Lent & Holy Week: March 2013 Archives

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Bless, O Lord, this creation that it may be a means of salvation to the human race, and grant that, by the invocation of Thy Holy Name, it may promote health of body, and the salvation of souls in those who partake of it, through Christ our Lord.

[The Blessing of the Easter Food] is a wonderful tradition in Russia and the Slavic countries. On Holy Saturday and Easter itself, the people bring baskets of food to the church to be blessed....The baskets are filled with colored eggs, butter, salo (fatback, like bacon), different kinds of stuffed rolls, candies and cakes. But above all there is pascha, a specially baked cake, rich in eggs, topped with icing, and decorated with candy crosses or Easter figures. It's the first thing the family eats after the Easter services. The Easter basket is an integral part of the tradition, for in order to observe the feast properly, people fast all very strictly during Holy Week and abstain from all meat.

Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.

With God in Russia

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The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It is also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. Remember this: God judges, loving. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves. Dear brothers and sisters, the word of the Cross is also the answer which Christians offer in the face of evil, the evil that continues to work in us and around us. Christians must respond to evil with good, taking the Cross upon themselves as Jesus did.

Pope Francis

Via Crucis 2013

excerpt of a message

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Eric Gill, Crucifixion and host 1915.

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Lent ends and the sacred Triduum begins with the Mass of Our Lord's Supper, with the rite of Washing of Feet (known also as the Mandatum). In Rome, the Pope offered Mass at the Casal del Marmo, an inner city detention center. In the chapel dedicated to the title of "Father of Mercies," were 40 young detainees gathered around him for Mass, 12 youth, Catholics and non-Christians, 2 of whom were young women and 2 Muslims, had their feet washed by the Pontiff. Concelebrating the Mass were Cardinal Agostino Vallini (the Pope's Vicar for the Diocese of Rome), Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu ('Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretary of State), Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, (Chaplain to the Casal del Marmo, and papal secretary), 2 deacons, one deacon from the Seminario San Carlo (the Seminary of the Fraternity of St Charles Borromeo) and another, Brother Roi Jenkins Albuen, a Capuchin of the "Addolorata" with Father Gaetano Greco.  Also there were two young seminarians from the Roman Seminary with the assistant chaplain, Colombian Father Pedro Acosta.

Pay attention to what the Pope says!!!!   Also, some photos.

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Here's Vatican Radio transcript and translation of the Holy Father's unscripted homily:

"This is moving, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Peter understands nothing. He refuses but Jesus explains to him. Jesus, God did this, and He Himself explains it to the disciples.. 'Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do'.

The contrite heart

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Symeon the New Theologian

The conversion we have entered into this lent, in a full way I hope according to circumstances, likely to be an intense experience this week. Holy Week is a rather unique experience for each of us that works on us, and it is a work in which we have to engage in.

Some years I find myself happy with what has been accomplished, and others, not so. Much of this judgment is based on the awareness of the context in which we find ourselves: health and sickness, wealth and poverty, power and weakness, intellectually sensitive and those living with diseases of the mind. 

Whatever it is that captures our heart, whatever ambit it is that we find ourselves. Dying to self, I have to recognize is not done on my own terms.

"Let us acquire a contrite heart, a soul humbled in mind, and a heart that by means of tears and repentance is pure from every stain and defilement of sin. So shall we too be found worthy in due time quickly to rise to such heights that even hear and now we may see and enjoy the ineffable blessings of the divine light, if not perfectly, at least in part, and to the extent to which we are able. So shall we both unite ourselves to God, and God will be united to us. The to those who come near us we shall become 'light' and 'salt' (cf. Mt. 5:13-14) to their great benefit in Christ Jesus our Lord."

St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses, (Paulist Press, 202-203)

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Spy Wednesday

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Spy Wednesday, Wednesday in Holy Week, is unique as the sacred Liturgy prepares us to pray the sacred Triduum in a more devoted, sincere way. The gospel for today unfolds the drama. Hence, Spy Wednesday a pious way to commemorate and remind ourselves how, why and for what Judas Iscariot's betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver is a learning experience for each of us. The betrayal of Jesus by Judas --a friend of the Lord's, a member of the 12 Apostles, a man responsibility-- continues until today to make us pause and to ask what happened; Judas' tortured ending grieve us.

The mystery of the dramatic events concerning Judas and Jesus shows us the value God places on the gift of free will. The sinfulness of some of our choices are too often motivated by money, power, and fame, the desire to be right on everything, to point fingers without looking deeply within our selves. Consider the various things Pope Francis has said since his election about the devil and his enticements.  In the Liturgy we pray for the grace to have the power of the enemy  driven from us thus attaining the grace of the resurrection.

