PLANNING
  1. If you are celebrating the third scrutiny today, you will be using the Cycle A readings: Ezekiel speaks of God opening graves and raising the dead; Paul speaks of the body as dead but the spirit as alive; Jesus raises Lazarus from his tomb. If you are using the Cycle B readings, you will also be hearing about death and resurrection: Jeremiah foresees a New Covenant with God; Paul speaks of the suffering and death of Christ; Jesus speaks of the seed dying to produce much fruit. Both sets of readings offer a great opportunity to really call the entire assembly to deeper conversion. The thrust of the readings in both cycles is similar because we are approaching the Triduum, three days in which we are all called to die again to sin and selfishness and to rise to fuller life in Christ. The challenge for planners and preachers is to make this call to conversion clear and to invite the assembly to fully enter into the dynamic that shapes the Triduum.
  2. It is true, of course, that this is our challenge every week, since every Eucharist draws us into contact with the death and resurrection of Christ. But Lent, Triduum and Easter form the annual cycle that calls us more explicitly and more deeply into the process of conversion. As Lent progresses, that call becomes more and more insistent, leading us to our fullest celebration of the paschal mystery during the Triduum.
  3. How can you help your parishioners recognize this call and embrace its challenge? Preachers and planners might first ask themselves if they are fully embracing the meaning of these central seasons of the liturgical year. If so, what has helped you to do that? If not, what would help you at this point in Lent? Share your insights with other planners and see if the sharing gives you ideas for how to help the larger assembly.
  4. Preachers, of course, have the strongest platform from which to call for deep conversion, but planners should look at the whole liturgy to see where they can support the same call. The third scrutiny should invite not only the elect but the whole assembly into the death and resurrection experience. Can you create petitions for the scrutiny that strongly focus on our need to die to sin so that we might rise renewed? What about the general intercessions for the Mass? Are there songs that musicians can select (for this Sunday and Palm/Passion Sunday) that focus attention on dying and rising?
  5. Next Sunday’s main liturgy, ideally all the Masses, begins with the blessing of palms and the procession into the worship space. Announce this weekend where people should gather when they come for this special service.
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
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PRO-LIFE MESSAGE

As Lent progresses, we come closer to the heart and meaning of the Gospel: that Jesus must suffer and die for new life to happen. There is nothing here about rules, practices, theological formulae or perfection. Jesus embraced what is painful and frightening to achieve life on our behalf. Those of us who call ourselves Christian must be willing to walk the same road.

CATHOLIC MORAL THEOLOGY
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