- RESOURCE: At Home with the Word 2018, LTP, pages 116-119.
- RESOURCE: Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 44-45.
- RESOURCE: Living Liturgy™ Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnities 2018, Liturgical Press, Online Pages 80-83 .
- RESOURCE: The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, litpress.org, pages 33-34 .
- RESOURCE: Sacred Reading,The 2018 Guide to Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, pages 120-121.
- RESOURCE: Lectio Divina, Magnificat, March 11, 2018, pages
- RESOURCE: Magnificat Reflections, March 2018, pages 285-286; 295; 150-154.
- RESOURCE: Give Us This Day Reflections, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, March, 2018, page 202-203; 210-211.
- RESOURCE: Homily For Fifth Sunday Of Lent, Father James Hogan.
- RESOURCE: Holy Father’s Intention For The Month Of March 2018 — The Apostleship of Prayer
- RESOURCE: KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletin’s, One-Liners in Faith For March 2018
- RESOURCE: Suggested Prayers of the Faithful: Faith Catholic Online; Daily Prayer 2018; OCP; Magnificat; Liturgical Press.
- RESOURCE: General Intercessions On Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 11, 2018 – Cycle B – Saint Peter Parish, Kirkwood
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AT HOME WITH THE WORD® 2018
March 18, 2018 FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
READING I Jeremiah 31:31-34
The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant, and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15 (12a)
R: Create a clean heart in me, 0 God. Have mercy on me, 0 God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.
A clean heart create for me, 0 God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me. R.
Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me. I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners shall return to you. R.
READING II Hebrews 5:7-9
In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
GOSPEL John 12:20-33
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.
“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.
Practice of Charity
Jesus tells us that he, like a grain of wheat, must fall to the ground and die in order to bear fruit for God’s Kingdom. Lenten observances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (charity) similarly help us die to ourselves and our selfishness and draw us closer to him.
- In prayer, ask God to show you when and where during your life you have been charitable to others. What stands out? Is God calling you to be charitable in a specific way today?
- Is there a relationship in your life in need of healing? What steps can you take, in charity and with God’s grace, to mend what is broken? Consider seeking counsel or support as you work toward reconciliation.
- “Ubi caritas” is a chant used during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. It translates: “Where charity is true, God is there.” Listen and pray with its words during these last weeks of Lent: https://www. youtube.com/watch ?v=R6w5F1 -ceIU&index=187&list=PL323D97 81654AF975.
Download more questions and activities for families, Christian initiation groups, and other adult groups at http://www.ltp.org/tproductsupplements.aspx.
Today’s readings offer sober prompts for reflection. In the First Reading, from Jeremiah 31, God promises to renew the old, broken covenant by putting his law within the people, and the psalmist, in Psalm 51, cries out for the grace of internal renewal on a personal level. These passages are easily understood. But the Second Reading and Gospel demand pondering.
Both readings focus on Jesus’ agony in anticipation of the Passion. In Hebrews, the author recounts that because of Jesus’ reverence, God, the only one who could save him from death, heard his “prayers and supplications . . . loud cries and tears.” Jesus was certainly not spared from death, but he was indeed saved from death in the sense of being raised from the dead. The Gospel conveys another insight about Jesus’ reflections (placed by John among the Last Supper discourses rather than in the garden at Gethsemane): “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.” Jesus was not backing off from trust in the Father. After acknowledging his inner state, Jesus was able to move through the natural human fear to see the place his coming Death would have in the victorious plan of the Father—that his Crucifixion would result in a “lifting up,” bringing about an ingathering of “everyone.”
Finally, how can the author of Hebrews say that Jesus “learned obedience from what he suffered” and “was made perfect”? He was, after all, the eternal Son of God! These are assertions about the consequences of his humanity. Incarnate as Jesus, the Son really did learn experientially what it is for a human being to suffer. And in this experience of solidarity with humanity, he was perfected precisely as a mediator between the divine and the human.
- How has your understanding of Jesus’ suffering deepened over time?
- How does Jesus’ obedience to his Father lead you to think about your own feelings about obedience?
- How do these descriptions of Jesus’ reflections on the coming ordeal give us a model?
At Home with the Word® 2018, LTP, pages 116-119.
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SCRIPTURE BACKGROUNDS FOR THE SUNDAY LECTIONARY
FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
The Heart of the Matter LECTIONARY #358
JEREMIAH 31:3-34 In most of his preaching, Jeremiah was an uncompromising prophet of judgment. He called his people to repentance. They would not listen. The message people needed to hear after defeat by the Babylonians was different. Jeremiah began to preach wonderful words of hope.
The opening phrase “the days are coming” (v. 31) looks forward to a new time. This phrase, used throughout the Book of Jeremiah, sometimes refers to the period after the exile and other times projects into the future messianic period. At this future time, which is near at hand, there will be a new covenant with the house of Judah and Israel (v. 31).
The first covenant, made with Moses and the people in the desert, had obviously been broken. Jeremiah says that God will offer a new beginning and a new covenant. Unlike the first, etched in stone and external, this new bond between God and Israel will be written on the heart of every Israelite. It will be an interior covenant accessible to each person without intermediaries. Finally, the new covenant will not be based upon judgment but upon God’s love and forgiveness (v. 34).
PSALM 51 Psalm 51 focuses on the heart, the same place Jeremiah focused. Conversion begins in the inner part of a person and is possible only with the help of God. The psalmist readily acknowledges sin and prays that God will restore all the things damaged by sin. In return, the psalmist promises to help others with the conversion process by offering instruction in God’s ways.
HEBREWS 5:7-9 Hebrews is a complex book. It was probably a sermon that circulated among the churches directed to Christians of Jewish origin who were weak in faith. In this pericope, the author wants to assure the hearers that Christ was truly human. The reference to prayers made with a loud voice and with tears may refer to the agony in the garden. This suffering is meant to console the hearers, who are undergoing their own persecution. Suffering is not foreign to Christ and therefore will not be foreign to his followers. Likewise, as Christ was resurrected (saved from death, v. 5), so too will be those who remain faithful to God.
Being Son of God in no way saved Jesus from the realities of human life. What was unique about his life is that he remained completely and perfectly obedient to God in the midst of his trials. Because he remained faithful, all have access to the salvation his faithfulness accomplished: eternal life. He is the model of the new covenant.
JOHN 12:20-33 This Gospel passage comes just after Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem when he was welcomed as a Messiah into the city. This discourse stands in contrast to that joyous welcome (12:12-13). The arrival of some Greek inquirers becomes an occasion for Jesus to announce that his hour has come (v. 23). In the Gospel of John, seeing is a metaphor for faith; their desire “to see Jesus” (v. 21) is an expression of their faith in Jesus. In response to their request, Jesus teaches the meaning of his messiahship. It is clear that Jesus’ “hour” refers to his Passion: his glorification will take place through the cross. John then interrupts the glorification theme with a parable about wheat (v. 24). Death is necessary for new life. The rich harvest of a single death may refer to the fruit of Jesus’ Death: the faith of the Gentiles. Then Jesus applies the parable to his followers. They must be willing to imitate his suffering and Death if they are to bear fruit.
In verse 27, Jesus resumes the discussion of his own Death. While Jesus is troubled, he accepts his sacrificial Death as the purpose for his coming into the world. The Passion was a deliberate but difficult choice made by Jesus for the glory of the Father (v. 28). Jesus expresses grief and anguish when making this choice; he is truly human.
