Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent, the midway point of our fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. It is also called Laetare Sunday. Laetare means rejoice. Just as Gaudete Sunday in Advent gets its name from the Entrance Antiphon for the Mass that day, so, too, in Lent, Laetare Sunday get its name from the same source. The Entrance Antiphon today is: Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast. The text is taken from Isaiah 66: 10-11.
Today we celebrate the Second Scrutiny with our Elect: Belia and Matheo. We hear the Gospel story of the Man Born Blind. We pray that the Elect may be freed “from the false values that surround and blind them.” Once again we pray ourselves as well: for light in our times of darkness, and for sight, insight, and vision as to how we are to live as faithful and authentic disciples of Christ. As we reflect upon our own baptism, it might be interesting to note that both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Catechism refer to Baptism as “Enlightenment” because the baptized becomes “a son of light” (Ephesians 5:8).
Please note the following: 1) This Sunday is the first of the Vicariate Communal Penance Liturgies at 3:00 PM at Saint Stephen Church. 2) Tuesday, the optional Memorial of Saint Patrick, is the last of the Tuesday Lenten evening Masses (as next Tuesday, we celebrate the second of the Vicariate Communal Penance Liturgies at the Saint Matthew Church Site). 3) The fourth in the series of the Pilgrimage of Prayer takes place this Wednesday at 7:00 PM at Saint John Vianney Church. It is meditative prayer in the form of a musical presentation, Castle of the Soul, by members of Saint Agnes and Saint John Vainney Choirs. The text of the music is based on writings of Saint Teresa of Avila. 4) The Women’s Lenten Evening of Reflection sponsored by the Rosary Altar Society is a week from Thursday beginning with 5:30 PM Mass in Church. Please note that there is further information in today’s bulletin.
Beginning this weekend, there will be sign-up sheets for the Easter Triduum Liturgies on the bulletin board outside the sacristy. I do have a few people that requested to be scheduled thus far, so their names are already included on the list. However, I have several spaces in all areas of liturgical ministry to be filled. So, please, sign up if you are willing to minister on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday. These are the holiest days of the Liturgical Year. I highly encourage you to attend as much of the Triduum as you are able. The schedule is as follows.
EASTER TRIDUUM LITURGIES
Saint John the Baptist Church Site
7:00 PM Mass of the Lord’s Supper
10:30 PM Compline (Night Prayer)
Saint Matthew Church Site
1:00 PM Good Friday Liturgy
Saint Josapaht Church Site
11:00 AM Morning Prayer
with Rites for the Elect
and Blessing of Easter Foods
Saint Josaphat Church Site
8:30 PM Easter Vigil Liturgy
Saint John Paul II Parish Church
9:30 AM Mass
This Thursday, March 19, the Church celebrates the first of two solemnities (the other being March 25) that occur in Lent. It is that of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tell us that “Pious and liturgical devotion to St. Joseph is first recorded with certainty in the seventh century, though reference to him is made in Sacred Scripture and multiple patristic texts earlier than that. A full liturgical Office was established for him on March 19 in the 13th Century, and in 1870 he was proclaimed Patron of the Universal Church. Many church writers and several Popes have written of St. Joseph, including the apostolic exhortation by Pope John Paul II entitled Redemptoris custos (August 15, 1989).” In 1962, Pope John XXIII inserted the name of Joseph into the Roman Canon, the First Eucharistic Prayer. In 2013, Pope Francis decreed which instructed that the name of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, should be inserted into Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV as well. (You may remember that the Installation Mass for Pope Francis took place on March 19, 2013). As a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, the Solemnity of Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary is very special to me; it is our Community Feast Day. Celebrations take place both at Nazareth (Kalamazoo) and at all the other major centers of our congregation on March 19. It is one of the days during the year when we renew our vows. Those of us unable to travel to the centers make it a point to get together for prayer and a meal in our local communities. Several years ago, I was asked to write a hymn to Saint Joseph for our Congregation since we needed something newer and more up to date than what was in the hymnals at the time. Since the late 1990’s that hymn has been used for most of our Saint Joseph Day celebrations. I would like to share with you the text I wrote for the hymn (for which I also wrote a hymn-tune melody and trumpet descant). The song is entitled: We Sing of Great Saint Joseph
We sing of great Saint Joseph,
a humble man of God,
our patron and our model
who teaches us of love.
He was God’s chosen servant
from David’s royal line,
an instrument of salvation
for the sake of humankind.
We sing of Joseph’s faith in God
who spoke to him in dreams
which gave him strength and purpose
to face things yet unseen.
We learn from Joseph’s vision
and marvel at his faith,
his trust in God and his wisdom
and the courage he embraced.
We thank you God for Joseph
who in such quiet ways
accomplished great and mighty works
for which we give you praise.
We pray this holy feast day
you grace and bless us all
that we might be like Saint Joseph,
faithful servants of your call.
Blessings on your Lenten Journey!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