“The gates of Jerusalem shall sing hymns of gladness, and all her houses shall cry out, “Alleluia! Blessed be God who has raised you up! May he be blessed for all ages!” For in you they shall praise his holy name forever…” (Tobit 13:18, NAB)
Lent will begin this coming Ash Wednesday, March 9 and will go on until Holy Thursday when the Easter Triduum begins. During this season of Lent, we prepare ourselves through the self-examination of our lives and build stronger, our relationship with God.
In this season, the Church refrains from singing the “Alleluia” in liturgy. This simple practice aims to remind us of our need for self-denial and repentance; awaiting in hopeful anticipation of praising it fully at Easter – with shouts of “Alleluia! Christ is Risen!”
Easter bears witness to the empty tomb, without which, our faith would have been truly in vain.
“…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.”
(1 Corinthians 15:17, NAB)
The word “Alleluia” is a compound word made up from several different words. It is derived from the Hebrew word ‘Hallel’ which means ‘to praise in song’.
The letter ‘u’ denotes the second person plural, while ‘Yah’ is an abbreviation for the name of God, a shortened form of YHWH, the name for the Creator ‘Yahweh’’; the Lord God.
Hence, the Latin ‘Alleluia’ equals the Hebrew ‘Hallelu-Yah’ equals ‘Praise Yah(weh)’.
‘Alleluia’ becomes our richest exclamation of praise to God.
The absence of this “A” (lleluia) word during Lent must deliberately remind us of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It reminds us that, without Good Friday, there would not have been an Easter. It reminds us that, without Easter, we are merely dust, destined to return to dust. Missing “Alleluia” during this holy time and recollecting the Passion of Christ and the Kingdom coming is precisely what the season of Lent is all about; our salvation.
Knowing this then, our spiritual journey through Lent this year can become more meaningful.
By the way, “F”asting is a good form of penance and self denial during the entire season of Lent. Not that we are asked to fast from all forms of food throughout these 40 days!
Fasting can be in many other forms to show God how sorry we are for our sins and how much we love Him more than anything else in this world – reading, studying and reflecting on scriptures, attending the Stations of the Cross, practicing self control, refrain from saying the four-letter-word, praying the rosary, watching less TV, reading the lives of the Saints and many others.
What will you choose this Lent?