“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. ‘Why have we fasted, and thou seest it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and thou takest no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.
“If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.
It is amazing to think of the story,
the human story of toils and gory,
and to see the joys, often paltry,
in the midst of all and sundry.
But when I see the Cross’ glory,
in spite of being heavy and burly,
I simply wonder if I, so burdened,
can enjoy the its’ similar story.
Then I see he who hangs on the Cross,
by whom even the thief is restored,
and I breath with some confidence assured,
that all will be well even if now obscure.
“Then he told them, “That is why every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom from heaven is like the master of a household who brings both new and old things out of his treasure chest.” Matthew 13:52
Problem is he never stops going back to that store 🙂
THE MASS AND THE SCRIPTURES
To put it nicely, the Mass is the only place where we read more passages at a time! Call you best prayer warrior, ask Him (or her) to pray for 24 hours and quote as many scripture passages as they can possibly remember and they still wouldn’t have quoted more passages than a simple Catholic who “casually” goes for Mass on a weekday. The following is a simple structure of the Mass and the scriptural references to what the priest and the congregation says.
The Entrance procession occasioned by the Ringing of the Bell (Exod 28:33-35)
Sign of the Cross:
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt 28:19; cf. John 14:13-14; Acts 2:21)
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Cor 13:14)
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:2; Eph 1:2)
“The Lord be with you.” (2 Tim 4:22; cf. Matt 1:23; 28:20)
“And with your spirit” (cf. Gal 6:18; 2 Tim 4:22)
Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Holy Water (see Ezek 36:25; cf. Num 8:7a)
Intro: “Let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.” (cf. Ps 51:5)
“I confess to almighty God…” (cf. Lev 5:5; Neh 1:5-9; Dan 9:3-19; James 5:16)
“Have mercy on us, O Lord. / For we have sinned against you. / Show us, O Lord, your mercy. / And grant us your salvation.” (Ps 41:4)
“Lord, Have Mercy” (Matt 15:22; 17:15; 20:30-31; cf. Ps 123:3)
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will” (Luke 2:14; cf. Rev 4:11; 5:11-14)
“We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you…” (Cf. Ps 148:13)
“Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son” (cf. Ps 2:7; John 1:14)
“Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world…” (cf. John 1:29)
Prayers concluded by “Amen” (Neh 8:6; Ps 41:13; Rom 16:27; Heb 13:20-21; Rev 7:16)
LITURGY OF THE WORD
“A reading from the book/letter of…”
“The Word of the Lord” (1 Peter 1:25) – “Thanks be to God” (Rom 6:17; 2 Cor 9:15)
Acclamations before the Gospel:
“Alleluia” (many Psalms, esp. Ps 146-150; Rev 19:1-6)
“Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory!” (cf. Ps 24:7-10; 1 Thess 2:12; 2 Tim 4:18)
“Praise and honour to you, Lord Jesus Christ!” (cf. Dan 4:34, 37; 1 Peter 1:7)
“Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!” (cf. Phil 1:11)
“A reading from the holy Gospel according to…” – “Glory to you, O Lord”
“The Gospel of the Lord” (Rom 16:25; Mark 1:1) – “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”
Profession of Faith
“I believe…” (Mark 9:24; John 11:27; cf. John 14:1; 1 John 5:10)
“We pray to the Lord” (Exod 8:29-30; 10:17-18; Jer 42:2-4; Acts 8:22-24)
“Lord, hear our prayer” (2 Kings 20:2-5; Isa 38:2-5)
“Hail Mary” (Lk 1:28,42)
LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
Preparation of the Gifts
“Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation…” (cf. 1 Chron 29:10; Ps 72:18-19; 119:10; Luke 1:68)
“Blessed be God forever. ” (cf. Gen 14:20; Ps 66:20; 68:35)
“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts…” (Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8)
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Ps 118:26; Mark 11:9; Matt 21:9; Luke 19:38; John 12:13)
“Hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:10; Matt 21:9; cf. Luke 19:38)
Words of Institution: (see Mark 14:22-24; Matt 26:26-28; cf. Luke 22:17-20; 1 Cor 11:23-25)
“Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you” (a combination of Mark 14:22; Matt 26:26; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24)
“Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (a combination of Mark 14:24; Matt 26:27b-28; cf. Luke 22:17, 20; 1 Cor 11:25)
“Do this in remembrance of me” (only Luke 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24a, 25b)
1st Acclamation: “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.” (cf. 1 Cor 16:22)
2nd Acclamation: “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.” (cf. 1 Cor 11:26)
3rd Acclamation: “Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.” (cf. Matt 8:25; Luke 4:42; Rom 8:21).
