Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rejoice!

Today in the Roman Rite is Laetare Sunday. It comes from the opening words of the Introit, which goes:
Laetare, Jerusalem: conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, quia in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae. -- Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. V.: Gloria Patri . . . -- Laetare, Jerusalem . . .

Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. -- (Ps. 121. 1). I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord. V.: Glory to the Father . . . -- Rejoice, O Jerusalem . . .
The organ today can be used for voluntaries that go beyond supporting the singing, and although we didn't get this in the Ordinary Form, it seems that the Gloria Patri antiphons are used. Flowers can go back around the altar, but this will all quickly go away next week in the TLM for it is Passion Sunday, and the week after for the whole rite, for it is Palm Sunday which of course begins Holy Week.
Fr. Finigan celebrating a Solemn Mass at Blackfen a few years backI need to appeal for  two rose dalmatics and stoles for SMT.
The Gospel reading is the Prodigal Son, but I would like to look at the first few verses today. 

15. Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3. So he told them this parable: 4. “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? 5. And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ 7. Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
In this passage, Jesus first points out that he freely gives of himself for all men. Now, Christ does not just leave the flock and let them be tormented by dangerous forces (in our case, Satan). The ninety-nine are always under his protection.

St Gregory the Great also has this to say on the parable of the lost sheep.
There is greater joy for the conversion of a sinner, than for the perseverance of the just; but it frequently happens, that these being free from the chain of sin, remain indeed in the path of justice, but press not on eagerly to their heavenly country; whilst such as have been sinners, are stung with grief at the remembrance of their former transgressions, and calling to mind how they have forsaken their God, endeavour by present fervour to compensate for their past misconduct. But it must be remembered that there are many just, whose lives cause such joy to the heavenly court, that all the penitential exercises of sinners cannot be preferred before them. 
Working towards the perfection of our soul should be our desire on this earth. Each day we should ask, "How does what I have done, and what I plan on doing, help me attain Heaven?" Even little things, like brushing your teeth, are important, since it involves taking care of your body that God gave you. Perfection is only found in fullness in Heaven, but God gives us hints of what we need to do, and indeed can give us glimpses of it on earth (Mystical encounters spring to mind.).

For example, the abdication of Pope Benedict was sparked by his desire for sanctity, and because one action is enough to separate you from God forever in Hell i.e. a mortal sin. I have read stories of where people strive to correct every imperfection, because they are so close to God and desire to be with him always, so there is a desire to avoid sin. Now, this is not scrupulosity, for they do not see sin where it is not, but rather, they are very much in the habit of virtue.

Christ calls for constant conversion and awareness of our sinful state, so that we might persevere and avoid sin. We should not go to Confession, and keep out of mortal sin, but persist in venial sin. Fulfilling the precepts of the Church is enough, but we can always do more for the Lord! Conversion, penance, and perseverance seem to be the keys here!

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