In the other Gospels, a voice from heaven speaks at Jesus’ baptism and Transfiguration. Here, the voice from heaven confirms Jesus’ choice to accept the hour of his passion. It is a foreshadowing of the future: Jesus will one day be glorified by God because of his willingness to suffer and die. Some will understand this sign, and others will misunderstand God’s voice and misinterpret it.
The final verses express the meaning of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection in cosmic terms. Jesus tells the people that through his Death, the ruler of this world (Satan) will be driven out (v. 31). This does not mean there will be no more evil but that the decisive victory will be won on the Cross; death is defeated for those who believe.
CONNECTIONS TO CHURCH TEACHING AND TRADITION
♦ “By recalling in this way the mysteries of redemption, the Church opens up to the faithful the riches of the saving actions and the merits of her Lord, and makes them present to all times, allowing the faithful to enter into contact with them and to be filled with the grace of salvation” (SC, 102).
♦ “The greatest mysteries of the redemption are celebrated yearly by the Church beginning with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday until Vespers of Easter Sunday. This time is called ‘the triduum of the crucified, buried and risen”; it is also called the `Easter triduum’ because during it is celebrated the paschal mystery, that is, the passing of the Lord from this world to his Father. The church, by the celebration of this mystery through liturgical signs and sacramentals, is united to Christ, her spouse, in intimate communion” (PS, 38).
Cf. SCR, Decree Maxima redemptionis nostrae mysteria (November 16, 1955), AAS 47 (1955), p. 858. St. Augustine, Ep. 55, 24, PL 35, 215.
Scripture Backgrounds for the Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 44-45.
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LIVING LITURGY™ SPIRITUALITY, CELEBRATION, AND CATECHESIS FOR SUNDAYS AND SOLEMNITIES 2018
Reflecting on the Gospel
“The end is near!” says the placard held by the one who firmly believes in the approaching apocalypse. Many claim to know when a disaster will strike, or when God will send his judgment upon the earth. Some look for signs and discern meaning from natural events. An earthquake might mean the foundations of the world are being shaken, in preparation for God’s judgment. Terrible and violent storms are understood as God’s anger poured out on an unrepentant people. God’s activity is often discerned (rightly or wrongly) by interpreting events in daily life.
In today’s gospel two Greeks (certainly not Jews) approach not Jesus but Philip, which, by the way, is a Greek name. Up to this point in Jesus’ ministry, according to the Gospel of John, Jesus has never, not once, interacted with a Gentile. Luke, of course, paints a different picture, but today we are reading from the Gospel of John.
Philip listens to the request of these two Greeks who want to see Jesus and, in turn, goes to Andrew (another Greek name!) to enlist his help with this unorthodox request. Together the disciples intercede for the Greek interlocutors. Jesus rightly perceives this to be the conclusion of his ministry.
If even the Greeks (that is, Gentiles) are now coming to see him, the end is near! Death is at the ready. Jesus then begins an eloquent teaching on the necessity of death for bearing fruit, and no mention is made that the Greeks ever met Jesus. Instead, they serve merely as a narrative tool to usher in the final days of Jesus.
It’s true that the ancients did not have the knowledge about biology that we have today. Upon hearing the metaphor of a seed dying to produce much fruit, many in a modern audience might dispute the analogy. For we know that a seed does not truly die, but the soil, moisture, and light cause an organic change.
Still we do not want to lose the message in spite of the metaphor. Only by his death will Jesus’ ministry truly bear fruit. That is the necessary next step. His death is necessary because this is the purpose for which Jesus came. There is no sidestepping or dodging this inevitable end, which is ratified by a voice from heaven. The end is near.
Living the Paschal Mystery
In this Lenten Sunday preceding Palm Sunday we share a sense of impending doom. But we are also reminded of the necessity of death for something to bear fruit. If the seed stays on the countertop, it will never bear fruit. But once “dead” and planted in the ground, the seed produces. The paschal mystery is presented for us in a simple, agrarian, even if scientifically outdated, image.
Do we allow ourselves to die to our own desires, wants, and agenda? From today’s gospel reading, it seems Jesus was not quite ready for this moment. But the arrival of the Greeks was a clarion signal that the end was near. Even for Jesus there was no fighting this eternal purpose. This was the reason he came into the world. His example of letting go serves as a model for us. We are not the masters of our own fate. We are not in ultimate control of our own destiny.
The illusion that we are somehow planning our own destiny is simply that, an illusion. There are greater forces at work. We are called to discern those forces so we can recognize them when they face us. For Jesus it was the request from two Greeks. What are the signs that encourage us to let go of our own desires and submit to something greater? When we die to ourselves we will see fruit that bears eternal life.
Focusing the Gospel John 12:20-33
Today’s gospel is a pivotal moment in John’s narrative. Jesus’ words about the coming of his “hour” mark the end of John’s “book of signs” and prefaces of the “book of glory”: the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
The annual Passover feast is about to begin; many Jews (including some Greeks) have arrived in Jerusalem for the festival. Meanwhile, Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish establishment has escalated to a dangerous level. The events that will lead to Jesus’ condemnation and death are now in motion. Jesus obediently accepts his fate and is prepared for the outcome.
Jesus compares his “glorification” to a grain of wheat that is buried and dies to produce its potential crop. The death and ultimate harvest of the grain of wheat are the fate and glory of anyone who would be Jesus’ disciple.
The “voice” may have only been heard by Jesus. While those around heard thunder, Jesus heard what was called a bat qol (“daughter of a voice”): in Jewish tradition, individuals and groups sometimes heard a “voice” from heaven revealing to them God’s teaching or will for them. The bat qol that Jesus “hears” in today’s gospel is a call to all the world that a new Passover was about to begin.
Focusing the First Reading Jer 31:31-34
In today’s first reading, the prophet Jeremiah prophesies a “new covenant” that will be written not on stone (as was the law of Moses) but on human hearts and spirits. Jeremiah’s vision will be realized in Jesus’ vision of the kingdom of God, a kingdom established on justice, mercy, and peace.
Focusing the Responsorial Psalm Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15 (12a)
The image of God recreating hearts, of renewing human souls, that Jeremiah writes of in today’s first reading is echoed in the antiphon and verses selected from Psalm 51, today’s responsorial psalm.
Focusing the Second Reading Heb 5:7-9
The theology in the second reading is sophisticated and subtle. The letter to the Hebrews praises Jesus for his obedience to the will of God his Father. In his suffering, the son learns obedience and is thereby perfected. For us who obey him, he is the source of eternal salvation.
Model Penitential Act
Presider: Let us begin our celebration of the Eucharist by calling to mind our sins, confident of the never failing mercy of God. [pause] Confiteor: I confess . . .
- It is in our most challenging experiences that we discover what we are capable of; itis during our darkest nights that we find the light of possibility. To transform our livesin order to become the people we are meant to be begins by “dying” to those ambitions,prejudices, and fears we cling to and embrace the values, wisdom, and grace that givemeaning and purpose to our lives. Jesus readily acknowledges that such change is hard;the struggle to change is, in its own way, an experience of death—but such transformation is necessary if such resurrection can be experienced. The gospel of the grain of wheat is Christ’s assurance to us of the great things we can do and the powerful works we can accomplish by dying to self and rising to the love and compassion of Jesus, the Servant Redeemer.
