Tenebrae… What on Earth is It???

In 587 BC, the Temple of Solomon was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. The temple had been first described to Moses. King David had conquered Jerusalem and made the preparations for its construction. Solomon, the wisest of the kings, had completed it within the fleeting golden age of his reign. Its fame spread throughout the world, so that people from as far as Ethiopia came on pilgrimage, bringing back with them the faith of the Jews. King after king dishonored the temple, abusing its sacrifices and forgetting proper Jewish worship. Finally, the boy-king Josiah came to power. Holy and righteous, he reestablished the temple cult and preserved the Torah. He charged into battle against the Egyptians at Meggido, and at the age of 33 fell to their archers.

Every king that followed failed the nation, and the nation slipped back into its sins. The prophet Jeremiah, who had begun his ministry at the time of Josiah, cried out in vain for the repentance of the nation. Finally, Jerusalem was invaded and conquered. When they rose up again, they were again invaded. This time, the temple was destroyed.

Jeremiah, sitting among the rubble of the temple mount, saw the dejection of Israel. He had seen its height under Josiah, and now its total shame under the thumb of the Babylonians. According to legend, he cried out to God in five hymns of lamentation, which became the new liturgy performed on the Temple Mount: the book of Lamentations.

The book of Lamentations is almost entirely absent from the readings during Sunday and Daily Mass. The material is heart-wrenchingly and at times sickening. Jerusalem is compared to an abandoned adulterer, a betrayed friend, a hunted animal. Jeremiah eats gravel and is even forced to vomit. It is arguably one of the most painful books in scripture. Therefore, it is left out of the readings. There is one exception: the service of Tenebrae.

Tenebrae is a combination of the Offices of Matins and Lauds for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Holy Week. The Office is the set of prayers prayed every day by priests, religious, and many lay people, designed by the church to be prayed throughout the day. Matins is the early morning service (normally sung at 3 or 4 AM) that contains readings from throughout the Bible. The office of Lauds (6 AM), like the other offices, consists entirely of psalms and canticles. On these three days, Matins reads through the Lamentations of Jeremiah as an image for the sufferings of Christ. Over time, it became a tradition for lay people to come to monasteries, priories, and eventually churches to participate on one night of Holy Week in the prayers of the religious.

We too have lost our King at the young age of 33 to a shower of the Enemies’ arrows. We have seen the affliction and bitterness in the world around us. We have suffered under the unjust, and cried out to God because of it. The sufferings in Chapter 3 of Jeremiah “I am the man who has suffered under the rod of His wrath” is the central image that unites Christ’s sufferings with the sufferings of man. As Hebrews says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour: that, through the grace of God, he might taste death for all.”

As each reading is given, one of the candles on the hearse (a large triangular candelabra) are put out, and the lights are dimmed. We enter into the tomb with Christ, into “darkness without any light.” As the final lights turn off, and we are shrouded in darkness, a loud rumble begins. The congregation bangs and rattles the pews, as Christ in Hell breaks down the bars of Hell and rises victorious with all the faithful in His hands. The battle is not yet over, and there is no celebration. As a sign of the victory to be accomplished, one candle, still lit, is hidden behind the altar, like Christ in the tomb.

The service serves as a summary of all the Triduum to come, playing out the drama from Wednesday to Sunday’s vigil step by step. Its spirituality rests on the final verse of Lamentations, “restore us for Your sake O Lord, and we will be restored! Renew our days as of old! Or have You utterly forsaken us? Are you exceedingly angry with us?” To which God responds with a single Word, born, crucified, and risen.


5 Ways: To Get More Out of Scripture

5W Scripture


“In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God.” John 1:1

The Bible is God’s revelation to His people. It is His inspired word given to all mankind about Him, and the relationship The Lord wants to have with them. As such, it has the incredible potential to change our lives. Yet it can be a challenging book for many. Here are five ways to get more out of Scripture.

1) Lectio Divina: An way of praying with Scripture that was  formalized by a Carthusian monk called Guigo in the 12 century, even though its roots can be traced all the way back to the 3rd century. Basically, you select a scripture passage and then follow the four Lectio steps: Read, Meditate, Pray, Contemplate. It might be helpful to keep a scripture journal to write down what the Holy Spirit is telling you. Lectio Divina teaches that the Bible is not merely for studying, but it is the Living Word of God. For more information on how to pray this way check out the Order of the Carmelites website. http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/what-lectio-divina

2) Memorize verses: Grab some notecards and write down your favorite verses. If you don’t have any, then its a great excuse to find some! Psalm 23, John 3:16, Jeremiah 29:11, and 1 Corinthians 13:8 are great places to start! Carry the cards around with you and commit them to memory. The next time you face a struggle or a set back, the verses will come to mind and give you a boost. Start with one or two at a time, and then add more as needed. Pretty soon you will have an arsenal of Scripture at your beck and call!

3) Read a book about The Book: The Real Story by Curtis Martin and Dr. Edward Sri (the founders of FOCUS) spent ten years researching for this amazing book about how the Bible works together to tell one huge story about God and His people. It’s short, well written, and accessible to all. The Real Story is a great inspiration to read The Word for yourself! You can buy it here: http://www.focus.org/therealstory/

4) Start a Bible Schedule: Scripture can be daunting. There are 73 books filled with many different types of writing. It can be intimidating to just pick it up and begin. The Coming Home Network has created a handy bible bookmark with scheduled readings that can have you completing the Bible in a year! It also includes Catechism readings so you can brush up on your theology. It’s also only a dollar. Which is pretty sweet. https://store.chnetwork.org/item/5541

5) Join a bible study: FOCUS provides bible studies every day, at practically every time. Bible studies are a great way to come together with other students and learn together about the Word. FOCUS bible studies were created with college students in mind, so you can be sure that you will get something out of the time. Plus, they are only an hour, and sometimes the missionaries bring cookies. Just saying.

