Complete Catholic Mass Readings for Canada MARCH 5 – APRIL 20 WAU.ORG
DAILY MEDITATIONS FOR LENT 2014
Father, Forgive! A Lenten Journey to Freedom St. Francis of Assisi’s Secret to Joy
Forgiveness Changed My Mother’s Heart
Carl Heinrich Bloch, In the Garden of Gethsemane, 1875 The Museum of National History, Frederiksborg Castle. Property of the Danish State.
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Lent 2014 • Volume 33, Number 4
Inside this issue. . . Father, Forgive!
Step into Freedom Finding the grace to forgive this Lent.
Carl Heinrich Bloch, In the Garden of Gethsemane, 1875 The Museum of National History, Frederiksborg Castle.
Father, Forgive Them! Jesus shows us the way to forgive.
Members of One Family When we repent, we learn how to forgive.
Lord, Make Us One! An examination of conscience for Lent.
Mastering the Art of Love Wisdom from St. John Chrysostom on forgiving other people.
Daily Meditations March 5–April 20
This Issue’s Special Features
Spirit of Catholic Living
A Daily Approach to Prayer & Scripture
The Secret to Joy St. Francis of Assisi shows us the way.
She Was Still My Mother A story of forgiveness.
Hey, Wake Up! I became a prison minister—in prison.
Daily Mass Readings
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15 Dt 26:16-19 Ps 119:1-2,4-5,7-8 Mt 5:43-48
14 Ez 18:21-28 Ps 130:1-8 Mt 5:20-26
7 Is 58:1-9 Ps 51:3-6,18-19 Mt 9:14-15
8 Is 58:9-14 Ps 86:1-6 Lk 5:27-32
13 Est C:12,14-16,23-25 Ps 138:1-3,7-8 Mt 7:7-12
6 Dt 30:15-20 Ps 1:1-4,6 Lk 9:22-25
12 Jon 3:1-10 Ps 51:3-4,12-13,18-19 Lk 11:29-32
22 Mi 7:14-15,18-20 Ps 103:1-4,9-12 Lk 15:1-3,11-32
21 Gn 37:3-4,12-13,17-28 Ps 105:16-21 Mt 21:33-43,45-46
20 Jer 17:5-10 Ps 1:1-4,6 Lk 16:19-31
19 2 Sm 7:4-5,12-14,16 Ps 89:2-5,27,29 Rom 4:13,16-18,22 Mt 1:16,18-21,24
18 Is 1:10,16-20 Ps 50:8-9,16-17,21,23 Mt 23:1-12
11 Is 55:10-11 Ps 34:4-7,16-19 Mt 6:7-15
March 5 Jl 2:12-18 Ps 51:3-6,12-14,17 2 Cor 5:20–6:2 Mt 6:1-6,16-18
17 Dn 9:4-10 Ps 79:8-9,11,13 Lk 6:36-38
10 Lv 19:1-2,11-18 Ps 19:8-10,15 Mt 25:31-46
16 Gn 12:1-4 Ps 33:4-5,18-20,22 2 Tm 1:8-10 Mt 17:1-9
29 Hos 6:1-6 Ps 51:3-4,18-21 Lk 18:9-14
28 Hos 14:2-10 Ps 81:6-11,14,17 Mk 12:28-34
27 Jer 7:23-28 Ps 95:1-2,6-9 Lk 11:14-23
26 Dt 4:1,5-9 Ps 147:12-13,15-16, 19-20 Mt 5:17-19
25 Is 7:10-14;8:10 Ps 40:7-11 Heb 10:4-10 Lk 1:26-38
24 2 Kgs 5:1-15 Ps 42:2-3;43:3-4 Lk 4:24-30
23 Ex 17:3-7 Ps 95:1-2,6-9 Rom 5:1-2,5-8 Jn 4:5-42
5 Jer 11:18-20 Ps 7:2-3,9-12 Jn 7:40-53
4 Wis 2:1,12-22 Ps 34:17-21,23 Jn 7:1-2,10,25-30
3 Ex 32:7-14 Ps 106:19-23 Jn 5:31-47
2 Is 49:8-15 Ps 145:8-9,13-14, 17-18 Jn 5:17-30
April 1 Ez 47:1-9,12 Ps 46:2-3,5-6,8-9 Jn 5:1-16
31 Is 65:17-21 Ps 30:2,4-6,11-13 Jn 4:43-54
30 1 Sm 16:1,6-7,10-13 Ps 23:1-6 Eph 5:8-14 Jn 9:1-41
12 Ez 37:21-28 (Ps) Jer 31:10-13 Jn 11:45-56
11 Jer 20:10-13 Ps 18:2-7 Jn 10:31-42
10 Gn 17:3-9 Ps 105:4-9 Jn 8:51-59
9 Dn 3:14-20,91-92,95 (Ps) Dn 3:52-56 Jn 8:31-42
8 Nm 21:4-9 Ps 102:2-3,16-21 Jn 8:21-30
7 Dn 13:1-9,15-17,19-30, 33-62 Ps 23:1-6 Jn 8:1-11
6 Ez 37:12-14 Ps 130:1-8 Rom 8:8-11 Jn 11:1-45
Friday, April 18 Is 52:13–53:12 Ps 31:2,6,12-13, 15-17,25 Heb 4:14-16;5:7-9 Jn 18:1–19:42
20 Acts 10:34,37-43 Ps 118:1-2,16-17, 22-23 Col 3:1-4 Jn 20:1-9
19 See readings at right
18 See readings at right
Ex 12:1-8,11-14 Ps 116:12-13,15-18 1 Cor 11:23-26 Jn 13:1-15
