Thursday, February 14, 2013


Country Prayer for Lent

Dear Lord,
we are now in the holy season of Lent.
We begin to realize anew that these are the days of salvation,
these are the acceptable days. We know that we are all sinners.
We know that in many things we have all offended Your infinite majesty.
We know that sin destroys Your life in us as a drought withers the leaves and chokes the life from the land,
leaving an arid, dusty desert.
Help us now, Lord,
in our feeble attempts to make up for past sin.
Bless our efforts with the rich blessing of Your grace.
Make us realize ever more our need of penance and of mortification.
Help us to see, in our ordinary difficulties and duties,
in the trials and temptations of every day,
the best opportunity of making up for past infidelities.
Every day we are so often reminded in field and wood, in sky and stream,
of Your own boundless generosity to us.
Help us to realize that You are never outdone in generosity,
and that the least thing we do for You will be rewarded,
full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and flowing over.
Then we shall see, in our own souls,
how the desert can blossom,
and the dry and wasted land can bring forth the rich,
useful fruit that was expected of it from the beginning.



Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Dt 30:15-20

Moses said to the people:

“Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 And 6

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Lk 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:

“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Then he said to all,

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”


February 14

Sts. Cyril and Methodius (d. 869; d. 884)

Because their father was an officer in a part of Greece inhabited by many Slavs, these two Greek brothers ultimately became missionaries, 
teachers and patrons of the Slavic peoples.

After a brilliant course of studies, Cyril (called Constantine until he became a monk shortly before his death) refused the governorship of a district such as his brother had accepted among the Slavic-speaking population. Cyril withdrew to a monastery where his brother Methodius had become a monk after some years in a governmental post.

A decisive change in their lives occurred when the Duke of Moravia (present-day Czech Republic) asked the Eastern Emperor Michael for political independence from German rule and ecclesiastical autonomy (having their own clergy and liturgy). 
Cyril and Methodius undertook the missionary task.

Cyril’s first work was to invent an alphabet, still used in some Eastern liturgies. His followers probably formed the Cyrillic alphabet (for example, modern Russian) from Greek capital letters. Together they translated the Gospels, the psalter, Paul’s letters and the liturgical books into Slavonic, and composed a Slavonic liturgy, highly irregular then.

That and their free use of the vernacular in preaching led to opposition from the German clergy. The bishop refused to consecrate Slavic bishops and priests, and Cyril was forced to appeal to Rome. On the visit to Rome, he and Methodius had the joy of seeing their new liturgy approved by Pope Adrian II. Cyril, long an invalid, died in Rome 50 days after taking the monastic habit.

Methodius continued mission work for 16 more years. He was papal legate for all the Slavic peoples, consecrated a bishop and then given an ancient see (now in the Czech Republic). When much of their former territory was removed from their jurisdiction, the Bavarian bishops retaliated with a violent storm of accusation against Methodius. As a result, Emperor Louis the German exiled Methodius for three years. 
Pope John VIII secured his release.

Because the Frankish clergy, still smarting, continued their accusations, Methodius had to go to Rome to defend himself against charges of heresy and uphold his use of the Slavonic liturgy. He was again vindicated.

Legend has it that in a feverish period of activity, Methodius translated the whole Bible into Slavonic in eight months. 
He died on Tuesday of Holy Week, surrounded by his disciples, in his cathedral church.

Opposition continued after his death, and the work of the brothers in Moravia was brought to an end and their disciples scattered. But the expulsions had the beneficial effect of spreading the spiritual, liturgical and cultural work of the brothers to Bulgaria, Bohemia and southern Poland. Patrons of Moravia, and specially venerated by Catholic Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Orthodox Serbians and Bulgarians, Cyril and Methodius are eminently fitted to guard the long-desired unity of East and West. In 1980, Pope John Paul II named them additional co-patrons of Europe (with Benedict).


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

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 66 (67)

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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


Lord, who throughout these forty days
for us didst fast and pray,
teach us with thee to mourn our sins,
and close by thee to stay.
As thou with Satan didst contend
and didst the victory win,
O give us strength in thee to fight,
in thee to conquer sin.
As thou didst hunger bear, and thirst,
so teach us, gracious Lord,
to die to self, and chiefly live
by thy most holy word.
And through these days of penitence,
and through thy Passiontide,
yea, evermore in life and death,
Jesus, with us abide.
Abide with us, that so, this life
of suffering overpast,
an Easter of unending joy
we may attain at last.

Psalm 43 (44)
In time of defeat

Their own arm did not bring them victory:
this was won by 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.

Their own arm did not bring them victory:
this was won by your right hand and the light of your face.