“Our Father in heaven…” (Matt 6:9-13; cf. Luke 11:2-4; Mark 14:36; Gal 4:6)
Embolism: “Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil… as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13)
Doxology: “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours…”
(found only in some biblical manuscripts after Matt 6:13; cf. Rev 4:11; 11:15; 1 Chron 29:11)
Greeting of Peace
“Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, ‘I leave you peace, my peace I give you’” (John 14:27)
“The peace of the Lord be with you always.” (cf. John 16:33; 20:19, 21, 26)
Breaking of the Bread:
“Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world…” (cf. John 1:29, 36; Rev 5:6-13; 22:1-3)
Preparation before Communion
“Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” (John 1:29, 36; Rev 19:9)
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” (Matt 8:8; cf. Luke 7:1-10)
Final Blessing (cf. Gen 28:3; Deut 14:29; v 6:23-27; Ps 29:11)
“Go forth, the Mass is ended.”
“Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” (cf. Mark 16:15)
“Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” (cf. Ps 115:1; 1 Cor 10:31; 2 Thess 1:12)
“Go in peace.” (cf. Exod 4:18; Deut 10:11-13; Judg 18:6; 1 Sam 1:17; Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50; 8:48)
Many people either take the Mass for granted or condemn it outright from ignorance. If we take greater interest in knowing the truth, promoting it and cherishing it, we will treasure the Mass as God’s greatest gift to humanity. In the Mass God gives us Himself.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son tells us practically everything we need to know about our relationship to God, if we attend to its details.
“A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that is coming to me.’” To live properly in God is to live in an attitude of receptivity and generosity, receiving a gift from God and being always ready to give it away. God respects our freedom and so “the father divided up the property.” But this is a tragic moment. What is meant to be a flow of grace becomes divided, separated, riven into yours and mine.
Where does the son then go? He wanders with his fortune into the “far country.” In Greek this is the chora makra, the great wide-open emptiness. There he quickly squanders his inheritance, and so it always goes. When we cling to the divine life as our own, we lose it. He was forced to hire himself out so as to become a feeder of pigs. In the chora makra, there are only relationships of economic calculation, each one striving to hang on to what is his. “No one made a move to give him anything,” and so it goes in the far country. It is the place of no giving.
Coming to his senses at last, he decides to break away and return to his father, saying, “Treat me like one of your hired hands.” He knows that even the slaves are in a life-giving relationship.
The father sees him from a long way off (he had obviously been looking for him) and then, throwing caution and respectability to the winds, he comes running out to meet him. The Bible is not the story of our quest for God, but of God’s passionate, relentless quest for us. The father exclaims, “Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet.” Some Church Fathers saw this as the ring of marriage, symbolizing the re-establishment of right relation between us and God.
The parable then turns to the older son. Though superficially different from his brother, they are actually in the same spiritual space for he too sees himself in an economic relationship to his father. Like most upright, religiously respectable people, he is put off by this celebration for someone who most assuredly does not deserve it. Listen to his language: “For years I have slaved for you. I never disobeyed any of your orders, yet you never gave me so much as a kid goat to celebrate with my friends.” He is a slave, and one who carefully obeys – not one who has caught the spirit of his father. He feels that he has to earn or deserve his father’s love. He hates his brother and is resentful of his father’s generosity. “Then when this son of yours returns after having gone through your property with loose women, you kill the fatted calf for him.” When we fall out of love with God, we fall into hatred of one another.
The father patiently explains: “My son, you are with me always, and everything I have is yours.”
In the end, this is the key to the entire parable and is true for both sons, though they don’t realize it.
Everything that God has is given to us. His whole being is “for-giving.”
There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.
Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.
When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.
Let this be the pattern for all men when they practice mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you. Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defence, a threefold united prayer in our favor.
Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.
Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.
To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.
When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.
St. Peter Chrysologus, Office of Readings for Tuesday of the 3rd week of Lent