Saturday, April 19 Gn 1:1–2:2 Gn 22:1-18 Ex 14:15–15:1 Is 54:5-14 16 Is 50:4-9 Is 55:1-11 Ps 69:8-10,21-22,31, Bar 3:9-15,32–4:4 33-34 Ez 36:16-28 Mt 26:14-25 Rom 6:3-11 Ps 118:1-2,16-17, 22-23 17 Mt 28:1-10
15 Is 49:1-6 Ps 71:1-6,15,17 Jn 13:21-33,36-38
14 Is 42:1-7 Ps 27:1-3,13-14 Jn 12:1-11
13 Mt 21:1-11 Is 50:4-7 Ps 22:8-9,17-20,23-24 Phil 2:6-11 Mt 26:14–27:66
Below are the daily Scripture readings from the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar as adapted for use in the United States. Celebration of solemnities, feasts, memorials, or other observances particular to your country, diocese, or parish may result in some variation.
9 Gn 2:7-9;3:1-7 Ps 51:3-6,12-13,17 Rom 5:12-19 Mt 4:1-11
Daily Mass Readings March 5–April 20, 2014
Father, Forgive Them!
wenty years ago, I was in a difficult and trying situation. The details are not important, but what is important is that in my mind, I was treated unfairly, and I was deeply hurt. What’s more, I could not forgive the people who were treating me so poorly. It’s not as if I hated them or wished them harm. I was just hurting too much to forgive. To make matters worse, I knew that Jesus commanded us to forgive each other, and that weighed me down even more. I just couldn’t do it. While the pain did soften over time, I still knew that I wasn’t ready to forgive—and this was two years after the event! I was able to do this only after a friend from my parish who had learned about healing started praying with me and helped me to take the right steps. Over the next few months, I was brought to the point where I could speak words of forgiveness in my heart. I didn’t have the chance to speak to most of the people who had hurt me, but the freedom and peace I experienced showed me that God was healing me.
In this special Lenten issue of The Word Among Us, we want to focus on forgiveness. Jesus told us to pray, “Forgive us, Father, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” So in this issue, we want to take a look at how we can begin to forgive. In our lead articles, we tell the story of Linda and how God helped her work through the pain of a divorce. (We have changed the names of the people involved, but the story is true.) As you read through Linda’s story, see if you can take the principles of healing and forgiveness that she experienced and apply them to your own life.
Freedom through Forgiveness. Coming to the point where we can say, “I forgive you” to someone who has hurt us, or even just saying it in our hearts, can be very powerful. It goes a long way in removing the judgments we have built up against the other person. It helps set us free from the desire for revenge and from the anger and cyincism that unforgiveness can bring. It also protects us from the devil’s attempts to keep us trapped in our painful memories. So as we begin this season of Lent, let’s ask Jesus to help us pardon those
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who have hurt us. Let’s try our best to live the words he uttered on the cross: “Father, forgive them.” It took me years to let go of my hurts, but I was healed. Jesus set me free from the pain and from the judgments I was holding against these people. It was a powerful work of the grace of God. I know he can do this for all of us!
