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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Third Sunday of Lent

Today is the first of the Lenten scrutinizes for those who are preparing for entrance into the Catholic faith. It is a time of increased public examination by the Lord to test their desire and understanding about the deep cost of discipleship. Candidates are those who are already Christian and want to become Catholic; Catechumen are those who are not yet baptized.

This Sunday’s readings focus on the giving of the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments, and the thrashing of the money changers in the Temple by Jesus. In the Exodus passage, God reminds the Israelites that he is giving them these commandments because it is God who has brought them out of slavery and the Israelites want to offer their gratitude to their redeemer. God simply responds by telling the people what God would like in their relationship. Their faithful response includes honoring God and honoring others.

To the Israelites, honoring God meant being faithful to Temple worship. In this passage of John’s Gospel, we get uncomfortable with Jesus’ angry actions. Intellectually, we know that Jesus thought the merchants and money changers were abusing their privilege for economic gain and making a mockery of simple Temple customs, but emotionally, we do not like to see anyone have any outburst of anger, let alone Jesus.

We often do not see anger to be a positive quality. Many times we are shaped by teachers and parents to learn that if we are a good boy or girl we control our action and do not act on it. Expressing anger somehow becomes wrong, but we are given numerous examples of Jesus’ anger to realize that it is a catalyst for correcting what is out of place in our lives. If we see anger as a positive prompt in our lives, we can learn to express that anger in appropriate ways that can contribute to our emotional well-being and perhaps the common good. Anger is only a surface emotion that leads us to explore our more complex emotions buried deeper beneath the surface. Uncovering those deeper feelings lead us to reveal to ourselves and to others who we really are.

As we reflect upon our the ways we are responding to God this Lent, by keeping God’s commandments, attending Church (our Temple worship), and keeping to our Lenten sacrifices, let us examine the ways Jesus can enter into the temple of our lives and cleanse us of anything that does not nurture our relationship with God and others.

A Rich Liturgical Week

Tuesday is the Memorial of St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, a day of celebration that many New Englanders hold sacred. Patrick was kidnapped and enslaved as a youth, but he escaped and subsequently returned to Britain to become a priest. He was sent by the Pope to Ireland as a missionary and converted many pagans while establishing a local clergy. By the time of his death, Christianity had reached to all parts of Ireland. (His Lorica follows below)

Wednesday is Cryil of Jerusalem, a father and bishop of the Church, who helped shaped the formation of the Nicene Creed we profess today. Cyril is known for his series of Lenten instructions to help those preparing for baptism to enter the Church. Thursday is the feast of Joseph, the husband of Mary. This feast focuses upon the paternal care Joseph gave his Son and the righteous example he gave to his wife, Mary. He is the patron of the universal Church.

Lorica of Saint Patrick

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,through a belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

I arise today Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism, Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial, Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today through the strength of the love of cherubim,In obedience of angels, In service of archangels,In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,In the prayers of patriarchs, In preachings of the apostles,In faiths of confessors, In innocence of virgins,In deeds of righteous men.

I arise todayThrough the strength of heaven; light of the sun,Splendor of fire, Speed of lightning,Swiftness of the wind, Depth of the sea, Stability of the earth, Firmness of the rock.

I arise todayThrough God's strength to pilot me;God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's hosts to save me, From snares of the devil, From temptations of vices, From every one who desires me ill, Afar and anear, Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul, Against incantations of false prophets, Against black laws of pagandom,Against false laws of heretics, Against craft of idolatry, Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul. Christ shield me today Against poison, against burning, Against drowning, against wounding,So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise todayThrough a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,Through a belief in the Threeness,Through a confession of the OnenessOf the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

Novena of Grace to St. Francis Xavier

Thanks to all of you who prayed along with the Jesuits and our colleagues as we spent nine days in prayer for a special intention from March 4-12th. March 12th is the anniversary of the canonization of Sts. Francis and Ignatius.

Conference on Immigration

I am at Georgetown Preparatory School in Washington, DC this weekend participating in an Ignatian Teach In for Justice on Immigration. The program is very well organized and has 250 representatives from many Jesuit high schools and universities. We know that we need to continue to work for justice on these complicated issues especially when the National Anglers (lovers of the sport of fishing) Convention that is also sharing space on the campus has attracted thousands of participants. Nevertheless, our students are preparing their position statements today in preparation for tomorrow’s meetings with their state representatives in Congress to encourage their support.

Please pray for those in our Church who are preparing for the Easter sacraments and are undergoing the scrutinies.

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