"When Clare saw Francis preaching in the town square, certainly she was aware of people's reactions to him. It would have been difficult not to have heard about Pietro Bernardone's son who had renounced his family and embraced poverty. But something about Francis and his words captured her spirit. In him, she saw not a rebel but a man whose heart had been captured by God. She longed to join him in his calling to serve others. Would we be willing to take such a leap of faith for our convictions?"
19 March 2023
Koiné: "Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness"
As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of Koiné presenting "Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness":
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Today the Church celebrates the Fourth Sunday of Lent. The assigned readings
are 1 Samuel 16: 1b, 6-7 10-13a; Ephesians 5:8-14; and John 9:1-41. The
Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 23 (Psalm 23:1-6).
For one version of the Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:
YouTube: Spirit & Psalm - 4th Sunday of Lent, 2023 - Year A - Psalm 23 - Hart
The Gospel reading is as follows:
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, "Go wash in the Pool of Siloam" - which means Sent -. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.
His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, "Isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?" Some said, "It is, " but others said, "No, he just looks like him." He said, "I am." So they said to him, "How were your eyes opened?" He replied, "The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' So I went there and washed and was able to see." And they said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I don't know."
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see." So some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath." But others said, "How can a sinful man do such signs?" And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, "What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet."
Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?" His parents answered and said, "We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself." His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, "He is of age; question him."
So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, "Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner." He replied, "If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see." So they said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" He answered them, "I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?" They ridiculed him and said, "You are that man's disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from." The man answered and said to them, "This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything." They answered and said to him, "You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?" Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered and said, "Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he." He said, "I do believe, Lord," and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind."
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not also blind, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, 'We see,' so your sin remains."
Reflections related to these readings:
Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Salesian Sunday Reflections: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 19, 2023)
Community in Mission: I Went, I Washed, And Now I See - A Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent (18 MAR 23)
Benedictine College: This Sunday, We Were All Born Blind (18 MAR 23)
Magis Center for Catholic Spirituality: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Word on Fire: I Was Blind and Now I See (Cycle A * Lent * 4th Week)
Thank You, Lord
Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You bestow on those making a retreat.
Fr. Michael Rennier on Making an Annual Retreat
"Every year, I make a week-long spiritual retreat in rural Missouri. I've been on all sorts of retreats in my life - Cursillo, ACTS, diocesan clergy retreats, days of recollection, Lifeteen youth camp, guided Ignatian exercises, parish retreats to the lake, and many more. I've found each and every one helpful in its own way with great speakers, time for spiritual development, and plenty of time to bond with the other people. If your parish offers a retreat, I highly recommend considering it."
In a recent commentary, Father Michael Rennier
reflected on some of the reasons why making an annual retreat can be good for a person.
To access Fr. Rennier's complete post, please visit:
Aleteia: Fr. Michael Rennier: Why an annual retreat can be so good for you (19 MAR 23)
Reflection Starter from Pope Francis
"Let us ask the grace to be surprised every day by God's gifts and to see the various circumstances of life, even the ones that are the most difficult to accept, as occasions to do good, as Jesus did with the blind man." - Pope Francis
18 March 2023
Pentatonix: "Can You Feel the Love Tonight"
As our Christmas celebration continues, I offer this version of Pentatonix presenting "Can You Feel the Love Tonight":
Lent with St. Clare: Third Saturday of Lent
"As spring arrives and the earth begins to once again wake up, we become aware of the resiliency and beauty of nature. St. Clare often referred to herself as the 'little plant of St. Francis,' a fitting description of the impact she would have on the Church. From within the convent of San Damiano, Clare established a community of sisters that flourished and spread far and wide and has continued to do so even to this day. There is great beauty in that."
Media is offering a special Lenten series of meditations, "Lent with
St. Clare." The mediation for the Third Saturday of Lent is as follows:
Franciscan Media: Lent with St. Clare: Third Saturday
Thak You, Lord
Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of art museums.
