Lectionary 23: 1) Genesis 9:8-15; 2) Ps 25:4-9; 3) 1 Peter 3:18-22; 4) Mark 1:12-15.


FOCUS:    The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel. These sound like simple words from our short Gospel today. But it is fitting that Jesus begins his earthly ministry with this powerful message after the Spirit descended upon him at his baptism. He asks us to believe in the Gospel and embrace its message of humble service and discipleship.

Mindful of his covenant (Ps), the Lord promises never to destroy creation again by floodwaters (1). The waters of baptism bring salvation and forgiveness through the death of Christ (2). After fasting forty days and being put to the test, Jesus begins his public ministry (3).


In the reading from Genesis, God establishes a covenant with Noah, declaring the rainbow as the reminder to all his people. In the second reading, we hear that the eight who had been saved by the water in the story of Noah prefigure our baptism which saves us now. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus begins his Galilean ministry by proclaiming the need to repent and believe.

  • Today is celebrated the rite of “election” or “enrollment of names” for the catechumens who are to be admitted to the Sacraments of Christian Initiation at the Easter Vigil. The proper prayers and intercessions “For the Election or Enrollment of Names” are to be used (see Roman Missal, Ritual Masses). If, for pastoral reasons, it is celebrated apart from this Sunday, the proper prayers may be used with the color violet on any day permitted in the Table of Liturgical Days. The Mass of the Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent may also be used.

PN During Lent when the prayers of the saints may be said, the ferial Collect with a simpler conclusion, e.g., “Through Christ our Lord,” may be used to conclude the general intercessions, thus situating commemorations within their seasonal context.



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Monday, February 19, 2018            MONDAY OF FIRST WEEK OF LENT

Lectionary 224: 1) Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18; 2) Ps 19:8-10, 15; 3) Matthew 25:31-46.


FOCUS:    Let us seek first to be holy in all things. We have the Scriptures to guide us through life. They are the paths we should follow. Jesus was very clear about what lies ahead eternally for those who follow his words, and for those who refuse to follow his words. Let us look for opportunities to reach out to one another in love.

The command of the Lord (Ps) is clear: love one another (1), for “whatever you do to these least ones, you do it to me” (2).


In our first reading from Leviticus, God instructs Moses to tell the people to be holy as God is holy. Then he gives them commandments to follow. In the Gospel, Jesus describes the final judgment for those who do, and for those who do not, follow his commandments.

PN (USA) On this Presidents’ Day, a prayer written by Archbishop John Carroll may be used prior to grace before meals or at the conclusion of dinner. See HB, 172.



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Tuesday, February 20, 2018         TUESDAY OF FIRST WEEK OF LENT

Lectionary 225: 1) Isaiah 55:10-11; 2) Ps 34:4-7, 16-19; 3) Matthew 6:7-15.


FOCUS:    God wants what’s best for us. God is a generous and loving Father who wants only what is best for his children. God showers down rain to make the seed grow, and gives us his Word to bring us grace. But God also expects us to be generous and loving toward all his children – to forgive them from our hearts. We are called to be like God.

May God’s Spirit always inspire us how to pray (2) and be open to the Word (1) that the Father may be glorified (Ps).


In the passage from Isaiah, God promises that his word will be as fruitful and fertile as the earth after a rain. God’s will –what is best for us – will be achieved. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches us to pray to God with absolute trust that he knows what we need and will give it to us.



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Wednesday, February 21, 2018        WEDNESDAY OF FIRST WEEK OF LENT

Optional Memorial: Saint Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Lectionary 226: 1) Jonah 3:1-10; 2) Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19; 3) Luke11:29-32.


FOCUS:          Let us heed Jesus’ message of salvation today. The people of Nineveh were evil, yet Jonah had just started through their city preaching repentance when they began to fast and turn from their evil ways. The crowds in Jesus’ time had the Lord himself preaching to them and still did not believe. Jesus is our sign; let us waste no time in repenting and believing. Nineveh heard the preaching of Jonah (1) and repented (Ps). The Word calls us to repentance as well (2).


After the Lord called to Jonah a second time in the first reading, the prophet went to Nineveh announcing that God would destroy the city in forty days. Because they turned away from evil, God relented of the destruction. In the Gospel, Jesus brands the crowd an evil generation for not repenting as did the Ninevites at the preaching of Jonah.

Peter Damian, † 1072; indefatigable defender of the Gregorian reform; O.S.B. monk, later Cardinal bishop of Ostia; promoter of religious life.



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Thursday, February 22, 2018   THE CHAIR OF SAINT PETER THE APOSTLE – FEAST

Lectionary 535: 1) 1Peter 5:1-4; 2) Ps 23:1-6; 3) Matthew 16:13-19.


