- Catholicity and website free and more during CoVid-19 (Catholic Website Classic of the Week)
- Extra Words and Blessings from Pope Francis (Diocesan News and BEYOND)
- Living and Loving Others (Helpful Hints for Life)
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son, as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones, the protection of your holy angels, that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind. Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother, health of the sick and cause of our joy.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection, keep us in the embrace of your arms, help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
“Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy you that have been in sorrow:
that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.
I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord."
-Isaiah 66:10-11; Psalm 121:1
Sometimes in life we have long projects or difficult journeys to complete. Some view the season of Lent this way. So the Church helps us and encourages us at such times.
One way the Church does this is by marking the middle of a journey or when it is over half-way completed, and this is the case with Lent. Generally, Lent is a subdued time with focus and work on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Music is less during the Masses of Lent, and the organ is recommended not to be used at all. Longer readings of Sacred Scripture and silence tends to play a big part in the Mass. Flowers are not used to adorn the altar. But all this is lessened with Laetare Sunday.
The Thursday before Laetare Sunday (read more below) is actually 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 Lent, were transferred to the Sunday following this Thursday. These special signs of joy consist (like those of Gaudete Sunday in Advent [3rd Sunday of Advent]) in the use of flowers on the altar, and of the organ at Mass; rose-colored vestments (NOT pink :o) ) are allowed instead of purple. The contrast between Laetare and the other Sundays of Lent is thus emphasized, and is characteristic of the joys of this life, restrained rejoicing mingled with a certain amount of sadness.
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This Sunday is Laetare Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent. >> Readings
Homily from the Second Sunday of Lent are found below, click with your mouse pointer on the blue lines below (10 minutes):
- the fourth Sunday of Lent marking that Lent is over half way completed;
Rose-colored vestments may be worn, flowers are permitted and organ played (Laetare – Latin meaning “Rejoice” comes from the opening of the Mass "Laetare Jerusalem…" -- "Rejoice, O Jerusalem…")
Gaudete Sunday (from Latin gaudete “(you all) Rejoice!”)
- the Third Sunday of Advent marking with subdued joy that we are over half way in our waiting for Christmas; Rose-colored vestments may be worn while the rose candle is lit on the Advent wreath (Gaudete comes from the opening of the Mass: Gaudete in Domino simper…–“Rejoice in the Lord always…”)
Living and Loving Others
Never take a "You did", "You said", "You always", and "You never" approach to any discussion with someone you know. Use non-threatening language, and voice tones that bring forth the spirit of cooperation and trust you should have with another especially if you profess to love that person.
“This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:
We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church #2174
Here is a website for the modern Roman Catholic. First, many free things; second, great news and commentary; third, great Catholic resources for most any topic; and finally it was started by as average a Catholic Joe as there ever was. Site describes itself as having:
· Swift and Effortless Online Ordering
· Free Rapid Delivery to Your Doorstep
· The Finest Catholic CDs, Tapes, and Novels
· Parish-Friendly Catholic Resources
· Superb & Innovative News and Commentary
Following is a reminder on where to find a televised Mass:
Daily Mass with Word on Fire from Bishop Robert Barron’s Chapel
Daily Mass from Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, MN
Sunday Masses for the homebound telecast from the Archdiocese of St. Louis (includes listings for both antenna and cable television, radio and online)
Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville - English and Spanish Masses available beginning March 22, 2020
EWTN: https://www.ewtn.com/tv/channel-finder (English)
Catholic TV: https://www.catholictv.org
If someone would like to begin the practice of daily prayer, there is an app that provides a new prayer session every day produced by Jesuit Ministries and is based on Ignatian Spirituality. https://pray-as-you-go.org/
Other resources for daily prayer:
“Give Us This Day” is providing free access to their digital edition and their mobile app. For more information go tohttps://offers.giveusthisday.org/free-resources
Family and Youth Resources
Loyola Press is offering free resources to families on faith, family and fun. They are also providing a resource to help teachers, catechists and parents explain COVID-19 to their children.
