A Reflection on the Trinity and Father’s Day
by Fr. James Doran, OMV
Last week we celebrated an event — Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to give the Apostles the courage to carry out their mission; to forgive sins and to preach.
We have celebrated other events lately; Easter and the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven. But today we celebrate a truth, a Catholic doctrine, that God is three persons, one God. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have one mind, one will and one power. When we baptize, or bless ourselves, we do not say in the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit but in the Name. The Name is singular because the three persons are one God, one power. They are distinct Persons but they are so intimately united that they are never separated. The Father eternally begot the Son. That means the Son has always existed with the Father. It is not as if the Father existed first then the Son came along later. No they are all eternal. And they have loved one another forever. We were created in the image of God. We are able to think, like God. We are able to remember, like God. We are able to love, like God. Today is Father’s day. All fatherhood comes from God the Father. I found something interesting on Father’s day:
From Alveda King’s blog (Her father is Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams King, son of Martin Luther King Sr.) :
“ Daddy gave me my name. Al (after him) Veda (life) Celeste (to get me as close to Heaven as he could he said). The name King spans
generations, from Africa and Ireland, and my mother’s father was part Native American. My Daddy gave me so much during his lifetime, that there isn’t room to tell all. I miss him so much.
My Daddy and Granddaddy saved me from abortion in 1950. My mother Naomi Barber King was a young woman starting her first year in college, and she was approached by the Birth Control League (which later became Planned Parenthood) with literature about “women’s rights.” They were saying that a baby in the womb was a “lump of flesh” and that women didn’t have to stay pregnant if they didn’t want to. Abortion was illegal in those days, so a procedure called DNC was recommended. Mother’s mother, Big Mama Bessie wasn’t buying this, so she took Mother to see my grandfather, Daddy King. Granddaddy told Mother, “Neenie, they are lying to you. This isn’t a lump of flesh, she’s my granddaughter.
My grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., twice said, “No one is going to kill a child of mine.” The first time Daddy King said this was to my mother, who was facing an “inconvenient pregnancy” with me. The next time, I was facing a pregnancy, and told him about it. In both instances, Daddy King said no, and saved his seed.
Tragically, two of his grandchildren had already been aborted when he saved the life of his next great-grandson with this statement. His son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety. “How can the “Dream” survive if we murder our children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. In the hands of the mother is the fate of that child —whether the child lives or dies — a decision given to the mother by Roe v. Wade. That choice, the final choice of whether the child lives or dies, should be left to God, Who ultimately says “choose life!”
Today we don’t celebrate the event that made our dads fathers. We celebrate if they are fathers in truth. We celebrate them if they are truly fathers.
Pentecost and Mary
by Fr. James Doran, OMV
A few years ago, my nephew sent me an email to ask a question: a theological question, a question on Mariology. What could the Holy Spirit do for Our Lady if she was already perfect?
I was reminded of that question as I prepared today’s Mass.
What happened to the Mother of Jesus after He as ascended into Heaven? Acts of the Apostles tells us that the Apostles returned to Jerusalem and devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women and Mary the mother of Jesus and His relatives.
Mary prayed with these men who Her Son had chosen to spread His Word. She prayed that they would receive the Holy Spirit because they were not yet ready to face the world. He did not leave them as orphans.
She knew all about the Holy Spirit since He had already descended upon her at the Annunciation, He overshadowed her and brought about the Incarnation — the conception of Jesus. Since she had already experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit, she could appreciate Him more than anyone. It was the Spirit that made her a mother and Mother of the Savior. Unlike the others who were waiting in fearful expectation, she helped them get ready to receive the Paraclete. It was appropriate that she receive a renewed gift of the Spirit. The first time, she became Mother of Christ. This time she received the gift of spiritual motherhood. The disciples needed her intercession and love.
Mary is the image and model of the Church. Pope St. John Paul wrote that she waited for “Pentecost and implored a multiplicity of gifts for everyone, in accordance with each one’s personality and mission…Just as in the Incarnation the Spirit had formed the physical body of Christ in her virginal womb, in the upper room the same Spirit came down to give life to the Mystical Body” of Christ.