May we all give glory to Jesus by working on forgiving everyone who has hurt us. All we have to do is take the next step, and the Lord will bless us beyond our expectations.
Joe Difato Publisher (email@example.com)
Spirit of Catholic Living
Publisher: Joseph Difato, PhD Editor: Leo Zanchettin Features Editor: Louise Perrotta Contributing Writers: Ann Bottenhorn, Jill Boughton, Christine Difato, Teresa Ejinaka, Bob French, Theresa Keller, Jeanne Kun, Joel Laton, Huyen Le, Emily Nelson, Hallie Riedel, Lisa Sharafinski, Patty Whelpley, Jonathan Wilson Theological Advisors: Fr. Joseph A. Mindling, OFM Cap, Fr. Joseph F. Wimmer, OSA Proofreaders: Carrie Smoot, Ginger Roché Art Direction: David Crosson International Advisors: Enyi Erengwa, Fr. Johnson Fernandez, Fr. Herb Schneider, SJ Subscriptions and Change of Address: For questions about your subscription, write to The Word Among Us, 7115 Guilford Dr. STE 100 Frederick, Maryland 21704. U.S. and Canada call 1-800-775-WORD (9673) Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. EST. Outside the U.S.A. call 1-301-874-1700. Fax 301-874-2190. Customer Service on the Internet at firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Address: The Word Among Us is published from 319 West Town Place, Suite 27, St. Augustine, FL 32092. Address letters to the editor to this location. Our Web address is www.wau.org. Made in the U.S.A. Canadian Publications Mail Agreement #40031176 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to The Word Among Us, c/o Metanoia Outreach, Box 1107, Station F Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2T8 e-mail: email@example.com Copyright © 2013 The Word Among Us.
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The essays and meditations in this booklet may be reproduced with prior approval of the publisher for use in Bible studies, discussion groups, religion classes, and the like. Excerpts from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Psalms, Copyright © 1991, 1986, 1970, by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Periodically we contact our readers by telephone, offering our products and publications. From time to time, we also allow selected organizations to send mail to our subscribers relating to their mission. However, we never give our customers’ phone numbers to any other organizations. If you would rather not receive any promotional mailings from other organizations or if you do not wish to receive phone calls from our representatitves, please call Customer Service at 1-800-775-9673, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write us at 7115 Guilford Dr. STE 100 Frederick, Maryland 21704.
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Members of One
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o far, we have been looking at steps
that will help us feel free enough to forgive the people who have hurt us. Now we want to look at why Jesus asks us to forgive. We also want to look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation and how examining our consciences and confessing our own sins can actually help us become more forgiving. Children in His Image. We left off in
makes perfect sense. After all, he created every one of us and loves each of us as our Father. Scripture tells us that God created us in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). No other creature on earth has this privilege. Not even the angels in heaven are created in God’s image! So each of us occupies a special place in God’s plan—and a special place in his heart. We are his children, and he cherishes every one of us deeply. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us “of all visible creatures only man is able to know and love his creator” (CCC, 356). We all have the privilege of talking with God and hearing his voice.
When we repent, we learn how to forgive.
the last article with Fr. Tim asking Linda to try to forgive Brad, her ex-husband, for the way he had treated her and their children. At first, Linda resisted. How could she forgive the man who had given up on their marriage, committed adultery, and then walked away from her and their children? Fr. Tim pointed to two key reasons why forgiveness is so important. First, he reminded Linda of Jesus’ words that unless we forgive others from the heart, we won’t be able to experience God’s forgiveness in our own lives (Matthew 6:14). He went on to tell her that we must forgive because we are all children of God. This may be hard to accept, especially when we are thinking about Members of the Same Family. someone who has deliberately hurt When we forgive someone, we are us. But from God’s viewpoint, it exercising this great privilege of Lent 2014 | 17
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talking with God. We are commending this person to his or her Father in the hopes that he or she will find the Lord and be converted more deeply. We are affirming that this person is worth forgiving, simply because he or she is beloved of the Father. It can be hard to look at everyone as brother or sister—especially someone who has done horrible things. It’s hard to consider the chemical-weapon wielding dictator as a member of our own family. It’s hard to embrace the corporate executive who treats his employees like property. It can be hard to say the word “brother” when talking about a student who stages a mass shooting in his high school. But God weeps over these people just as deeply as he weeps over their victims. He loves them just as much as he loves you. He suffers over what they have done, but he also suffers over the darkness in their hearts that led them to do it. It’s hard for us to grasp, but our Father longs to forgive them if they will just turn to him and repent. Can you see that we are all members of the family of God? Can you take one more step toward letting go of your resentments and unforgiveness, simply because we are all God’s children?
