The Fourth Sunday of Lent is also known as Laetare Sunday. Laetare in Latin means, “Rejoice”, coming from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon of the Mass for the Fourth Sunday: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.” (Cf. Isaiah 66:10-11)
The Church as the New Jerusalem is Mother who rejoices and calls her children to rejoice as the Easter mysteries draw nearer, and with that, the birth of new children through the waters of baptism, anointed with sacred chrism, and nourished with her own body, which is the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. Laetare Sunday celebrates the second scrutiny at 11am Mass with the elect as they continue toward the Sacraments of Christian Initiation, and also marks being over half way to the celebrations of Holy Week, spurring Christians onward as they continue the three spiritual pillars of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
For our parish, this Sunday also gives extra reason to “rejoice” as we shall be celebrating the Reception of Baptised Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church at 9am Mass. Ashton who has been journeying with us since last summer and participating in our Adult Faith/RCIA program on Saturday mornings will join us in reciting our catholic Creed, making a Profession of Faith, will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, and share with us fully at the table of the Lord in the Eucharist.
Solemnity of St. Joseph
The Solemnity of St. Joseph is always a joyful time during Lent where we have the special moment to feast amid our lengthy fast as we celebrate the great role this particular man played in the history of salvation. This solemnity typically falls on March 19th, but this year gets bumped to the following day, March 20th, because Sundays of Lent have greater priority.
Because of this, Mass for the Solemnity of St. Joseph will be offered on Monday at our usual weekday time of 9:30am, and Solemn Vespers will be prayed as part of a Holy Hour in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament from 5-6pm that day.
You’re welcome to join me in celebrating this great saint and asking for his powerful intercession as the patron of Canada and of the universal Church! St. Joseph, pray for us!
Being over half way through holy Lent, I thought it would be good to leave you with an encouraging homily. I am, in our Lord, yours.
Fr. Brian Trueman
Persevering in Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving with St. Peter Chrysologus +450 AD
From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop (Sermo 43: PL 52, 320, 322)
Prayer knocks, fasting obtains, mercy receives
There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.
Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.
When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.
Let this be the pattern for all men when they practice mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you.
Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defense, a threefold united prayer in our favor.
Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.
Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.
To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to the earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.
When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.