On May 5th 2014, under the leadership of the Bishops of Paris and Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, the Cathedral of Notre Dame organized a Grande Veillee pour la Vie, a Grand Vigil for Life.
Local bishops were dispersed to various surrounding parishes where they lead participants in opening prayers. I joined with St. Severin parish which has a side "chapel" consecrated to the Ostra Brama, Our Lady of Mercy, the great Polish icon. The original prototype is located in the city of Vilnius (now Lithuania) and is intimately associated with the Divine Mercy devotion.
After the prayer service, all of the parish groups processed to the main cathedral through the winding, crowded streets of Paris with large banners of Saints for Life raised high.
Notre Dame is a very large metropolitan cathedral nonetheless, for late comers, there was standing room only available.
I took two "quick shots" of the event inside the Cathedral (below), although I was a bit uncomfortable about it because the Parisian French really frown upon photo taking during formal ceremonies (they've seen enough of it).
The vigil inside the cathedral included prayers, intercessions, songs with full choir and a homily by the renowned Cardinal Vingt-Trois.
Below is the commitment prayer from the program's fourth page. This was was a truly profound moment. The request was made to pray it in a whisper. I've never participated in this form of community prayer (a "liturgical" whisper) before. It's a way of invoking the Holy Spirit who comes to each in the silence of ones heart and not in the form of a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal:
(my best translation attempt)
O very good God, this night, trusting in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the gate and communion of your Church, I agree to keep your commandments and to implement the Gospel of Life in all of my acts:
to be the unconditional home for every human being, from conception to death and to regard others without concupiscence;
to respect marriage as you have given it to us;
that my words and my actions keep me from scorn or judgment;
in the service of the most fragile and the recognition of their high dignity.
I am committed to an ongoing effort to seek, to know and understand the discernment of your Church and the [wise] way it instructs mankind to live and rule (loose translation).
Lord God, Creator and Redeemer,
I know my weakness. I give you thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit that allows me to recognize the Gospel of Life. This Spirit supports me in the choices that present themselves to me throughout the years.
I ask that the Holy Spirit will help me grow with confidence in the judgment of the Church and will transform my heart of stone into a heart of flesh.
This entire ceremony, as well others that I've witnessed (elsewhere), was deeply Marian and confirms French Catholicism's ongoing devotion and dependency on the Virgin Mary as their Heavenly Queen and as the loving, maternal Protectress of France.
click on the images below to enlarge:
by CMJentz, 5/10/ 2014
Notes, Art, Photography CMJENTZ ©2013-2018
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