Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

Calendar of the Roman Rite

The Season of Lent

From Ash Wednesday to Fourth Sunday in Lent

Lent is the approximately forty day period celebrated by the Church each year to prepare for the Lord's resurrection at Easter. All Catholics between the ages of 18 and not yet 59 are bound by precept of the Church to abstention from meat on Ash Wednesday and on all the Fridays of Lent, and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting, at a minimum, means eating one full meal and two other, smaller, meals together which do not constitute a second full meal. Catholics age 14 up to those not yet 18, and age 59 up to those not yet 80 are bound only by the rules of abstinence from meat. Fasting and abstinence should always be accompanied by prayer, whether privately or publicly at daily Mass. The Church also requires what has come to be called the "Easter duty", which means every Catholic who has made their first Confession must receive this Sacrament of forgiveness at least once a year, during the Lenten season.

The great forty days fast, "begun under the Law and the Prophets and hallowed by Christ himself" (hymn at Matins) has always been one of the essential practices of Lent. The liturgy alludes to it continually and the Lenten preface reminds us of it at every Mass during this season. But fasting goes hand in hand with prayer. Like all the penitential exercises of Lent, it is offered to God in union with the sacrifice of the Cross, renewed daily at Mass.

Every day of Let has its proper Mass, because, in fact, the whole Christian community in Rome used formerly to be present at Mass daily during Lent. It is for this reason also that each of these Masses has a stationed church -- the Church at which the Mass was celebrated for the community. Even nowadays the Lenten stations arouse much interest in Rome, and the whole Latin Church, which by the celebration of the stational Mass unites its intention with the keeping of Lent at the center of the Christian world.

At other seasons of the year there are ordinarily feasts of saints celebrated during the week; during Lent, it is the Proper of the season, devoted entirely to the mysteries of Christ, which should dominate the interest of the faithful. That indeed is the precise intention of the Church, and it is one worthy of our respect. The Sundays of Lent are Sundays of the first class: their Mass is always said. Ash Wednesday is a first class ferial day which gives way to no other Mass. The Ember days are second class ferial days which take precedence even over local feasts of the second class. The other ferial days of Lent are of the third class and take precedence over Commemorations and feasts of the third class, which can no longer be kept in Lent. When another Mass is said, the Mass of the ferial days is always commemorated.

Every ferial Mass of Lent has, after the Postcommunion, a Prayer over the people, before which is said: "Bow down your heads before God." The penitential character of this season is emphasized by the silence of the organ. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the penitential tract of Ash Wednesday is repeated: "Lord, repay us not according to the sins we have committed." The suppression of the 'Gloria in excelsis' and 'Alleluia' is maintained, the celebrant and ministers are vested in violet, and the deacon and subdeacon wear folded chasubles in place of the dalmatic and tunicle, which are symbols of joy. (From the Saint Andrew Missal)

Select Mass here

Season of LENT

Ash Wednesday

First Sunday of Lent

Second Sunday of Lent

Third Sunday of Lent

Fourth Sunday of Lent

  Ash Wednesday

Joel 2. 12-19; Psalm 56. 2, 4; Matthew 6. 16-21

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

LENT. Ashes. Fasting. Fish on Fridays. These and many more things come to mind as we begin again this most important period of preparation in the Church year. Though the Church requires fasting and abstinence, these are not the most important things about Lent. Fasting and abstinence are no help to us unless they move us to deeper prayer, bring us to a deeper commitment to the most important truths about our life in Christ: baptism, forgiveness of sins and a share in the Resurrection through conversion of heart and mind. The Catechism speaks of this conversion:

...Jesus insists on conversion of heart: reconciliation with one's brother before presenting an offering on the altar, love of enemies, and prayer for persecutors, prayer to the Father in secret, not heaping up empty phrases, prayerful forgiveness from the depths of the heart, purity of heart, and seeking the Kingdom before all else.(Mt 5:23-24, 44-45; 6:7, 14-15, 21, 25, 33.) (CCC 2608)

These are the works of Lent, and the reason for fasting and abstinence.

The Church from very early in her life has celebrated baptism for converts each Easter. The aspects of fasting, penance, and other disciplines of Lent, came into custom in imitation of our Lord in the desert and as a way of helping those already baptized to spiritually renew their own baptismal life. These are celebrated in anticipation of the resurrection promised to all the baptized in Christ's own rising from the dead on that first "Lord's Day." Let us pray for all who are preparing to enter the Church at Easter, whether through baptism or profession of our Roman Catholic faith for the first time. And may our own fasting, penance, almsgiving and prayer be the seeds which promise a more abundant life in Jesus Christ our Risen Lord.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy"---Father Cusick

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First Sunday of Lent 

2 Cor 6. 1-10; Psalm 90. 11-12; Matthew 4, 1-11

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"The greatest hunger is the hunger for love." Mother Teresa says this often, and, after her years of experience living among, feeding, clothing and caring for the poorest of the poor, she is an expert on human needs. Jesus Christ is that love incarnate for which every human being has been created. Every human being will satisfy their hunger for God only by seeking satisfaction in God. Jesus Christ is that bread, truly present among us: the Bread of Life. "The bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world." And in this Bread alone can our thirst for love be satisfied.

The Catechism offers a meditation on our Lord's teaching in today's Gospel, and on the petition of the Lord's Prayer for our "daily bread."