The Decision to Forgive. Sitting with her in the church, Fr. Tim asked Linda to quiet her heart and try to imagine Jesus sitting with them as well. After a few moments, Linda told him, “I see him smiling at me. I see how much he loves me, despite my shortcomings. He just loves me because he made me.” Fr. Tim then asked, “What about Brad? How does Jesus see him?” She replied, “I guess he loves Brad just as much. He wants to show Brad his love just as he wants to show me.” That’s when things began to change. Linda saw the bigger picture, and it helped her let go of her anger. She saw that God may not like what Brad did to her, but he still loves Brad and wants to help him—just as he loves her and wants to help her. When all is said and done, forgiveness is a choice. It’s an act of the will, not an act of the emotions. It’s a decision to say, “I forgive you for hurting me and treating me unfairly.” Sometimes that’s all it takes, and we are set free. But other times, especially when it comes to the deeper hurts of life, it takes more time, more patience, and more trust in the Lord. In those cases, keep saying, “I forgive,” even if you don’t fully feel like forgiving. Every time you do this, you
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hen all is said and done, forgiveness is a choice. It’s an act of the will, not an act of the emotions.
are taking one step closer—and you are inviting the Lord to take one step closer to you. This is what happened with Linda. She found that saying, “I forgive,” even though her heart wasn’t really agreeing, helped heal her wounded heart and helped bring her to a place where she could forgive Brad once and for all. You may have to say these words over and over, day after day for a while. But every time you say them, the Spirit pours out more grace and helps you even more.
Father, Forgive Me. Fr. Tim encouraged Linda to look into her heart and ask God to forgive her for any hatred or resentment she was holding against Brad. At first, it sounded odd that Fr. Tim would turn the tables on her and expect her to repent. “But he sinned against me,” she protested. “I tried my hardest in this relationship. Why should I be the one to repent?” Over time, however, Linda realized that, given all that Jesus had Lent 2014 | 19
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done for her, she really had no right to hold onto her anger and resentment toward Brad. She knew she had to go to Confession. She came to see that God loved her as she was, and that he understood her suffering. But she also came to see that she needed God to release her from the grip that her resentment and self-pity had on her. She saw that by holding on as she had done, all she was doing was wishing ill for Brad, wanting him to suffer for what he did. That’s why she went to Confession: she wanted to be set free, and she didn’t want to keep inflicting her anger onto Brad. She had already forgiven him. Why would she now want to hurt him again? God wants all of us to repent for any resentment or hatred we may have against other people. These types of thoughts are real sins, even when they come in response to someone who has treated us unfairly. These thoughts and emotions can cloud our otherwise healthy relationships, as well as our relationship with the Lord. As St. Teresa of Avila once described them, they are like tar poured over a beautiful crystal. The tar of our resentments blocks out the rays of God’s love and prevents the crystal from shining as beautifully as God intended.
After celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Linda finally felt able to forgive Brad completely and move on with her life. She chose mercy over judgment, and God blessed her for it. Today, Linda is still single, and it’s still a challenge to make ends meet every month. But if you ask her how she feels, she will give you a oneword answer: free! She has become outgoing and friendly again. She doesn’t revisit her old hurts every day. Instead, she is trying her best to rebuild her life and provide everything she can for her children. God has delivered her from the weight of unforgiveness, and he can do the same for you.
Father, Help Me Forgive! On more than one occasion, Pope Francis has called bishops and priests to act as shepherds who look after the people entrusted to them. This Lent, why not give your pastor the opportunity to do this for you? As you prepare to make your Lenten Confession, make a list of the people you need to forgive: parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and so on. We have included an examination of conscience on page 22 to help you do this.