Pentecost is the fruit of the Blessed Virgin’s constant prayer. For this reason, Christians have had recourse to her throughout the ages.
Our Lady passed on to the disciples her memories of the Incarnation, the infancy and the hidden life of Jesus as a precious treasure. She helped to make Him known as nobody else knew Him.
Pope St. John Paul explains; “We have no information about Mary’s activity in the early Church, but we may suppose that after Pentecost her life would have continued to be hidden and discreet, watchful and effective. Since she was enlightened and guided by the Spirit, she exercised a deep influence on the community of the Lord’s disciples.”
So, what did I tell my nephew? Mary was a perfect Mother to her Son Jesus, but she again needed the Spirit’s help to become Our Blessed Mother, the Mother of the Church. He did not leave us as orphans.
On the Holy Spirit
by Fr. James Doran, OMV
When the Father sends His Word, He always sends His Breath.
In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable.
To believe in the Holy Spirit is to profess that the Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the Holy Trinity, consubstantial with the Father and the Son: “with the Father and the Son, He is worshipped and glorified.”
Spirit – ruah (in Hebrew), breath air, wind.
The Holy Spirit sanctifies us, makes us holy, strengthens our friendship with God.
He teaches us how to pray, as St. Paul wrote: “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”
He helps us understand the Scriptures, He gives priests the power to forgive us our sins, “Receive the Holy Spirit, the sins you forgive are forgiven.” Often, in the confessional, I give out a little card with this prayer of St Augustine to the Holy Spirit:
Breathe in me, o Holy Spirit that all my thoughts may be holy. (Ps 104: May the Lord be pleased with my thoughts for only in Him do I find joy.)
Act in me, o Holy Spirit that my work too may be holy. May it be God’s work, God’s Will. I reject Satan and all his works.
Draw my heart o Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy. I do not want to desire anything evil.
Strengthen me o Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy. “You will receive power when the HS comes upon you, and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem to the ends of the earth”.
Guard me then o Holy Spirit that I always may be holy. Be holy, God-like, Christ-like.
He is the comforter but His job it not to make us comfortable. He wants to set us on fire; St. Alphonsus calls Him a happy Fire.
The Feast of Ascension of the Lord
By Fr. James Doran, OMV
What does the feast of the Ascension mean to you?
It means that the risen Jesus, after forty days visiting the disciples, ascended into heaven to take His proper place as the second person of the Blessed Trinity. There, He continues to intercede for us. He is the eternal Priest.
But what does this feast mean to you? Does it make you joyful? Opening prayer: “make us joyful”! Why should you be joyful? Because His victory is our victory. He is the head of the body, the Church. Where the head goes, the body follows. And we are members of His Body as long as we do not separate ourselves from Him by committing mortal sin.
We hope to follow Him into the new creation. His ascension is our glory and our hope! For the first time a man entered heaven! Jesus, true God and true man. We were not created to live forever on earth, but to live forever in heaven. He told His friends that He was going to His Father’s house and that He was going to prepare a place for each of them, and each of us. So that should make us joyful. Think about it. Jesus is preparing a place for you.
“I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you also may be .” “All you peoples, clap your hands, shout to God with shouts of gladness. Sing praise to God sing praise; sing praise to our king, sing praise.” We have more of a reason to be happy than the psalmist.
Love is to desire the best and highest good; and if we love anyone, we wish salvation for that person. That is why Jesus told the disciples to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved!”
Salvation is not automatic. The Gospel must be taught and lived. We might become discouraged at times because we are weak. But we must continue to hope. Why? Because Christ is on our side. Because of His merits, because of His intercession with the Father we are able to attain justice and reach sanctity of life.
The Church may indeed experience difficulties; the Gospel may suffer setbacks, but because Jesus is at the right-hand of the Father the Church will never know defeat. Christ’ victory is ours.
Let us “be deeply conscious of Christ’s victory and triumph over sin and death. Realize that the strength of Christ is greater than our weakness. Try to understand and share the joy that Mary experienced in knowing that her Son had taken His place with the Father.