FOCUS:    The Church stands strong on the apostolic foundation of Peter and his confession of faith. Jesus chooses Peter to be the rock on which he builds his Church, and promises that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Peter recognizes his mission as one of service and love, not domination and power. We are called to imitate this mission. Like Jesus, the good shepherd (Ps), Peter exhorts his fellow elders to shepherd the flock (1). Like Peter, we are called to confess the Lordship of Jesus (2).


In the first reading, we hear that proper leadership is not about dominance, but should be focused on service and love. The Gospel relates Jesus’ bestowal of the keys to the kingdom on Peter.

Today’s feast, attested as early as the mid-fourth century (in the Depositio martyrum), has its roots in the commemoration of dead relatives and friends (Parentalia), celebrated in Rome between 13-22 Feb. At this commemoration, a chair (cathedra) was left empty for particular deceased persons. Since the actual date of St. Peter’s death was unknown, it came to be commemorated on 22 Feb., eventually celebrating his taking pastoral responsibility of the Church of Rome.



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Friday, February 23, 2018          FRIDAY OF FIRST WEEK OF LENT

Optional Memorial: Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr

Lectionary 228: Ezekiel 18:21-28; 2) Ps 130:1-8; 3) Matthew 5:20-26.


FOCUS:    The Christian life becomes virtuous as we turn away from sin. Today we learn from both of our readings that following the commandments – our moral framework for the Christian life – is necessary for those who desire to live in Christ. This way of life is lived through our direct relationship with our brothers and sisters and learning to reconcile and forgive one another. The Lord forgives us (Ps) in the conversion of our hearts (1) and rejoices in the reconciliation of one to another (2).


In the reading from Ezekiel, we are reminded of the danger of turning away from virtue toward sin, and the mercy of God when we strive to turn away from sin and live a virtuous life. In the Gospel from Matthew, Jesus teaches about the importance of reconciliation.

Polycarp, † c. 155 at age eighty-six; disciple of St. John and bishop of Smyrna; his Letter to the Philippians witnesses to various New Testament writings; the Martyrdom of Polycarp records his being burned at the stake; one of the first martyrs to be venerated.



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Saturday, February 24, 2018          SATURDAY OF FIRST WEEK OF LENT

Lectionary 229: 1) Deuteronomy 26:16-19; 2) Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8; 3) Matthew 5:43-48.


FOCUS:    The commandments guide us on the path of discipleship. Today’s readings remind us that, as people of God, we must keep the commandments of the Lord with our whole heart and our whole soul and walk in the ways of God, no matter how difficult it may be. As members of the body of Christ, we are called to share God’s love with everyone, even those who make it challenging to love them.

We are called to love even our enemies (2), and thus walk in God’s ways (1), following the law of the Lord (Ps).


In the first reading, Moses reminds us to observe the laws of the Lord. In the Gospel, Jesus asks us to go beyond loving our neighbor, and to love our enemies as well. When we do this, we are reflecting the perfection of our heavenly Father.



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Lectionary 26: 1) Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; 2) Ps 116:10, 15-19;  3) Romans 8:31b-34;                            4) Mark 9:2-10.


FOCUS:    God’s love for us is limitless. Today, we hear the familiar passage from Saint Paul when he says, If God is for us, who can be against us? Since we have been called by name, by virtue of our baptism, we know that we are God’s children; we are his instruments in the world. Abraham offers the ultimate sacrifice of thanksgiving (Ps), the gift of his very son (1). This sacrifice prefigures the sacrifice of Jesus who died for us all (2). In his transfiguration, Jesus discloses a suffering messiahship (3).


In the first reading, Abraham is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of surrendering his son to the Lord. Saint Paul reminds the Romans that having God with them will allow them to face any challenge. In the Gospel, the disciples realize that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law after he is transfigured before them.

PN In light of today’s first reading which speaks of Abraham as our father in faith, the presider may wish to use Eucharistic Prayer I which echoes this theme.

The custom of reading today’s gospel near the beginning of Lent may have come from an ancient tradition which held that the transfiguration of Jesus took place forty days before Good Friday.




Lent: To eat or not to Eat

The original sin is eating that which is forbidden. But the first creatures disobedience is reversed by the obedience of Jesus who refrains from all food and drink for forty days in the desert. For the followers of Jesus no blessings of creation are forbidden. Taking up the Lenten fast, therefore, demands an examination of our assumptions about his discipline of restraint.

Our assumptions are revealed in our language. We say about rich chocolate desserts that they are “sinful.” Do we assume that the eating of anything so luscious and delightful is lacking in virtue? Do we harbor some suspicion that God does not delight in our taking delight?

God truly rejoices in our happiness. One paradox of fasting is that in refraining from that which we enjoy day after day we come to cherish and value it even more. This is not unlike the deeper appreciation we have for friends and loved ones who move away or die. In a very real sense the festal excess of Easter depends upon the joyful restraint of Lenten fasting.

