Pastoral Care for Families at Home

As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. ~Lk 24:51

Sunday, May 16, 2021 | The Ascension of the Lord

A Commentary by Leo the Great shared by SJV Adult Formation Ministry in today’s Liturgy of the Word.

() And so while at Easter it was the Lord’s resurrection which was the cause of our joy, our present rejoicing is on account of his ascension into heaven. With all due solemnity we are commemorating that day on which our poor human nature was carried up in Christ above all the hosts of heaven, above all the ranks of angels, beyond the highest heavenly powers to the very throne of God the Father.

It is upon this ordered structure of divine acts that we have been firmly established, so that the grace of God may show itself still more marvelous when, in spite of the withdrawal from our sight of everything that is rightly felt to command our reverence, faith does not fail, hope is not shaken, charity does not grow cold.

For such is the power of great minds, such is the light of truly believing souls, that they put unhesitating faith in what is not seen with the bodily eye; they fix their desires on what is beyond sight.

Such fidelity could never be born in our hearts, nor could anyone be justified by faith, if our salvation lay only in what was visible.

This is why Christ said to the man who seemed doubtful about his resurrection unless he could see and touch the marks of his passion in his very flesh: “You believe because you see me; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

It was in order that we might be capable of such blessedness that on the fortieth day after his resurrection, after he had made careful provision for everything concerning the preaching of the gospel and the mysteries of the new covenant, our Lord Jesus Christ was taken up to heaven before the eyes of his disciples, and so his bodily presence among them came to an end. 

From that time onward he was to remain at the Father’s right hand until the completion of the period ordained by God for the Church’s children to increase and multiply, after which, in the same body with which he ascended, he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

And so our Redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments. Our faith is nobler and stronger because sight has been replaced by a doctrine whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high.

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We Honor Mary in the Month of May 

Let’s join the entire Church in prayer

Pope Francis has called for a global prayer marathon for the entire month of May, praying for the end to the pandemic.

Each day in May, there will be a livestream from one of 30 chosen Marian shrines or sanctuaries to guide the prayer at 6 p.m. Rome time (noon EDT) on all Vatican media platforms.

The pope will open the monthlong prayer May 1 and conclude it May 31, the council said.

Click here for more information from the Texas Catholic Herald.

Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy 

Spiritual Communion

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.

Daily Spirituality

In an effort to continue the practice of our beautiful Catholic faith at home during this time, we invite you to:

Pope Francis' Prayer to Mary during the Current Health Crisis

Join us in prayer:

O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you,
Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain,
keeping your faith firm.

You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.

Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection.

Under your protection, we seek refuge,
Holy Mother of God.
Do not disdain the entreaties
of we who are in trial,
but deliver us from every danger,
O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

Previous Weeks’ Readings and Resources

We will keep up to 10 weeks of past resources accessible in this page. If the set of readings and resources you would like to revisit is not on the list below, please contact our web administrator to request it by email.

Sunday, May 9, 2021 | Sixth Sunday of Easter

Many years ago I was reminiscing with a married couple who are close friends about how our relationship began. I recalled that they had invited me to dinner after Mass one Sunday at our parish. Their version: I had stopped to talk to them and said we ought to get together. Laughing over our contrasting memories, my friends and I decided to leave the origins of our friendship ambiguous. Who chose whom? Does it really matter?

In today’s Gospel, it does matter who’s doing the choosing! At the Last Supper Jesus shares some intimate sentiments with his disciples. “I have called you friends,” he insists, “it was I who chose you.” Those words–which any one of us would welcome coming from someone famous, attractive or interesting–come from the Word made Flesh, God-with-us. In a few simple sentences Jesus confers on his followers a wondrous dignity. As friends of Jesus they are invited into an intimacy with God! That intimacy can be ours as well.