- Life demands change, risk, and a certain amount of “dying” to our fears, despair, andsense of self; but if we are willing to risk loving and allowing ourselves to be loved, Jesuspromises us the harvest of the gospel grain of wheat. In our willingness to nurture healing and forgiveness, in our openness to God’s grace and the compassion of others, there will always be possibilities for new beginnings, second chances, constant plantings, and unlimited bounties. Only by loving is love returned; only by reaching out beyond ourselves do we learn and grow; only by giving to others do we receive; only by dying do we rise to new life.
Memorizing readings: Some people have a great gift for memorizing texts. I’ve seen some excellent priests proclaim the gospel reading (every Sunday!) from memory, never straying from the approved translation or paraphrasing it in their own words. Perhaps they have a photographic memory. Whereas for me, I need to take many hours in contemplation and repetition with a reading in order to memorize it well until it becomes a part of me. Today’s first reading from Jeremiah speaks eloquently of God writing his covenant not on tablets of stone but on his people’s hearts so that “[n]o longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives / how to know the Lord.” In this way, God’s law becomes something that we do not so much memorize as internalize. In other words, being in right relationship with God means being in a relationship of love, not of fear. This intimate relationship with God through Scripture is something that lectors can nurture if they practice a discipline of memorizing at least parts of their readings each week. The purpose of this is not to proclaim the readings from memory, although there may be appropriate times when a lector might do this. The goal, rather, is to become so intimately familiar with the text that the lector no longer “thinks” about reading the text but merely speaks it from the heart. Even if a lector, deacon, or priest memorizes a complete reading and is able to proclaim it without using the Lectionary or Book of Gospels, there is still symbolic value to the reader standing at the ambo with the open book. Even if they never look at the book, by proclaiming the reading from the book, they communicate that this is not their word but God’s, handed down from generation to generation and from heart to heart.
Preparation rites for Holy Saturday: This is a good time to remind your elect, their godparents, and any other parishioners who have been significant in the faith journey of the elect about the preparation rites for Holy Saturday. These rites, celebrated on Holy Saturday during the day, are the final liturgical prayers for the elect as they await the beginning of the Easter Vigil where they will make their baptismal promises and be initiated into the death and resurrection of Christ. Even if they do not participate in these rites, inform your parishioners with an announcement at Mass or in the bulletin so that they can at least pray in solidarity with and for the elect in the days ahead.
About Liturgical Music
Music suggestions: Here are several lovely pieces that go well with today’s focus on the disciple’s self-sacrifice in imitation of Jesus’ sacrifice in love for us. “You Shall Be My People” by Michael Philip Ward (WLP) contemplates God’s covenant with his people and opens with a nice complement to the plea in Psalm 51 that God give us a new heart. Steve Warner’s “Christ Has No Body Now But Yours” (WLP), inspired by text from St. Teresa of Ávila, moves us out into being Christ’s disciples in the world. Finally, a longtime favorite by David Haas is “Deep Within” (GIA), which focuses again on the text from today’s first reading.
Living Liturgy™, Spirituality, Celebration, And Catechesis For Sundays And Solemnities 2018, FaithCatholic Online, pages 80-83.
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THE WORD ON THE STREET
Fifth Sunday of Lent
FOLLOWING THE SERVANT
Readings: Jer 31:31-34; Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15; Heb 5:7-9; John 12:20-33.
“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.” (John 12:26)
When we hear of the martyrdom of Christians, like the twenty-one Coptic Christians killed in Libya on February 15, 2015, we identify with them immediately as disciples of Jesus and as our brothers and sisters in Christ. However little we might know about the history of the Coptic Christians, in their suffering witness we recognize them as family, servants of Christ. Martyrdom purges the ephemera of human life to reveal its cruciform meaning.
We recognize in their suffering the witness and model of Jesus. It is through sharing in our human suffering that Jesus is able to sympathize with us. The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that “in the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death,” desirous, as we all are, to avoid suffering if possible.
Yet the Gospel of John explains that when Jesus acknowledged “my soul is troubled” as he waited on the cusp of suffering, he also asked, “And what should I say—’Father, save me from this hour’?” For our sake, Jesus remained a servant to the will of the Father and offered a yes to his destiny because “it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.”
What was this reason? “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” What Jesus’ death offers, unlike any other death, is the possibility of salvation for humanity. Through his death, Jesus offers to us the model of the faithful witness, but more than that the model witness is the source of salvation. The path of Jesus, Hebrews says, was the process through which “he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
This is why Jesus warns that “those who love their life lose it,” for the gains and power of this world can entrap and distract us from the weight of discipleship. Instead, “whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.” Discipleship might indeed entail suffering and loss now, but whoever follows Jesus is tracking the path he has cleared to eternal life. For all who face suffering, as Jesus did, the desire to be saved from suffering is profoundly human. Nevertheless, the humanity of Jesus is real and the choice he made on our behalf was freely chosen.
And yet a most profound difference exists between us and our model Jesus: sin. We have it; Jesus did not. This is why our prayers and supplications are offered to God in the key of repentance. Repentance emerges when we recognize the suffering we create when we sin and the broken relationship with God sin produces. When we cry out to God our sincere desire that we might turn from sin, we echo the plea in today’s psalm: “Create in me a clean heart, 0 God, / and put a new and right spirit within me.” We have constant need to renew ourselves along the path of discipleship.
We have a means of salvation and through Jesus the means also to repent when we fall away from it. Through confession, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and all the other spiritual and corporal works of mercy, we can seek to have God’s law before us at all times, inscribed on our hearts. We can seek to have our most crooked hearts straightened again by the love and mercy of God.
And even more, by shaping our lives in the model of Jesus, even when it entails the possibility of suffering that might lead even to death, we can become models for others. As the psalmist calls out, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, / and sustain in me a willing spirit. / Then I will teach transgressors your ways, / and sinners will return to you.” A constant willingness to repent and to turn back to God’s mercy is a model of steadfast faith seen in martyrs ancient and current. They teach us that discipleship offers us a sure hope that death, suffering, and violence are not the last words, but instead a sign of the fading powers of this world, conquered through the service of the Son, who leads us to eternal life.
Meditate on the example of Jesus. How has following Jesus shaped your response to suffering? Has it been difficult at times to follow the path of Jesus? What has allowed you to continue to follow even in light of suffering or persecution?
The Word on the Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, Liturgical Press, pages 33-34.
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SACRED READING, THE 2018 GUIDE TO DAILY PRAYER
Sunday, March 18, 2018 The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Know that God is present and ready to converse.
“Speak the Word, 0 Lord, and I will come forth into your Resurrection and your Life.”
Read the gospel: John 12:20-33.
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—’Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
Notice what you think and feel as you read the gospel.
Jesus teaches his disciples that, paradoxically, death is the way to life. They must be willing to lose their lives, as he will, to inherit eternal life.
Pray as you are led for yourself and others.
“Lord, I am willing to lose my life to gain my life. I pray for myself and all those who are afraid . . .” (Continue in your own words.)
Listen to Jesus.
My child, you too face death, with me or without me. Cling to me, follow me, and I will bring you through. I will bless those you pray for too, for the love you have for them is love I give you. What else is Jesus saying to you?
Ask God to show you how to live today.
“Help me cling to you, Lord, not to my life. Where you go, I will follow, for I am your servant. Help me to cast down my life today in service of others; let me be available to others today, my Jesus, and give me ways to care and to help. Amen.”