One of the prefaces of the Eucharistic prayer calls Lent “this joyful season.” Christian fasting allows the pangs of separation from snacks and even meals to trigger a sense of thanksgiving to God who has given us such delights.

How can fasting be a joyful practice instead of a burdensome obligation?

A Good Appetite…Lent

Fasting is not an isolated discipline, but one of a trinity of holy practices: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. Each of these gives support and meaning to the others. Prayer befriends the soul. It re-fixes our sacred purpose and turns us toward the tasks at hand. Fasting befriends the body ­which is to say that the body is good, very good, and worthy of whatever form our fasting must take.

Almsgiving befriends our neighbor with whom we share what we might otherwise have hoarded.

To fast, accompanied by prayer and almsgiving, is to be healed. Fasting is good for the body, the “body politic,” and the “mystical body.” Fasting helps to make the body whole.

Fasting is necessary now if we are ever to enjoy feasting. A good appetite allows us to enjoy the earthly gifts that we have been given. So fasting is not so much a deprecation of the flesh, but a sharpening of earthly joys. The Talmud says: “One will have to give an account on the judgment day of every good thing which one might have enjoyed ­and did not.” Fasting helps us savor God’s goodness.

Fed Rightly…Lent

We have a basic, unspoken fear of being deprived of food. So we try to outfox the caprices of nature and its seasons, hoping that we never have to go hungry. But something has run amok when fear of being deprived of food drives us to manipulating, bullying, controlling, overproducing, depleting, hoarding, and consuming — not just food, but fuel and forests, water, and whatever resources we cannot live without. Ravenous for something, we try to still our anxiety with whatever brings comfort most quickly. With a voracious need, we bully our way into the world’s stores and consume everything in sight.

Frederick Buechner’s definition of a glutton is true — of individuals and of communities. A glutton is one who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition. The habit of “raiding” spoils our appetite, even as it leaves us ever unsatisfied. The late M. F. K. Fisher wrote: “I cannot count the good people I know who would be better if they bent their spirits to the study of their own hungers.”

So take a moment to re-examine cravings, hungers, yearning, compulsions and impulses as natural and right ­but in need of being fed at the right level. Fast from instant gratification during Lent.

New Look in the Gathering Space…

Someone recently remarked to me that our Gathering Space in church reminds them of a lobby of a hotel. My response was that is exactly what it is supposed to feel like.

Lobbies of hotels are designed to pull you in and make you feel welcome and desirous of staying at that establishment. Usually one side of the lobby is meant for visiting and gathering of friends. The other side is designed for the business of the hotel.

Our Gathering Space is no different and clearly has places for people to gather and sit and talk and visit whereas the other side has the monitor scrolling the activities of our parish and our “Concierge” desk. The desk is manned by volunteers to answer questions one might have about our parish, our school, activities, and ministries. It is a place where a new parishioner may register for the parish and parishioners may sign up for up-coming events. It is a place of welcome and of information.

We are so fortunate to have such a space in our church to offer hospitality and welcome. It was a terrific addition with the 2003 remodeling of our church.

I’ll see you in church! Monsignor Jack 1-3-5   St. Peter Bulletin February 18, 2018.




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February 18-24      First Week of Lent


Within the Word — Becoming a Ninevite

 A few years ago, I accompanied one of my doctoral candi­dates, Fr. Samer Yohanna, a Chaldean priest, to obtain his Vatican Library card. The application form asked for his place of birth, so he wrote Nineveh (how Chaldean Christians refer to Mosul, Iraq). The secretary, recalling the biblical story of Jonah, looked at his application, smiled, and asked, “Did you convert?” Samer responded cheerfully, “Oh yes, and the prophet’s tomb is in my city?’ (Jonah’s traditional burial site was destroyed by ISIS in 2014.)

On Wednesday we become Ninevites, called to conversion by the prophet Jonah. The specific content of Jonah’s exhortation was probably borrowed from Monday’s reading from Leviticus. God, speaking through Moses, bluntly names our sins: defraud­ing, holding grudges, gossiping, cursing the poor (symbolized by the deaf and blind), and denying workers a just wage. Who among us has not been served by a low-paid restaurant worker who lacks access to proper health care? The Leviticus reading opens our eyes to discover sins that could go unnoticed—the injustices that we quietly accept in ourselves and in our world.

But how could an Israelite prophet, a foreigner from a rather insignificant land, preach in Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, a city so large that it took Jonah three days to walk through it? In fact, when God ordered Jonah to go to Nineveh (700 miles northeast of Jerusalem) the first time, Jonah took off westward toward Tarshish (chap. 1). He knew that as an outsider, his preaching would be unwelcome.

