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Lent IV – Laetare

Daily Sermons
March 24 – Fr. McKenna – Naaman & St. Gabriel: Power of Obedience
March 25 – Bp. Dolan – “Ecce” (Feast of the Annunciation)
March 26 – Fr. Lehtoranta – Bl. Joseph Zhang and a Chinese Folktale
March 27 – Fr. Lehtoranta – Resist the Devil by Prayer
March 28 – Fr. Lehtoranta – Worship God in Spirit and In Truth

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday used to be known as in Vigesima, either to mark Lent’s halfway point, or to continue the earlier theme of the Easter countdown (e.g.: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, etc). In ancient times, Lent may only have lasted three weeks, and thus have begun today. Under influence from the Byzantine or Greek Rite, today’s Mass honors the Holy Cross, as the Eastern Rite does during Lent.

Today’s eucharistic gospel looks forward to the Easter Communion and sometimes provided this Sunday with one more name, “Five Loaf Sunday.” But it is primarily as “Rose Sunday” that today is known. The mystic Golden Rose once anointed, blessed and borne by the Pope in procession and then given to a Christian prince, lends its rose color to the vestments still today. We are meant to be encouraged, to carry our cross despite its weight as a delightful rose, regardless of thorns, all the way until Easter and the victory of eternal life.

Last Tuesday’s Lady Day or Annunciation may have been our last day of Winter, and a magnificent match or agonia it was. First sun, and then dark and wind and very heavy sideways snow. The sun returned and melted the snow, and then the cold came back to freeze the rest as Winter leftovers, until finally Spring reigns supreme with its sunny promise of Summer.

We sang a Solemn Mass to honor the Incarnation on the 25th, formerly New Year’s Day and still the most solemn of calendar dates in the year: the Creation, the Fall, the Sacrifice of Isaac, the Exodus, the Crucifixion, and the future date of the Last Judgment. There, now aren’t you sorry you missed it? A few came to the Mass, and there was one man with the priests (it was, after all, our Afternoon of Adoration, so I won’t complain) after school, adoring Our Lord.

The school children came back for Adoration before and after Vespers, during which they sang, alternating the Psalms with us. Given the dramatic weather, these verses from one of Our Lady’s Psalms, the 147th, were so very fitting: “Who giveth snow like wool…He sendeth His ice like morsels: who shall stand before the face of His cold? He sendeth forth His word and melteth them, His wind bloweth and the waters flow.” It is properly symbolic to have snow on the Annunciation, descending from Heaven to earth. It was
a memorable feast day.

I am proud of our school children, who have learned to sing and pray in the Church’s own tongue of Latin, and reverently take their place in the Divine Service. Our High School boys, by themselves, can now chant one side of Vespers with the priests, holding their own very well.

We must also congratulate the St. Gertrude the Great Schoolboys for their fine showing (once again) in the Spring Fencing Tournament. This very traditional skill stresses grace and coordination more than competition, and used to be a standard component in a gentleman’s education. Our boys, singly and in a group, “took home the silver” and we congratulate them.

I hope you will plan to attend our school program this afternoon, “Spring into Spring,” and the luncheon afterwards. I know you will enjoy it. We rejoice together on this happy Sunday as fierce March, lamb-like, takes its leave. The day ends by exception with candlelight Compline at 6:55 PM.

Fr. Lehtoranta, who teaches Latin and Religion at our school (and what a privilege for these children to have a priest for a teacher!) and I will look forward to seeing you this afternoon at the school program. Fr. Cekada (and what a privilege for our seminarians to have so distinguished a writer and theologian as their professor) heads off, the hard way, this afternoon to Florida. Fr. McKenna has already been shipped off to the frozen North, and Fr. McGuire has Mass and catechism at Chillicothe’s St. Clare Chapel.

April, month of the Passion and the Resurrection, and the Holy Face, opens with the Purgatorial Requiem on Tuesday. Don’t be a fool, and miss it, not a single day of it, the rest of our Lent, for the world. This year’s Lent is fittingly graced with two All Night Adorations. It is your turn. Be faithful. Offer your reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary this First Friday and Saturday. Say a prayer for the children who have their First Communion test this Saturday, and make their first Confessions. Don’t forget we’ll need help on Saturday to clean the church, and sacristy and sanctuary with their many corners, and to veil all of the statues in purple.

Holy Week and Easter are coming. Rejoice!
– Bishop Dolan