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain / Pixabay, Public DomainThe Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary announced an opportunity for a plenary indulgence during the current coronavirus pandemic.
According to the decree, “the gift of special Indulgences is granted to the faithful suffering from COVID-19 disease, commonly known as Coronavirus, as well as to health care workers, family members, and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them.”
A Plenary indulgence removes all temporal punishment due to sin, but one must have “a spirit detached from any sin” for it to completely apply.
The faithful who qualify for a plenary indulgence during the coronavirus pandemic:
- Those suffering from the coronavirus illness
- Those ordered to quarantine themselves due to the virus
- Health care workers, family members, and others caring for those with the coronavirus (exposing themselves to contagion)
Do at least one of the following:
- Unite yourself spiritually through the media in the celebration of the Holy Mass
- Recite the Rosary
- Pious practice of the Way of the Cross (or other forms of devotion)
- Recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and “a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters.”
Also must perform all of the following as soon as possible: (considered the three usual conditions for a plenary indulgence)
- Sacramental Confession
- Eucharistic communion
- Pray for the Pope’s intentions
The faithful not suffering from the coronavirus can:
“Implore the Almighty God for the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted, and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.”
In addition to the usual conditions mentioned above for a plenary indulgence, do at least one of the following:
- Visit the Blessed Sacrament or go to Eucharistic adoration
- Read the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour
- Recite Holy Rosary
- Pious exercise of the Way of the Cross
- Recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Plenary indulgence for those unable to receive Anointing of the Sick:
The decree adds that “the Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended.”
Pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic and all suffering from the coronavirus!
SDG Reviews ‘Unplanned’: The Abby Johnson Story
Pure Flix’s adaptation of the Planned Parenthood clinic director-turned-pro-life activist makes for a rousing conversion story for the pro-life faithful that’s not entirely without a challenge to the movement.
Steven D. GreydanusBased on the memoir by Planned Parenthood clinic director-turned-pro-life activist Abby Johnson, Unplanned opens on the crucial Saturday in September 2009 when, per Johnson’s conversion story, Abby (Ashley Bratcher, War Room) is asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion and witnesses the image of a 13-week-old unborn child squirming in an apparent effort to avoid the vacuum cannula that proceeds to dismember its body piece by piece.
The extended flashback that follows over the next hour or so includes a number of other disturbing abortion incidents from Abby’s life and career, including two of her own. One of hers goes badly wrong, as does one at the Bryan, Texas, facility where she works. Unplannedisn’t the most disturbing treatment of abortion I’ve seen in film, but it’s queasy enough, which is the intent.
The most horrific abortion-themed film I’ve ever seen would be Cristian Mungiu’s 2007 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which is about an illegal abortion in 1980s Romania.
Mungiu’s film took no position for or against abortion, but viewers on both sides of the abortion debate found in it at least some support for their own views — a token, I think, of the film’s trueness to life.
Abortion advocates saw in the nightmare circumstances entangling two young women a scathing indictment of the Romanian anti-abortion laws, making desperate women vulnerable to predatory black-market abortion providers.
For pro-lifers, the human dignity of unborn life was attested in the film’s attention to the fate of the fetus, from the unflinching shot of the tiny face and ruined body lying on a tile floor amid bloody towels to the mother’s urgent need to see her baby buried rather than disposed as waste, and the guilt and grief when this doesn’t happen.
Although the abortions in Unplanned are legal, an illicit back-alley aura hangs over a horrible scene in which a sedated young woman (Bella Altamura) in the recovery room begins bleeding out from a perforated uterus, leading to a panicky, prolonged effort to stabilize her without the PR hit of summoning an ambulance. Compounding the queasiness, Abby is forced to tell reassuring lies to the worried father in the waiting room.
Another scene includes a close-up on translucent fetal remains that Abby examines with detached fascination in the the POC room, where dismembered body parts are reassembled to ensure that nothing has been left in the uterus. POC stands for “products of conception,” though one of the other employees morbidly jokes that it really stands for “pieces of children.”