Psalm 43 (44)

If you return to the Lord,
then he will not hide his face from you.

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.

If you return to the Lord,
then he will not hide his face from you.

Psalm 43 (44)

Arise, 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.

Arise, Lord, do not reject us for ever.

He who reflects on the law of the Lord
– will yield his fruit in due season.

Exodus 1:1-22

These are the names of the sons of Israel who went with Jacob to Egypt, each with his family: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. In all, the descendants of Jacob numbered seventy persons. Joseph was in Egypt already. Then Joseph died, and his brothers, and all that generation. But the sons of Israel were fruitful and grew in numbers greatly; 
they increased and grew so immensely powerful that they filled the land.

Then there came to power in Egypt a new king who knew nothing of Joseph. ‘Look,’ he said to his subjects ‘these people, the sons of Israel, have become so numerous and strong that they are a threat to us. We must be prudent and take steps against their increasing any further, or if war should break out, they might add to the number of our enemies. They might take arms against us and so escape out of the country.’ Accordingly they put slave-drivers over the Israelites to wear them down under heavy loads. In this way they built the store-cities of Pithom and Rameses for Pharaoh. But the more they were crushed, the more they increased and spread, and men came to dread the sons of Israel. The Egyptians forced the sons of Israel into slavery, and made their lives unbearable with hard labour, work with clay and with brick, all kinds of work in the fields; 
they forced on them every kind of labour.

The king of Egypt then spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah, and the other Puah. ‘When you midwives attend Hebrew women,’ he said ‘watch the two stones carefully. If it is a boy, kill him; if a girl, let her live.’ But the midwives were God-fearing: they disobeyed the command of the king of Egypt and let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives. ‘Why’ he asked them ‘have you done this and spared the boys?’ ‘The Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women,’ they answered Pharaoh ‘they are hardy, and they give birth before the midwife reaches them.’ God was kind to the midwives. The people went on increasing and grew very powerful; 
since the midwives reverenced God he granted them descendants.

Pharaoh then gave his subjects this command: ‘Throw all the boys born to the Hebrews into the river, but let all the girls live.’


God said to Abraham:
Know this for certain, that your descendants will be exiles in a land not their own,
where they will be subjected to slavery and oppression for four hundred years,
and I will pass judgement on the nation that enslaves them.

I, the Lord, am your Saviour and your Redeemer,
and I will pass judgement on the nation that enslaves them.

From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope

Purification of spirit through fasting and almsgiving

Dear friends, at every moment the earth is full of the mercy of God, and nature itself is a lesson for all the faithful in the worship of God. The heavens, the sea and all that is in them bear witness to the goodness and omnipotence of their Creator, 
and the marvellous beauty of the elements as they obey him demands from the intelligent creation a fitting expression of its gratitude.

But with the return of that season marked out in a special way by the mystery of our redemption, and of the days that lead up to the paschal feast, 
we are summoned more urgently to prepare ourselves by a purification of spirit.

The special note of the paschal feast is this: the whole Church rejoices in the forgiveness of sins. It rejoices in the forgiveness not only of those who are then reborn in holy baptism but also of those who are already numbered among God’s adopted children.

Initially, men are made new by the rebirth of baptism. Yet there still is required a daily renewal to repair the shortcomings of our mortal nature, and whatever degree of progress has been made there is no one who should not be more advanced. 
All must therefore strive to ensure that on the day of redemption no one may be found in the sins of his former life.

Dear friends, what the Christian should be doing at all times should be done now with greater care and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be fulfilled, not simply by abstinence from food but above all by the renunciation of sin.

There is no more profitable practice as a companion to holy and spiritual fasting than that of almsgiving. This embraces under the single name of mercy many excellent works of devotion, so that the good intentions of all the faithful may be of equal value, even where their means are not. The love that we owe both God and man is always free from any obstacle that would prevent us from having a good intention. The angels sang: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. The person who shows love and compassion to those in any kind of affliction is blessed, 
not only with the virtue of good will but also with the gift of peace.

The works of mercy are innumerable. Their very variety brings this advantage to those who are true Christians, that in the matter of almsgiving not only the rich and affluent but also those of average means and the poor are able to play their part. 
Those who are unequal in their capacity to give can be equal in the love within their hearts.


The time of fasting opens the gates of heaven to us:
let us give ourselves to penance and prayer,
so that we may rejoice with the Lord on the day of his resurrection.

In all things let us prove that we are servants of God,
so that we may rejoice with the Lord on the day of his resurrection.

Let us pray.

Lord, be the beginning and end
of everything we do and say.
Prompt our actions with your grace,
and complete them with your all-powerful help.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Let us bless the Lord.
– Thanks be to God.