Sacred Reading, The 2018 Guide to Daily Prayer, The Apostleship of Prayer, pages 120-121.
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LECTIO DIVINA — A PRAYERFUL READING OF SACRED SCRIPTURE
The Gospel for the Fifrth Sunday of Lent – John 12:20-23 (B) 0r John 11:1-45 (A).
Guide to Lectio Divina
Choose a word or phrase of the Scriptures you wish to pray. It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as you have no set goal of “covering” a certain amount of text. The amount of text covered is in God’s hands, not yours.
Read. Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow says, “I am for you today” Do not expect lightning or ecstasies. In lectio divina, God is teaching us to listen, to seek him in silence. God does not reach out and grab us but gently invites us ever more deeply into his presence.
Ponder. Take the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories, and ideas. Do not be afraid of distractions. Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself that, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.
Pray. Whether you use words, ideas, or images—or all three—is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. Give to God what you have discovered during your experience of meditation. Give to God what you have found within your heart.
It is not necessary to assess the quality of your lectio divina, as if you were “performing” or seeking some goal.
Lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.
LUKE DYSINGER Luke Dysinger, OSB, is a Benedictine monk of Saint Andrew’s Abbey, Valyermo, California. Give Us This Day, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, Liturgical Press, page 460.
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Fifth Sunday of Lent
“Some Greeks” voice their desire: “We would like to see Jesus.” What they hope to encounter through such an audience is “the joy of salvation.” Jesus becomes “the source of eternal salvation” by his obedient suffering that makes him “perfect.” For only if the grain of wheat dies does it produce fruit; only if one “hates his life in this world” does he “preserve it for eternal life.” The Father will honor anyone who follows Jesus in this self-sacrificing way. He “will make a new covenant.” God’s law will be written upon our hearts. We will be his people.
In the Dioceses of the United States, the practice of covering crosses and images throughout the church from this Sunday may be observed. Crosses remain covered until the end of the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, but images remain covered until the beginning of the Easter vigil.
On this Sunday is celebrated the third scrutiny in preparation for the Baptism of the catechumens who are to be admitted to the sacraments of Christian Initiation at the Easter vigil, using the proper prayers and intercessions. Magnificat, March 2018, pages 285-286.
“Whoever Hates His Life…”
After this, it will be very useful to fix the eyes of your mind on the study of your own nothingness.
Of yourself, you hold nothing at all except sin; all the rest comes from God. It is clear that the gifts of nature and those of grace (which are the greater) are wholly his; to him belongs the grace of predestination (which is the source of all the other graces), to him the grace of vocation, to him concomitant grace [that assists us all the while we are performing a good action], to him the grace of perseverance, to him the grace of eternal life.
What have you then in which to glory but your nothingness and sin? Rest awhile in the consideration of this nothingness—for this is all you have, the remainder is all God’s—that thus you may see plainly and distinctly what you are and what he is, your poverty and his riches, and how little, in consequence, you should trust in yourself and esteem yourself, and how much you should trust in him and love him and glorify yourself in him.
SAINT PETER OF ALCÁNTARA — Saint Peter of Alcántara († 1562) was a Spanish Franciscan priest and a confessor to Saint Teresa of Avila. Magnificat, March 2018, page 295.
HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD
Soldier for Liberty — Anthony Esolen
♦ THE TWO MEN SHOOK HANDS, then chose their pistols from a case.
“Are you certain, Mr. O’Connell,” said the first man, with a trace of a sneer, “that you wish to die today? Have you not a wife and a brood of Irish children? Would it not be better to live in disgrace?”
“If I die, Mr. D’Esterre,” said Daniel O’Connell, “I die for my countrymen’s rights. If you die, you die for a pack of rogues and scoundrels. Much good may it do you.”
D’Esterre had won many a duel in the past. He was used to this sort of thing. His puppeteers in the Dublin Corporation, an organization of English bigots whom O’Connell had offended by calling them what they were, looked upon this as their day of liberation from a dangerous pest.
O’Connell had been a reluctant soldier for England during her conflicts with revolutionary France. He said once that if you wanted to build a nation, human blood was a poor mortar for the job. Yet he knew that he could not back down now. It would bring his whole movement into disrepute, and that would be more likely to pitch Ireland into civil insurrection.
“Twenty paces, gentlemen, then shoot,” said the referee.
The bullet struck D’Esterre in the stomach. The wound was mortal. It was the first and only time that Daniel O’Connell shed a man’s blood for the Irish people. He carried the guilt of it to his grave, bestowing a handsome yearly sum to D’Esterre’s widow; and O’Connell was never a wealthy man.
Dueling, O’Connell would write, was “a violation, plain and palpable, of the divine law.” He would be challenged again and often, but showed his moral courage in refusing, and in taking upon his shoulders the contempt of his inferiors in grace and probity.
♦ A PENNY A MONTH ♦
O’Connell was arguably the single greatest political organizer in the 19th century. His duel with D’Esterre made him more appalled than ever by violent action, so he determined to compel England by argument and by political strength to grant to the Irish the same rights she granted to Scotsmen and Englishmen.
It was a long and arduous battle. In 1823, eight years after the duel, O’Connell founded the Catholic Association, which quickly grew to prodigious numbers. That was because O’Connell wanted every Catholic Irishman in it. The fee for membership was a mere penny a month—a shilling a year. That brought into the political light the poorest of men, the Irish tenant farmers, in the years before the potato blight. Within a year or two, O’Connell was holding what he called “monster” meetings of the association: as many as 100,000 people would gather in one place to hear the speeches of men who wanted to set them free.
It is important to note that the English wanted to retain their unjust hold over the Irish, but also that they worshiped the same God as the Irish, though not in the same church. In other words, they had consciences after all. O’Connell was counting on the power of moral persuasion, while carrying in his pocket the ace of trumps, which would have been a threat not to wage war, but to cease to prevent the Irish people from it. The English authorities were held in a pincers. They tried to use legalistic means to shut down the association, but O’Connell merely founded another. If they took up arms against the Irish, they would have had a disaster on their hands, certainly a costly distraction from their more lucrative imperial enterprises elsewhere. If they did anything to O’Connell personally, the Irish would not have forgiven them.
We get a sense of what a formidable opponent O’Connell was from this finale of an oration in the House of Commons, late in his life, in 1836. Said O’Connell, “You may raise the vulgar cry of ‘Irishman and Papist’ against me, you may send out men called ministers of God to slander and calumniate me; they may assume whatever garb they please, but the question comes into this narrow compass. I demand, I respectfully insist: on equal justice for Ireland, on the same principle by which it has been administered to Scotland and England. I will not take less. Refuse me that if you can.”
♦ “ORANGE PEEL” ♦
Much can be accomplished by men who enter into a dynamic enmity with someone they consider a worthy opponent. Daniel O’Connell had one such in Sir Robert Peel, the governor of Ireland and later the leader of the Tory party in the English parliament. O’Connell, jesting on the color boasted by the Protestants in Ireland, called him “Orange Peel,” but it was Peel, the enemy, who gave O’Connell critical concessions in the years between 1828 and 1830. O’Connell had been elected a member of Parliament in 1828, but could not take the oath of office, being a Roman Catholic. Everyone knew this. Peel also knew that O’Connell had the backing of six million Irishmen. Something had to be done.