Johnson’s story is dramatic and powerful. The writing-directing team of Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon (whose previous collaborations include the screenplays for Pure Flix’s God’s Not Dead movies) capture at least some of that drama and power, with one crucial caveat.
From the very beginning, Unplanned is crafted specifically for Pure Flix’s target audience, an audience that is already pro-life. This is a regular issue with faith-based films, including the recent abortion-themed Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer — though Gosnelltook a somewhat broader approach by emphasizing the consequences of treating abortion as politically untouchable and even unregulatable.
Before the first image appears onscreen, Abby addresses the audience in a voice-over running through the whole film: “My story isn’t an easy one to hear. I think I probably ought to warn you about that.”
As Abby arrives at the facility, the voice-over continues, “I’ve been asked a thousand times: Were you so gullible? So ambivalent, so naive, so foolish … ? My answer? Yes. I often find people don’t like my answers. That’s understandable. Because my story isn’t a neat and tidy one.”
That tone establishes Unplanned as a kind of cinematic personal testimony, told from Johnson’s post-conversion point of view, rather than the journey of a character whose shifting point of view we follow as she becomes increasingly committed to her Planned Parenthood career before starting to become more conflicted.
That story, told without voice-over and without the promise of Abby’s tears of repentance in the opening scene, might be a more effective drama for viewers of any point of view, but perhaps it would have been felt to be too alienating for the Pure Flix audience.
By starting at the end of Abby’s career and then flashing back with voice-over providing Abby’s post-conversion perspective, the film anchors the story in the destination.
To its credit, Unplanned isn’t entirely without challenge to pro-life viewers.
When Abby first shows up at Planned Parenthood to act as an escort accompanying clients from their cars to the door, the small knot of protesters outside the gate includes a black-robed Grim Reaper waving a scythe.
Another escort instructs Abby to engage clients as soon as they arrive on any topic — the weather, her clothes — anything “to distract her from the voices through the fence. They’re going to be harassing her. You need to make sure yours is the voice she hears.”
These aren’t idle words. When the first client arrives, a heavyset, middle-aged man with a gray goatee and sunglasses spits despicable taunts through the fence at her and the escorts coming to assist her.
Later, when a chipper young woman named Marilisa (Emma Elle Roberts) from the Coalition for Life tries to engage Abby, Abby incredulously accosts her: “In what world would a woman run to someone dressed as the Grim Reaper for help with her crisis pregnancy?”
Such tactics don’t help, Marilisa agrees candidly, adding that those people weren’t with the Coalition for Life.
Much later, the story breaks of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, who gained notoriety for specializing in late-term abortions.
Tiller’s murder deeply affects Abby, who notes that he had a family, and she is especially appalled that he was killed in church. We see, too, that this leads to concern for Abby’s own safety, as well as that of her family and staff.
The film doesn’t include the death threats and other harassment that Abby herself received from anti-abortion activists. Still, I appreciate Unplanned going as far as it does in acknowledging that, as appalling as abortion is, anti-abortion zeal can take grotesque and even occasionally violent forms.
Imagine a version of this story that dared to open with the start of Abby’s first day — in which, rather than Abby’s opening statement, the first thing we heard was the taunts of the goateed man and the first image was the Grim Reaper with his scythe. An opening like that would signal trust in the audience and in the power of the story to convey the message without handholding.
But that’s not the kind of movie Pure Flix appears to be interested in making. Judged for what it is, a rousing personal testimony of conversion addressed to the pro-life faithful, Unplanneddelivers.
Camerawork and editing are solid, with attention to camera movements carried across shots and scene transitions to facilitate a sense of narrative flow. I’ve seen the film twice, once on the big screen (in a nearly finished cut) and once via screening link, and it’s among the better constructed faith-based films I’ve seen.
As with Gosnell, the film’s most notable display of technique is connected to its central concern. When Abby wakes up on a table after her first abortion, the camera pushes into a tight close-up and comes into focus to convey her disorientation — and it’s turned sideways so that her face in profile appears upright in a sideways room.