Let us renew our faith today in the promise of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has gone to prepare a place for us, so that He can come back again and take us to Himself.
On this Sunday’s Communion Antiphon
by Fr. James Doran, OMV
Communion antiphon for the 5th Sunday of Easter: I am the true vine and you are the branches, says the Lord. Whoever remains in Me, and I in him, bears fruit in plenty, Alleluia!
How close can God get to you?
Jesus says He is the grape vine and you are the branch. He wants us to be aware of the intimate connection. The branch gets its nourishment from the vine. And He expects you to produce fruit with that precious Blood.
It is not just a matter of belonging to the Church but living the life of Christ, the life of grace, which is the nourishment which passes on to the believer and enables you to bear fruit.
This image of the vine also helps us to understand the Mystical body of Christ in which all the members are intimately united to the head and thereby united to one another.
Our Blessed Lord describes two situations: those who are still joined to the vine externally but yield no fruit, and those who do yield fruit but could yield more. The epistle of St. James carries the same message when he says that faith alone is not enough.
Faith is the beginning of salvation and without faith we cannot please God, it is also true that a living faith must yield fruit in the form of deeds.
As St. Paul says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love”. It is not enough to be baptized and make your profession of faith externally; you have to share in Christ’s life and cooperate in His work of redemption. “He prunes the one who bears fruit so that it bears more fruit”. In other words, God is not content with half-hearted commitment, so he prunes.
Fr. Cantalamessa has an interesting comment on pruning.
You may know that when you prune a grape vine liquid leaks out and drips.
But why does the vinedresser prune the branch and make the vine “weep,” as is usually said? For a very simple reason: If it is not pruned, the strength of the vine is wasted; it will bear perhaps more bunches than it should, with the consequence that not all will ripen and that the rating of the wine will be lower. If it remains a long time without being pruned, the vine even becomes wild and produces only vine tendrils and wild grapes.
The same happens in our lives. To live is to choose, and to choose is to deny oneself. The person who wants to do too many things in life, or cultivates innumerable interests and hobbies, is dispersed, and will not be outstanding in anything.
One must have the courage to make choices, to put some secondary interests to one side to concentrate on the primary. To prune!
by Fr. James Doran, MV
A good saint to mention on Mother’s Day is St. Gianna Beretta Molla. Born in Italy, 1922, she became a pediatrician, she married had three children. When she was pregnant with her fourth, she was found to have a non-malignant tumor on her uterus. The doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, a complete hysterectomy, or removal of only the tumor. Gianna opted for the removal of the tumor, wanting to save her child’s life. After the operation, complications continued throughout her pregnancy. She told her husband, “This time it will be a difficult delivery, and they may be able to save one or the other – I want them to save my baby.” The baby Gianna Emmanuela was delivered by Caesarean section, but Gianna died of septic peritonitis 7 days later, April 28, 1962. At her canonization, at which were present her husband and children, Pope Saint John Paul called her “a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love.”
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Last month an essay by Emeritus Pope Benedict was published. He wrote about the crisis in the Church and how to respond.
“The power of evil arises from our refusal to love God. He who entrusts himself to the love of God is redeemed. Our being not redeemed is a consequence of our inability to love God. Learning to love God is therefore the path of human redemption.” Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He teaches us to love God. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” What is Eternal Life? In the Nicean Creed we pray …I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
In the Apostles’ Creed we say ‘I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen. What do we mean by ‘life everlasting’? The Catechism says; By life everlasting we mean that there will be another existence after this present life. Who are rewarded in Heaven? Those are rewarded in heaven who die in the state of grace and have been purified in purgatory, if necessary, from all venial sin and all debt of temporal punishment; they will see God face to face and share forever in His glory and happiness. The greatest joy in Heaven is the BEATIFIC VISION. This is the sight of God. The word beatific means blissfully happy. Rapturous, joyful, ecstatic. This seeing God is called beatific because it completely fills with joy those who experience it.
