deeper appropriation of the Gospel and its power to guide, transform, and fulfill our lives." Opportunities to experience "growth in faith" are offered throughout the year.

THE 'GIFT' PROGRAMME

 

The GIFT programme involves young people participating in faith sharing activities  with their peers, parents and other adults. This programme aims to give support and encouragement to parents as they minister to their children - supporting them in their journey of faith. The GIFT programme is planned as a follow-up to Confirmation and caters for young people in Years 8, 9 and 10. It seeks to provide opportunities for young people to share their experiences with  interested adults at parish level and to provide adults and in particular, parents with opportunities to communicate effectively with their children on areas of mutual concern.

 

The hope for this programme is that all participants will gain a positive experience of the local Church, will learn and experience that faith relates to all parts of life, that God is in all the bits and pieces; happy times and sad times, the games that are both won and lost, family days out or rainy days at home.  Through the various faith sharing opportunities it is hoped that participants will look to God to help them in all of lifes small and big decisions. The ultimate aim is to form a community that nurtures and supports the faith of its members as they Grow In Faith Together.

 

GIFT 1 (Year 8) The programme in GIFT I allows the group to follow up on and remember their Confirmation. It recognises that the change to second level education is an important time. The young people may lose contact with some of their friends in primary school. GIFT gives all those who were confirmed in the parish an opportunity to meet up again, and to stay in touch. The focus is on living out the Gifts and expressing the Fruits of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives in their relationships. This theme continues as the young people are invited to create their own stained glass windows centred on this theme. The group also explore how they can care for others through First Aid as well as themselves through a workshop lead by ASCERT. They prepare for their liturgy on St Valentine by learning new songs, visiting the church and exploring its features. The programme ends in the YMCA when the young people take part in initiative games and activities.

 

GIFT II - Year 9 In GIFT II, the format is similar and continues to be facilitated by the same adults as in GIFT I. This programme is based around ways that we can care for our inner and outer selves. We have a night which explores ways of looking after our health and appearance as well as reflecting on a how we can care for our inner selves-Our relationship with God. This is also explored further when the ASCERT team lead a workshop with the group on alcohol. The young people continue this theme in their art session when they make a mould of their hands in copper. The Liturgy in GIFT II takes place during the season of Lent. To end their sessions the young people have an energetic session full of fun and fitness. GIFT III - Year 10 Gift III is the programme for third year students.

 

The focus of GIFT III is Volunteering. The young people reflect on their GIFT experience to date and think of ways that they can give back to their local community. We have a night when some of our local volunteers share their experiences with the young people. Volunteers this year were from Catholics Caring, SVP, Childrens Liturgy and the South Down Youth Mission to Zambia. On the lead up to Christmas we travel as a group to the Slieve Dhu Nursing Home to share our Advent Liturgy with the residents and sing carols for them before it is celebrated in the Church.

 

The young people are  also given the opportunity to experience a weekend of retreat: A combination of faith and fun activities.