PLANNING
  1. Today is Laetare Sunday, the midpoint of Lent. Will your people notice? When they enter the worship space, will this Sunday look different from last week? Will the music sound different?
  2. Laetare means “rejoice.” The entrance antiphon in the Missal reads, “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.” We don’t often use the entrance antiphon because we begin the liturgy with a hymn. Seeing what the Missal has, however, can guide us in choosing our opening song. Can the musicians find a hymn or song that echoes the theme of that antiphon?
  3. Whether people notice that this Sunday is different somehow will probably depend on how the rest of Lent is being observed. The Missal notes: “In this Mass, the color violet or rose is used. Instrumental music is permitted, and the altar may be decorated with flowers.” That rubric assumes that instrumental music is not being used on other Lenten days and that flowers are not evident during the rest of Lent. The color of vestments is optional, but a rose vestment is a clear symbol that this day is different.
  4. The décor and the vestments are relatively easy to adjust for Lent. The more challenging (and thus often ignored) guidance is the one about music. The rubric at the beginning of Lent (see Ash Wednesday in the Missal) says: “During Lent, it is not permitted to decorate the altar with flowers, and the use of musical instruments is allowed only so as to support the singing.” It goes on to note that Laetare Sunday, solemnities and feasts are exceptions to this rule.
  5. What might work in your community? One easy step is to remind all the musicians that silence is a value in every liturgy and especially during this penitential season. So even if instruments are used to support the assembly’s singing, there should be no purely instrumental music. When people are not singing, let silence reign.
  6. Beyond that, how can musicians scale back the instruments for Lent? Can organists use a simpler and lighter registration of stops? Can some songs be accompanied by a single instrument, like a flute or violin or guitar? Can the assembly actually sing many songs without instrumental accompaniment? A good cantor can get people started on the right note and keep the pace of the singing steady. One advantage of this approach is that people may actually hear themselves singing. They may well be surprised at how well they can do without instruments supporting them, which might increase their confidence in singing the rest of the year. Talk with the musicians and see what can be done to simplify the aural environment in Lent.
Adapted: LAWRENCE MICK ©2018: The pastoral/worship planning resource from 2018 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.
OUR SUNDAY READINGS
  • Study Guide for October 3, The 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
    by eezell3 on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

    Here’s a link to the Sunday readings for Oct. 3 (usccb.org). Sample Commentary on Genesis 2:18-24 The way in which God creates the woman shows that she shares the same nature and capacity of the man. The animals were formed from the earth, but she has been made of the same stuff, the same material,

  • Study Guide for September 26, The 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
    by eezell3 on Wednesday, September 15, 2021

    Here’s a link to the Sunday readings for Sep. 26 (usccb.org). Sample Commentary on Mark 9:38-41 There were both Jewish and pagan exorcists at the time of Jesus. We don’t know if the man in this story was doing exorcisms for years or started doing them after he heard about Jesus. Regardless, he was using

PRO-LIFE MESSAGE

This season is given to us for our spiritual growth and ongoing conversion. Today’s readings remind us that God has shown mercy throughout history. An understanding of Israel’s painful exile and God’s ongoing fidelity are important for us and our own review of how God’s mercy has been reflected in our personal lives. Today, we have another chance to make this story our own.

CATHOLIC MORAL THEOLOGY
  • The Heart Has Its Laws —26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
    by Patrick Clark on Thursday, September 23, 2021

    Lectionary: 137 All the readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ may be found here on the USCCB website. Numbers 11:25-29 Psalm 19:8-14 James 5:1-6 Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 This post was originally published on September 26th, 2018 under the same title. Blaise Pascal’s famous adage “the heart has its reasons which reason

  • 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time: A Call to Gratitude and Humility
    by Conor Kelly on Wednesday, September 15, 2021

    First Reading: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20 Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 54:3-4, 5, 6, 8 Second Reading: James 3:16–4:3 Gospel: Mark 9:30-37 This week’s readings represent a call to gratitude and humility, specifically envisioned as a rejection of entitlement. That is, the readings all remind us that genuine relationships are not transactions, and so we must not approach

  • 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time: 3 Points about Suffering
    by Patrick Clark on Thursday, September 9, 2021

    All the readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ may be found here on the USCCB website. Reading 1: Isaiah 50:5-9 Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 116 Reading 2: James 2: 14-18 Gospel: Mark 8:27-35 This post was originally published by Jason King on September 12th, 2018 under the same title. In his The Cross and the Lynching Tree,

  • God does all things well: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
    by Maria Morrow on Wednesday, September 1, 2021

    Readings for 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time At times, the sufferings and injustices in the world can be overwhelming. From violent conflicts to natural disasters, it’s no wonder if we sometimes feel frightened, upset, or discouraged. Most of us have had enough times of peace, comfort, and security to be alarmed when that status quo

  • What defiles? 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time commentary
    by David Cloutier on Friday, August 27, 2021

    A recent study of the psychology of ritual behaviors yields some interesting insights. The authors argue that: Our framework focuses on three primary regulatory functions of rituals: regulation of (a) emotions, (b) performance goal states, and (c) social connection.  According to the APA dictionary, a “performance goal” was defined by American psychologist Carol Dweck as