Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Catholic Worship during the Corona Virus Shutdown

by Reader Lou Pizzuti, OP

Many Dioceses in the United States have celebrated the public celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and temporarily closed Adoration Chapels.  This is done as a precautionary measure to avoid having parishioners exposed to the Corona Virus.

How do we, as Catholics, deal with this?

1. EWTN has a daily Mass celebration broadcast.  Watch it.
2. Some Dioceses are following suit.  Bishop Lucia of Syracuse will podcast a daily private mass on the diocesan website, and will upload the Sunday Mass to the diocesan Youtube Channel.

When you do watch a Mass on TV, you obviously cannot receive our Lord in the Eucharist.
You can, however, make a Act of Spiritual Communion.

3. You can pray the Divine Office, or, as it's known in some Eastern Catholic circles, The Divine Praises.  The Western office can be found at iBreviary.com

4. If Adoration is not available, you can pray with icons. As St. Basil the Great teaches us, the honor paid the image passes to the prototype.  If you don't have any icons, downloading one from the web will do.  Just avoid anything from Monastery Icons.

5. You can pray the psalms, you can read more scripture, you can read the Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church, not for logical analysis, but as a conversation between you and the Holy Spirit.

Yes, this can be a difficult time for the Catholic, but, remember, it's Lent. We have to learn to sacrifice, and turn that sacrifice into spiritual growth.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Call to prayer

In light of the Corona Virus pandemic and the upcoming election,

Please join us in prayer, every day between now and the election, in praying

1. The Seven Penitential Psalms
2. The Litany of the Saints
3. The Litany of the Dominican Saints and Blesseds
4. The Litany of the Holy Cross

1. That those elected would serve our Lord in leading our nation to Him.
2. That we,  individually and as a nation,  would humble ourselves, pray,  seek his face,  and turn from our wicked ways - believing that He would hear from heaven, heal our land, and forgive our sin (2 Chronicles 7:14).

The Angelus

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
Hail Mary...
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary...

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.


 Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
to thee do I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of thy Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy clemency hear and answer me.

Pope Francis Prayer 
“O Mary, you shine continuously along our journey as a sign of salvation and hope.
“We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who at the Cross were near to the pain of Jesus, keeping your faith firm.
“You, Salvation of the Roman people, know what we need, and we trust that you will provide for those needs so that, as at Cana of Galilee, joy and celebration may return after this moment of trial.
“Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform ourselves to the will of the Father and to do what Jesus tells us, He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and took up our sorrows to bring us, through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.
“We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test – and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.”

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Third Sunday in Lent, according to the Byzantine Usage. The Exaltation of the Holy Cross


Apostle: (Heb 4,14-16;5,1-6) Brethren: Since we have a great high priest who has passed
through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: “You are my son; this day I have begotten you”; just as he says in another place: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Gospel: (Mk 8,34-38;9,1) At that time, Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.” He also said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power.”

Take a look at the iconostas, if you would. There are two side doors. They’re called Deacon Doors because each has an icon of an early deacon.

This one, on the left, is St. Stephen, one of the first seven deacons. Shortly after his ordination, scripture tells us, “full of grace and power, [he] did great wonders and signs among the people”. The Jewish authorities at one particular synagogue didn’t like that, so they made false accusations against him and brought him before the high priest. Given that opportunity, he preached the Gospel, and the people were enraged and took him outside and stoned him to death.

The other one, St. Lawrence of Rome, was arrested in a great purge of Christian clergy from the City of Rome, when the Empire was still pagan. The emperor had demanded that he produce the church’s silver and gold. Lawrence asked for three days to gather the riches. He eventually returned with the poor and sick, people who were cared for by the church, remembering that Christians are to recognize Christ in the poor.

Upon hearing Lawrence explaining that the Church’s riches, her silver and gold, were the poor and sick of society, Emperor Valerian flew into rage and condemned Lawrence to death – not by beheading, which had recently been the fate of Pope Sixtus. No, not by beheading, but by being burned alive in public, on a griddle. So filled with grace was Lawrence that, at one point, he joked with his executioners while being cooked.

Both of these saints show us how to live out Christ’s words in the gospel: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it”.

Stephen didn’t know that he would be martyred – at that point, there were no martyrs. But there had been persecution. But do you really think that they would like it when he said, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

He did not seek to save his life, but offered his life for Christ.

But Lawrence? Lawrence knew that he would be martyred. Just a four days earlier, Pope Sixtus had met a martyr’s death.

Like Stephen, Lawrence did not seek to save his life, but offered his life for Christ.

In our society today, opportunities to follow Christ in martyrdom are not all that common. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways that He’s given us to follow him and become free of our attachment to things of this life.

Jesus says you must deny yourself. That’s what Lent is – training, practice in denying yourself. Our Lenten fast is not nearly as difficult as it was in times past. Oil was not permitted. There was no dairy from the Sunday before Lent until Pascha, and no meat from the previous Sunday (after all, that’s why they’re called Cheesefare and Meatfare Sunday). But, nevertheless, the modern rules of no meat on Friday and no dairy on Good Friday – that’s still self-denial.

Do you remember in the Garden, Peter, James, and John fell asleep. And Jesus said, “could you not keep watch with me just one hour?” With the relaxed fasting rules, it’s like Jesus saying to us, “could you not keep fast with me one day?”

Then He tells us to take up our cross. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to carry an instrument of torture and death, especially not one specially tailored to fit me. But I have to. And, you have to, if you are to come after Him.

Maybe it’s something in your job situation that is difficult. Maybe it’s a personal relationship – it might be an overly demanding person who often needs your help, and there’s nobody else they can turn to. There are many things that can become a cross for you. And it becomes a source of suffering, and source of self-denial.

But a cross is not only a source of suffering and self-denial. St. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church”. Think about that – when you accept the suffering that comes from self-denial and carrying your cross, God makes that a conduit for His grace.

When Stephen was being martyred, there was a young man guarding the cloaks of those doing the stoning. His name was Saul of Tarsus. We know him better by his Roman name, the one he used after his conversion – St. Paul.

And Lawrence? The tradition records massive conversions to the Christian faith as a result of the holy life and death of one Deacon who understood the true heart of his vocation.

By not seeking their own lives, but offering them to Christ, these saints became examples to us and seeds of the Church's growth.
And if you don’t take up your cross? St. Alphonsus de Liguori teaches “what does he gain who refuses his cross? He increases its weight”.

So, my brothers and sisters, what will it be? Will you take advantage of what remains in Lent, learning to deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Christ? Or will you refuse your cross and, by doing so, increase its weight?