Hence Peel turned about and supported repeal of the longstanding British laws that had kept Irishmen in subjection, and O’Connell took his seat in 1830, without having to submit to the oath. Daniel O’Connell, not Abraham Lincoln, was first known as the Great Emancipator. Peel would later on join with members of the Whigs to repeal tariffs on grain, to help bring food to Ireland during the famine. It was too little and too late, and it cost him the leadership of his party, but Orange Peel was in that battle more of a man than a partisan.
I should not give the impression that Peel eventually saw things as O’Connell did. No sooner did O’Connell take his seat in Parliament than he became the de facto ruler of Catholic Ireland and pressed for “Repeal”—the repeal of the act that unified Ireland with England, Wales, and Scotland. The Irish wanted to govern themselves, while yet recognizing the monarch of England as the head of state, an arrangement such as would hold in Canada later on. Peel would not give in. Nor would O’Connell. Once again he led a mass movement of the Irish, but this time Peel outlawed their meetings, and in 1844 the now elderly O’Connell was thrown into prison. He appealed to the House of Lords and won his release, but his health was ruined.
Accounts of his death are deeply moving. He felt he was dying, and desired to make a pilgrimage to Rome. It was not to be; the disease of the brain that he had been suffering was irreversible. For his last two days, he could not eat, and he would not take even enough water to wet his tongue, but the name of Jesus was ever on his lips, and he would talk of the Faith and nothing else. The eighty-eight year-old Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa himself came with his priests to give O’Connell Viaticum and the last rites. All of Genoa prayed for the great man.
He died on the 15th of May, 1847. His heart was embalmed and placed in a silver chalice, to be entombed in Rome, in the Church of Saint Agatha, but his body is buried in the land of his fathers. Wrote his physician: “The heart of O’Connell at Rome, his body in Ireland, and his soul in heaven: is that not what the justice of man and the mercy of God demand? Adieu! adieu!”
♦ A MAN FOR THE AGES. ♦
O’Connell was a man of straightforward piety, a determined patriot, and a loyal son of the Church. In our time, cultural amnesia is the rule, but O’Connell’s reputation went round the world. His young son Morgan, at the age of fifteen, fought in the army of Simon Bolivar, for the deliverance of another man’s nation from rule from abroad. Stephen A. Douglas once sneered at Lincoln for allowing his wife to ride in a carriage with Frederick Douglass, but O’Connell met the former slave and became his good friend. Douglass looked up to O’Connell as a hero and an inspiration for his own efforts.
We may get a sense of what Douglass, the novelists Thackeray and Balzac, and countless others admired so deeply by listening to O’Connell addressing his fellow Irishmen on the accession of a Whig government in London. “There is but one magic in politics, and that is to be always right. Repealers of Ireland, let us be always right; let us honestly and sincerely test the Union in the hands of a friendly administration, and, placing no impediments in their way, let us give them a clear stage and all possible favor, to work the Union machinery for the benefit of old Ireland.” He was as canny as any Machiavelli could wish, but his principle was the opposite of that put forth by the cynical Florentine. O’Connell triumphed in the right, while trimmers were caught in the tangles of their own cunning.
Dear God, may we see his like again someday—even if we are not worthy of it.
(Anthony Esolen is professor and writer-in-residence at Thomas More College in N.H., translator and editor of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House), and author of The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal (MAGNIFICAT).
Magnificat, March 2018, pages 150-154.
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GIVE US THIS DAY REFLECTIONS
THIS IS THE DAY® REFLECTION
Welcome the Mystery
Why God should love any of us, why God should love sinners, love men and women who reject God with a curse or a pass God “down the street,” is hidden ultimately in the mystery that is God. Oh yes, we can speculate, surmise, imagine. Perhaps God, looking on Adam and Eve exiled from Eden, saw traces of the man and woman He had shaped in the image of divinity, had made like God. Perhaps, but whatever drew God’s love, it does not explain why the Son of God drew our love by crucifixion. He could have saved us in so many simpler, bloodless ways: a single breath of Bethlehem’s breeze, the hidden years in back-water Nazareth, his baptism by John, his compassionate “Your sins are forgiven you:’ the kiss of Judas, one soldier’s slap of his cheek. Any one of these would have been enough.
Then why Calvary? Frankly, we do not know. And we do not know because we cannot fathom three slender syllables in the First Letter of John: “God is Love” (1 Jn 4:8). God not only loves; God is Love. That alone begins to make some sense out of Calvary, out of a God-man pinned to a cross for sinners, for you and me. All through human history love has made sacrifices beyond the power of sheer intelligence to grasp. Out of love our father in faith, Abraham, was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. What Calvary tells us is that God will not be outdone even in sacrifice, that even God can sacrifice His only Son.
Don’t ask, “Why me?” If God offers you crucified love, offers God’s Son on a cross for you, the least you can do is accept it. Welcome the mystery and move on from there.
WALTER BURGHARDT, Dare to Be Christ — Walter Burghardt, SJ (1914-2008), spent much of his career as a scholar of Church history and theology. He was a spellbinding preacher whose powerful calls for social justice and understanding influenced generations of priests and pastors.
Give Us This Day® Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, Liturgical Press, pages 127-128.
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HOMILY FOR FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT, MARCH 18, 2018
Father James J. Hogan, Missoula, Montana
Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Hebrews 5: 7-9; John 12: 20-33 5 Lent B ’18
A blind man stood in a busy train station with his merchandise nicely stacked on a small table. Some rowdy kinds ran past, bumped the table and scattered it all. He got on his hands and knees trying to retrieve his goods. Another man comes around the corner rushing to catch his train. He hesitates, drops his briefcase and gets down on the floor to help. When all is in order he walks away. The blind man calls out after him, “Hey Mister, are you Jesus?”
I want to make a connection between this parable and those Greeks in the passage from John’s gospel. Do you see a connection between them? Does this modern parable say anything to you?
In the gospel text, Jesus and his companions are in Bethany on the outskirts of Jerusalem. They are on their way to the Temple for the Passover Feast.
“Some Greeks came to Phillip who was from Bethsaida in Galilee.” “Sir, we would like to see Jesus”.” Philip told Andrew and the two of them tell Jesus. They wanted to see him physically. He responds by bearing his soul to them. “I am troubled.” In this discourse about himself, John’s Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
Apparently Jesus –“the Son of Man” – “the Human Being” had an intuition about what could happen to him while there in Jerusalem. The passion of his soul was to create a more human world for everyone. John suggests Jesus intuitively senses the consequences facing him for his effort. He seems to be anticipating his own death. “A grain of wheat must die to bear fruit.”
“Whoever gives his life away will preserve it for eternal life,” Then he reinterprets one of Isaiah’s Servant Songs. He sort of ignores their request “to see him” and teaches them what it means to follow him. ”Whoever serves me must follow me.” “Where I am, there my servant will be.”
The passage about those Greeks concludes with this amazing statement, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” After this we hear nothing more about them. History tells the rest of the story. Millions of people since have stepped forward, been drawn to Jesus, follow his footsteps and continue his project.
We are among them when we continue to demonstrate and affirm his message of God’s nonviolent and unconditional love for all. We are among them when “we drop our briefcase on the floor to help the blind man retrieve his goods.”
The blind man on the train platform shouts out: “Hey mister, are you Jesus?” He probably never appreciated the implications of his question. But he is right on track. The Risen One is present whenever we do what we are able to create a more human world for everyone.