In prayer we relate to God with the intimate friendship described by Jesus. We come to prayer with all the confidence that good friends bring to a relationship. God offers us the patient, supportive listening of an understanding friend. In the peace that flows from such prayer comes the fruitful response Jesus asks of us in today’s Gospel.

Sunday reflection by Father Greg Friedman, from St. Anthony Messenger Press, find it on the web at Shared with permission.

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Sunday, May 2, 2021 | Fifth Sunday of Easter

Imagine yourself in the early Jerusalem Christian community gathered for Sunday Eucharist, and in walks Saul, well-known for his persecution of the Church. What would your reaction be? 

Saul’s friends must have had a hard time convincing the community that Saul was on their side. Barnabas was his “guardian angel”–nicknamed the “son of encouragement” according to an earlier story in Acts. Not a bad friend to have if you’re Saul and badly in need of credibility.

Barnabas must have been convincing since the story says Saul was soon “moving freely” about Jerusalem and preaching boldly. In fact, enemies of the Christian community were soon plotting to kill Saul. His zeal made him controversial no matter whose side he was on!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses the comparison of vine and branches to describe our unity with him. In a community, the unity we share with Christ must also mean we are united with each other. The story about Saul and the Jerusalem community reminds us how important it is to affirm one another within our contemporary parish settings. We must welcome and integrate those who are new to the community. We may need to support our more zealous and outspoken members when they witness boldly. In all things we strive to keep Jesus’ command: to love one another as he has loved us.

Sunday reflection by Father Greg Friedman, from St. Anthony Messenger Press, find it on the web at Shared with permission.

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Sunday, April 25, 2021 | Fourth Sunday of Easter

One of my seminary classmates has always reacted when the story of the Good Shepherd was read. “I don’t like being compared to sheep!” he says. “They’re dumb and smelly, too!” 

I grew up in the city so my experience with sheep is limited. But I do know that shepherding was an important part of the life for the people of Biblical times. It’s the relationship between shepherd and sheep that makes Jesus’ comparison work.

The shepherds of Jesus’ time herded their flocks through wilderness, ready to defend them from attack by wild animals. In a crowded sheepfold at night, shepherds of several flocks herded together could identify their own sheep—and vice versa! Jesus’ listeners would have understood the economic interdependence of shepherd and sheep—a truly good shepherd would value each and every individual in his flock.

The relationship Jesus offers us is one characterized by the dignity and worth he sees in each of us. He knows each of us by name with an intimacy he shares with us from the Father, whom Jesus knows with the intimacy of a Divine Son. And the bottom line: Jesus gives his life for us, his flock.

My classmate and I still chuckle about his reaction to being “herded together” in this Biblical image. But we both agree: We want to be counted among the Lord’s flock!

Sunday reflection by Father Greg Friedman, from St. Anthony Messenger Press, find it on the web at Shared with permission.

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Sunday, April 18, 2021 | Third Sunday of Easter

When new employees join a company it’s common to have an orientation to bring new people “on board.” A new employee needs to understand both the past and the future history of the company. How can they connect with what’s gone before? How can they be part of the company’s mission for the future?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus conducts a kind of “Christian orientation” for his startled and frightened disciples–most of whom are encountering him for the first time as the risen Lord. He first reassures them that he–Jesus–is the one they knew before the crucifixion. But there have been a few changes! He’s not a ghost; he is truly alive. And he shares a meal with his friends to prove it.

But they have their doubts anyway –perhaps some of the same doubts shared by Luke’s communities years later: How could Jesus be the promised Messiah and have suffered the terrible death by crucifixion? And so Jesus patiently interprets the Hebrew Scriptures to explain his mission as God’s “Suffering Servant.”

But the past is only preparation for the future! The message of the Good News must be preached to the ends of the earth. The disciples are now his witnesses–commissioned to carry his message to the world. And so are we who gather at our Easter Eucharist with the risen Lord today!

Sunday reflection by Father Greg Friedman, from St. Anthony Messenger Press, find it on the web at Shared with permission.

