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Sanctify the Sunday: Lent IV (22.03.20)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Sanctify the Sunday | ‘If I can’t go to Mass, how can I mark this Sunday?' The Dominican student brothers would like to offer you some guidance on how you can keep the Day of the Lord holy.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work. (Ex 20:8-10)

The second commandment exhorts us to keep the sabbath holy. On this day of rest, we remember God’s covenant with us and render Him due worship and praise. Although the ordinary way of doing this is by attending Sunday Mass, present circumstances have led to the suspension of public services in order to protect the most vulnerable. Nevertheless, the divine commandment to keep the sabbath holy remains. If you are unsure what to do, we would like to accompany you and offer some guidance based on today’s Mass readings.

Please note that we are also live streaming daily Mass at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Getting started

'When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you' (Matthew 6:6).

Find a quiet space where you can leave distractions behind and pray without interruptions. Some people find it easier to prepare by lighting a candle, contemplating sacred art (a crucifix, an icon or other sacred images) or playing some sacred music in the background (see ‘Other Resources’ at the end for suggestions).

Sign of the Cross

We begin by placing ourselves in the presence of the Trinity.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Act of Contrition

We acknowledge that are in need of God’s mercy and ask for His forgiveness.

Have mercy on us, O Lord: For we have sinned against you.

Show us, O Lord, your mercy: And grant us your salvation.

May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


We gather up our prayers with the spirit of the Lenten season and the holy desires of our Mother the Church. After a moment of silence, 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. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


We recommend you read slowly, perhaps going over the texts a few times, and allowing yourself to pause on anything that draws your attention. Remember that meditative reading is another way of listening to the Word of God.


In our Gospel this Sunday, Jesus gives us one of his seven great ‘I am’ sayings, from St John’s Gospel. These sayings recall God’s reply to Moses when asked what name He should be given: “I AM WHO AM”. In today’s Gospel, Jesus presents Himself as God Incarnate, saying “I AM the Light of the World”. As you meditate on these three readings, carry with you this theme that runs through them all: the Word was made flesh, that Word which is the true Light and enlightens all men.

First Reading: 1 Samuel 16.1,6-7,10-13

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, seeing I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
     he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
     he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
    thy rod and thy staff,
    they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil,
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    for ever.

The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.

Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14

Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said,

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ shall give you light.”

Gospel Acclamation: Jn 8:12

Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!

I am the light of the world, says the Lord: whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!

Gospel: John 9:1-41

A Man Born Blind Receives Sight

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, “Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he”; others said, “No, but he is like him.” He said, “I am the man.” They said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was a division among them. So they again said to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight, and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age, ask him.”

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?” And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.


What does this text say to me? How does it relate to my personal situation? If you are accompanied by others, you may want to share the words that have had the most impact on you.

You can also read this homily on today’s readings by a Dominican friar.


We call to mind our more specific prayer intentions and those of the whole church, as we remember our loved ones, and especially those suffering in this time. All our are needs are asked for in the prayer our Lord and Saviour gave us:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Act of Spiritual Communion

St Thomas Aquinas defined Spiritual Communion as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament and lovingly embracing Him as if we had actually received Him.” The Church teaches that if you are in a state of grace and make a Spiritual Communion, you will receive all the fruits of the Sacrament.

My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.


We prepare to close our time of prayer, in gratitude for the graces we have received.

O God, who enlighten everyone who comes into this world, illuminate our hearts, we pray, with the splendour of your grace, that we may always ponder what is worthy and pleasing to your majesty and love you in all sincerity. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, and keep us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Other Resources

Music for today’s Mass

Gregorian Chant



Sacred Art

Further readings

Commentaries on today’s Gospel

Send us your suggestions

We would like to have your feedback. Let us know if you have any suggestions, comments or requests. You can do that here.

Image: The Healing of the Man Born Blind, by El Greco (1541-1614) via Creative CommonsExcerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.



Ben Andradi commented on 22-Mar-2020 11:52 AM
Can you live stream masses from Blackfriars
Anonymous commented on 22-Mar-2020 02:27 PM
This is amazing!! Thank you and God bless you
Anonymous commented on 22-Mar-2020 07:10 PM
Why no reference to live streaming of Mass?
Webmaster commented on 23-Mar-2020 09:38 AM
Live streaming of Mass from Blackfriars is now taking place daily. Please see https://www.bfriars.ox.ac.uk/news/online-streaming-of-mass/

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