The great Dominican Father, Garrigou-Lagrange wrote; They know and love God to their utmost capacity and are known and loved by God in return. The Beatific Vision will satisfy completely and supremely all our desires. This what Jesus, the Good Shepherd wants to lead us to. Having God, we shall never wish for anything else.
The May Magnificat
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
MAY is Mary’s month, and I Candlemas, Lady Day; Is it only its being brighter Ask of her, the mighty mother: Flesh and fleece, fur and feather, Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin All things rising, all things sizing Their magnifying of each its kind Well but there was more than this: When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple And azuring-over greybell makes This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season—
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunest
And flowers finds soonest?
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?—
Growth in every thing—
Grass and greenworld all together;
Throstle above her nested
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.
Mary sees, sympathizing
With that world of good,
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.
Spring’s universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfèd cherry
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all—
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.
MAY is Mary’s month, and I
Candlemas, Lady Day;
Is it only its being brighter
Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
All things rising, all things sizing
Their magnifying of each its kind
Well but there was more than this:
And azuring-over greybell makes
This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Christ’s Easter Gift to Humanity
by Fr. James Doran, OMV
“Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to Divine Mercy.” Jesus said that to Sr. Faustina.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus makes His Apostles ministers of Divine Mercy. After showing them His hands, feet and side, He tells them: As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21) Then He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. The sins you forgive are forgiven . The sins you retain are retained. Pope St. JP said this gift of forgiving sins flows from the wounds in His hands and feet and especially from His side. From there a wave of mercy is poured out over all humanity. Remember that scene in The Passion of the Christ when the soldier thrusts the lance into His side? Blood and Water showers — drenches the soldier. There’s a statue of the soldier, St. Longinus, at St. Peter’s basilica.
Our Lord appeared to Sr. Faustina and asked her to have a painting done of Himself as He appeared to her; with two rays of light coming from His Heart which represent the Blood and Water.(Diary, p. 132). The Blood recalls the sacrifice at Calvary and the mystery of the Eucharist; the
Water, according the rich symbolism of St. John the Evangelist, makes us think of Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
Our Lord told Sr. Faustina to put a short but powerful prayer at His feet; “Jesus, I trust in You.”
We must cultivate the strong conviction that He truly seeks to alleviate our suffering. He did not die on the cross to let us fall into Hell. We could end up in Hell only if we choose to by refusing conversion.
In his encyclical on Divine Mercy, the Holy Father describes mercy as love:
This love is able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and “restored to value.” The father first and foremost expresses to him his joy that he has been “found again” and that he has “returned to life. This joy indicates a good that has remained intact: even if he is a prodigal, a son does not cease to be truly his father’s son; it also indicates a good that has been found again, which in the case of the prodigal son was his return to the truth about himself.
Conversion is the most concrete expression of the working of love and of the presence of mercy in the human world. My efforts to convert are the most concrete expression of my love for Divine Mercy, which is not just an attitude but a Person. And that Person is Jesus. He is infinite. Mercy, as a perfection of the infinite God, is also infinite. Also, infinite therefore and inexhaustible is the Father’s readiness to receive the prodigal children who return to His home. Infinite are the readiness and power of forgiveness which flow continually from the marvelous value of the sacrifice of the Son. No human sin can prevail over this power or even limit it. On the part of man only a lack of good will can limit it, a lack of readiness to be converted and to repent, in other words persistence in obstinacy, opposing grace and truth, especially in the face of the witness of the cross and resurrection of Christ.
by Fr. Jim Doran, OMV
The timid became courageous. Remember Joseph of Arimathea? He was a disciple of Jesus but in secret, for fear of the Jews. Then there was Nicodemus, the man who at first came to Jesus at night because he did not wish to be seen.
Well. these men who were previously fearful now boldly confess themselves as Disciples of Christ, not only with words but with action. They attend to His body with exquisite refinement and generosity. Joseph of Arimathea got permission from Pilate to collect the body. That had to take guts. He might have been killed on the spot by the Romans or the Jews. But he did it.
And Nicodemus did us a big favor. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds of it.
Myrrh is a very expensive aromatic resin and aloe juice is extracted from the leaves of the aloe plant. They were used in the expression of veneration for the dead.