We have seen the Berlin Wall, the wall imprisoning the Palestinians in Israel, and the current administration in the White House wants to build a wall along our southern border with Mexico.
Walls may offer the illusion of security or safety but that always is an illusion.
The Risen Christ invites us to do all we are able to create a more human world for everyone. The man with the briefcase understood. When he came around the corner, he dropped his briefcase and got down on the floor to help the blind man. “Hey Mister, are you Jesus?”
Second Sunday of Lent February 25, 2018
A Reflective Homily…
Since I gave my homily last Sunday at the 7:30 and 9: 00 Masses some have requested to have a copy of it. Others, who did not hear it, heard about it and also wanted a copy. I offer it to you for your prayer and reflection…
“Sir Winston Churchill took three years getting through eighth grade because he had trouble learning English grammar. It seems ironic that years later Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercises and its graduates. He arrived with his usual props: A cigar, a cane, and top hat that accompanied Churchill wherever he went. As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd rose in appreciative applause. Removing the cigar and carefully placing the top hat on the podium, Sir Winston gazed at his waiting audience. Authority rang in Churchill’s voice as he shouted, “Never give up!” Several seconds passed before he rose to his toes and repeated, “Never give up!” His words thundered in their ears. There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane and left the podium. His commencement address was finished.
The word Satan in Hebrew means “The Adversary.” Satan becomes the essence of everything that is against God. When we turn to the New Testament we find that is the devil or Satan who is behind human disease and suffering. It is Satan who seduces Judas. It is Satan whom we must fight. It is Satan whose power is being broken by the works of Christ. It is Satan who is destined for final destruction. Satan is the power which is against the things of God. The word devil (diabolo in Italian) means “The Scatterer,” the slanderer.
Here we have the essence of the temptation story. Jesus had to decide how he was to do his work. He was conscious of a tremendous task and he was also conscious of his tremendous power. God was saying to him: Take my love to my people; love them till you die on the cross for them. Win them by this unconquerable love even when you end up on a cross.
So the devil was saying to Jesus: Use your power to blast people, obliterate your enemies. Win the world by might and power and control and bloodshed. Scatter people.
God said to Jesus: Set up a kingdom of love and justice and integrity and gospel peace (which is everything that works for the highest good).
The devil said to Jesus: Set up a dictatorship of force. Divide and scatter!
Never give in to the “Scatterer!” He wants you to give in and give up. So I want to talk to you about two concerns that, at times, appear hopeless to being resolving and it is easy to give in and give up to the “Scatterer.”
In the first reading today from Genesis God made a covenant with Noah. The covenant established between God and Noah is with all the people, without exception, no one is excluded. It is totally inclusive to all the faithful to be loyal to this inherited sacred agreement. Thus, we must be inclusive, too. I want to talk about these two concerns where “The Scatterer” is at play.
The first is racism: a subject that is all about exclusion. Racism is destructive. Racism is disruptive. Racism is the work of “The Scatterer.” Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another, which often results in discrimination and prejudice and exclusion based on one’s race, color of skin and ethnicity. It is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust, and dangerous and there is no justification for racial discrimination for the Christian in theory or in practice. It is NOT of the gospel. It is of the devil. Thus it is meant to divide and scatter.
Story: I remember the story of George Washington Carver, the great Missouri peanut farmer/scientist, when he appeared before the Ways and Means Committee in Congress in 1921 when he was 57 years old. First of all they delayed his hearing for days. He had to sit and wait. Finally, when they called him up to the podium to speak, as he was walking up the aisle a Southern senator bellowed out, “I don’t think that this (N-word) has anything to say to us and is a waste our time.”
George Washington Carver was stung by the comment and was seriously tempted to turn around and just give in and give up. But…he remembered what his mother constantly reminded him, “George, never forget that you are a child of God so don’t you ever let anyone else define you and tell you who and what you are.” He kept going down the aisle and repeated his mother’s mantra up to the podium. When he reached the site he started his talk about his scientific findings and his theories as a scientist. He took his one-half hour and was granted an extension of another half hour. After four such extensions he concluded to thunderous applause… and acclaim.
Never give in to “The Scatterer.” Most of us here don’t know what it is like to wake up each day Black in our culture and in our society or to live as a Black person or a person of color in our city or to be in the work place or in the country as a person of color. And most of us don’t really know what it is like to have a racist remark thrown our way or to be profiled on the street or in a department store simply because of our race and the color of our skin.
What we do know is that we all must get to know each other better, talk to one another more, seek a clearer understanding of each other, and to work constantly for unity among us. We must find common ground, and common prayer, and common sense. In our city, at least, we must work for better educational opportunities for the Black community and end poverty not with more government programs but by developing a large and vibrant Black middle class and minority population here. Education is the goal and good jobs will follow. Let’s start the conversation about making unity happen between our City and our County and to think more regionally. A good part of our race issues here are socio-economic, and that, too, is holding us back. And finally, pray for each other every day… give it to God… and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the unifier.
And never give in or give up to “The Scatterer!”
The second is the violence in our society and the use of handguns, assault guns meant to kill people and meant for the military in the battlefield… especially in light of the Florida School Shooting last Wednesday, where 17 lives were lost. This was the 18th School shooting since the first of the year in our land. For me to ignore such violence in our society this Sunday is to pretend that “there is no elephant in the room.”
I saw a balanced editorial in the Post-Dispatch on Friday. It commented on the country’s sense of despair and hopelessness as these senseless mass shootings from Sandy Hook Elementary School with its tiny victims to the slaughter in Las Vegas last Fall. It spoke of the empty rhetoric from our nation’s leaders to do something about it, to try to fix a systemic problem. So many questions and so far, at least, no real solid answers or solutions. So the country waits and gets angrier, more despairing, and even hardened to such violence in the news since it happens so often. But the editorial concluded with a challenge and a positive tone: Let’s find common ground for dialogue and starting points both from the gun advocates and those who want more controls. It offered some suggestions: “Maybe we start with an agreement on universal background checks, longer waits for purchases and aggressive reports to law enforcement about troubled individuals. I add to that a banning of all assault weapons. It may take some time, but dialogue is the key, begin the conversation and reach common ground for solutions. Be reasonable in our approach to this issue. Finally, pray that all sides listen to each other, work together toward solutions. Being so polarized is not working! It is the work of “The Scatterer.”
Let not indifference or despair or hopelessness win out. So “Never Give Up!” And Never give in to the devil, the one who scatters!”
Monsignor Jack 1-3-5, St. Peter Church, Kirkwood, Missouri
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Blessing for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
Pope Francis has decided to institute in the Catholic Church an annual “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” to be celebrated on September 1. Pope Francis explains: As Christians, we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation. We need always to keep in mind that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us” (Laudato Si’, 216). The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (ibid., 217). For “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (ibid.).
A Prayer by Pope Francis
from the Encyclical Laudato Si’
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you! Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory.
Praise be to you! Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good,
advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
0 Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you! Amen.
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HOLY FATHER’S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR MARCH 2018:
APOSTLESHIP OF PRAYER REFLECTION FOR MARCH
Formation of Spiritual Discernment
That the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels.
Fr. Blazek’s Reflection
This is a very Ignatian or Jesuit intention, recognizing the importance of discerning (seeing) the will of God. It is a skill that can be taught and improved with practice. As a Jesuit, the Holy Father clearly recognizes the importance of formation in discernment of vocations and apostolates both for individuals and in communities.