In April 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. traveled from Atlanta to Birmingham (a mere 148 miles) to preach nonviolent resistance against segregation, but the local religious leaders viewed him as an outside agitator. King appealed to the prophet Jonah: “Just as the prophets of the eighth century BC left their villages and carried their ‘thus saith the Lord’ far beyond the bound­aries of their home towns:’ so he had left Atlanta and come to Birmingham because “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Letter from Birmingham Jail).

King went willingly to Birmingham—but Jonah had to be swallowed up by a fish and then spewed out on the beach before he accepted that in God’s mind injustice even in the distant capital of Nineveh threatened justice everywhere.

God allows the Ninevites forty days—a Lenten journey—to recognize the injustices in their city and to repent. Conver­sion takes time; the battle against our sinfulness is not won in a day. In fact, it is never won. The Ninevites would not cease to be sinners after forty days of repentance, but the recognition of their sins would be the first step to building a more just society in their capital city.

During the tense confrontation in Wednesday’s Gospel, Jesus recalls Jonah’s story. In Luke’s version Jesus makes no reference to the “three days” that Jonah spent in the belly of the fish (cf. Matt 12:39-40). For Luke’s Jesus, the “sign of Jonah” is the Israelite prophet himself, traveling to a foreign land to urge the Ninevites to confess the injustices in their own lives and in their world. Jesus, “something greater than Jonah:’ bids us to hear the challenge of his preaching and, during these first days of Lent, to become Ninevites.

CRAIG MORRISON —  Fr. Craig E. Morrison, OCarm, directed Fr. Samer Yohanna’s dissertation at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Fr. Yohanna, OAOC, a Ninevite and native Aramaic speaker, was the rector of the Pontifical Babel College in Erbil, Iraq. He is now superior general of his community.

 Give us this Day®, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, Liturgical Press, pages 126-127.




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 Reflection – Sunday, February 18, 2018        First Sunday of Lent

The Marcan version of the temptation of Jesus in the desert is the shortest. Still, it evokes all the danger imagin­able: a wasteland, angelic powers bad and good, wild beasts, and a lengthy time. Having experienced many retreats through the years, I know that solitude and silence, even in a comfortable set­ting, can challenge heart, soul, and mind. One must believe that Jesus’ retreat was a defining experience of his humanity. Only after his baptism and desert sojourn does Jesus proclaim with great conviction: “The kingdom of God is at hand.” We need silence and soli­tude to deepen our faith convictions.            Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 78.




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Reflection – Monday, February 19, 2018 Lenten Weekday  

 In this portrait of the Last Judgment, Jesus intends to teach us what really matters to gain entry to paradise. He doesn’t mention catechism, novenas completed, or an untainted soul. These can have a place in our daily conversion, but the focus is on the poor and needy. Have we noticed and served them? What’s more, to emphasize the “other,” he suggests that we might not know how we have served or failed to serve. All consideration must be outside of self, self-congratulation, and personal merit. To be holy is to be fully human, and to be fully human is to have empathy.                                                         Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 79.




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Reflection – Tuesday, February 20, 2018 Lenten Weekday

How often Catholics pray the Lord’s Prayer! St. Teresa of Avila, the mystical doctor of prayer and contemplation, asserted that everything one needs to understand about prayer is contained in the Our Father. It begins with the inti­macy proclaimed by Jesus and shared with us by him Abba! It includes ado­ration, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving. It can be prayed by both the beginner in prayer as well as the mystic. In fact, Teresa “complained” that she sometimes could not complete the prayer without going into ecstasy. For most of us, that will not be a prob­lem. But because it is so frequently recited by rote, we need to meditate upon it occasionally.                                          Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 80.




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Reflection – Wednesday, February 21, 2018 Lenten Weekday    


Some people look at the evil in the world and ask, “Where is God?” They want a sign. Witnesses to the miracles and ministry of Jesus demanded, “Give us a sign.” Rationalism and materialism cannot produce signs; they are of an order outside of the spiritual realm. The king of Nineveh and the queen of Sheba, both Gentiles, were touched spiritually by the prophet Jonah and the wisdom of Solomon, respectively. The sign that Jesus gives is the Cross. Only the spiri­tually attuned can acknowledge the power of that sign.                   Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 81.



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Reflection – Thursday, February 22, 2018                             

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle

The original Feast of the Chair of St. Peter derives from Antioch, where fol­lowers of Jesus were first called Chris­tians and Peter presided. This feast celebrates Peter’s pastoral authority over the Church continued through the min­istry of the bishop of Rome. The chair, or cathedra, symbolizes authority; it is not an actual chair or antique. The issue of authority has vexed Christianity throughout its history and has caused

divisions. Catholics celebrate the unity of faith that the pope both symbolizes and works to secure.                        Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 82.