Then, as she tries to sit up, there’s a graphic match cut to the recovery room, where she really is upright in a chair, her head slumping forward to follow the movement from the previous shot. It’s good filmmaking (and it plays even better without the soundtrack, told visually without voice-over explanation).
There are other small virtues. Most of the Planned Parenthood staff seem likable and decent, aside from the occasional cheerful callousness of acerbic Renee (Tina Toner).
The weight of villainy falls solidly on Abby’s boss and mentor, Cheryl (Robia Scott). When Abby, to Cheryl’s open disapproval, decides that with her third pregnancy she’s finally ready for a child, Cheryl sneers that at least the sight of Abby’s baby bump will encourage clients to abort.
Cheryl mentors Abby like a predator grooming a victim, but without the subtlety. When Abby steps out of line and Cheryl turns on her, she becomes even more cartoonishly villainous.
Marilisa and her husband, Shawn Carney (Jared Lotz), who run the Coalition for Life, are entirely angelic. (Carney is now the head of 40 Days for Life.)
Abby’s easygoing husband, Doug (Brooks Ryan), and her pro-life parents (Robert Thomason and Robin DeMarco) are also saintly, and they love Abby unconditionally through all her years at Planned Parenthood. The lack of family conflict is really extraordinary. Oh, and little Andee Grace Burton is Hallmark-movie cherubic as Abby and Doug’s daughter Grace.
“My story isn’t a neat and tidy one,” Abby tells us at the start, but this telling is still pretty neat and tidy. Perhaps the real story was messier. Questions have been raised about the accuracy of some details of Johnson’s account of her departure from Planned Parenthood. Some details of the film may be couched to address such questions. At any rate, the film is at least somewhat fictionalized and can be watched for what it is.
One thing missing from Unplanned is a concrete depiction of the Coalition for Life’s expressed interest in offering help to pregnant women in crisis. Marilisa and later Abby herself offer caring and reassuring words to distraught women in the Planned Parenthood parking lot, but we never see, for instance, deliveries of diapers or baby clothes or other practical forms of help.
Abortion is appalling, violent and inhuman, and no one should be involved in it. But the answer to appalling violence is love and support, not more violence or appalling behavior. That’s the message of Unplanned. The more people take that message to heart, the better off the world will be.
Deacon Steven D. Greydanus is the Register’s film critic and creator of Decent Films.
He is a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey.
Caveat Spectator: Disturbing ultrasound images of an unborn child being dismembered; much medical gore and brief images of fetal parts; some cursing; a couple of sexual references. Mature viewing.
Though the official Year for Consecrated Life just concluded, it's actually “the beginning of helping people get reacquainted with religious life,” said Sr. Mary Christa of the Sisters of Mercy of Alma.
She said that while there are those who have a general idea about religious sisters, there's still a degree of uncertainty on the part of many about what religious life looks like.
Right now, Sr. Mary Christa added, there's “confusion” – over questions such as why some sisters wear habits and some don't – and her hope is that this year marks the start of “a fruitful understanding of religious life in the Church in its most authentic, visible witness.”
The Year for Consecrated Life, which began Nov. 30, 2014, concluded Feb. 2 on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus.
Sr. Mary Christa, who also runs U.S. bishops' visitor's office in Rome with several other Sisters of Mercy, called the habit of a religious sister an important part of being a witness.
“The religious habit should say a number of things, both to the sister herself, and to those who see her,” she said, recounting how she is often approached by strangers asking for prayers, who automatically trust her on account of her appearance.
“The habit is a visible sign of the love of God,” she said. “But it’s also, I have found, a great responsibility and a reminder to me: the responsibility to be what I show that I am.”
“It’s a sign of the love of God and that this life is not all there is: that God exists and loves them,” she said.
One of the distinguishing aspects of their habit – a dark veil and a simple, pale blue frock in the summer, and a darker color for the winter – is a simple black cross, overlaid by a smaller white cross, which is worn around the neck.
“The black of the cross represents the misery of mankind that we find in the world, and the white represents God’s mercy, which we are called to bring into the world as Sisters of Mercy,” explained Sr. Mary Michaela, who works at the visitor's office.
