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Vespers kicks off jubilee celebration

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Clergy, women religious and laypeople from around the diocese gathered at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington Nov. 21 to kick off year one of the Diocesan Golden Jubilee celebration with Solemn Vespers with Exposition and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The themes of the three years leading up to the 50th anniversary in 2024 are: remember, with a focus on the Eucharist; rejoice, drawing attention to the Blessed Mother; and renew, with a commitment to the work of evangelization.

Vespers, or the evening prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours — official liturgical prayers sanctifying the parts of each day — consisted of chanted psalms, a reading, hymns, intercessory prayers and a homily by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, in which he spoke about the importance of the Eucharist.

“As a vibrant and faith-filled diocese, we can only stay that way to the extent that the holy Eucharist is at the center of our lives,” he said. “How providential that we begin this year one focused on the holy Eucharist when just this past week, the bishops of the country approved a beautiful document, ‘The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church.’ So you have homework for year one. You cannot just read blogs and headlines. You are to read the entire document in all of its beauty.”

Bishop Burbidge encouraged the faithful throughout this year to reclaim Eucharistic wonder and awe, a firm belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, an understanding of the need for full and active participation in real time at Mass, and a deeper commitment to bringing Christ to others through works of charity. He noted that at his request, each diocese is holding a 40 Hours devotion, a time of continuous public prayer and adoration. The diocese also is making resources available to help people come to a greater appreciation of the Eucharist.

“Remember Our Lord’s great love for you, perfectly revealed in the holy Eucharist,” said Bishop Burbidge. “Nourished and strengthened by this precious gift, may we go forth renewed in faith at this exciting moment in time, to love and to serve together in the Diocese of Arlington and in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

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