Opening Song             Take Me Home (David Haas)
All sing:            Take me home to your dwelling place
in your sweet embrace,
ready to hold me in your arms.
Take me home, to your loving eyes,
with you alone I’ll rise, singing forever,
in your arms, take me home.

The story of the Prodigal Son on the Fourth Sunday of Lent (C) reminds us of the seasonal call to return home to the Lord in the sacrament of reconciliation.  Home is where we belong.  When we are not at home with ourselves we are often not at home with our God.  Lent can often be the beginning of that journey to a place of welcome and forgiveness.  We begin by listening to the call to go back home that we hear on Ash Wednesday from the Prophet Joel.

Call to Return
Come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.
Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn,
Turn to the Lord your God again,
For he is all tenderness and compassion,
Slow to anger, rich in graciousness,
And ready to relent. (Joel 2:12)

Journey With The Cross
The life of every Christian is marked with the sign of the cross. At our Baptism we are claimed for Christ with this sign. As we journey through life crosses come our way – some we bring on ourselves, some are inflicted by others – the source does not matter. It is how we carry that cross that marks us out as Christians. It is also important that we help others as they struggle with their burdens and worries. Take the cross in your hands and unite your pain or that of someone you love with the sufferings of Christ who rose above the cross to be a sign of hope for all of us.


All Stand

Litany of Repentance
Reader 1.         We gather here today in a spirit of repentance,
We gather with confidence in you.
All say:           WE RETURN TO YOU, OUR GOD.

Reader 2.         We reflect upon our actions in this world
We reflect upon our relationships with others
All say:           WE RETURN TO YOU, OUR GOD.

Reader 1.         We walk the road of reconciliation with each other
We walk the road of the prodigal with heavy hearts.
All say:           WE RETURN TO YOU, OUR GOD.

Reader 2.         We trust in your mercy and forgiveness
We trust in your gracious love and acceptance.
All say:           WE RETURN TO YOU, OUR GOD.

All Sit

 Lenten Journey
In the past a focus on the penance aspect of the season and a stress on fulfilling the letter of the law in that regard may have stopped us from seeing
the broader picture and embracing the true spirit of Lent.  The next reflection is from the 14th century mystic Meister Eckhart who six hundred years ago came up with this advice.

Many people think that to show their sorrow for sin
they must do extraordinary things, such as fasting, walking barefoot, and the like.
The best penitence, however, is to turn away completely
from all that is not God and not divine,
whether it be in yourself or some other person, place or thing.
True repentance is approaching God in love
and squarely facing up to what you have done.

Choose your own way of doing this,
and discover that the more you do it,
the more real your repentance will become.

True conversion is like the Lord’s passion.
The more you imitate it the more your sins fall away.


Lent and Justice
For many years now the Trócaire Box has been synonymous with Lent in Ireland as we link with the development agency of the Roman Catholic Church in their outreach to those in need throughout the world.  Many of these people have no one to speak for them.  They sometimes feel that no one even knows how bad life is for them.  On the Third Sunday of Lent we hear the following reading that reminds us that indeed all is seen by our God and that he wants something to happen to change the situation.

And the Lord said, “I have seen the miserable state of my people in Egypt.  I have heard their appeal to be free of their slave-drivers.  Yes, I am aware of their sufferings.  I mean to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians and bring them up out of that land to a land rich and broad, a land where milk and honey flow. (Exodus 3)

We are the people that the Lord uses to make a difference – to speak up for truth and justice.  Who Will Speak? by Marty Haugen can be used as an examination of conscience on issues of justice and truth. For the things we may have failed to do.

All sing: Who will speak if we don’t?
Who will speak if we don’t?
Who will speak so their voice will be heard?
Oh, Who will speak if we don’t?

Reader 1. Who will speak for the poor and the broken?
Who will speak for the poor and oppressed?

Reader 2.  Who will speak for the ones who are voiceless?
Speak the truth in the places of power? Refrain

Reader 1.    Who will speak for the children of violence?
Who will speak for the women abused?

Reader 2.    Who will speak for the shunned and the outcast?
Who will speak for all people with AIDS? Refrain

All Of You Are One
The Trócaire theme for Lent 2007 is ‘All of you are one’ and points out the reality of life for women in Malawi who bear the brunt of all the work.  As in other countries where Trócaire highlights justice and peace issues they call on us today to speak out for the women of Malawi and to support projects that will empower these women to sustain themselves and their families with skills and crafts.  The photo on this year’s Trócaire box is of a little baby girl called Amina who is wearing a pink wristband.

Amina’s Story
Amina is just ten weeks old but already her mother Teresa, like mothers everywhere, has dreams for her.  Amina’s mother would like to be able to provide for her own family and, through a Trócaire funded project, Amina’s grandmother is part of a group who received pigs to start a breeding programme.  They hope this will bring income as well as much needed nutrition to the village and making them less dependent on their crops.  This way Amina should have a better future and her mother’s dreams might come true.

This Lent, as we take time to pray for God’s transformation in our own lives, let’s pray and work together for the transformation of the lives of children like baby Amina and their family.  Let us, men and women, work together to create a better world so that all people can live in justice and with dignity.  Using the traditional gender colours pink for girls and blue for boys we can capture the spirit of cooperation and integration that is necessary to correct imbalances in society.

The Rembrandt painting of the Return of the Prodigal shows the father with two distinct hands representing the male and female dimensions of the story – indicating the welcome of the mother and father to the one who strayed. This classic story of regret, conversion, sincere repentance and welcome is our story too.

 The Story of the Prodigal                  Luke 15:1-3,11-32
While still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly.  Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  In no longer deserve to be called your son’.  But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.’  And they began to celebrate.

Song:               My Son Has Gone Away (Bob Dufford)

Act of Reconciliation
Last night as I was sleeping
I had a dream
That I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
Were making white combs
And sweet honey
From old failures
From a poem by Antonio Machado (version by Robert Bly)

All sing:          Kyrie, Kyrie Eleison/Christe, Christe Eleison (Taizé)

 Sending out
Celebrant ends with a blessing
We ask God’s blessing on us all as we leave this place.
May God give us
The ability to forgive, as we have been forgiven
The ability to share, that we may have enough
And the ability to love, that we may know joy
In the name of God, Father, Son and Spirit, who loves us, forgives us and provide for us.
ALL: Amen

Closing Song Hosea (Monks of Weston Priory)
Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life.