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We hear of a critical experience of the Lord who enters gloriously into Jerusalem changing once again all of history. Salvation history known in Jesus crucified and risen rides into our lives on the back of a donkey. The King of kings, the Messiah of the world, has made an ass of himself. The gospel reveals something unique about Jesus and the way He uses created things to announce the Kingdom of God.

We want to meet Christ this week. Today, Palm Sunday, we see a donkey the sign of derision. But why is a donkey important to our walking in faith, building up the Church and confessing the Divine Presence, why is this animal critical to our own personal conversion?

Bishop Hugh Gilbert, OSB, bishop of Aberdeen, Scotland, tells us about Christ, the donkey and our willingness to become useful for Christ.

In the procession the people meet Jesus with palm branches, in the passion they slap him in the face and strike his head with a rod. In the one they extol him with praises, in the other they heap insults upon him. In the one they compete to lay their clothes in his path, in the other he is stripped of his own clothes. In the one he is welcomed to Jerusalem as just king and savior, in the other he is thrown out of the city as a criminal...If, then, we want to follow our leader without stumbling through prosperity and through adversity, let us keep our eyes upon him, honored in the procession, undergoing ignominy and suffering in the passion, yet unshakably steadfast in all such changes of fortune.

Blessed Guerric of Igny

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The Holy See Press Office said today that Pope Francis will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper at the juvenile prison 'Casal del Marmo' in Rome. Known as Maundy Thursday is the first of the Three Sacred Days in Holy Week leading to Easter Sunday; this Liturgy is rooted John 13. The Mass of the Lord's Supper, commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood. The Mass on Holy Thursday recalls that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples as an example of love, of service ; the washing of the feet known as the 'mandatum.' 

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as you can note in the picture, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio celebrated Mass in a prison, hospital or hospice for poor and marginalized people. This move from Saint John Lateran to the prison is consistent with Francis' previous pastoral priorities.

On 18 March 2007, Pope Benedict offered Mass in this same prison.

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An English Translation of Cardinal Bergoglio's Lenten Letter 2013

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And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. (Joel 2:13)

Little by little we become accustomed to hearing and seeing, through the mass media, the dark chronicle of contemporary society, presented with an almost perverse elation, and also we become [desensitized] to touching it and feeling it all around us [even] in our own flesh. Drama plays out on the streets, in our neighborhoods, in our homes and -- why not? -- even in our own hearts. We live alongside a violence that kills, that destroys families, that enlivens wars and conflicts in so many countries of the world. We live with envy, hatred, slander, the mundane in our heart.

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On this Fifth Sunday of Lent we approach the Cross of Jesus, the Tree of Life!

Finding Jesus in the temple

Teaching, there the leaders brought

Forth a woman caught in sinning:

Trapping Him was in their thoughts.

Then, instead of giving answers,

Jesus wrote upon the ground.

"Let the sinless start the stoning."

Looking up, no one was found.

"See," the prophet said in gladness,

"God is doing something new!

Cleansing, living waters, flowing

For us all with mercy true."

Each of us has known the wonder

Of forgiveness, full and free

In the mercy we are given

Through the Cross, that wondrous Tree.

Laetare Sunday

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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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Since 1996, Communion and Liberation, an ecclesial movement in the Catholic Church, has organized the Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge. With God's grace, year after year the event has grown -- thirty people became a hundred, two hundred, three hundred, four hundred, a thousand, until, at last year's Good Friday thousands New Yorkers followed the Cross all the way to Ground Zero.


It thus gives me great joy to invite you to participate in this year's Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge to Ground Zero.  The event begins at 10am on Good Friday - March 29, 2013 - at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, 250 Cathedral Place (corner of Jay and Tillary Streets) and it will conclude at 1:30pm so the participants can attend the Good Friday service in their parish.  The cathedral can be reached by taking the A, C, or F train to the Borough Hall Stop in downtown Brooklyn. 


After a station on the Brooklyn Bridge, the procession will follow the cross to a third station at City Hall Park in Manhattan, and a fourth station near Ground Zero. The final station will be at St. Peter's Church on Barclay Street, concluding at 1:30 pm.


At each station, there will be readings from the Passion, a meditation, a reflection and hymns.  All are invited to participate.


For more information, please call Communion and Liberation at (212) 337-3580 or visit the website.

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

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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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Lent & Holy Week category from March 2013.

Lent & Holy Week: February 2013 is the previous archive.

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