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Reflection – Friday, February 23, 2018                  Lenten Weekday   

We often think of sin as personal actions that break a law of God. A more bibli­cal understanding of sin is to consider it as a virus. For example, a single angry outburst is unpleasant, but a habit of anger is toxic for the person and those around him. Much becomes infected. Virtue is like the aroma of a meal being cooked. It wafts through the air, pleas­ing and attracting all.                  Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 83.




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Reflection – Saturday, February 24, 2018 Lenten Weekday        

What does it mean to “be perfect”? This translation of the Greek word teleios is not helpful to our understanding. No one but God can be perfect in the sense of being without fault. The pursuit of perfection in the consecrated life has led to many a neurosis! An analogy might be an unripened piece of fruit. It is not mature. It is not ready to be enjoyed. So, we should be moving toward what God is calling us to be. In the words of St. Irenaeus, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive!”

Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 84.




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Reflection – Sunday, February 25, 2018 Second Sunday of Lent

Peter, James, and John witnessed a tran­scendent event that other followers did not. Such an experience is what Jesus’ followers and opponents had been demanding. “Give us a sign!” The true messiah, they believed, would show signs of glory and splendor. Jesus chose to downplay this expectation to prepare his followers for the scandal of the Cross. Most would not accept it until after the Resurrection. Even today, some Christians want to skip the Cross and consider only the victory of Christ. The Transfiguration, as private as it was, indicates that glory and splendor played their role in authenticating Jesus as Messiah.                Daily Prayer 2018, LTP, page 85


Reflection – Covenant in the Nitty-Gritty

What, we might ask, does saying grace at meals have to do with God’s covenant with Noah? The answer is in Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’: “That moment of [meal] blessing, however brief, reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation” (227).

“The sun rises and the sun sets,” says Qoheleth (Eccl 1:5), implying that everything just drones on without meaning. Ho-hum. But God does not see it that way. God’s love for us and commitment to us come through in the order of our universe. You can count on the sun and moon and stars in their places, God says, and the seasons following one after

another. You can build your home here; in fact, the earth is meant to be, as Pope Francis says, “our common home.”

This large vision may not impress us until it is translated into daily details. A priest began a memorable homily by stand­ing at the lectern holding up his hands and wiggling his fingers. After a few moments he asked, “Did you ever think about what it would be like if you didn’t have knuckles? Did you ever wonder why many animals put their faces in their food?”

There is no better time than Lent to rediscover God’s cove­nant with us in the nitty-gritty of creation, in the day-to-day gifts. For this we say, Laudato God be praised!

JEROME KODELL — Jerome Kodell, OSB, is former abbot of Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas. Give Us This Day®, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, pages 122-123.



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 Faith Catholic (Online), February 2018                                                                                                                                        Give Us This Day, Liturgical Press, February 2018
Magnificat, February 2018
Paulist Ordo


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 In the cycle of weekday readings (and in the Divine Office), Lent falls into two parts. The first part, including the “pre-Lent” of Ash Wednesday and the rest of that week, runs through to Saturday of Week 3. In these three and a half weeks, the Gospel texts are taken from the Synoptics and the Old Testament readings are chosen accordingly. The message running throughout is a call to a life of Gospel conversion. The pericopes speak of beginning anew, of fast­ing, prayer, and almsgiving; of conversion; of mutual forgiveness; of hardness of heart; of love of enemies; of absolute claims of justice and love over ritual and cult; of the call to holiness, and so forth. (Occasionally, what appears to be salvation history narrative is inter­spersed among these moral texts—a story like the call of Naaman or the workers in the vineyard, for example—but, in this context they are meant to be read as call to conversion rather than as referring to Christ or to the Easter mysteries.)

The readings for the second half of Lent are taken from the Gospel of John, beginning on the Monday of the fourth week of Lent at 4:43 and going through, omitting passages read on Sundays and during Easter, to chapter 13. It is clear that these readings from John do not constitute a kind of “crash course” in the life of Jesus, so much as a presentation of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, of whom John says that all who believe in him will have eternal life. Christ is presented as the healer and life-giver, as the one who gives life through his confrontation with death and gathers into one the scattered children of God.

How do these two sections of the lectionary fit together and what can they tell us about the spirit of Lent? The shift from the “ethi­cal” to the “christological” is no accident. The purpose of the first part of Lent is to bring us to compunction. “Compunction” is etymo­logically related to the verb “to puncture” and suggests the deflation of our inflated egos, a challenge to any self-deceit about the quality of our lives as disciples of Jesus. By hitting us again and again with demands which we not only fail to obey, but which we come to rec­ognize as being quite beyond us, the Gospel passages are meant to trouble us, to confront our illusions about ourselves. “Remember, you are dust…” From this perspective, Lenten penance may be more effective if we fail in our resolutions than if we succeed, for its pur­pose is not to confirm us in our sense of virtue but to bring home to us our radical need of salvation.