“There is a long tradition in religious life of wearing a habit as a visible sign that we are consecrated to God and to the service of the Church in a special way,” she said. “It’s also part of poverty,” she added. “Our habit is simple, so we don’t buy a big wardrobe.”
Living in Rome, Sr. Mary Michaela noted how she too is approached by people asking for prayers on account of her habit.
“When they see the habit, they realize that there is something particular about our life,” she said.
“They recognize that we represent, in some way, God’s presence. We remind people of God’s presence here in the world.”
First established in Ireland in 1831 by venerable Catherine McAuley, the Sisters of Mercy centered their work on education, catechesis, healthcare. Spreading to the United States, the order was re-founded in 1973 in Alma, Michigan, where its motherhouse is currently located.
In addition to the three vows taken by all religious sisters, the Sisters of Mercy take a fourth vow of service to the poor, sick, and ignorant.
In Rome, the Sisters of Mercy offer orientation to U.S. Pilgrims – obtaining tickets for papal events, answering their questions about the city, and helping them with the pilgrimage aspect of their visit.
“This is one of the apostolic works that we do as a community,” said Sr. Regina Marie, speaking on her work at the visitor's office.
Pilgrims “can come here and learn about the faith,” she said. “We will often have a priest that will come at a certain time for a half hour and give catechesis for anyone who wants to. We have catechetical materials out for the pilgrims, (or) even just a place for them to sit down for a few minutes.”
“Our charism is the mercy of God,” she said. “Our apostolates are usually focused around the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which can manifest themselves in many ways.”
Sr. Anna Marie, another sister at the office, adds that “the consecrated life is a sign of his presence on earth.”
“We live our vows so that when people see us, they think of God, and they think of Jesus, and they think of the Church. That’s a tremendous privilege.”
On how people will often ask her about her life as a religious, Sr. Anna Marie said she is excited to answer their questions.
“It’s a gift not only for me, but a gift for the whole Church and for the world,” she said.
The saints are acutely aware of this unity:
Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel andrejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church.
Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.
Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.
A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter.” Catechism of the Catholic Church #795
-My job is secure. No one else wants it.
-Don't you hate it when someone answers their own questions? I do.
-I named my dog 6 miles so I can tell people that I walk 6 miles every single day.
- “There are three kinds of people: those who can count and those who can’t.”
- “At every party there are two kinds of people: those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.”
- “This is my step ladder. I never knew my real ladder.
- The pollen count, now that's a difficult job.
Question on second-grade math quiz: "Tony drank 1/6 of a glass of juice. Emily drank 1/4 of a glass of juice. Emily drank more. Explain." My grandson’s answer: "She was more thirsty."
Perfect AttendanceOur local newspaper lists recipients of school awards. Beneath one photo, the caption read "This year’s Perfect Attendance Awards go to Ann Stein and Bradley Jenkins. Not present for photo: Bradley Jenkins."
Flight TrainingAn amateur pilot wannabe, I knew I’d finally made progress with my flight training the day my instructor turned to me and said, “You know, you’re not as much fun since you stopped screaming.”
A first grade teacher collected well known proverbs. She gave each child in her class the first half of the proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb:
- Strike while the...bug is close.
- It's always darkest before...daylight savings time.
- Never underestimate the power of......termites.
- Don't bite the hand that.....looks dirty.
- A miss is as good as a ......Mr.
- If you lie down with dogs.....you stink in the morning
- An idle mind is....the best way to relax
- Where there's smoke there's.....pollution
- Happy the bride who.....gets all the presents
- A penny saved is.....not much
- Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and.....you have to blow your nose
- Children should be seen and not...spanked or scolded
- When the blind lead the blind.....get out of the way
R. O Lord, hear my prayer.
V. And let my cry come unto Thee.
Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd of the sheep, you gather the lambs in your arms and carry them in your bosom: We commend to your loving care this child. Relieve his/her pain, guard him/her from all danger, restore to him/her your gifts of gladness and strength, and raise this child up to a life of service to you.
Hear us, we pray, for you dear Name's sake. Amen.