There you go! 5 easy ways to go deeper in the Word. If you have one that helps you out that we haven’t mentioned, comment on it below! You can help other people grow deeper in their Scripture reading too.

God Bless!

Two NCR articles relating to St. Peter’s

The periodical National Catholic Register recently published two articles that relate to St. Peter’s:

The first was an article about the importance of Catholic campus ministries at non-Catholic universities that features St. Peter’s as one of the ministries.

The second is an interview with Baylor professor Francis Beckwith (who is also a supporter and frequent visitor of St. Peter’s) who was invited to Rome this past month to speak at a conference at the Vatican about Bl. JPII’s pro-life encyclical Evangelium Vitae.


“Boy Do We Feel Awakened”

By Rachel Cantrell (Rachel is a freshman great texts major from Houston, TX, a member of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and she attended Bear Awakening 11.)

The week after Easter seemed to be the longest one of the semester. It didn’t really make sense, because it was only a four-day week and one after a holiday at that. Yet those four days seemed to be packed with more papers, quizzes, and tests than midterm week. There was also another thing in the future that made the days seem to go by with all the speed of frozen molasses… Awakening. Awakening is one of those things that is talked about but never explained. For 8 long months us “Un-Awakened” heard about how this weekend retreat would change our lives, enflame our hearts, and in vigor our souls, yet never actually heard how. Those last 4 days were the longest to wait, and my fellow retreaters and I anticipated a weekend we would never forget.

Boy were they right.

It was a weekend filled with laughter, prayer, love, smiles, tears, joy, healing, and most of all, Christ. All of the surprises ended up enhancing our experience, and as the weekend went on we were immersed more and more into the love of Christ. Every staffer there seemed to have that one purpose in mind. Personally, I have never been on a retreat so prayerfully put together and lovingly executed. Every moment was thought out, and it left those experiencing Awakening for the first time to do just that. “God’s time” helped a lot. On Friday, once we arrived at the retreat, we were asked to give up our cell phones, watches, and anything else that let us communicate with the outside world, for we were on “God’s time.” The distraction-free atmosphere was relaxing and we were able to really and truly be present to what was going on around us.

My one of my favorite parts of the retreat was Adoration Saturday night. The room was dark, and the only source of light came from the altar where the Beloved Sacrament stood. I don’t know how long we sat there and praised Him, but it was one of the most peaceful moments I had experienced in a very long time. When introducing myself at the beginning of the weekend, I said that I wanted this weekend to be a “red-bull” for the soul, and I definitely got a shot of energy during that time with our Lord. Gazing upon the face of Jesus seems more real than anything of this world, and I would have loved to stay there forever.

Awakening changed us. There was something different in the faces of the retreaters as we left St. P’s Sunday afternoon. We were headed back into the world (it was so strange having to look at a clock again) but with a renewed spirit that made the trek back to homework, deadlines, and looming final exams less draining. I wouldn’t have changed anything about that weekend and am so incredibly blessed to have gone on Awakening. To the staff, on behalf of the retreaters, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for caring enough about us to put on this retreat. It was a heck of a weekend, and boy do we feel awakened.

Divine Mercy Sunday

This Sunday, April 7, is Divine Mercy Sunday!

“During the course of Jesus’ revelations to Saint Faustina on the Divine Mercy He asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. The liturgical texts of that day, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, concern the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, the Tribunal of the Divine Mercy, and are thus already suited to the request of Our Lord. This Feast, which had already been granted to the nation of Poland and been celebrated within Vatican City, was granted to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sr. Faustina on 30 April 2000. In a decree dated 23 May 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that “throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come.” These papal acts represent the highest endorsement that the Church can give to a private revelation, an act of papal infallibility proclaiming the certain sanctity of the mystic, and the granting of a universal feast, as requested by Our Lord to St. Faustina.”

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/feast.htm#ixzz2PcHWWh7u

Pope Francis on the Role of Women in the Church

At Pope Francis’ general audience catechesis today, he discussed the fundamental role of women in the Church.  Below is a summary of his audience and you can visit this site to read the translation of his audience.

“Taking up the series of Catechesis on the Creed, we now turn to the passage: “He rose again on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures”. Our belief in Christ’s Resurrection is the very heart of our faith, the basis of our hope in God’s promises and our trust in his victory over sin and death. The first witnesses of the Resurrection were women: moved by love to go to the tomb, they accept with joy the message of the Resurrection and then tell the good news to the Apostles. So it must be with us; we need to share the joy born of our faith in the Resurrection! In Church’s history, women have had a special role in opening doors to faith in Christ, for faith is always a response to love. With the eyes of faith, we too encounter the risen Lord in the many signs of his presence: the Scriptures, the Eucharist and the other sacraments, and the acts of charity, goodness, forgiveness and mercy which bring a ray of his Resurrection into our world. May our faith in the risen Christ enable us to be living signs in our world of the triumph of life and hope over evil, sin and death.”

Every word that comes from his mouth

By Debbie Shannon

I don’t know about you, but in the days following the announcement and ensuing discovery of the man who is our new Pope Francis, I find myself grasping for every word that comes from his mouth.  Indeed, the entire world seems enamored by this man whom most of us knew nothing about, yet now, can’t get enough of.

Baylor Catholic student and theology major, Emily Edmondson is equally intrigued, and immediately went searching online for any and all homilies of then, Cardinal Bergoglio which might be on the web.  True to Emily’s over the top enthusiasm for all things theological, she began to translate them from Spanish into English. She is happy to share them with our blog followers through the blog she has established for posting them.

Check out Papal Translation Project for English translations of a number of homilies from his days as Bishop (and Cardinal) Bergoglio.

Pope Francis - wave