Pope Francis, as a son of St. Ignatius, is well familiar with the Spiritual Exercises developed by the founder of the Society of Jesus in the early 16th century. These guided reflections presume that spirits good and evil are influencing God’s creatures by means sometimes blunt and obvious, but at others more subtle and nuanced.
Members of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, the Apostleship of Prayer, commit daily to making an examination of conscience. During this break from the ordinary busyness of the day, we reflect on how we have received grace from God, how we have moved towards Him or away, and which spirits may have been motivating us towards good or evil. St. Ignatius considered this daily examination to be extremely important. He himself is said to have practiced self-examination to a heroic degree.
Friends, discernment is not merely the territory of priests or religious. All vocations are best discerned carefully, in prayer, and in dialogue with a trusted spiritual advisor. While vocations to marriage, to a profession, to religious life, or the clerical state certainly require such reflection, groups can also practice communal discernment. Religious congregations certainly do so, but also boards of trustees, civic groups, even a book club might discern God’s will in spiritual conversation when considering mission, identity, or major policy decisions.
May the good Lord grant His Church and all individuals and groups within it the gift of discernment.
Points for Meditation
Do I pause to reflect, meditate and ask the Lord to guide me in the major and minor decisions of my day? In what ways has the Holy Spirit helped me to see or hear God’s will in these first months of 2018? Has the bad spirit, the enemy, the tempter, been whispering deceits to me in secret?
Phil 1:9-11 And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ…
Saint of the Month – St. Patrick, March 17th
The Apostle of Ireland, as he is sometimes called, is a favorite of friends Irish and non-Irish alike. Patrick was a missionary and bishop in the 5th century. He is beloved as patron of Ireland along with St. Brigid of Kildare as well as St. Columba.
The Saint related in his “Confessio” that he himself underwent a deep conversion to Christianity after having been enslaved by pirates as a teenager. Parents, there is hope yet for all your teenage children.
One of the most beautiful prayers attributed to this popular saint is called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate,” or “The Deer’s Cry.” It is also called his “lorica” which is a category of recited prayer for protection. Its opening verses are well worth putting to memory:
“I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to see before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to secure me…”
Prayer of the Month
A Prayer for Discernment by Fr. M. Louis, O.C.S.O. (Thomas Merton)
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone. St. Patrick, pray for us!
Daily Offering Prayer
God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings in union with the Heart of Jesus, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to Your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and of the Church, I pray for all Apostles of Prayer and for this month’s intentions proposed by the Holy Father. Amen.
Traditional Offering Prayer
0 Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
To register as a member of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, or to subscribe to our monthly communications, please visit our website at popesprayerusa.net/join/. Thank you for your generous support of our ministry.
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network:
UNITED STATES | CANADA APOSTLESHIP OF PRAYER
1501 S Layton Blvd
Milwaukee, WI 53215-1924
Copyright 2018: Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network Item #500
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KNOM RADIO MISSIONS ONE-LINERS for MARCH 2018,
RESOURCE: KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletins, provided the following One-Liners in Faith For March 2018
On this day: Mend a quarrel. Dismiss a suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter to someone who misses you. Encourage someone. Keep a promise. Examine your demands on others. Express your gratitude. Overcome a fear. And show someone you love them.
And do it again, and again, and again…
“Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Sienna
“That the church may appreciate the urgency of formation and spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels.” Pope Francis’ prayer intention for March 2018
“Open wide the window of our spirits, O Lord, and Phyllis full of light; open wide the door of our hearts, that we may receive and entertain you with all our powers of it adoration and love.”
Breaking trail, either by snowshoe, dog team, or snow machine, is demanding work.
The first to leave home for schooling are breaking trail. Rural Alaska’s first deacons, teachers, carpenters, nurses, electricians, and doctors are breaking trail for others who choose a similar path.
We support them as best we can, with special encouragement when the going gets tough. Trail breakers are a source of pride and hope for the future of rural Alaska. They bless their hometown with their success.
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SUGGESTED INTERCESSIONS FOR SUNDAY The Fifth Sunday of Lent – MARCH 18, 2018
(Each local community should compose its own Universal Prayer, but may find inspiration in the texts proposed here.)
FOR THE CHURCH
For the Church, may she see an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and may all who are called respond with courage and joy,
For all members of the Church, may we continue to be an example to the world of God’s loving care for all,
That the Universal Church may be graced with increasing numbers of those willing to surrender their lives more fully to following the words of Jesus,
For all Christians as we approach Holy Week, may God help us to grow and deepen our faith,
For Pope Francis, bishops and priests, and all who attend to the cries for healing and justice pouring forth from the world, may they be a light to the nations,
That Church leaders may be animated by the movement of the Holy Spirit in their witness to the Gospel,
For the Church and all her leaders, may they receive the graces necessary to continue to spread the message of God’s promise throughout the world,
For all members of the Church, as we commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus, may we be inspired to die to ourselves and seek first the good of others,
For those preparing to be received into the Church this Easter: that their embrace of the Lord’s Prayer will keep them close to Christ,
That the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels, (Holy Father’s Intention)
That all who serve the church as bishops, priests, deacons, ministers, and teachers may
imitate the humble obedience of Christ Jesus,
That the church’s work and worship may establish the house of God in all communities,
For increased vocations to the diverse ministries that give life in abundance to the Church,
For those dedicated to faith formation, and for those with whom they share the treasures of the Church,
For catechists, preachers, and families, who teach the faith to future generations,
For nominal Christians who have not accepted sacrifice and servanthood as the meaning of the Gospel,
For the Church, under the patronage of St. Joseph,
For those preparing the liturgies and environment for the Holy Week services,
For perseverance in our Lenten disciplines,
For those preparing for the liturgical rites of Holy Week and Easter,
For catechumens as they enter into their last days of discernment,
For a greater participation in the mysteries of Holy Week by Christians everywhere,
For the vision to see the wondrous ways of God even within our fallen world,
That our liturgical ministers and volunteers, who give so willingly of their time and gifts, may be blessed for their generosity,
For those who have fallen away from the Church, may this Lenten season inspire them to return and be comforted by the power of God’s unconditional love,
For all those preparing to be baptized and to be received in the Church this Easter Vigil, may they be filled with joy and a deep sense of God’s love for them,
FOR THE WORLD
For political leaders, may they have the integrity to enact laws protecting the rights of all people, especially the unborn,
For all those in leadership in our country and across the world, may they look first to the needs of those they lead as they make decisions and enact laws,
That lawmakers and elected officials may find grace and strength in our prayers for them,
For world leaders, may they be blessed with an abundance of grace to seek justice for all,
For our world, may the Word of God nourish and transform us so that truth and righteousness may prevail,
That those in public service may be inspired to seek justice for the oppressed,
For secular leaders, may their decisions be pleasing to God and reflect concern for all people,
For peace in our world, may the celebration of Christ’s victory over sin and death transform us and heal all division and strife,
That those in civil governance will dedicate themselves to justice, peace, authentic freedom, and the generous defense of the poor,
That the wisdom and justice of God may be the foundation of all laws and public policies
of the world’s governments, corporations, and institutions,
That the peace and justice of God’s reign may be realized in a spirit of cooperation
and respect among all nations and peoples,