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Sunday, April 11, 2021 |Second Sunday of Easter | Sunday of Divine Mercy

From a Homily by Pope Francis on March 17, 2013

It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! “Oh, Father, if you knew my life, you would not say that to me!” “Why, what have you done?” “Oh, I am a great sinner!” “All the better! Go to Jesus: he likes you to tell him these things!” He forgets, he has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, he kisses you, he embraces you and he simply says to you: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more” (Jn 8:11). That is the only advice he gives you. After a month, if we are in the same situation … Let us go back to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking his forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace not to tire of asking forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving. Let us ask for this grace.

Click here to read the complete Homily

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Sunday, April 4, 2021 | Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

Easter homily by Bishop St. John Chrysostom

Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort.

Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.

When Isaias foresaw all this, he cried out: “O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world.” Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and, lo! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.

O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

Shared by Fr. Richard Hinkley.

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Saturday, April 3, 2021 | Holy Saturday | Easter Vigil

From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday

The Lord descends into hell

Something strange is happening — there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and Hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, He who is both God and the Son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone, ‘My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ‘And with your spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in Hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I in you; together we form one person and cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the Cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in Paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in Hell. The sword that pierced Me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly Paradise. I will not restore you to that Paradise, but will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The Bridal Chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The Kingdom of Heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Shared by Fr. Richard Hinkley.

Easter Vigil

We continue the silent and somber atmosphere of Good Friday but it is also one of anticipation. Your prayer table should not be adorned with anything. Later in the day, as the sun begins to fade, light a candle in one room. Pray the Exsultet. Each hour afterwards, light another candle in another room. Each time you do so read one of the Old Testament readings designated for the Easter Vigil liturgy. At the evening hour of your choosing read aloud the New Testament from the Vigil liturgy then ignite the candles on your prayer table; now your home should be aglow with light reminding you that Jesus overcame death and darkness; he is The One who dispels the darkness. Pray the Gloria, and then read aloud the Gospel, and then pray the Creed. Before going to sleep, pray The Glory Be.

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Friday, April 2, 2021 | Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)

From the Catecheses by Bishop St. John Chrysostom

The power of Christ’s blood

If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration in Egypt. Sacrifice a lamb without blemish, commanded Moses, and sprinkle its blood on your doors. If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself but in the fact that it is a sign of the Lord’s blood. In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.

If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood of the holy eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.

There flowed from his side water and blood. Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolized baptism and the holy eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit, and from the holy eucharist. Since the symbols of baptism and the eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam. Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh! As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and water after his own death.

Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.

Shared by Fr. Richard Hinkley.

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Thursday, April 1, 2021 | Holy Thursday

An Easter homily by Bishop Melito of Sardis.

The Lamb that was slain has delivered us from death and given us life

There was much proclaimed by the prophets about the mystery of the Passover: that mystery is Christ, and to him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

For the sake of suffering humanity he came down from heaven to earth, clothed himself in that humanity in the Virgin’s womb, and was born a man. Having then a body capable of suffering, he took the pain of fallen man upon himself; he triumphed over the diseases of soul and body that were its cause, and by his Spirit, which was incapable of dying, he dealt man’s destroyer, death, a fatal blow.

He was led forth like a lamb; he was slaughtered like a sheep. He ransomed us from our servitude to the world, as he had ransomed Israel from the hand of Egypt; he freed us from our slavery to the devil, as he had freed Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. He sealed our souls with his own Spirit, and the members of our body with his own blood.

He is the One who covered death with shame and cast the devil into mourning, as Moses cast Pharaoh into mourning. He is the One that smote sin and robbed iniquity of offspring, as Moses robbed the Egyptians of their offspring. He is the One who brought us out of slavery into freedom, out of darkness into light, out of death into life, out of tyranny into an eternal kingdom; who made us a new priesthood, a people chosen to be his own for ever. He is the Passover that is our salvation.