The Navarre Bible commentary says, “After piously taking our Lord’s body down from the cross, they…perfumed it and wrapped it in a linen cloth, covering the head with a sudarium or napkin. But because of the Sabbath rest, they were unable to anoint the body with balsam, which the women planned to do once the Sabbath rest was past.”
Jesus, in fact, praised Mary, sister of Lazarus for anointing him at Bethany and foretold in a veiled way that his body would not be embalmed. There would not be time. This detail of the myrrh is important. It would make the linens stick to the body.
When she discovered the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene said, “they have taken the Lord away and we don’t know where they have put Him.” Peter and John came running, noticed the linens and knew that no thief had done this. If thieves had taken Him, they would not have bothered to pull the linens off Him. That would have been too much trouble in a hurry and in the dark.
They would not take the trouble to roll up the head cloth and put it in a place by itself. They would have taken Him away as He was. Remember when Lazarus was dead in the tomb, Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come forth”? The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages. And his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said, “untie him and let him go.” Lazarus couldn’t do it by himself.
The disciples saw and believed. Remember that they did not yet understand the Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.
St. Augustin says, “The Apostles had heard Jesus predict his death and Resurrection time and again, but they were so accustomed to hear parables from Him, that they took this for a parable and thought He meant something else.”
Now it dawns on John. Jesus really rose from the dead. He must have felt a comforting presence then, knowing that Jesus was not dead. The disciples did not look for Him; they went back to their homes. Jesus is in control of the situation. He will come and find us.
Mary Magdalene kept searching and weeping. And Jesus met her and consoled her.
He comes to us, too, in the Sacraments. Our Savior promised, “He who eats my Body and drinks My Blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.” Jn 6:54
I conclude with a quote from Saint Pius X. He wrote in his catechism “just as Jesus Christ through His resurrection began a new and immortal and heavenly life, so must we begin a new life according to the Spirit, once and for all renouncing sin and everything that leads us to sin, loving only God and everything that leads to God.”
Good Friday — Mother Mary
by Fr. James Doran, OMV
It is a terrible thing for a parent to watch their own child die. I saw it. I saw how my mother grieved as my 24-year-old brother languished and died. We priests see it very often in our work.
As Jesus hung there, He knew that His Mother was undergoing unspeakable anguish as she watched His life blood flowing away. The extent to which Mary was suffering must have been more painful to Him than His wounds.
We have four accounts of the way Jesus died. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each wrote about the Crucifixion, but only one of them tells us that Jesus was concerned about His Mother. Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that the sky got dark and that there was an earthquake; but John tells us that Jesus, seeing His Mother and the beloved disciple standing nearby, said to His Mother, “Woman, behold your son” and to the disciple He said, “Behold your Mother.”
Of all the Christians, all the followers of Jesus, the most favored are those who receive His Mother. By giving us His Mother to be our Mother, He demonstrates His love for His own to the end. As we heard in yesterday’s Gospel, “He loved His own in the world and He loved them to the end.” He had already given His Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament. His Mother was all He had left to give. Jesus enjoyed Mary’s maternal love during His 33 years and He wanted His disciples to share in this love because Mary brings us to Jesus. She teaches us docility and humility. She teaches us how to love and follow her Son.
Venerable John Paul II wrote: Since the disciple takes the place of Jesus in regard to Mary, he is invited to love her as if she were truly his own mother. It is as if Jesus were saying to him, “Love her as I have loved her.”
“From that hour the disciple took her into his home.” So, John took care of her and so must every disciple of Jesus have a place for the Mother of Jesus in their hearts.
May we all appreciate this great gift which Christ Crucified gave to us by leaving His own Mother as our Mother. That was our Lord’s dying wish.
A Reflection on the Gospel of the Woman Taken in Adultery
by Fr. James Doran, OMV
“Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They wanted to trap our Lord. Dt 22:22 says: If a man is discovered lying with a woman who is married to another, they both shall die, the man who was lying with the woman as well as the woman. Thus shall you purge the evil from Israel. In light of this text, they want Jesus’ opinion.