It is in answer to this profound awareness of need that the lec­tionary shifts from the Synoptics to John, from the demands of disci­pleship to the person of Jesus. John presents Jesus as the Savior, but Jesus can only save those who know their need for salvation. Confronted with our sickness and powerlessness, we pray for our sal­vation.

Taken from “The Spirit of Lent,” Mark Searle, in Assembly, Volume 8:3. © Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, Notre Dame, IN


“The annual Lenten season is the fitting time to climb the holy mountain of Easter. The Lenten season has a double character, namely to prepare both catechumens and faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery. The catechumens, both with the rite of election and scrutinies, and by catechesis, are prepared for the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation; the faithful, ever more attentive to the word of God and prayer, prepare themselves by penance for the renewal of their baptismal promises” (Ceremonial of Bishops, 249).

  • Lent runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper exclusive on Holy Thursday.
  • Lenten weekdays are not commemorated on Solemnities and Feasts. Ash Wednesday and the days of Holy Week take precedence over all Solemnities and Feasts.
  • Volume II of the Liturgy of the Hours is used from Ash Wednesday through Pentecost Sunday, the close of the Easter season.
  • All Memorials of saints occurring during Lent are observed as optional. Hence, they may be omitted or observed as commemorations (see under Directives, no. 4, Commemorations of Memorials in Privileged Seasons).
  • Alleluia is not sung or said from the beginning of Lent until the Easter Vigil; nor is the Te Deum sung at OR on Sundays of Lent.
  • During Lent the altar should not be decorated with flowers, and musical instruments may be played only to give necessary support to the singing. It would be advisable for those preparing liturgical celebrations to consider the purpose rather than the strict letter of this law as certain musical pieces, for example, may in the local situation indeed foster the spirit of the Lenten Season. On the Fourth Sunday of Lent (“Lmtare”) and on Solemnities and Feasts, musical instruments may be played and the altar decorated with flowers.
  • The presentations of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer normally take place during the week after the first and third scrutinies. For pastoral reasons, they may be held during the period of the catechumenate rather than at the regular times (RCIA, 104-105, 157, 178).
  • If marriages are to take place during Lent, couples are to be reminded that wedding plans should respect the special nature of this liturgical season; they should refrain from too much pomp or display (see Order of Celebrating Matrimony, 32).
  • The Readings for the Lenten masses had been chosen in relation to the themes of baptismal renewal and penance. The Gospels and readings from the Hebrew Scriptures have been selected for their mutual relationship.
  • Beginning Ash Wednesday, Prayers Over the People are provided in the Roman Missal. They are either obligatory or optional, depending on the day. When used, they augment the simple blessing given at the end of Mass.
  • It is fitting that the Lenten season conclude, both for the individual Christian as well as for the whole Christian community, with a communal celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation according to Rite II of the Rite of Penance, so that all may be helped to prepare to celebrate more fully the paschal mystery. Such a celebration should take place before the Easter Triduum, and should not immediately precede the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. However, where there is genuine pastoral need, the sacrament of penance may be celebrated on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and in such situations opportunities for celebrations of reconciliation would be encouraged.
  • Ash Wednesday is a day of universal fast and abstinence in the Church.
  • It is strongly recommended that the tradition of gathering the local Church after the fashion of the Roman “stations” be kept and promoted, especially during Lent and at least in larger towns and cities, in a way best suited to individual places. See under “Lent,” in the Roman Missal.
  • Today, ashes are blessed and imposed after the homily. These ashes are of branches of the olive tree, or, according to custom, of the palm tree or other trees, which have been blessed the previous year. Apart from Mass, a liturgy of the Word precedes the rite of blessing, concluding with general intercessions, the Lord’s Prayer, and a hymn (see BB, nos. 1656­1678). The ordinary minister for the blessing of ashes is a priest or deacon. Others (e.g., extraordinary ministers of holy communion) may assist with the imposition of ashes where there is genuine need, especially for the sick and shut-ins.

PN The two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation are appropriate for use during the season of Lent. Although these Eucharistic Prayers have been provided with proper Prefaces, they may also be used with other Prefaces that refer to penance and conversion as, for example, the Prefaces of Lent.

