Monday, March 15, 2010

Prayer of the Day

Novena to Saint Joseph

Glorious St. Joseph, foster-father and protector of Jesus Christ! To you I raise my heart and my hands to implore your powerful intercession. Please obtain for me from the kind Heart of Jesus the help and the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I ask particularly for the grace of a happy death and the special favor I now implore.

[Mention your request here.]

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel animated with confidence that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God.

V. O glorious St. Joseph, through the love you bear to Jesus Christ, and for the glory of His Name.

R. Hear my prayers and obtain my petitions.


Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Reading I
Is 65:17-21

Thus says the LORD:

Lo, I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy
and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and exult in my people.
No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there,
or the sound of crying;
No longer shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime;
He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years,
and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed.
They shall live in the houses they build,
and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.

Responsorial Psalm
30:2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12a and 13b

R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.

R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.

R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

“Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.

R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Jn 4:43-54

At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee.
For Jesus himself testified
that a prophet has no honor in his native place.
When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him,
since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast;
for they themselves had gone to the feast.

Then he returned to Cana in Galilee,
where he had made the water wine.
Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum.
When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea,
he went to him and asked him to come down
and heal his son, who was near death.
Jesus said to him,

“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”

The royal official said to him,
“Sir, come down before my child dies.”
Jesus said to him,

“You may go; your son will live.”

The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.
While the man was on his way back,
his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live.
He asked them when he began to recover.
They told him,
“The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.”
The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him,
“Your son will live,”
and he and his whole household came to believe.
Now this was the second sign Jesus did
when he came to Galilee from Judea.

Saint of the Day

March 15

St. Louise de Marillac (d. 1660)

Louise, born near Meux, France, lost her mother when she was still a child, her beloved father when she was but 15. Her desire to become a nun was discouraged by her confessor, and a marriage was arranged. One son was born of this union. But she soon found herself nursing her beloved husband through a long illness that finally led to his death.

Louise was fortunate to have a wise and sympathetic counselor, St. Francis de Sales, and then his friend, the Bishop of Belley, France. Both of these men were available to her only periodically. But from an interior illumination she understood that she was to undertake a great work under the guidance of another person she had not yet met. This was the holy priest M. Vincent, later to be known as St. Vincent de Paul.

At first he was reluctant to be her confessor, busy as he was with his "Confraternities of Charity." Members were aristocratic ladies of charity who were helping him nurse the poor and look after neglected children, a real need of the day. But the ladies were busy with many of their own concerns and duties. His work needed many more helpers, especially ones who were peasants themselves and therefore close to the poor and could win their hearts. He also needed someone who could teach them and organize them.

Only over a long period of time, as Vincent de Paul became more acquainted with Louise, did he come to realize that she was the answer to his prayers. She was intelligent, self-effacing and had physical strength and endurance that belied her continuing feeble health. The missions he sent her on eventually led to four simple young women joining her. Her rented home in Paris became the training center for those accepted for the service of the sick and poor. Growth was rapid and soon there was need of a so-called rule of life, which Louise herself, under the guidance of Vincent, drew up for the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (though he preferred "Daughters" of Charity).

He had always been slow and prudent in his dealings with Louise and the new group. He said that he had never had any idea of starting a new community, that it was God who did everything. "Your convent," he said, "will be the house of the sick; your cell, a hired room; your chapel, the parish church; your cloister, the streets of the city or the wards of the hospital." Their dress was to be that of the peasant women. It was not until years later that Vincent de Paul would finally permit four of the women to take annual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It was still more years before the company would be formally approved by Rome and placed under the direction of Vincent's own congregation of priests.

Many of the young women were illiterate and it was with reluctance that the new community undertook the care of neglected children. Louise was busy helping wherever needed despite her poor health. She traveled throughout France, establishing her community members in hospitals, orphanages and other institutions. At her death on March 15, 1660, the congregation had more than 40 houses in France. Six months later St. Vincent de Paul followed her in death.

Louise de Marillac was canonized in 1934 and declared patroness of social workers in 1960.

Office of Readings

O Lord, open my lips.
– And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Antiphon: Come, today, and listen to his voice: do not harden your hearts.

(repeat antiphon*)

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all who live in it.
He himself founded it upon the seas
and set it firm over the waters.

