Saturday, March 25, 2017

4th Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday)

Eph 5:8-14
Jn 9:1-41

"Laetare Jerusalem:
et conventum facite omnes
qui diligitis eam:
gaudete cum laetitia,
qui in tristitia fuistis . . ."

"Rejoice oh Jerusalem
and all who love her.
Be joyful,
all who were in mourning . . ."

Today is Laetare Sunday.  The designation, Laetare Sunday, comes from the first Latin word of the entrance antiphon,  Laetare. Rejoice.

In one of the many essays he wrote during a prolific  40 year career teaching at Georgetown, Jesuit Father Jim Schall wrote that: "Laetare Sunday is traditionally called a respite.  It makes us begin to feel the nearness of the Passion and the Resurrection, but with a reminder that even amid the Lenten fast and the coming remembrance  of the Crucifixion, we are not to forget that Christianity is a religion of joy."   We are called, in the words of Luke and Paul, to rejoice, and to rejoice always. 

Because of the respite, because of the call to joy that comes in the midst of sacrifice and fasting, the violet vestments signifying Lenten penitence, have been, or should be, replaced by dusty rose NOT hot pink.  Dusty rose is not the same as color as associated with Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde. The rose vestments visually remind us of the lightening of mood now that the penitential time is more than half over.  

Fr. Schall continues, "Christianity is called the most worldly of the religions. It is called the most worldly of religions because it is a religion engaged with the world and in the world, but it is not of the world.  Christianity transcends the world, it goes beyond the world and the universe. It will not cease when the world ends or when the universe involutes on itself.

Christianity is also the happiest religion since it knows this world is not all there is. There is something precious beyond the world.  The world is not a bad place.  It gives us enough room to relax in, if we don't expect of the world more than it can give, or if we don't see the world for what it is not."

Seeing the world for what it is and what it is not, is the caution Paul was giving to the Ephesians in the second reading.

“Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness, rather, expose them. . . "  He advised the Ephesians, and thus he advises us, “Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness, and righteousness, and truth.” . . . “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Soon the darkness will be replaced by the light of Christ.  We will bless the fire and then light the paschal candle on Holy Saturday.  The of churches throughout the world will blaze. Bells will ring wildly as the Gloria is intoned for the first time in weeks. Soon our mourning will be replaced by joy.  Not the short respite of Laetare Sunday but the unfettered joy of Easter, a joy we will carry forth for weeks.  The darkness of death will be overwhelmed by the light of eternal life.  Like the man born blind in today's Gospel, we will see with unclouded vision.  Unlike the man born blind, we will not be confused about who it was that gave us our sight.  We will know the source of our light.

"Laetare Jerusalem:
et conventum facite omnes
qui diligitis eam:
gaudete cum laetitia . . . "


The clock reads 8:35 PM.   Alas, Central Europe goes on daylight saving time tonight.  The time difference between LJ and the East Coast will be back to six hours.  Definitely an early to bed night.  I much prefer 'fall back' to 'spring ahead.'  

Had coffee with the pooch (and his owner) pictured below.  He is a Hungarian Sheepdog.  He is only six months.  Is going to be very large when fully grown.  He will also look like a 'spaghetti' mop. As he gets older the hair almost braids itself looking something like dreadlocks.  He lives in the neighborhood.  As his owner and I were having coffee he untied my shoes.  

Two views of the Ursuline Church that fronts Congress Square.  The first was an early AM shot.  Congress Square is rarely empty of people.  This was my first Saturday on retreat.  

Looking through the balustrade on one of the Three Bridges in front of the Franciscan Church.  This is the view a three year-old would have. 

Early morning new Congress Square.

Votive candles in the anteroom to the Franciscan Church.

Sitting along the river.  The are multiple access points to the paths along the river.

In front of the Franciscan Church.  One of the Triple Bridges.

Crossing the bridge toward the church.

Two night time scenes.  Love wandering the streets at night shooting black and white, or at least with the idea of black and white as I shoot everything in color and then convert on the computer.  A great advantage over the chemicals in a darkroom. 

+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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