1873 1933 1933 1937 1948 1965 1970 1972 1988 2014

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What can I do to fast in communion with others?       Prayer is always joined to fasting. Fasting triggers in this season a remembrance to pray for those being brought to the font, to full communion or to reconciliation. Only after we have shared the absence can we come with full hearts to the paschal banquet.Nine things that Pope Francis called upon Vatican Employees to do:They apply to us all…

  • “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”
  • “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention, and love.”
  • “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”
  • “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity, and worldly decadence.”
  • “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”
  • “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”
  • “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred, and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.
  • “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”
  • “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker… the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”

It is a good list: It’s clearly rooted in Catholic teaching, but presented in a way that other Christian denominations can embrace as well. I am reasonably sure that all of us can find on this list at least one or two resolutions that speak to areas in which we really need to grow during this Lent.Have a good week and I’ll see you in church!Monsignor Jack 1-3-5  (Lent 2017)


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An Independence Day Prayer     We pray you, 0 God of might, wisdom, and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to your people, over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.We pray for the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare,that they may be enabled, by your powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.We recommend likewise, to your unbounded mercy, all our fellow citizens throughout the United States, that we may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your most holy law; that we may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.Grant this, we beseech you, 0 Lord of mercy, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.ARCHBISHOP JOHN CARROLLArchbishop Carroll (†1815) was a priest for the Society of Jesus, and the first bishop of the United States.Magnificat, July 2016, pages 62-63.


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The Prophecy Fulfilled before Our Eyes  —         Pierre-Marie Dumont, Who still reads the great French prophets of the 201h century? Who still reads Peguy, Claudel, Bernanos, Saint-Exupery? Each, from his viewpoint, railed against the coming of the same abomi­nation: “their” civilization was dying. While this civilization ought to have been perfected, so that the Kingdom of God on earth could truly grow, all that had constituted its genius was soon to vanish. Materialism, hedonism, self-preoccupation (today it would be called “personal development”) was about to submerge beauty, goodness, and truth, along with the true Faith and the ancient virtues. The sign of the coming of the end of this world was that terrifying metropolises were already reducing rural, pastoral civili­zation to objects fit to fill their museums. Since then, this prophecy has been fulfilled. The fertile ground that nurtured our civilization has gone. Villages have been deserted. Human relationships have been virtualized. Faith and devotion are fading. The moral com­pass that, far from constraining free men, once guided them, has been distorted. The poor, humble and proud, with that magnificent nobility celebrated by Thornton Wilder, have disappeared from the social landscape.. . . .the Word of God would no longer immediately touch hearts and minds. He who, directly or indirectly, has never worked the good earth by the sweat of his brow, never experienced seed times and harvests, never tended sheep or saved a stray lamb, finds himself de facto distanced from the Gospel and its parables. Let us not be saddened: we find ourselves spurred on to deepen our understanding of the Word of God, to improve our prayerful reading of it—and let us not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ remains present to the world even until his return in glory. But why not take advantage of our vacations in the countryside to rediscover, with a touch of nostalgia, a drop of the sap that nourished the fervor of our fathers in faith?    Magnificat, July 2016, page 432. PurpleConeFlower_7(24)2009_IMG_0985


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A Universe in a Grain   —          Anthony Esolen

A MAN SITS HUNCHED OVER A LONG OAK TABLE,              his eyes peering at a flat square of stretched and treated sheepskin before him. Scattered over the table are small pots of colors, the whites of eggs, and some glue rendered from the bones of fish. There are also quills of all sizes, and reeds, some sharp­ened to an almost invisible point. And herbs, berries, petals, stones crushed to powder, tiny flakes of gold and silver, and the oily soot from lamps—lampblack.

“Master,” says a boy coming into the room, “the tide is out and the merchant is on his way. He says to tell you that the mountains have given up their jewels. What does he mean?”

Only at low tide can a man cross on foot from the coast to the holy island.

“Ah, that is good news, good news indeed!” cries the artist, looking up from his work and smiling. He is speckled with colors upon his fingers and wrists and even his face, and though most of it he can wash away at nightfall, he will take a little of it happily to the grave with him. “It means that the lapis has come from India. Now will my Virgin wear her finest blue.”

“What is India?” says the boy, now leaning over the sheepskin. What he sees there is astonishing. Birds, branches, leaves, strange animals, interlacing shapes, in russet, saffron, rose, cornflower, wheaten, so involved, so woven in and among one another in such a bewildering tracery of graceful curves, it seemed that if you straightened them out from a single page you could string them out two miles from the island to the shore and back again.

“India is a land on the other side of the world,” says the man. “The mountains bear a rock called lapis lazuli, as blue as the twilight before the dawn, with sometimes a kiss of clear green in it. I have been waiting a whole year for that color.”

“Will it be heavy, this rock?” asks the boy.

“Heavy?” says Bishop Eadfrith. “No, not heavy. You could hold it in your hand.”


“Master,” asks the boy, “it seems a far distance to travel for something I could hold. Wouldn’t some crushed violets have done as well?”

Eadfrith was pricking out a flourish of red dots that even under a microscope, which of course he did not have, would appear like—a flourish of red dots. “No, not at all, my boy. The violets are dull. The lapis is filled with light.”

“Does God care for things so small?”