“To the Lord's Sermon on the Mount it is fitting to add the moral catechesis of the apostolic teachings, such as Romans 12-15, 1 Corinthians 12-13, Colossians 3-4, Ephesians 4-5, etc. This doctrine hands on the Lord's teaching with the authority of the apostles, particularly in the presentation of the virtues that flow from faith in Christ and are animated by charity, the principal gift of the Holy Spirit. "Let charity be genuine. . . . Love one another with brotherly affection. . . . Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality." This catechesis also teaches us to deal with cases of conscience in the light of our relationship to Christ and to the Church..” Catechism of the Catholic Church #1971
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
Fourth Sunday of Lent - Laetare Sunday- March 22nd, 2020
The First Reading - 1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
The LORD said to Samuel: “Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among his sons.” As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice, Samuel looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.” But the LORD said to Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.” In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen any one of these.” Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Send for him; we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.” Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them. He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold and making a splendid appearance. The LORD said, “There—anoint him, for this is the one!” Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed David in the presence of his brothers; and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.
The anointing of David is typologically related to the anointing of the Blind Man in the Gospel. Like David, the Blind Man enters into communion with God through this anointing. As we will see, he is “recreated” by Jesus through this miracle. But the Spirit is connected to creation. The Holy Spirit is the “Creator Spirit,” who moved over the waters of the abyss at the beginning and caused creation to come into being. When David receives the Spirit of the LORD at the hands of Samuel, he is in a sense becoming a new creation of God. As St. Paul will later say, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation!” (2 Cor 5:17).
Adults – What do you need Jesus to “recreate” in your life?
Teens -As a new creation in the Lord, how should we live differently from the rest of the world?
Kids – Why do you think God wants us to live in the ways that He teaches?
Responsorial- Psalm Ps 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The Responsorial Psalm is the well-known and much beloved Psalm 23. “The LORD is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” Besides the LORD, the only other individual identified as the Shepherd of Israel in the OT is the Davidic King. Like their forefather, the heirs of David were Shepherds of Israel. Ezekiel prophesied a day when both the LORD God himself (Ezek 34:15) and David (Ezek 34:23) would be Shepherd of Israel, yet mysteriously, there would only be One Shepherd (Ezek 34:23).
-Do you rely on the Lord as a sheep relies on its shepherd?
The Second Reading- Eph 5:8-14
Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”
Reflection - In today’s Gospel, Jesus grants light to a man born into darkness. Yet the natural darkness of the Blind Man is a type of the condition into which all of us are born, namely, the spiritual darkness of original sin. In Baptism we arise from spiritual death (“Awake, O Sleeper, and arise from the dead”) and become enlightened with the illuminating gift of the Holy Spirit.
-Where could you use the light of Christ in your life?
The Holy Gospel according to Jn 9:1-41
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is, “but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.” They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?” His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.” So a 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 replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.
Reflection - The Man Born Blind is a type of the Baptizand. All of us are born into spiritual blindness, original sin. The disciples’ question “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” reflects a Pharisaic belief that birth defects were the result of parental sin, or else the child himself sinned in the womb. Jesus says “Neither have sinned.” Instead, this is an opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus asserts. To fully appreciate this statement, and indeed the entire account of this healing, we must notice that it occurs in a long section of John (chapters 7-9) which takes place during the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. This resplendent festival was marked by two themes: light (Zech 14:7) and water (Zech 14:8). The Temple was lit with gigantic menorahs all through the night for a week, and on the last day of the festival water was taken from the Pool of Siloam and poured out on the altar of the Temple as a prayer for rain, and as an actualization of various OT prophecies of a river flowing from the Temple in the last times (see Ezek 47; Joel 3:18; Zech 14:8). John 9 ends this long section of John, and draws together the themes of water and light, as Jesus uses water to bring light to this man. Obviously, water and light are connected to creation, too, because first the waters covered the deep, and then God said, “Let there be light!”
Adults – In this time of trial for our world, where do you see God’s light?
Teens – How is the love and mercy of God bringing you comfort?
Kids – Where do you experience the love of Jesus?