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Sanctify the Sunday: Lent V (29.03.20)

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Sanctify the Sunday | There are now abundant resources available online to mark the Sunday via live-streamed Masses. However, if you prefer to pray at your own pace, the student brothers would like to offer you some guidance on how to meditate on this Sunday's Mass propers and readings.

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.

There are now abundant resources available online to follow lived streamed Masses. However if you prefer to pray at your own pace, we would like to offer you the following guidance to meditate on today's Mass propers and readings.


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.


Collect

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.


Readings

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.


First Reading: Ezekiel 37.12-14

Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel.  And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done it, says the Lord.”


Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 130

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord!
    Lord, hear my voice!
Let thy ears be attentive
    to the voice of my supplications!

If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities,
    Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with thee,
    that thou mayest be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
    from all his iniquities.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.


Second Reading: Romans 8.8-11 

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.


Gospel: John 11.1-45

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if any one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odour, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him.

Response

What do these texts say to me? How do they 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 reflection from Torch by one of our friars or watch today's homily preached at Blackfriars, Oxford:


Prayers

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.


Conclusion

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

Plainchant

Polyphony

Hymns


Sacred Art (on the Raising of Lazarus)


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 Raising of Lazarus, by Giotto (1267-1337) via WikimediaCommonsExcerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

Comments

Anonymous commented on 29-Mar-2020 11:47 AM
Thank you for this. An excellent resource to help with prayer .
Sr Mary Rose commented on 29-Mar-2020 12:05 PM
Thank you will you be preparing something in the same way for Holy week
Szymon commented on 29-Mar-2020 01:59 PM
Dear brothers,

Thank you so much for preparing this for us! It's very helpful.

I must say that I feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of online Catholic resources available at the moment. Instead of streaming another mass, I decided to give it ago and pray by myself. I made a playlist of the plain chants you suggested and played it on loop. I meditated on the art (Giotto was my fave) and went through the readings, meditating on the passages that grasped my attention. Without even realising the entire hour had passed before I finished!

Looking forward to another prayerful Sunday. God bless you all, stay safe!
Szymon commented on 30-Mar-2020 08:06 AM
Dear brothers,

Thank you so much for preparing this for us! It's very helpful.

I must say that I feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of online activities at the moment in general and sometimes have issues streaming a mass, so I decided to give it a go and pray by myself at my pace. I made a playlist of the plain chants you suggested and played it on loop. I meditated on the art (Giotto was my favourite!) and went through the readings, meditating on the passages that grasped my attention. Without even realising the entire hour had passed before I finished!

Looking forward to another prayerful Sunday. God bless you all, stay safe!
Alex commented on 05-Apr-2020 01:31 PM
Thank you so much for this, and everything about your site and what you do. It’s an amazing source of help for me.

Right now, I’m ‘in between’.... never baptised, born Jewish, raised secularly in a part of Glasgow which was predominantly Protestant. I’m in my 60s, widowed, lot of healthissues(including stroke and agoraphobia)and no family or friends. I’m learning as much as I can about Catholic beliefs and practices, and am very drawn to it.

Th3 particular th8ng Iwish To ask you today is this -

“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.”

I don’t know what being in a state of grace is, but am thinking it means baptised, which I’m Not. So, am I therefore not ina state of grace, and not able to receive Spiritual Communion?

Best wishes
Alex
Br John commented on 08-Apr-2020 11:54 AM
Hi Alex,

Thank you for getting in touch and I’m very glad you’ve found some of these blogposts a support. It’s a good question you’ve asked. In short, the fruits of spiritual communion build upon the fruits of receiving the sacrament ordinarily, which is reserved for baptised Catholics, and so you’re right that as you are not baptised you aren’t able to receive the full fruits of the sacrament. That being said, the words of St Thomas that you quote show why it is still a worthwhile practice for anyone: spiritual communion is fundamentally an act of generating a desire to be more intimately united to Christ, an opening of one’s heart to him. So, for someone in your position, forming that desire is a means of deepening your relationship with Christ and potentially a step towards full communion with Him. Also, an incipient desire for baptism, evident in one wishing to make an act of spiritual communion, it itself a sign of the workings of God's grace in the soul.

There’s plenty more to say on this, and you may have more questions, so please do get in contact if you would like to discuss further. The easiest would be to email me on john.church@english.op.org.

Keeping you in my prayers, especially during these days of Holy Week.
Br John

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