“Does he care for you and me? We are to him less than one of these red dots is to us.”

“Then how,” said the boy, now leaning upon the table and laying his head close to the master’s, studying each tiny stroke of the pen, “can God dwell within us?”

“He dwelt in the womb of the Virgin and was no bigger than the tip of this quill.”

“I cannot understand that, Master.”

Eadfrith continued to work, with a patience that seemed outside of time itself. The boy too absorbed the patience, so that whether the answer came in a moment or an hour, he could not tell.

“You are too small to understand it, and so am I.”

“Master,” said the boy, “are the words of God also small, the words that you write on the page?”

“Every jot and tittle,” said the master.


The boy cocked his head and looked back from the page. “These are letters,” he said. “I see it! All these birds and blades of grass and twigs and funny animals make up letters. But I don’t understand. What is an X and a P?”

The bishop laughed. “Oh, those are Greek letters. The Greeks, they lived far away also, sometimes on islands just like our Lindisfarne. The letter is called a chi,” he said, pro­nouncing it like key, “and the other is a rho. They are the first two letters of the name of honor borne by our Lord: Christos. That means He Who Has Been Anointed.”

“Because he was a king?”

“King and priest and Son of God.” “Have you also been anointed, Master?”

“Yes, I have been anointed bishop.” He then turned to a reed with a flat tip, and dipped it into the fish glue, with the lightest touch, then applied it to a flake of gold not a thousandth the part of a snowflake. He smiled but did not take his eyes from the work. “And you have been anointed.”

“I am a bishop?”

“You are a Christian. You are a little Christ. All Christians are.”

“But how can Christ who is the Son of God be in me?” “How indeed,” said the bishop.


The boy gazed upon the manuscript as the bishop worked. They stayed so for a long time, like a father and son in a workshop.

“It is beautiful, Master,” said the boy.

“I am happy that it pleases you.”

“Why do we make the first page so beautiful?”

“I do not understand your question, my son,” said Eadfrith.

“I mean that the words are the words, whether they are decorated or not.”

“Ah yes, the words are the words.” Eadfrith smiled and thought about an argument he had had with a sort of vag­abond monk from the East, who wanted to rub out every image of Christ or Mary he could find. The man’s order had driven him out, and now he wandered around the world like Satan, looking for jobs to spoil.

“Imagine you are bringing good news to a village, that the Danes have been wrecked on the sea, and the peo­ple’s houses and farms will not be burned down, and their womenfolk and children will be safe. Would you bring that news with a frown?”

“No!” said the boy, laughing.

“Would you dress in black,” said Eadfrith, turning from his work with a mock-grimace, “and mumble your news like this,” and he did a wonderful impersonation of a tragedian, groaning.

“I would dress in red and gold, and I’d come in danc­ing!” said the boy.

“So we dress the Good News in red and gold, and come in dancing,” said the bishop.


Suddenly there was a bustle at the door, and in came a big bearded man with a sack over his shoulder. “Greetings, my lord!” he said. “All they from Saba and who knows where shall come bearing gifts.” He put the sack on the floor and loosened the strings, while the boy leaped from his bench and peered inside.

“Oswald my friend, God has brought you back to us safe and sound!” The bishop embraced him, ink and all.

“I have the deep blue lapis, and a kind that I have never seen,” said Oswald, and brought out of the sack what looked like a mass of light green shafts of ice frozen together, their edges and corners glinting. “Will you be able to make use of this, my lord of the quill and the reed?”

“Praise be to God,” said Eadfrith. “Two years have I worked on my Gospels, and now I see the completion drawing near.’ Then he turned to the boy. “Son, these precious stones come from a pagan land, and we will crush the stones and use their light to bring light to the pagans themselves.”

“Even the Danes?”

“The Danes most of all. What Danish king on his throne, surrounded by thanes with their swords adorned in worm forms and monster-forms, will not gaze in wonder at this book for the King of kings? Even if he doesn’t understand the words, the very stones will speak to him—the glory of the world that God has made, and the beauty of the Word that shines in it.”


Bishop Eadfrith (†721) is considered to be the artist who gave to the world perhaps the most remarkable work of book-art ever executed, the Lindisfarne Gospels. The book itself, now in the British Museum, survived an attack by the Danes and being lost in the sea for several days; it is something of a miracle that we still have it. It is perhaps a greater miracle that it was made in the first place. We could learn much from the man whose love brought it to the light.

Christians should take the lead in all of the arts, because we have the consummate artist to imitate and a subject for our art that cannot be surpassed: the God made Man, to raise small and sinful man to the house of God. And why should we be hesitant to call upon the arts in the work of bringing the Good News to an old and weary world? Glorious things of thee are spoken, 0 Sion, city of our God.

(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, January 2018, pages 211-216.


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