Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for March 26, 2006

Today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, is traditionally known as Laetare Sunday, because of the first words of the Introit (or Entrance Antiphon) for today’s Mass: “Laetare Ierusalem.” The English translation of this beautiful antiphon reads: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and gather together, all you who love her; rejoice with gladness, you who have been in sorrow, so that you may exult and be satisfied with the abundance of your consolation.” This verse is taken from the prophet Isaiah (66:10) and provides encouragement for all of us as we reach the middle of Lent.

The Church, as the New Jerusalem, is invited to rejoice at the prospect of salvation and her preparations for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery: the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even though the penances of Lent may become tiring; even though our initial zeal may have begun to lag; even though our fasting, prayer, and almsgiving may have begun to slack, the Liturgy reminds us of the merciful abundance that our Lord bestows upon us with His Grace.

In former times, when all musical instruments were silent during Lent, the organ alone was permitted this Sunday as a foretaste of the joy of Easter. Likewise, rose-colored vestments were worn instead of purple (just as on the third Sunday of Advent) as a cheerful reminder of the dawn of the new day of the Resurrection that is quickly approaching. They also remind the faithful of the ancient papal custom of blessing a golden rose at the Vatican on this Sunday.

If we are beginning to feel discouraged by the length of Lent or the challenge of penance, today is an excellent day to rekindle our fervor and renew our efforts at conversion of heart as we prepare for the great and solemn celebration of Holy Week.

Yesterday, March 25, was the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day on which we commemorate the moment of the Incarnation. Nine months from now, we will celebrate Christmas; yet almost by way of juxtaposition, the Church recalls the unity between the mysteries of God becoming man (the Incarnation) and His Crucifixion. The wood of the crib in so many ways foreshadows the wood of the Cross. The Annunciation and the Nativity find their ultimate conclusion – their ultimate meaning – on Calvary.

As we reflect upon the mystery of the Annunciation, Mary (the “Mystical Rose”) is clearly at the center of the mystery. Her quiet “Yes” to the Angel Gabriel resounds throughout human history. In her simply and humble acceptance of God’s will to save the human race from sin and death, she became the first Christian. She is the first and most perfect disciple of her divine Son, and she leads each of us to Him. Her fidelity was not limited to the Annunciation, or the Nativity, or the Presentation, or even the finding in the Temple. She appears in silent yet eloquent testimony to the meaning of true love at the foot of the Cross and through the magnificent gift of the Spirit on Pentecost.

Just as the Blessed Virgin accompanied Christ through His passion and death, she accompanies each of us, not just by way of imitation and example, but also through her gracious and efficacious intercession before her Son’s heavenly throne. May the “Yes” of the Annunciation echo in our lives, helping us to bear our own Cross out of love for the King who shed His Blood for us. The first stanza of the beautiful Stabat Mater reminds us:

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.