Thursday, March 18, 2010

Prayer of the Day

Novena to St. Joseph the Worker

O God, the Creator of all things, You have laid the law of labor upon the human race. Grant, we beseech You, that by the example and protection of St. Joseph we may perform the work You command and attain to the reward that You promise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Reading I
Ex 32:7-14

The LORD said to Moses,

“Go down at once to your people
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
‘This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’

The LORD said to Moses,

“I see how stiff-necked this people is.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation.”
But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
“Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Why should the Egyptians say,
‘With evil intent he brought them out,
that he might kill them in the mountains
and exterminate them from the face of the earth’?
Let your blazing wrath die down;
relent in punishing your people.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’“
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.

Responsorial Psalm
106:19-20, 21-22, 23

R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.

R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.

R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.

R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Jn 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews:

“If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John’s.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.
“I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?”

Saint of the Day

March 18

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315?-386)

The crises that the Church faces today may seem minor when compared with the threat posed by the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ and almost overcame Christinity in the fourth century. Cyril was to be caught up in the controversy, accused (later) of Arianism by St. Jerome, and ultimately vindicated both by the men of his own time and by being declared a Doctor of the Church in 1822. Raised in Jerusalem, well-educated, especially in the Scriptures, he was ordained a priest by the bishop of Jerusalem and given the task of catechizing during Lent those preparing for Baptism and during the Easter season the newly baptized. His Catecheses remain valuable as examples of the ritual and theology of the Church in the mid-fourth century.

There are conflicting reports about the circumstances of his becoming bishop of Jerusalem. It is certain that he was validly consecrated by bishops of the province. Since one of them was an Arian, Acacius, it may have been expected that his “cooperation” would follow. Conflict soon rose between Cyril and Acacius, bishop of the rival nearby see of Caesarea. Cyril was summoned to a council, accused of insubordination and of selling Church property to relieve the poor. Probably, however, a theological difference was also involved. He was condemned, driven from Jerusalem, and later vindicated, not without some association and help of Semi-Arians. Half his episcopate was spent in exile (his first experience was repeated twice). He finally returned to find Jerusalem torn with heresy, schism and strife, and wracked with crime. Even St. Gregory of Nyssa, sent to help, left in despair.

They both went to the (second ecumenical) Council of Constantinople, where the amended form of the Nicene Creed was promulgated. Cyril accepted the word consubstantial (that is, of Christ and the Father). Some said it was an act of repentance, but the bishops of the Council praised him as a champion of orthodoxy against the Arians. Though not friendly with the greatest defender of orthodoxy against the Arians, Cyril may be counted among those whom Athanasius called “brothers, who mean what we mean, and differ only about the word [consubstantial].”

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*)

O God, take pity on us and bless us,
and let your face shine upon us,
so that your ways may be known across the world,
and all nations learn of your salvation.

(repeat antiphon*)

Let the peoples praise you, O God,
let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and rejoice,
for you judge the peoples with fairness
and you guide the nations of the earth.

(repeat antiphon*)

Let the peoples praise you, O God,
let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has produced its harvest:
may God, our God, bless us.
May God bless us,
may the whole world revere him.

(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*)

In time of defeat
Psalm 43 (44)

It is not their own strength that will give them victory, but your right hand and the light of your face.

Our own ears have heard, O God,
and our fathers have proclaimed it to us,
what you did in their days, the days of old:
how with your own hand you swept aside the nations
and put us in their place,
struck them down to make room for us.
It was not by their own swords that our fathers took over the land,
it was not their own strength that gave them victory;
but your hand and your strength,
the light of your face,
for you were pleased in them.
You are my God and my king,
who take care for the safety of Jacob.
Through you we cast down your enemies;
in your name we crushed those who rose against us.
I will not put my hopes in my bow,
my sword will not bring me to safety;
for it was you who saved us from our afflictions,
you who set confusion among those who hated us.
We will glory in the Lord all the day,
and proclaim your name for all ages.

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.


It is not their own strength that will give them victory, but your right hand and the light of your face.
Psalm 43 (44)

The Lord will not turn his face from you if you return to him.

But now, God, you have spurned us and confounded us,
so that we must go into battle without you.
You have put us to flight in the sight of our enemies,
and those who hate us plunder us at will.
You have handed us over like sheep sold for food,
you have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for no money,
not even profiting by the exchange.
You have made us the laughing-stock of our neighbours,
mocked and derided by those who surround us.
The nations have made us a by-word,
the peoples toss their heads in scorn.
All the day I am ashamed,
I blush with shame
as they reproach me and revile me,
my enemies and my persecutors.

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.


The Lord will not turn his face from you if you return to him.
Psalm 43 (44)

Rise up, Lord, do not reject us for ever.