It is he who endured every kind of suffering in all those who foreshadowed him. In Abel he was slain, in Isaac bound, in Jacob exiled, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed to die. He was sacrificed in the Passover lamb, persecuted in David, dishonored in the prophets.

It is he who was made man of the Virgin, he who was hung on the tree; it is he who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead, and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute lamb, the slain lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of his was broken; in the earth his body knew no decay. He is the One who rose from the dead, and who raised man from the depths of the tomb. 

Shared by Fr. Richard Hinkley.

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The Easter Triduum

The Easter Triduum is the “mother of all feasts”. All other feasts of the liturgical year hinge on this great feast. The Triduum, which means, “three days”, is the word designated for the celebration of the Lord’s paschal mystery that spans three days; it is one great liturgy that lasts three days. There is no formal closing to the Holy Thursday or Good Friday liturgies as each is a continuation of the previous one until the liturgy culminates with the Easter Vigil. The Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, continues with the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, culminates with the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, and ends on Easter Sunday at sundown.

Continue to read A Liturgical Walk through the Holy Week prepared by Adult Formation.

Turning to the Light

A Holy Week Spiritual Reflection by Adult Formation

I have come as light unto the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. ~John 12:46

All of Lent is ultimately a turning toward Christ, the light of the world. As flowers naturally turn toward the sun for its warmth and energy, so does the Church eagerly turn to the Son for his grace and glory. In the early rites of baptism, it was common to have the newly anointed catechumen turn from the west to the east as a sign of leaving behind the darkness in order to embrace the dawn. As the Church enters Holy Triduum at the end of Lent, this turning toward the Light of the World reaches its spiritual and liturgical climax. We follow Christ to Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), we gather at his table (Holy Thursday), we stand beneath his cross (Good Friday), and we keep faithful vigil at the tomb of his resurrection (Easter Vigil).

Additional Resources for the Holy Week:

Sunday, March 28, 2021 | Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Hosánna fílio David: benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini, Rex Israel: Hosánna in exscélsis.

Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel.  Hosanna in the highest.

This antiphon, taken from Matthew 21:9, provides the first words sung before the Procession or Solemn Entrance that precede the Mass of Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.  The cry hosanna hearkens to Psalm 118 which originally would have been used to accompany a liturgical procession of the Davidic king into the temple for sacrifice.  Hosanna originally meant an entreaty for help: “O Lord, save!  Grant us salvation!”  This is how the word hosanna is used throughout the entire Old Testament. (See Ps 118:25)    However, by the time of our Lord it had assumed the meaning we generally associate with it: “Praise and Glory!”  Psalm 118 is further quoted by the crowd of disciples when they sing, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Ps 118:26)  While these are the only portions of Psalm 118 that are directly quoted here, the entirety of Psalm 118 casts light on the meaning of this messianic action by Christ and his followers.  We recall that Psalm 118 is used on the following occasions liturgically: The Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday, the 2nd Sunday of Easter and the 4th Sunday of Easter.  It is also used every Sunday in the Liturgy of the Hours.  For the Church, Psalm 118 is a “resurrection psalm” perhaps the “resurrection psalm” par excellence.  I would like to invite you to read Psalm 118 now, a psalm Christ would have known by heart, and consider how the words of that psalm contextualize the procession, the crowd’s activity, the city’s perplexity and ultimately the messianic mission Christ intends to accomplish in the coming days.  I’ll leave you now to read Psalm 118.


