The church of the Immaculate Conception in Maryhill provided a beautiful setting for the celebration of sung Vespers for the Year of Faith on 12 May. The parishioners were joined by the Archdiocesan choir (the St. Mungo Singers), and
representatives of other local churches for the service.
The choir set a prayerful atmosphere with the singing of Catherine Walker’s “Great God, be near me” and the classic Newman hymn “Lead, Kindly Light”, before leading the congregation in the singing of James Quinn’s “O Light from Light, our footsteps guide” as Parish Priest Fr. Lawlor lit the candles for the beginning of the service. This was followed by the lovely and joyful Easter hymn “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus”.
The psalms for the liturgy were the Easter psalm 117 and psalm 66, with the Canticle from Ephesians 3. The responsory used the venerable “Christus Vincit”, and the Magnificat was the Fitzpatrick Morar setting.
Fr. Lawlor in his reflection invited those present to stop and think about one word “sanctification” – what did it mean to be holy, to belong to God. Holiness and faith are not possessions, not something external to us. Holiness in a sense is something passive, something which happens to us, which affects our senses, which we experience. Quoting St. John Vianney, he invited those present to sit down, shut up and let God speak to us!
Intercessions followed for those present, the churches and the world:-
We do not know how to pray as we ought but the Spirit himself pleads on our behalf with groaning deeper than words. And so let us ask: May the Holy Spirit plead for us.
Christ, heavenly Shepherd, give your counsel and wisdom to our shepherds and pastors, the better to lead your flock to salvation. May the Holy Spirit plead for us.
You live on high and are rich in compassion: look after the poor and destitute of the earth. May the Holy Spirit plead for us.
You have given us the gift of faith; let our lives match what we believe.– May the Holy Spirit plead for us.
Let this year of faith be a source of strength and renewal for all the churches, especially in our own city. May the Holy Spirit plead for us.
Let those who are sick among us feel the comfort of your healing hand: May the Holy Spirit plead for us.
May the dead attain the freedom and glory of the children of God, and full and perfect bodily redemption. May the Holy Spirit plead for us.
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Let this Year of Faith put new heart into your people, and a growing confidence in the power of your Spirit to let the Good News spread bringing hope and happiness to people everywhere. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The choir then sang the Taizé “Surrexit Christus” before the final blessing, and the service ended with the well-known hymn “Hail Queen of Heaven”. Fr. Lawlor invited everyone to go to the parish hall for tea and hospitality and as they made their way out of the church, the choir sang Newman’s beautiful prayer “May the Lord protect you”.
The parish hospitality was indeed generous and it made a fitting ending to a very prayful and uplifting service.