(repeat antiphon*)

Who will climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who will stand in his holy place?
The one who is innocent of wrongdoing and pure of heart,
who has not given himself to vanities or sworn falsely.
He will receive the blessing of the Lord
and be justified by God his saviour.
This is the way of those who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob.

(repeat antiphon*)

Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of might and power.
The Lord, strong in battle.

(repeat antiphon*)

Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of hosts
– he is the king of glory.

(repeat antiphon*)

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


(repeat antiphon*)

Why should the just suffer?
Psalm 72 (73)

How good is the God of Israel to those who are upright of heart.

How good God is to the upright,
to those who are pure of heart!
But as for me, my feet nearly stumbled,
my steps were on the point of going astray,
as I envied the boasters and sinners,
envied their comfort and peace.
For them there are no burdens,
their bellies are full and sleek.
They do not labour, like ordinary men;
they do not suffer, like mortals.
They wear their pride like a necklace,
their violence covers them like a robe.
Wickedness oozes from their very being,
the thoughts of their hearts break forth:
they deride, they utter abominations,
and from their heights they proclaim injustice.
They have set their mouth in the heavens,
and their tongue traverses the earth.
Thus they sit in their lofty positions,
and the flood-waters cannot reach them.
They ask, “How can God know?
Does the Most High have any understanding?”
Behold, then, the wicked, always prosperous:
their riches growing for ever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


How good is the God of Israel to those who are upright of heart.
Psalm 72 (73)

Their laughter will turn to misery, their rejoicing to gloom.

I said, “It was pointless to purify my heart,
to wash my hands in innocence –
for still I suffered all through the day,
still I was punished every morning.”
If I had said, “I will speak like them,”
I would have betrayed the race of your children.
I pondered and tried to understand:
my eyes laboured to see –
until I entered God’s holy place
and heard how they would end.
For indeed you have put them on a slippery surface
and have thrown them down in ruin.
How they are laid waste!
How suddenly they fall and perish in terror!
You spurn the sight of them, Lord,
as a dream is abandoned when the sleeper awakes.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


Their laughter will turn to misery, their rejoicing to gloom.
Psalm 72 (73)

Those who abandon you will perish; but for myself, I take joy in clinging to God.

My heart was sore, my being was troubled –
I was a fool, I knew nothing;
I was like a dumb beast before you.
But still I stay with you:
you hold my right hand.
You lead me according to your counsel,
until you raise me up in glory.
For who else is for me, in heaven?
On earth, I want nothing when I am with you.
My flesh and heart are failing,
but it is God that I love:
God is my portion for ever.
Behold, those who abandon you will perish:
you have condemned all who go whoring away from you.
But for myself, I take joy in clinging to God,
in putting my trust in the Lord, my God,
to proclaim your works at the gates of the daughters of Zion.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


Those who abandon you will perish; but for myself, I take joy in clinging to God.
Repent and believe in the Good News,
– for the kingdom of God is close at hand.

Reading Leviticus 16:2-28
The day of atonement

The Lord spoke to Moses. He said:

‘Tell Aaron your brother that he must not enter the sanctuary beyond the veil, in front of the throne of mercy that is over the ark, whenever he chooses. He may die; for I appear in a cloud on the throne of mercy.

‘This is how he is to enter the sanctuary: with a young bull for a sacrifice for sin and a ram for a holocaust. He is to put on a tunic of consecrated linen, wear linen on his body, a linen girdle round his waist, and a linen turban on his head. These are the sacred vestments he must put on after washing himself with water.

‘He is to receive two goats for a sacrifice for sin and a ram for a holocaust from the community of the sons of Israel. After offering the bull as a sacrifice for his own sin and performing the rite of atonement for himself and his family, Aaron must take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. He is to draw lots for the two goats and allot one to the Lord and the other to Azazel. Aaron is to offer up the goat whose lot was marked “For the Lord,” and offer it as a sacrifice for sin. The goat whose lot was marked “For Azazel” shall be set before the Lord, still alive, to perform the rite of atonement over it, sending it out into the desert to Azazel.

‘Aaron must offer the bull which is to be a sacrifice for his own sin, then he must perform the rite of atonement for himself and for his family, and immolate the bull. Then he is to fill a censer with live coals from the altar that stands before the Lord; and to take two handfuls of finely ground aromatic incense. He is to take these through the veil and then to put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and with a cloud of incense he must cover the throne of mercy that is on the Testimony; if he does this, he shall not die. Then he must take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the eastern side of the throne of mercy; in front of the throne of mercy he must sprinkle this blood seven times with his finger.