For servant leadership, rooted in Scripture-based principles, at all levels of government and civil authority,
For national and local leaders, who govern with wisdom, honesty, and responsibility,
For world leaders, that they disarm rogue nations that have weapons of mass destruction,
For fathers, especially those who rear and form children who are not their own,
For world leaders, that they may assist populations threatened by dangerous viruses and exotic creatures,
For world leaders, that they may work to put an end to all forms of torture,
For world leaders, that they may seek to unite nations and ethnic groups separated by arbitrary borders, political allegiances, and historical conflicts,
FOR THE OPPRESSED / ANY NEED
For the unemployed and underemployed, that they may find the means of support and the dignity of honest labor,
For Christians who are being persecuted for their faith, may they trust God and hold fast to their faith,
For refugees, may the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bring them to places of welcome and safety,
That single parents, and other parents who face challenges, may find comfort and strength in the Church and receive the support they need,
That God will cleanse the world of all errors, banish disease, comfort those who mourn, loosen fetters, grant safety to travelers, health to the sick, salvation to the dying,
For sincere willingness to turn from condemnation and to grow in charity,
For Christians who know they are facing martyrdom,
For those who idolize power and ambition,
For the gift of silence and the ability to hold one’s tongue,
For the grace to guard our tongues from obsessive complaining,
For the courage to stand up for our beliefs as fortified by our conscience,
For the reform of prisons so that they might be places of rehabilitation instead of punishment,
For understanding, mutual respect, and cooperation among all religions,
For hope when we are tempted to despair,
For the courage to persevere in times of trouble and doubt,
For those who become scapegoats for the criminal actions of others,
For the grace to acknowledge the daily miracles of life and to praise God,
For families divided by grudges, disagreements, addictions, and generational gaps,
For marriages undergoing conflict and alienation,
FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
That, in the loving support of family and friends, Christ may be present to
families in crisis and households experiencing hardship or grief,
For parents who dedicate their lives to their families, especially in countries stricken by poverty or war,
For families who live without the protective love of a responsible father,
For our local community as we live out our daily lives, may we remember to look beyond our own needs and to bring the Father’s love to those around us,
FOR THE ASSEMBLY
For our faith community, may we have confidence in God’s healing love and mercy present in the sacrament of reconciliation,
That this faith community may reflect the Light of Christ to the world,
For the young people of this faith community, may our prayers and support encourage them as they discern their vocation in life,
For all of us gathered here, may God grant us whatever needs we hold most closely in our hearts,
That our parish will grow in holiness so that we will always love one another with perfect charity,
For the grace this week to be ambassadors of Christ to the world,
That, in our common life together, our church and parish community may proclaim the
life and love of God,
That fathers and mothers may see in Joseph’s example a model of loving compassion
and patience for the children God has entrusted to their care,
For undaunted faith in the members of this assembly and in our elect, catechumens, and candidates,
FOR THE SICK
That those who are entombed by illness, violence, addiction, or fear may be raised up to
a new life of hope and fulfillment,
For the elders of this faith community, especially for those who are sick or going through hard times,
For physicians, nurses, and all who apply medical wisdom to human ailments and conditions,
For those who suffer emotionally, physically or mentally, may they be comforted by God’s loving embrace,
That those who are sick or hospitalized may find the strength to persevere, and be blessed with relief,
For those who suffer from depression, anxiety or grief in this faith community, may they be awakened to signs of springtime and the hope of new life,
For the sick in our faith community, may Christ who knew pain and suffering in his own life fill them with healing and hope,
FOR THE DECEASED
For a happy death promised through the intercession of St. Joseph,
For our beloved dead, passing from this life to the next, may they enjoy eternal freedom in Christ,
For all who have died, may they rejoice with Saint Joseph and the community of saints in the heavenly kingdom of God,
That our deceased friends and relatives, and all who have died, may forever enjoy the company of the Lord and all his saints,
For all who have died in faith, may they join the company of the angels and saints,
For those who have died, may their souls rest in eternal peace,
That those who have passed into eternal life may see the face of God,
For those who have died, may they experience the peace of the heavenly kingdom with all the angels and saints,
For those who have died, may they come to share in the fullness of Christ’s glorious resurrection,
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RESOURCE: INTERCESSIONS FOR NATURAL DISASTERS FOR U. S ET AL
Universal Prayers for Victims of Recent Natural Disasters
3) For those whose homes and businesses have been destroyed by floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires or other natural disasters, that, as they struggle to rebuild, they will experience the loving assistance of communities of faith, let us pray to the Lord …
4) For all rescue workers and volunteers, that they will be blessed with energy and courage as they help their brothers and sisters who have been injured or left homeless by recent natural disasters, let us pray to the Lord …
5) For all of us, that we will reach out in love to those who are suffering due to the recent earthquakes, floods and tornadoes, let us pray to the Lord …
Universal Prayers for Opioid Crisis:
1) For members of the health professions, first responders and civic leaders, may the Holy Spirit inspire them to work together to help all those who are affected by the scourge of addiction, let us pray to the Lord.
2) For those struggling to break free from addiction to opioids, may they find hope and healing in Jesus and his Church on their path to recovery, let us pray to the Lord.
3) For those who have died because of their addictions, may they now rest in the peace and joy of God’s love through all eternity, let us pray to the Lord.
Universal Prayers for the Shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas
1) For the innocent victims killed in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and for all who die as a result of violence, may they find perpetual peace and joy in heaven, let us pray to the Lord.
2) For the families and friends of those who were killed or wounded in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, and for all those who have experienced violence in their lives, may they be comforted by the love of God and the compassion of all members of our Church, let us pray to the Lord.
3) For members of churches everywhere, may God help us find practical and meaningful ways to overcome dysfunction, evil and violence in our world, let us pray to the Lord.
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Faith Catholic Online; Daily Prayer 2018; OCP; Magnificat; Liturgical Press.
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General Intercessions for Fourth Sunday Lent
11 March, 2018 – Cycle B
Presider: Sisters and brothers, the profound words of Jesus that he had been sent to save the world and to give the gift of eternal life, nourish our hope and confidence as we bring these petitions before our God.
- As Pope Francis celebrates his 5th year as bishop of Rome and Pope of the Church may he and all the clergy continue to be examples of God’s mercy at work; We pray to the Lord.
- For all experiencing persecution, particularly the Christians of the Middle East: that God will preserve them from harm, give them strength and help them to witness to God’s love and faithfulness; We pray to the Lord.
- For students as they go on service trips or spring break: that God will keep them safe in their travels and help them make good choices in their activities; We pray to the Lord.
- For all who minister to the dying: that chaplains, family members, and healthcare workers may be instruments of love and compassion for those approaching death; We pray to the Lord.
- For those living in a self-imposed exile, feeling unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness; We pray to the Lord.
- For those lost in the darkness of illness, depression, and addiction, especially . . . . that they may see the light of Christ in our care and outreach to them; We pray to the Lord.
- For those who died in the peace of Christ, and all the dead whose faith is known to God alone: that they may be raised up with Christ. We remember today . . . . We also remember:
5pm Norma Troutman 7:30am Teresa O’Connor
9am Larry Chott (pronounced ‘kot’) 11am our St. Peter Parish Family
5pm Jeanne Zilm
For whom this Mass is offered; We pray to the Lord.
Presider: May our prayers be the stones of our temple of praise to you, O Lord. May our acts of compassion and selflessness build us into the body of Christ, your beloved Son, in whose name we offer these prayers. Amen