The Gentleness of Pope Benedict
In the aftermath of Pope Benedict XVI's passing, many beautiful remembrances were written about his life and the impact he had on the world and on those who had the privilege to know him. One of the quieter and more personal remembrances was published on the Vatican News website, and it's worth focusing on for the glimpse it provides of the late pontiff''s character. The piece was written by Alberto Gasbarri, who spent many years as the organizer of papal journeys. It was a role that required regular contact with Benedict, and the insights he gained from those interactions are illuminating and heartwarming.
"To those who had an austere and professorial impression of him," Gasbarri writes, "he may have seemed to them detached or indifferent, but on the contrary, in his soul, Pope Benedict was full of gentleness and a disarming kindness frequently accompanied with a subtle and witty good humor."
In trying to capture the nature of Benedict's character, Gasbarri references Mother Teresa, who once gave him a tour of the home where she cared for sick and abandoned people. Gasbarri asked Mother Teresa what chances those in her care had for recovery. The nun responded, "Our fundamental mission is not to heal those who cannot be cured, for this there are hospitals. It is to gently accompany them to their encounter with Jesus."
Relating this bit of wisdom to his initial interactions with Benedict, Gasbarri writes, "Soon after visiting him more closely, I immediately thought back to the gentleness described with Mother Teresa. . . . One could sense [Benedict's gentleness] in private meetings with him, what Mother Teresa called The Gospel of Kindness. 'Be Kind,' was indeed Mother Teresa's admonition, 'because holiness is not a luxury for the few. It is a simple duty for all. Kindness is the basis of the greatest holiness. If you know the art of kindness, you will become more and more like Christ.'"
Through a series of brief vignettes that shed light on the impressions Gasbarri formed of Benedict over the years, he paints a portrait of a man who cared deeply about others and showed profound respect to everyone he encountered. In one of the more dramatic stories, Gasbarri tells of a time when Pope Benedict was at World Youth Day and a powerful storm wiped out the power and damaged the papal stage. There was great concern for Benedict's safety and, Gasbarri writes, "We suggested Pope Benedict leave the stage area and suspend the event, but the Pope's polite but firm reply came as he remained seated in his chair, saying: 'If the young people stay here, the Pope cannot abandon them.'"
This is such a beautiful picture of a servant of the people. Benedict understood the excitement of everyone who had journeyed from far and wide to attend that World Youth Day, and he wanted to remain there in solidarity with them. What a blessing he was to the Church, and his example of love, fidelity, and gentleness will most certainly be the legacy he leaves to the world.
Let us continue to pray for the repose of the soul of Pope Benedict XVI so that he might be in heaven and intercede for us all. Gasbarri certainly inspires confidence regarding Benedict's path to heaven with the final line of his remembrance: "I am sure that Pope Benedict presented himself with all his gentleness in meeting with beloved Jesus, as I am equally sure many will miss his refined thinking and his exquisite gentleness of heart."
This essay is a recent "Light One Candle"
column, written by Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M, of The Christophers' Board of Directors; it is one of a series of
weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current
Reflection Starter from St. Cyril of Jerusalem
"Accepting the faith is like putting into the bank the money we have given you; God will ask you for an account of this deposit." – Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (whose memory the Church celebrates today, 18 March)
17 March 2023
Lent with St. Clare: Third Friday of Lent
"For many of us, simplicity is something that we desire but struggle to achieve. It's so easy for us to accumulate worldly goods. We can buy things with the click of a button or a quick swipe of a card. But do we really need those things? Do they bring us true joy? St. Clare didn't think so, and she encouraged her sisters to come to that realization as well. It is in this simplicity, humility, and poverty that St. Clare found herself most able to be open to Christ. She wanted that joy for others, too."
Media is offering a special Lenten series of meditations, "Lent with
St. Clare." The mediation for the Third Friday of Lent is as follows:
Franciscan Media: Lent with St. Clare: Third Friday