Tag Archives: lent

Laetare Sunday

Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.

Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis,et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.

With the Church we pray

O God, who through your Word reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way, grant, we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come.

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In the Mass of Paul VI today’s gospel, if you don’t have catechumens at Mass, is the parable of the Prodigal Son. We know both sons have no clue of who they are persons without the father indicating their moral and human reality. The sons clearly miss the point of their familial sonship. This biblical narrative is heard in the Church as one of the many examples of nature of the Church, especially considering the role of the father. Here we understand the father not only be to biological father of children who need teaching but he stands for the Church who teaches but also reconciles, corrects error but rejoices in a return.


 Saint John Chrysostom teaches, 


There were two brothers (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32): they divided their father’s goods between them and one stayed at home, while the other went away to a foreign country, wasted all he’d been given, and then could not bear the shame of his poverty…The reason the father let him go and did not prevent his departure for a foreign land was that he might learn well by experience what good things are enjoyed by the one who stays at home. For when words would not convince us God often leaves us to learn from the things that happen to us. When the profligate returned…,the father did not remember past injuries but welcomed him with open arms…Are you asking: ‘Is this what he gets for his wickedness?’ Not for his wickedness, but for his return home; not for sin, but for repentance; not for evil, but for being converted.

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Jesus and fig tree: God is patient with our procrastination, with our failure to repent, but not indefinitely

Yesterday in Rome some of the seminarians from the USA received the minor ministry of Acolyte from Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, OP, 68, native of the Bronx, NY, and vice-president of the Pontifical Ecclesia Dei commission. Don’t miss the gardner … he’s important in Jesus’ narrative. Part of DiNoia’s homily is here.


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Our Lord’s examples in today’s Gospel are like this–instances of catastrophes everyone has heard about. He anticipates what his hearers might be thinking: do these events have some religious or moral significance?  Were the Galileans whose blood Pilate mixed with their sacrifices greater sinners than all other Galileans, or were the eighteen people upon whom the tower in Siloam collapsed greater sinners than all the inhabitants of Jerusalem?


His response to the questions he poses is brief and deceptively simple. The lesson to be drawn from these events is most surely not that those who perished were greater sinners than those who survived or were entirely unaffected. Rather it is this: if we do not repent, all of us will perish. In fuller terms the point is that since all of us are sinners, and the end of life can be so unexpected, then there can be no reason to postpone repentance. Nothing is to be gained by procrastination. If we knew that our lives were going to come to an end on such and such a day in the future–say, ten years from now–then we could delay repentance until a safe interval before that date. But we don’t know this. Death will be as unexpected for us as for those who perished in these catastrophes.


Our Lord underscores precisely this point by means of the parable of the fig tree. Though the fig tree has been barren for three years, the owner of the orchard agrees to give it a reprieve: one more year. Likewise, God is patient with our procrastination, with our failure to bear the fruit of true repentance, but not indefinitely so. “With fear and trembling,” says St. Gregory the Great, “should we hear the words…., ‘cut it down‘…. He who will not by correction grow rich unto fruitfulness, falls to that place from whence he is no longer able to rise by repentance.”(Homily 31 on the Gospel of Luke).


But there is a bright side to today’s sobering Lenten message–as it happens something wonderfully apt on this occasion of the Institution of Acolytes. It is to be found in the humble figure of the gardener in the parable of the fig tree. For it is at his suggestion–we might well say his intercession–that the owner of the orchard gives the barren fig tree yet another year. “Let us not then strike suddenly,” says St. Gregory Nazianzen, “but overcome by gentleness, lest we cut down the fig tree still able to bear fruit, which the care perhaps of a skillful dresser will restore” (Oration 32).  Not only does the gardener put in a good word for the fig tree, but he has a plan for improving its chances of bearing fruit in the coming year: to dig around the tree and fertilize it, to give it special care.


The figure of the gardener is easy to miss, but in the rich tradition of patristic commentary on this parable he gets a lot of attention. A particularly significant reading of the parable sees him as representing Christ who implores the Father to allow him to water the tree with his teaching and his sufferings so that it will yield the fruit of repentance and good works.

Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P. 

Third Sunday of Lent: Institution of Acolytes

3 March 2013

Pontifical North American College, Rome

Pope: The Lord is calling me to “climb the mountain”

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This is Pope Benedict’s final Angelus address as the Supreme Pontiff of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Notice the imagery he uses: the climbing the mountain and “once you’ve met Christ, why come down to pain?” The Pope has a new vocation: to live in adoration of Christ.


On the second Sunday of Lent, the liturgy always presents us with the Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The evangelist Luke places particular emphasis on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as he prayed: his is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a sort of spiritual retreat that Jesus lives on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James and John , the three disciples always present in moments of divine manifestation of the Master (Luke 5:10, 8.51, 9.28).


The Lord, who shortly before had foretold his death and resurrection (9:22), offers his disciples a foretaste of his glory. And even in the Transfiguration, as in baptism, we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father, “This is my Son, the Chosen One listen to him” (9:35). The presence of Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, it is highly significant: the whole history of the Alliance is focused on Him, the Christ, who accomplishes a new “exodus” (9:31) , not to the promised land as in the time of Moses, but to Heaven. Peter’s words: “Master, it is good that we are here” (9.33) represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience. St. Augustine says: “[Peter] … on the mountain … had Christ as the food of the soul. Why should he come down to return to the labors and pains, while up there he was full of feelings of holy love for God that inspired in him a holy conduct? “(Sermon 78.3).


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Lenten Reading according the Rule of St Benedict

During this time of Lent each one is to received a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through. These books are to be distributed at the beginning of Lent (RB 48:15, 16)


This portion of the Rule of Saint Benedict gives a real good sense of what monks, nuns, sisters and oblates practice during Lent: they savor the good Word, they taste the wisdom of those seeking God. Reading is very important to Saint Benedict, and to his spiritual children done through the ages. Reading enlivens the imagination and transforms the heart and informs one’s behavior.


Lenten books are distributed to the members of a Benedictine community by the superior usually at “chapter meeting” just before Lent begins. Oblates ought to speak with their Oblate Director or their spiritual director for guidance. In most monasteries and in many of the Oblate programs there is a “Bona Opera” (Good Works) card that is filled out, given to the superior for approval. On the card one would name the book to be read.


To help make the Lenten experience of reading more profitable, Lenten reading may be a community exercise beginning shortly after supper until Compline. Or, you can adjust your schedule accordingly.


Pick a good spiritual book!

Eating alligator in Lent, an archbishop approves

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Just in case you were wondering…

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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