This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but...by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,' (Deut 8:3; Mt 4:4) that is by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort "to proclaim the good news to the poor." There is a famine on earth, "not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." (Am 8:11) For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.(Jn 6:26-58) (CCC 2835)

God is love, and we possess the love of God by possessing his life, receiving His Body and Blood in the Communion of the Mass. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." With this gift we lack nothing in this world, for infinite love is ours.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy"---Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.) www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


  Second Sunday of Lent

1 Thess 4. 1-7; Psalm 24. 17-18; Matthew 17, 1-9

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Christ "was transfigured before their eyes. His face became as dazzling as the sun, his clothes as radiant as light." We learn elsewhere in this Gospel according to St. Matthew that our Lord's sharing in our flesh meant that he suffered temptation. As God he does not share our sin, for sin cannot coexist with his holiness, but he shares with us every other reality of our earthly existence. He does this in order to transform us, as a share in his Transfiguration, of which we read in today's Gospel. Our Lord's divine nature is now our gift, so that our human nature can be raised up, glorified, changed completely by his holiness. The marvelous reality of our Christian life is that we share more and more in Christ's glory until, one day, we see Him face to face. The Transfiguration is also a strengthening, a source of hope in time of trial.

From the day Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Master 'began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things...and be killed, and on the third day be raised.'(Mt 16:21.) Peter scorns this prediction, nor do the others understand it any better than he. (Mt 16:22-23.) In this context the mysterious episode of Jesus' Transfiguration takes place on a high mountain, (Mt 17:1-8.) before three witnesses chosen by himself: Peter, James and John. Jesus' face and clothes become dazzling with light, and Moses and Elijah appear, speaking 'of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.' (Lk 9:31.)" (CCC 554) For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter's confession. He also reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to 'enter into his glory.' (Lk 24:26.) (CCC 555)

In this season of Lent, let us put off all those things which are not of Christ, so that we may more and more put on His glory and share in God's own peace and joy. Let us approach the Sunday liturgy, Confession and all of the good things our Lord has given us, not as obligations or empty duties to fulfill, but as invitations to share in the gift of His love and life which will never end.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy"---Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.) www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


  Third Sunday of Lent

Ephesians 5. 1-9; Psalm 9. 20, 4; Luke 11, 14-28

In his divine goodness the Lord Jesus Christ casts out demons, manifesting his almighty power and the coming of the kingdom among men. The people gather around in awe, and yet they do not believe: "It is through Beelzebul the prince of demons that he casts out demons." We encounter in Christ our Redeemer, and we know that in him is revealed for our sakes the kingdom of God in its fullness. And while we await a "new heavens and a new earth" we yet undergo our own trials against evil as we struggle in Lent to overcome sin, to fully embrace in our lives our own share in Christ's victory which has overcame the Fall of Adam.

God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? 'I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution.' said St. Augustine, and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For 'the mystery of lawlessness' is clarified only in the light of the 'mystery of our religion.' The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace. We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror. (CCC 385)

The only thing unchosen by God, uncreated by God and apart from him in the world is evil. Evil is the burden for the cause of which we cannot blame God, for the Almighty is and knows only good. But he can bring good out of evil: a resurrection out of every cross, life from every death. With Christ good will always triumph over evil if we will only let him have the sovereignty and power over our hearts and minds. We must make fidelity to God the priority over our need to blame him or someone else when tragedy strikes or sadness plagues us. Let your questioning in the midst of the mystery of evil be transformed by the mystery of God's superabundant grace in a "conversion to the living God"and that will be all the answer you will ever need.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(Publish with permission. ) www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


  Fourth Sunday of Lent

Galatians 4. 22-31; Psalm 121. 1,7; John 6, 1-15

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Laetare Jerusalem:et conventum facite, omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae. Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus.

Though we engage in the prayer, penance and almsgiving of Lent, and join ourselves to our divine Lord in his trial in the desert, we never forget that the Lord has risen from the dead. Every Sunday of the year is a "little Resurrection" where we put aside penance and rejoice in the Lord's Resurrection by which we begin now to share in his unending life. This Fourth Sunday of Lent, in particular, is named for this joy as "Laetare Sunday." The priest and deacons wear rose vestments, flowers may be used to decorate the altar and organ accompanies the hymns of the liturgy. "Rejoice, 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 when they said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord."

We share in the Lord's Resurrection in a preeminent way, and so can "rejoice with joy", in our reception of the Holy Eucharist.

The three synoptic Gospels and St. Paul have handed on to us the account of the institution of the Eucharist; St. John, for his part, reports the words of Jesus in the synagogue of Capernaum that prepare for the institution of the Eucharist: Christ calls himself the "bread of life, come down from heaven." (CCC 1338)

In an ancient prayer the Church acclaims the mystery of the Eucharist: 'O sacred banquet in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and a pledge of the life to come is given to us.' If the Eucharist is the memorial of the Passover of the Lord Jesus, if by our communion at the altar we are filled "with every heavenly blessing and grace,' (Roman Canon, 'supplices te rogamus') then the Eucharist is also an anticipation of the heavenly glory. (CCC 1402)

Rejoice with joy, true and lasting joy, for the Risen Christ is truly offered, truly present and truly received in the Sacrament of the Altar. We know that we shall rise again with him if we preserve his grace within us by rejection of sin, conversion of life and faithfulness to the Holy Sacrifice.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.) www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/