Students participating in Mass Jan. 29, 2023 (Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time) at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel on the campus of Ave Maria University were given a special treat with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane.
Bishop Dewane was invited to celebrate the Mass in St. Francis Xavier Hall (a dormitory) by students who are part of a new Blessed Carlos Acutis Robotics Club. From that invitation grew an opportunity for the students to not only have the Bishop present for Mass, but to lead the students in Evening Vespers.
The reading for the Sunday was the Beatitudes from the Gospel of Matthew (5:1-12a), and Bishop Dewane stressed the need to dive deeply into what the Lord is telling us, as Children of God.
“We need to hunger a thirst for holiness,” the Bishop said. “It about your relationship with the Lord. How are you doing there? That is what Christ is talking about in the Beatitudes. It wasn’t about success in a job or in the academic world – it was about how was our relationship with our Creator, God. This covers a lot of things. Do we see the presence of God in others? Is there some sin that we repeatedly commit to offend the Lord? We must move out of that – it’s not holiness. There is no room for sin in our relationship with God.”
Bishop Dewane complimented the college students for being present for the Mass and prayed they attend each Sunday and strive to go daily.
“You are working on that relationship with the Lord, but each one of us likely needs to go deeper than showing up at a Liturgy on Sunday. How do you live the rest of the week? How do you carry that Mass with you throughout the day? Think about it in your own lives.”
Following the Mass, many of the students remained for Vespers, or Evening Prayer. Vespers is part of the Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office. In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church fulfills Jesus’ command to “pray always” (Luke 18:1; see also 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Through this prayer, the people of God sanctify the day by continual praise of God and prayers of intercession for the needs of the world.
The Liturgy of the Hours includes several specified times of prayer. The most important times are Morning Prayer (which takes place upon rising) and Evening Prayer (which takes place as dusk begins to fall). Evening Prayer also gives thanks for the day just past and makes an evening sacrifice of praise to God (see Psalm 141:1).
Bishops, priests, Deacons, and many men and women in consecrated life pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day. Often, their work is organized around this prayer, keeping God always at the center of their days.
Bishop Dewane said he was impressed by the effort to begin regular Vespers at Ave Maria University, specifically because it was a student-led effort.
Ian Avila, who is a member of the robotics club and helped organize the Mass and Vespers, said it was an honor to have Bishop Dewane support this effort at the University.
“Vespers is something that has grown in interest among students and having the Bishop present really helped everyone focus on this important need to pray always,” Avila said. “The Vespers is the perfect way to do this.”
All are encouraged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as well, especially Morning and Evening Prayer. Many Parishes schedule communal Morning and Evening Prayer on a regular basis, please check with your local Parish for details on participating. Please visit https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgy-of-the-hours for additional resources.