All this happened to us,
but not because we had forgotten you.
We were not disloyal to your covenant;
our hearts did not turn away;
our steps did not wander from your path;
and yet you brought us low,
with horrors all about us:
you overwhelmed us in the shadows of death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God,
if we had spread out our hands before an alien god —
would God not have known?
He knows what is hidden in our hearts.
It is for your sake that we face death all the day,
that we are reckoned as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake, Lord, why do you sleep?
Rise up, do not always reject us.
Why do you turn away your face?
How can you forget our poverty and our tribulation?
Our souls are crushed into the dust,
our bodies dragged down to the earth.
Rise up, Lord, and help us.
In your mercy, redeem us.

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.


Rise up, Lord, do not reject us for ever.
He who reflects on the law of the Lord
– will yield his fruit in due season.

Reading Numbers 12:16-13:3,17-33
Scouts are sent into Canaan

The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘Send out men, one from each tribe, to make a reconnaissance of this land of Canaan which I am giving to the sons of Israel. Send the leader of each tribe.’

At the Lord’s bidding, Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran to reconnoitre the land of Canaan, ‘Go up into the Negeb; then go up into the highlands. See what sort of country it is, and what sort of people the inhabitants are, whether they are strong or weak, few or many, what sort of country they live in, whether it is good or poor; what sort of towns they have, whether they are open or fortified; what sort of land it is, fertile or barren, wooded or open. Be bold, and bring back some of the produce of the country.’

It was the season for early grapes. They went up to reconnoitre the land, from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, the Pass of Hamath. They went up by way of the Negeb as far as Hebron, where the Anakim lived, Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai. (Hebron was founded seven years before Tanis in Egypt.) They came to the Valley of Eshcol; there they lopped off a vine branch with a cluster of grapes, which two of them carried away on a pole, as well as pomegranates and figs. This place was called the Valley of Eshcol after the cluster which the sons of Israel had cut there.

At the end of forty days, they came back from their reconnaissance of the land. They sought out Moses, Aaron and the whole community of Israel, in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They made their report to them, and to the whole community, and showed them the produce of the country.

They told them this story, ‘We went into the land to which you sent us. It does indeed flow with milk and honey; this is its produce. At the same time, its inhabitants are a powerful people; the towns are fortified and very big; yes, and we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekite holds the Negeb area, the Hittite, Amorite and Jebusite the highlands, and the Canaanite the sea coast and the banks of the Jordan.’

Caleb harangued the people gathered about Moses: ‘We must march in,’ he said ‘and conquer this land: we are well able to do it.’ But the men who had gone up with him answered, ‘We are not able to march against this people; they are stronger than we are.’ And they began to disparage the country they had reconnoitred to the sons of Israel, ‘The country we went to reconnoitre is a country that devours its inhabitants. Every man we saw there was of enormous size. Yes, and we saw giants there (the sons of Anak, descendants of the Giants). We felt like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.’

Reading From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope
Contemplating the Lord's passion

True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognising in him our own humanity.

The earth – our earthly nature – should tremble at the suffering of its Redeemer. The rocks – the hearts of unbelievers – should burst asunder. The dead, imprisoned in the tombs of their mortality, should come forth, the massive stones now ripped apart. Foreshadowings of the future resurrection should appear in the holy city, the Church of God: what is to happen to our bodies should now take place in our hearts.

No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross. No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ. His prayer brought benefit to the multitude that raged against him. How much more does it bring to those who turn to him in repentance.

Ignorance has been destroyed, obstinacy has been overcome. The sacred blood of Christ has quenched the flaming sword that barred access to the tree of life. The age-old night of sin has given place to the true light.

The Christian people are invited to share the riches of paradise. All who have been reborn have the way open before them to return to their native land, from which they had been exiled. Unless indeed they close off for themselves the path that could be opened before the faith of a thief.

The business of this life should not preoccupy us with its anxiety and pride, so that we no longer strive with all the love of our heart to be like our Redeemer, and to follow his example. Everything that he did or suffered was for our salvation: he wanted his body to share the goodness of its head.

First of all, in taking our human nature while remaining God, so that the Word became man, he left no member of the human race, the unbeliever excepted, without a share in his mercy. Who does not share a common nature with Christ if he has welcomed Christ, who took our nature, and is reborn in the Spirit through whom Christ was conceived?

Again, who cannot recognise in Christ his own infirmities? Who would not recognise that Christ’s eating and sleeping, his sadness and his shedding of tears of love are marks of the nature of a slave?

It was this nature of a slave that had to be healed of its ancient wounds and cleansed of the defilement of sin. For that reason the only-begotten Son of God became also the son of man. He was to have both the reality of a human nature and the fullness of the godhead.

The body that lay lifeless in the tomb is ours. The body that rose again on the third day is ours. The body that ascended above all the heights of heaven to the right hand of the Father’s glory is ours. If then we walk in the way of his commandments, and are not ashamed to acknowledge the price he paid for our salvation in a lowly body, we too are to rise to share his glory. The promise he made will be fulfilled in the sight of all: Whoever acknowledges me before men, I too will acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven.

Concluding Prayer

Lord, we are your servants and we pray for your clemency.
Set right by penitence and trained by good works,
may we wholeheartedly follow your commandments
and come unstained to the paschal feast.
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.