If Jesus says to let her go. He would be accused of breaking the Law of Moses. If He says to go ahead and stone her, He would be arrested for violating the Roman Law. Only the Romans could put someone to death. His enemies think they have Him trapped.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. Does Jesus do this to show indifference? Perhaps He is fulfilling Jeremiah 17:13: O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake thee shall be put to shame; those who turn away from thee shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water. Perhaps He is writing the names of those men who have turned away from Him the Fountain of Living Water. he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again, he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, …
There is no accuser left to condemn her. He has no sin but according to the Law one person cannot condemn someone to death. Our Lord has created a situation so she cannot be condemned to death. He does not break the Law. He gives her another chance, as He does for us every time we confess. “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
[L]ook at the way our Lord’s answer upheld justice without forgoing clemency. He was not caught in the scare his enemies had laid for him; it is they themselves who were caught in it. He did not say the woman should not be stoned, for then it would look as though he were opposing the law. But he had no intention of saying: ‘Let her be stoned’, because he came not to destroy those he found but to seek those who were lost. Mark his reply. It contains justice, clemency, and truth in full measure… What is this, Lord, are you giving approval to immorality? Not at all. Take note of what follows: “Go and sin no more.” You see then that the Lord does indeed pass sentence but it is sin he condemns, not people. One who would have approved of immorality would have said: ‘Neither will I condemn you. Go and live as you please; you can be sure that I will acquit you. However much you sin, I will release you from all penalty, and from the tortures of hell and the underworld’. He did not say that. He said: ‘Neither will I condemn you’: you need have no fear of the past, but beware of what you do in the future. ‘Neither will I condemn you’: I have blotted out what you have done; now observe what I have commanded, in order to obtain what I have promised. — Augustine, Homilies on the Gospel of John, 33.6-7
A Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Lent
by Fr. James Doran, OMV
The 4th Sunday of Lent is called “Laetare” due to the Gregorian antiphon of the Introit of the Mass taken from the book of the Prophet Isaiah:
Lætare, Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum lætitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestræ.
Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia says: Strictly speaking, the Thursday before Laetare Sunday is the middle day of Lent, and it was at one time observed as such, but afterwards the special signs of joy permitted on this day, intended to encourage the faithful in their course through the season of penance, were transferred to the Sunday following. They consist of (like those of Gaudete Sunday in Advent) the use of flowers on the altar of the organ at Mass and Vespers; rose-colored vestments are also allowed instead of purple.
The collect for Laetare Sunday: 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. Through our Lord Jesus Christ…
The Solemnity of the Annunciation – March 25, 2019
by Fr. James Doran, OMV
She says “Fiat.” We say “Amen.”
Pope St. John Paul makes an interesting comparison between Our Blessed Lady’s FIAT and our AMEN. The Angel Gabriel explained God’s plan and invited Mary to accept. She replied, “Fiat” (“Let it be dome according to your word”). Almighty God wanted to come into Mary’s body and soul, and she said “Fiat”.
During the Eucharistic prayer, we hear Jesus’ invitation: Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you. At Communion time, the priest elevates the Sacred Host and proclaims, “The Body of Christ.” And the recipient responds, “Amen.” (“So be it.” “I accept.” “I believe.”)
We can imagine that after the Angel left her, Mary, knowing that the Son of God dwelt in her, newly conceived, must have felt a profound sense of gratitude. She must have felt enveloped in the Divine Presence. And so should we express profound gratitude and be attentive to Whom we have just received in body and soul.
There are many prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion to help us if we need it, like St. Thomas Aquinas’ Adoro Te Devote. The translation, by Fr. Gerard M. Hopkins:
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.
On the cross Thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here Thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.
I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.
O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.
Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what Thy bosom ran
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.
Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with Thy glory’s sight. Amen.
Pope St. John Paul:
In a certain sense, Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God’s Word. The Eucharist, while commemorating the passion and resurrection, is also in continuity with the incarnation. At the Annunciation, Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord’s body and blood.
As a result, there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived “through the Holy Spirit” was “the Son of God” (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin’s faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.