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Photo © Bill Wittman
Then, when you go to Confession, tell your pastor about these people. Ask him to help you let go of the hurt and forgive them. Confess any hatred, anger, or ill will that you may be holding against them. Ask your pastor to pray with you and ask God to give you the grace to imitate Jesus and say, “Father, forgive them.” It’s a sad fact that we live in a sinful world and that we will be hurt. It’s a sad fact that not everyone sees himself or herself as part of the
hose who learn how to deal with their hurts—through prayer, through the grace of God, through the sacraments, and through the decision to forgive—can be set free.
family of God. Nevertheless, those who learn how to deal with their hurts—through prayer, through the grace of God, through the sacraments, and through the decision to forgive—can be set free. May we all choose to embrace the freedom that Jesus died to give us. May this Easter Sunday find us all rejoicing in our salvation in a new way! Lent 2014 | 21
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Wednesday, March 5 Ash Wednesday Joel 2:12-18 Return to me with your whole heart. (Joel 2:12) Welcome to Lent! For the next forty days, we will be journeying through the “desert” of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving as we travel toward the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection at Easter. Now, we all know that a desert is uninhabitable, full of danger, and lacking in such necessities as food and water. Why would anyone want to go there? Only, it seems, out of obedience to God. Mark tells us that it was the Spirit who “drove” Jesus into the desert (Mark 1:12). The Spirit pressed him to enter this place of testing and temptation. Where did Jesus find the strength to survive the desert’s harsh conditions and resist temptation? In the word of God. He survived because he depended on God and all that he had promised. As it happened to Jesus, so it now happens to us. Beginning today, the
Holy Spirit wants to move us into the desert. He wants to separate us from the comforts of everyday life so that we can focus on overcoming the sin and moral weakness that separate us from God. But we don’t go there alone. The Spirit will help us in our weakness (Romans 8:26). He will guide us and encourage us when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13). Of course, we have to play our part. We have to be willing to “compete well for the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). So plan to fast this Lent. Make time for prayer every day, and immerse yourself in God’s word. Be generous to those who are in need. Return to the Lord in these ways, and he will bless you. Let’s make this Lent a time of openness to God’s favor. Let’s ask him to fill us with his grace, love, wisdom, and strength so that we can pass every test that lies ahead. If we are open, we will not be disappointed! “Lord, open my eyes to your presence here in the desert. Help me to overcome the sin that separates me from you so that I can rejoice with you on Easter Sunday.” Psalm 51:3-6, 12-14, 17 2 Corinthians 5:20–6:2 Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
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E D I T A T I O N S
Thursday, March 6 Deuteronomy 30:15-20 I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. (Deuteronomy 30:19) A man and woman say, “I do” on their wedding day. A new president “solemnly swears” to uphold the nation’s constitution on Inauguration Day. A young woman vows to “never do harm” on the day she takes the Hippocratic Oath and becomes a doctor. All of these are pivotal moments in a person’s life, moments when an important choice is made and a new path opens up. The Israelites faced a similar moment when Moses called them to embrace their covenant with God as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. It was a life-and-death choice, and Moses urged them to choose wisely. Scripture has countless other examples of people facing important choices: Adam and Eve in the garden; Mary deciding whether to accept the angel’s invitation to be Mother of the Redeemer; Matthew’s choice to leave his tax collection table and follow Jesus. The list goes on and on! All of these initial, life-altering choices need to be “fleshed out” in everyday life. The newlyweds have to choose every day to uphold their
vows, “for better or worse.” Matthew had to reaffirm his choice to follow Jesus, even on those days when he missed his comfortable life back home. And Mary must have prayed, “May it be done to me according to your word” on a regular basis (Luke 1:38). Especially during the season of Lent, we might want to focus on all the choices we have to make. What should we give up? How much time should we spend praying? What about fasting? But this year, let’s shift the focus to see what God wants to do for us. Day in and day out, we face choices—this is true. But it’s just as true that our heavenly Father is with us day in and day out, offering us grace upon grace so that we can choose life every time. God wants to bless you. He wants to do everything he can to keep you on the path of life. That’s why he is so merciful and forgiving. So don’t give up. Choose life every day! “Heavenly Father, thank you for your desire to bless me! I choose you today. I choose to receive the grace that comes from following you.” Psalm 1:1-4, 6 Luke 9:22-25
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Mass Readings Supplement $10 per year.
