Monday, February 22, 2016

Lent III

Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it, so it may bear fruit in the future.  If not you can cut it down."

The gospel for the Third Sunday of lent in cycle C is often referred to as "The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree."  Luke chapter 13 1-9

Another title to consider would be: “The Parable of the Merciful Gardener. “

In the story the orchard owner makes a pragmatic and justifiable decision to cut down his fig tree that has not born fruit.  The gardener’s offer to cultivate the ground and fertilize is analogous to God’s mercy.  The placement of this reading on the third Sunday of lent, lends to the connection between a fig tree that is spared for another year and you and I who experience another season of Lent.

Our offertory song God of Second Chances (which has been playing in the background) speaks to the idea of a merciful God.
The composers’ notes read as follows:

This is a hymn of both personal and communal self-inventory, calling for reconciliation and renewal.  It could be used during celebrations of the Eucharist, for communal celebrations of reconciliation and healing, or as a Lenten call to repentance. 

It you are attending the 12 noon liturgy you will hear the cycle a readings.  The gospel John Chapter 4 5-42 tells of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.  Jesus’ offer of living water can be as a second (or, if you are reading literally) a seventh chance.   Either way, the message remains the same:  by accepting Jesus’ mercy and then telling others of her encounter with Him, the unnamed woman goes from shunned outsider to evangelist.

Today’s communion song Change Our Hearts challenges us to similarly consider and respond to God’s mercy.

is not a never falling down
it's an always getting up
and that is the response to God's mercy.
                                        Pope Francis



 Click on the link to learn more about 
 an hour of reflection, music and meditation
for those who are divorced
Wednesday, March 2nd 2016
7 p.m.
St. Mary's Church
17 Monsignor Owens Place
Nutley, NJ 07110

St. Mary's Church 
Liturgical Planning
Lent 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lent II C

We open our eyes to the hungry 
and see the faces of Christ. 

In These Days of Lenten Journey
verse 2
by Ricky Manalo CSP

There is an obvious clash between the picture above; the glorious stained glass window of the Transfiguration at St. Leon Cathedral in Burbank, California and the lyrics from In These Days of Lenten Journey  Read on; the connection will be clear by the end of this blog.

Stained glass windows were originally designed for decorative purposes. The church quickly realized they were an excellent means of conveying gospel stories to an illiterate population of faithful and those to be converted to the faith.

So, why the image and song today? 

A tongue in cheek answer might be that very few of us had this on our I-phone:

The second, and more important is that pictures and music draw us into and enhance our hearing of the story. 

Consider today's gospel Luke 9:28b-36 and the words of this week's prelude Transfiguration.

Picture yourself with Peter, James and John as you are awakened to Jesus standing with two of the greatest prophets of the Hebrew Bible at His side. 

Today's offertory song is "Transfigure Us, O Lord" (checkout the  beautiful Youtube slideshow with music at the bottom of this blog.)  The lyrics include beautiful images which speak to personal transfiguration.  You might substitute the word; transformation.

We pray the Lord break the chains that bind us, and offer light in our darkness.  


In responding to the question "Where do you see Jesus,? Pope Francis replied; " that child who is hungry, in the one who is sick, in those unjust social structures.” 
Pope Francis, Meeting with Students of Jesuit Schools — Q&A, 6/7/13
The song In These Days of Lenten Journey (which has been playing) speak to the Holy Father's words. I have chosen to use a verse as the closing hymn for each of the 5 week's of lent.  Today's verse (#2) will cause me to reexamine my drive through Newark on Route 21  as I come to and from church this week. 

Let us be mindful to pray what we sing and put our prayers into actions. 

Wishing you a blessed lent. 


Click on picture to hear
In These Days of Lenten Journey
by Ricky Manalo CSP

Click on the Link below to hear Transfigure Us, O Lord by Bob Hurd with a slideshow by cdpphil.

St. Mary's Church 
Liturgical Planning
Lent 2016

St. Mary's Church 
Adult and Children's Choir Schedules
Spring 2016

Adult Choir Schedule

Monday, February 8, 2016

Lent I C

Liturgical Notes 
First Sunday of Lent

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.
Luke 4:1

In today’s gospel, we hear Luke’s account of Jesus being tempted in the desert by the devil.   (A reading of the 3rd and 4th chapter of Luke’s gospel will show how today’s gospel event is connected the recently proclaimed Gospels of Jesus’s baptism and call to ministry.)

Today’s prelude is a contemporary song by Curtis Stephan and Sarah Hart titled Into The Desert  (Click on the title to see the lyrics.) The first 2 verses are meant to be of God saying “Come, beloved” in the same way God’s did during Jesus’ baptism.  The third verse centers around our call to walk with Christ in the Lenten desert as we prepare for the joy of Easter.

The sparseness of the desert also influences the opening rite of our Lenten liturgy.  Instead of an entrance hymn, the presider and ministers will process to instrumental music.   Many churches choose to sing the kyrie eleison to underscore the penitential nature of the season.   We will be using a setting from the Mass of Remembrance by Marty Haugen.  Finally, the Gloria is omitted during Lent.

The offertory song “Led By the Spirit” (#125) underscores and expounds upon the words of today’s gospel.   The text was written by Bob Hurd and the music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, the composer of the well-known hymn “For All the Saints.”  The communion song “On Eagles Wings” (#432) contains the reference to psalm 91, which the devil uses in his temptation of Jesus.  Be sure to look at and/or listen to the words on page 75 as it is proclaimed by the psalmist today.  Pay special attention to the last words; “I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name" as they are critical to understanding Jesus’ faithfulness to God the Father.

During each of the first 4 Sundays of Lent we will conclude our liturgy by singing a different verse of “In These Days of Lenten Journey” (#130.)  The verses are a wonderful reminder of Pope Francis’ call to see the face of Christ in the suffering.  I hope that you will become more comfortable with its melody each week.

Wishing you a blessed Lent,


Into The Desert    Curtis Stephan and Sarah Hart

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