‘He must then immolate the goat for the sacrifice for the sin of the people, and take its blood through the veil. With this blood he is to do as with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it on the throne of mercy and in front of it. This is how he is to perform the rite of atonement over the sanctuary for the uncleanness of the sons of Israel, for their transgressions and for all their sins.

‘This also is how he must deal with the Tent of Meeting which remains with them, surrounded by their uncleanness. Let no one stay in the Tent of Meeting, from the moment he enters to make atonement in the sanctuary until the time he comes out.

‘When he has made atonement for himself, for his family, and for the whole community of Israel, he is to come out and go to the altar which is before the Lord, and perform over it the rite of atonement. He must take some of the blood of the bull and of the goat, and put it on the horns around the altar. With this blood he must sprinkle the altar seven times with his finger. This is how he will render it clean and sacred, purified and separated from the uncleannesses of the sons of Israel.

‘When the atonement of the sanctuary, the Tent of Meeting and the altar is complete, he is to bring the other goat that is still alive. Aaron must lay his hands on its head and confess all the faults of the sons of Israel, all their transgressions and all their sins, and lay them to its charge. Having thus laid them on the goat’s head, he shall send it out into the desert led by a man waiting ready, and the goat will bear all their faults away with it into a desert place.

‘When he has sent the goat out into the wilderness, Aaron is to return to the Tent of Meeting and remove the linen vestments he wore to enter the sanctuary. He must leave them there and wash his body in a consecrated place. Then he is to put the vestments on again and go out to offer his own and the people’s holocaust. He must perform the rite of atonement for himself and for the people; he must burn up the fat of the sacrifice for sin on the altar.

‘The man who leads out the goat to Azazel must wash his clothing and his body, and then he can return to the camp. The bull and the goat offered as a sacrifice for sin, whose blood has been taken into the sanctuary for the rite of atonement, are to be taken out of the camp where their skin, flesh and dung are to be burnt. The man who burns them must wash his clothing and his body, and then he can return to the camp.

Reading From a homily on Leviticus by Origen, priest
Christ the High Priest makes atonement for our sins

Once a year the high priest, leaving the people outside, entered that place where no one except the high priest might enter. In it was the mercy-seat, and above the mercy-seat the cherubim, as well as the ark of the covenant and the altar of incense.

Let me turn to my true high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. In our human nature he spent the whole year in the company of the people, the year that he spoke of when he said: He sent me to bring good news to the poor, to announce the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of forgiveness. Notice how once in that year, on the day of atonement, he enters into the holy of holies. Having fulfilled God’s plan, he passes through the heavens and enters into the presence of the Father to make him turn in mercy to the human race and to pray for all who believe in him.

John the apostle, knowing of the atonement that Christ makes to the Father for all men, says this: Little children, I say these things so that you may not sin. But if we have sinned we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the just one. He is the atonement for our sins in his blood, through faith. We have then a day of atonement that remains until the world comes to an end.

God’s word tells us: The high priest shall put incense on the fire in the sight of the Lord. The smoke of the incense shall cover the mercy-seat above the tokens of the covenant, so that he may not die. He shall take some of the blood of the bull-calf and sprinkle it with his finger over the mercy-seat toward the east.

God taught the people of the old covenant how to celebrate the ritual offered to him in atonement for the sins of men. But you have come to Christ, the true high priest. Through his blood he has made God turn to you in mercy and has reconciled you with the Father. You must not think simply of ordinary blood but you must learn to recognise instead the blood of the Word. Listen to him as he tells you: This is my blood, which will be shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

There is a deeper meaning in the fact that the high priest sprinkles the blood toward the east. Atonement comes to you from the east. From the east comes the one whose name is Dayspring, he who is mediator between God and men. You are invited then to look always to the east: it is there that the sun of righteousness rises for you, it is there that the light is always being born for you. You are never to walk in darkness; the great and final day is not to enfold you in darkness. Do not let the night and mist of ignorance steal upon you. So that you may always enjoy the light of knowledge, keep always in the daylight of faith, hold fast always to the light of love and peace.

Concluding Prayer

O God, you renew and sanctify the world in more ways than we can ever tell.
May your Church move ever forward with the aid of your eternal gifts;
and may she never be deprived of the earthly help she needs.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.