Stunning, is it not?  Christ, mounted on a colt, Israel’s true king is he who, “conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth.” (CCC 559) So consider Christ meditating on these words of the psalm: “In danger I called on the LORD, the LORD answered me and set me free… I shall not die but live and declare the deeds of the LORD….  Open the gates of righteousness; I will enter and thank the LORD….  The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.  By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.”  The children of the Hebrews quote the psalm; Christ fulfills it.  The pilgrimage of Christ that has Jerusalem and his Pasch as its culminating goal began in the amenable and immaculate womb of the Virgin Mother thirty-three years before.  All the mysteries of the Nativity, the hidden years, and public ministry of the Lord have now entered into their final and climactic days.  The pilgrim, Priest-King of Israel, assuming the form of a slave, meets his people and allows them to ascend with him to the place of sacrifice and encounter with God, knowing full well how the intense suffering predicted in the Psalm are to be fulfilled.  Yet as it is soon to be revealed, that place of sacrifice and encounter is no longer a temple built by human hands, but the true Temple: Jesus Christ.

In the course of the liturgy today, we observe how the cries of “hosanna” are replaced with cries of “Let him be crucified!”  The expression of exultant praise is abandoned and yields to rejection and condemnation.  As much as these two expressions are opposed to one another, recalling the original meaning of hosanna with its evolution from: a cry for salvation to an expression of praise and then followed by the sentence that Christ suffer and die: all this reveals the Wisdom of God for us and that of the Paschal Mystery.  To save us (hosanna) God allows himself to be annihilated in the flesh (crucified), and in this the glory of God shines forth (hosanna)!  And while our Salvation and the glorification of the Father is something God achieves through himself and his own might (Ps 118:15-18; 23) one of the fruits of the Procession with Palms is that he allows us sacramentally to join him in his triumphant entrance, to join him in procession to the altar of sacrifice, to accompany him into his Passion, Death, Resurrection, and thereby discover anew the reason for all things.

The heart of the Procession of Palms is to be found interiorly, in a soul that meekly follows our King and boisterously cries out that the Lord is glorified in his saving works.  This heart of the Procession is never beyond our reach.  Let us acclaim him in our hearts, let us acclaim him through the sacred liturgy, and let us orient ourselves to the Lord, moving each day this week towards the full celebration of the Paschal Mystery.

Fr. Richard Hinkley

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Sunday, March 21, 2021 | 5th Sunday of Lent

And when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. ~Hebrews 5:9

“Made perfect” It’s an odd expression to assign to our Lord, isn’t it? To be made perfect suggests that Christ was not perfect, was imperfect. Could this be? Some would like to argue that Christ, with respect to his character and virtues, was imperfect. Like the flawed heroes who have become more and more commonplace and popular in our imagination, an imperfect Christ is more relatable, so goes the argument. This line of reasoning, though, runs into serious dilemmas. If Christ’s humanity is the vehicle that achieves our own perfection, how is Christ’s own humanity perfected? Do we need then “another Christ” to serve as the perfector of what is lacking in Christ? Clearly that is absurd. When we are sick with a disease, we don’t want another invalid to empathize with us, we want a doctor who can heal us. So it must be with Christ.

So what does it mean when Christ is described as having been “made perfect?” On the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI proposed the following text that helps unlock for us the meaning of this expression:

Let us return to the words of the Letter to the Hebrews which say: “Although he was a Son he learned obedience through what he suffered”. Christ’s priesthood entailed suffering. Jesus truly suffered and did so for our sake. He was the Son and did not need to learn obedience but we do, we did need to and we always will. Therefore the Son took upon himself our humanity and for our sake he let himself be “taught” obedience in the crucible of suffering, he let himself be transformed by it like the grain of wheat that has to die in the earth in order to bear fruit. By means of this process Jesus was “made perfect” in Greek, teleiotheis. We must pause to reflect on this term because it is very important. It indicates the fulfillment of a journey, that is, the very journey and transformation of the Son of God through suffering, through his painful Passion. It is through this transformation that Jesus Christ became the “high priest” and can save all who entrust themselves to him. The term teleiotheis, correctly translated by the words “made perfect”, belongs to a verbal root which, in the Greek version of the Pentateuch, that is, the first five Books of the Bible, is always used to mean the consecration of the ancient priests. This discovery is very valuable because it tells us that for Jesus the Passion was like a priestly consecration. He was not a priest according to the Law but became one existentially in his Pasch of Passion, death and Resurrection: he gave himself in expiation and the Father, exalting him above every creature, made him the universal Mediator of salvation.

