Sunday, March 22, is the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year B, Cycle I). Wednesday, March 25, is the solemnity of the Annunciation.
Pope Benedict XVI finishes his apostolic journey to Africa (Angola and Cameroon) on March 23.
EPriest.com offers best parish practices.
Father Timothy Reid, pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Charlotte, N.C., has led Eucharistic adoration for children for years.
At St. Ann’s, on the first Wednesday of every month, Father Reid offers children the chance for 30 minutes of adoration in the late afternoon. He leads lessons and teaches them hymns like “O Salutaris Hostia” and “Tantum Ergo.”
Find information and testimonials at the EPriest.com website.
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On March 25, throw a “nine months till Christmas” party with your children. Today’s feast of the Annunciation falls in Lent but is a solemnity, so you can celebrate.
Point out: that Dec. 25 isn’t the day that God became human. March 25 is. It’s the day of the Incarnation. Teach them the Angelus, if they don’t know it already. Find the words at the Faith & Family Live! website, under “Resources.”
Today might be a good day to watch the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring (warning: violence and scary orcs). In The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien, a devout Catholic, names March 25 as the day the “one ring” was made. In Peter Jackson’s first Lord of the Rings movie, an impressive sequence tells the story of how the ring was made and shares wisdom about how corrupting sin and power are to men. Tolkien placed that event on that day perhaps to draw a parallel to how Adam and Eve chose the corrupting path of sin and disobedience.
On March 25, Christ chose the humble way, forsaking his high station to live and die with us, and Mary chose obedience. They “unmade” sin through humility and obedience, just as the goal in the movie is to “unmake” the ring.
2 Chronicles 36:14-17, 19-23; Psalm 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21
EPriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.
The Hail, Holy Queen prayer uses strange language that can sound excessive. In it we call ourselves “poor banished children of Eve.” We characterize ourselves as “mourning and weeping in this valley of tears,” and we ask to be brought to Christ “after this exile.”
The fact that the Church ends every Rosary with that prayer is an indication that it isn’t excessive. It’s meant to tell us something true about the human condition.
Today’s readings explain.
1. We are judged as nations, not just as individuals. The first reading is about the Babylonian exile. It tells succinctly how God allowed the Jews to go into exile because of their infidelities, then brought them back himself. God expects Christians to raise the fidelity of their nations to him, too. If we fail, we must live with the consequences.
2. God understands the pain of our exile. The Psalm recounts the Jews’ lament at being in Babylon, longing for Jerusalem. This is the spiritual benefit of exile: It makes us appreciate our true home.
3. Christ saves us from exile and takes us home. The second reading recounts how God, “when we were still dead in our transgressions, brought us to life in Christ.” It promises “immeasurable riches” in the “heavens.”
4. The Gospel calls us to repent and change our ways. Today’s Gospel includes the famous verse: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” But also the less famous, and equally important: “Everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light.”
We are in exile, and the only way out is through Christ. To go that way, we need to follow his commandments and meet him in the sacraments.