Daily Mass Readings March 5 â€“ April 20, 2014
Wednesday, March 5 Ash Wednesday
You are merciful to all, O Lord, and despise nothing that you have made. You overlook peopleâ€™s sins, to bring them to repentance, and you spare them, for you are the Lord our God. Wis 11.24, 25, 27
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Who knows whether the Lord will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him: a grain offering and a drink offering to be presented to the Lord, your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; LENT 2014 | M1
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Wednesday, March 5 assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep. Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Then the Lord became jealous for his land, and had pity on his people. Responsorial Psalm 51 Psalm R. Have mercy, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. R. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight. R. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. R. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. R. M2 | MASS READINGS SUPPLEMENT
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Wednesday, March 5 Second Reading
2 Corinthians 5.20–6.2
Brothers and sisters: We are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Christ we might become the righteousness of God. As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For the Lord says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory! Gospel Acclamation Today, do not harden your hearts, but listen to the voice of the Lord. Ps 95.7-8 Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory! Gospel Reading
Matthew 6.1-6, 16-18
JESUS SAID TO THE DISCIPLES: “Beware of practising your piety before people in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your LENT 2014 | M3
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Wednesday, March 5 fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.â€? Blessing of Ashes
Dear brethren (brothers and sisters), let us humbly ask God our Father that he be pleased to bless with the abundance of his grace these ashes, which we will put on our heads in penitence. O God, who are moved by acts of humility and respond with forgiveness to works of penance, lend your merciful ear to our prayers and in your kindness pour out the grace of your blessing on your servants who are marked with these ashes, that, as they follow the Lenten observances, they may be worthy to come with minds made pure to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of your Son. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. OR O God, who desire not the death of sinners, but their conversion, mercifully hear our prayers and in your kindness be pleased to bless these ashes, which we intend to receive upon our heads, that we, who acknowledge we are but ashes and shall return to dust, may, through a steadfast observance of Lent, gain pardon for sins and newness of life after the likeness of your Risen Son. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
Distribution Repent, and believe in the Gospel. OR of Ashes
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Prayer over the Offerings
As we solemnly offer the annual sacrifice for the beginning of Lent, we entreat you, O Lord, that, through works of penance and charity, we may turn away from harmful pleasures and, cleansed from our sins, may become worthy
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Thursday, March 6 to celebrate devoutly the Passion of your Son. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. Communion He who ponders the law of the Lord day and night will yield fruit in due season. Cf. Ps 1.2-3 Antiphon Prayer after May the Sacrament we have received sustain us, O Lord, Communion that our Lenten fast may be pleasing to you
and be for us a healing remedy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thursday, March 6 Thursday after Ash Wednesday
When I cried to the Lord, he heard my voice; he rescued me from those who attack me. Entrust your cares to the Lord, and he will support you. Cf. Ps 55 (54).17-20, 23
Prompt our actions with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord, and further them with your constant help, that all we do may always begin from you and by you be brought to completion. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Moses spoke to the whole people of Israel, saying: See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have LENT 2014 | M5
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Thursday, March 6 set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Responsorial Psalm 1 Psalm R. Happy are they who hope in the Lord.
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. R. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. R. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. R. Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ! Gospel Acclamation Repent, says the Lord; the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Mt 4.17 Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ! Gospel Reading
JESUS SPOKE TO HIS DISCIPLES and sternly ordered them not to tell anyone: “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?”
M6 | MASS READINGS SUPPLEMENT
11/22/13 9:16 AM
Friday, March 7 Prayer over the Offerings
Regard with favour, O Lord, we pray, the offerings we set upon this sacred altar, that, bestowing on us your pardon, our oblations may give honour to your name. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Communion Create a pure heart for me, O God; renew a steadfast spirit within me. Cf. Ps 51 (50).12 Antiphon Prayer after Having received the blessing of your heavenly gifts, Communion we humbly beseech you, almighty God,
that they may always be for us a source both of pardon and of salvation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Friday, March 7 Saints Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs
The Lord heard and had mercy on me; the Lord became my helper. Ps 30 (29).11
O God, at the urging of whose love the Martyrs Saints Perpetua and Felicity defied their persecutors and overcame the torment of death, grant, we ask, by their prayers, that we may ever grow in your love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practised righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. LENT 2014 | M7
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The Order of Mass INTRODUCTORY RITES Entrance Antiphon
(See each day.)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And with your spirit. (Other forms of the Greeting may be used.)
Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries. I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, (The people strike their breast, saying:) through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault;
LENT 2014 | L1
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therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God. May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen. (Other forms of the Penitential Act may be used.) Kyrie
(The Kyrie is omitted if it has already been used in one of the forms of the Penitential Act.) V. Lord, have mercy. V. Christ, have mercy. V. Lord, have mercy. Or: V. Kyrie, eleison. V. Christe, eleison. V. Kyrie, eleison.
R. Lord, have mercy. R. Christ, have mercy. R. Lord, have mercy. R. Kyrie, eleison. R. Christe, eleison. R. Kyrie, eleison.
(When it is prescribed, this hymn is either said or sung:) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.
L2 | LITURGY
11/22/13 10:28 AM
The Secret to Joy St. Francis of Assisi shows us the way.
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by Fr. John Bohrer and Joseph Stoutzenberger
oy is the second of the twelve “fruits of the Holy Spirit,” after charity, and yet we have many examples of sad, resolute, and suffering saints. Fortunately, there are also joyful and laughing saints. Philip Neri had a great sense of humor. Teresa of Avila famously said, “God deliver us from sour-faced saints” as she led her Carmelite sisters in dance. Francis of Assisi was one of those joyful and laughing saints. In fact, he seems to have radiated joy throughout his life; it was perhaps his most alluring quality. It has drawn people to him for centuries. Of course, Francis matched other saints in determination and suffering, but there is no question that he also experienced and communicated the joy that St. Paul calls “the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). His band of merry minstrels went about singing despite—or perhaps because of—the deprivations they endured. Accounts of early Franciscans tell how the brothers had to struggle not to burst into laughter every time they came upon one another.
When Francis preached repentance, he always began his sermons with the words “May the Lord give you peace.” He never delivered a woe-to-you, fire-andbrimstone message. Rather, he invited people to join in the joy that he was experiencing. He didn’t say, “Change your ways, or go to hell,” but, “You will have no peace or true joy until you repent and change your ways.”
The Paradox of Perfect Joy. During his life, Francis suffered greatly, both physically and emotionally. But he saw a direct connection between his suffering and his joy. He realized that suffering results from selfish craving—that is, of clinging to ego and Lent 2014 | 75
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those attitudes that puff us up. And he knew that only by letting go of egotistical attachments does suffering end. Francis found joy through detachment from—and even abandonment of—self. One day Francis described “perfect joy” to Brother Leo. He asked him to write down this description, lest anyone miss the point. Imagine if all the professors in the great universities of Europe joined the friars, Francis said. Would that be cause for perfect joy? No. Well, what if all the bishops and kings of the world became members of the Franciscan brotherhood? That, too, would not be true joy. What if brothers traveled to non-Christian lands and converted all nonbelievers to Christ? That also would not be true joy. Finally, what if Francis himself had the gift of healing and was able to inspire people by performing great miracles? Again, that’s not perfect joy. So what is true joy? Let’s hear the answer in Francis’ own words, which are so vivid and powerful: I return from Perugia and arrive here [at the Portiuncula, where it all began for Francis and the brothers] in the dead of night; and it is winter time,
muddy and so cold that icicles have formed on the edges of my habit and keep striking my legs, and blood flows from such wounds. And all covered with mud and cold, I come to the gate and after I have knocked and called for some time, a brother comes and asks: “Who are you?” I answer: “Brother Francis.” And he says: “Go away; this is not a proper hour for going about; you may not come in.” And when I insist, he answers: “Go away, you are a simple and a stupid person; we are so many and we have no need of you. You are certainly not coming to us at this hour!” And I stand again at the door and say: “For the love of God, take me in tonight.” And he answers: “I will not. Go to the Crosiers’ place and ask there.” I tell you this: If I had patience and did not become upset, there would be true joy in this and true virtue and the salvation of the soul. (Francis and Clare: The Complete Works) Is Francis expressing what we today would call “masochism”? Is there anything wrong with rejoicing over miracles and conversions?
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Francis didn’t just talk about “perfect joy”— he lived it.