Passiontide begins today. The liturgical texts and rites point with ever increasing intensity to the life-giving celebration of the Paschal Triduum. Accompanying and passing over with our Lord sacramentally in this journey, we seek to be “made perfect” like him too. Your suffering united to Christ’s provides you with fitting rubrics for exercising your baptismal priesthood, consecrated in Jesus Christ and forming with him one, fragrant oblation to the Father.

Fr. Richard Hinkley

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Sunday, March 14, 2021 | 4th Sunday of Lent

By the rivers of Babylon there we sat weeping when we remembered Zion. ~Ps 137:1

The responsorial psalm that most of us will hear this Sunday is taken from Psalm 137. Here, the psalmist recounts the sullen memories of exile in Babylon and consequently the alienation from Jerusalem. It is difficult for us to appreciate the spiritual trauma of the event, when in 587/6 B.C. the armies of Babylon (and its ally Edom) conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and led off into exile a significant portion of the population. The Babylonian Exile marked not only a brutal end to Judah’s political autonomy – a national tragedy – along with all of the disruption to social and family life, but it was a most critical moment of the people Israel’s understanding of their relationship with God. How could this have happened? Was the covenant finally over? Were the promises the Lord made to Israel abrogated? Whose fault was it? The end of the monarchy and temple seemed to suggest that God had at last abandoned his people on account of their wickedness and spiritual adultery to the covenant.

If St. Augustine is right and: “singing belongs to the one who loves,” then we find the inability to sing among Israel’s captives as a sign of both Israel’s sorrow at its loss and anger towards its captors. While we heard this Sunday only verses 1-6 of Psalm 137, verses 7-9 signal a radical change of tone from one of sympathetic lament to unbridled rage. Various interpretations of these graphic verses are proposed, and while we could never advocate infanticide of one’s enemies as justifiable, the psalmist certainly gives voice emotionally to the degree of pain and injustice he and his countrymen had experienced with the exile.

The generations of prophets – those before, during, and after the Babylonian Exile – came to understand that the loss of Zion and the exile in Babylon were a consequence of Israel’s sins. Israel was comfortable maintaining the outward appearances of fidelity to the law through the Temple cult and holy days, but this was all and exterior exercise in self-righteousness. The failures of Israel to maintain the integrity of the covenant – especially in terms of its moral precepts – resulted in the need for God to allow a radical punishment and moment of purification so that Israel might come to its right senses anew.

I imagine that to some extent we have all had moments of “Babylonian Exile” in our lives. Whether they were brought about by our own sins, or the sins of others, the sensation that my life has been thrown into total disarray and there is no sign of things returning to normalcy is nauseating and depressing. We look back at what we once had and can only sit and cry bitterly. If we are in the midst of such moments the need to rely on others and God above all is paramount. God never abandoned Israel, though tragic events were allowed to occur in order to bring about conversion in Israel. Some in Israel were innocent of the crimes the brought about the exile, like Jeremiah, and yet the sufferings he experienced only served to purify their faith. God does not abandon you or me. But for the moment as we weep, we remember: not merely the past, but that God is ever faithful and will restore that which is brought low.

Fr. Richard Hinkley

Other Resources:

Notes from Music Ministry

Our Music Ministry has recorded beautiful Hymns and Musical Meditations to accompany our families at home. We are delighted to share their recordings on our podcast: 

Additional Resources

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Find more resources at US Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB website.

Read the full Transcript of Pope Francis “Urbi et orbi” on Friday, March 27, 2020.  The Pope meditates on the calming of the storm from the Gospel of Mark 4:35

Find more resources at US Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB website.

With firm purpose you maintain peace;
in peace, because of our trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever!
For the Lord is an eternal Rock.

~Isaiah 26:3-4