Giotto di Bondone (1266-1336) Saint Francis preaching to the birds. © RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY
Or is this just a pious story with no relationship to our lives? No, on all counts! Here are a few reflections that can help us understand his message and apply it to our lives.
In the Footsteps of Jesus. Francis didn’t just talk about “perfect joy”—he lived it. He knew what it was like to be freezing, muddied, without shelter, and even rejected. In a way, many of his brothers rejected him before he died by dismissing his lifestyle as unrealistic. Placed on a pedestal, he was made irrelevant. No doubt Francis felt tossed aside, yet he accepted it with patience.
To use a Hollywood image, Francis was someone who went about “singin’ in the rain.” Sometimes the rain was literal. Other times the rain was in his heart from doubts and depression, but he continued singing. That’s because he didn’t calculate his faith in God based on results, as we can be tempted to do. (“My grandfather was a kind and generous man, but God let him suffer so much near the end of his life that I don’t believe in God anymore.”) For Francis, true faith and true joy require patience. He put himself in God’s hands and did what he could to follow God’s will, but he left the results up to God. Lent 2014 | 77
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And consider this: Francis’s reflection on true joy was also the experience of Jesus. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem to the cheers of an admiring crowd. But within a week, he was abandoned by his closest friends and suffered physical torture and an excruciating death. Isn’t it true that the Jesus story would be woefully incomplete if Palm Sunday were the end of it? Many a Hollywood movie would have ended there. But in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus dead on the cross is the moment of complete self-emptying that reveals him as “Son of God” (Mark 15:39). Earlier miracles and accolades were merely a preview. Getting caught up in those glimpses of divine power can prevent us from accepting the ultimate message of Jesus, which is not manifested until the cross.
Hidden Holiness. The patience and forbearance that Francis spoke of will be asked of us as well. Ultimately, no miracle is going to come along and shield us from all suffering. If we connect those inevitable sufferings to God in Christ Jesus crucified, as Francis did, we too will come to see the cross as the source
of profound joy and comfort. Francis knew joy, and he knew personally and intimately the sorrow of Christ—so much so that he came to bear physical signs of Jesus’ very wounds, the stigmata. With or without the stigmata, though, Francis bore the wounds of Christ through his complete dedication to living as Jesus did. Although few people bear the stigmata, every disciple of Christ is invited to grow in this experience of joy and suffering. In fact, many people around us are doing this right now. We hear about this sometimes in the eulogies that are delivered before or after funeral services. In such eulogies, people often hear inspiring stories about the recently deceased that they never knew. How a man who died in his eighties put his life on the line in his younger years to form a union in the factory where he worked. How, as a teenager, a woman cleaned houses so that her siblings could attend school. How a wife spent years visiting her husband every day in a nursing home, as he slipped further and further into dementia. These are examples of what Francis told Brother Leo was true joy. Forget yourself. Keep giving. Set aside the idolatry of self-absorption.
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We open ourselves
to both joy and suffering when we give of ourselves out of love to another.
Pain and suffering will come, but it is the suffering of taking up your cross as Christ did.
Do It for Love. Francis knew well the type of pain and suffering that comes from entering into life and giving fully of ourselves. With joyful perseverance, he determined to “stay in the game.” He led a spirited life, and he took seriously St. Paul’s mandate not to do anything that would “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). His passionate life mirrored that of Jesus during his years of public ministry. Like Jesus, being passionate opened up Francis to both suffering and joy. We open ourselves to both joy and suffering when we give of ourselves out of love to another, just as Francis did. Think of the mother and father who are willing to sacrifice for a child with special needs or the spouse who sacrifices for a
husband or wife who is sick or the adult son or daughter sacrificing to care for elderly parents. Many people are giving of themselves selflessly right in our parishes and communities, quite likely right down the street from us. Though there is hardship in these situations, as well as exhaustion, there is also often joy, because it is the Christlike thing to do. The life of St. Francis invites us to experience the joy of Christ, who has entered into our suffering and has promised us new life. May we, like Francis, determine to “stay in the game” and run along the path of love and perfect joy. This is adapted from a new book, Looking to St. Francis: The Man from Assisi and His Message of Hope for Today, by Fr. John Bohrer and Joseph Stoutzenberger. It will be available this June from The Word Among Us Press but can be preordered by calling 1-800-775-9673. Lent 2014 | 79
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