Lent: March 5th
Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Other Commemorations: St. Lucius I, pope & martyr (RM); St. John Joseph of the Cross, priest (RM)
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Communion Antiphon, Mt 9:13:
I desire mercy, not sacrifice, says the Lord, for I did not come to call the just but sinners.
Not only fasting, private prayer, and almsgiving, but also corporate worship helps to form the thorough Christian. All worship centers in Christ, the one mediator. His presence and priesthood are the hope of the world Through Him as their Head, all His members give the Trinity due homage, thanksgiving, and reparation. By worshiping together, men express their dependence upon one another and deepen their vital unity.
Today the Roman Martyrology remembers Pope St. Lucius I, who first was sent into exile for the faith of Christ in the persecution of Valerian, and afterward by the favor of God was permitted to return to his Church. St. Cyprian celebrated his memory with the highest praise.
St. John Joseph of the Cross is also included in the Roman Martyrology. He was born on the Island of Ischia in Southern Italy. At the age of sixteen years he entered the Order of St. Francis at Naples, amongst the Friars of the Alcantarine Reform, being the first Italian to join this reform which had been instituted in Spain by St. Peter of Alcantara. In 1674 he was sent to found a friary at Afila, in Piedmont; and he assisted with his own hands in the building. Much against his will , he was raised to the priesthood. In 1702 he was appointed Vicar Provincial of the Alcantarine Reform in Italy. He was beatified in 1789, and canonized in 1839.
Meditation on the Gospel, Luke 5:27-32
The Pharisees expressed astonishment to the disciples that their master ate with sinners. Christ then asserts that he has come for the sake of the sick and the sinners, not the healthy or the just (vv. 12-13).
Doubtless the "just" he has in mind are those incapable of transcending the conventional notion of distributive justice and recognizing God's mercy. Their attitude is that of the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20:1-16), or of the elder son who resents his father's generosity to the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32), or again of the Pharisees who fulfills all justice to the smallest mite but resents the sinner seeking divine mercy (Lk 18:9-14). He is actually opposing to a religion constructed on human justice one that depends on divine mercy. When he cites Hosea 6:6 (v.13) he is pointing out that the prophets had already questioned the value of ritual, even perfectly executed ritual, as against a religion of love and mercy.
The numerous meals taken by Jesus with sinners, the father’s pardon for the prodigal which takes the form of a sumptuous banquet (Lk 15:22-24), Jesus’ attitude to Judas at the Supper (Mt 26:20-25), his anxiety to offer the bread and wine for the remission of sins (Mt 26:28), are a clear demonstration of the early Christian concept of the Eucharist as a sacrament of pardon (Mt 18:15-18). An overly specialist theology of the Eucharist and of penance has tended to render obscure the link between the two sacraments. Penance actually derives its efficacy from the Eucharist. Any theology of penance which makes it a purifying rite preparatory to the Eucharist, on the basis that the Eucharist itself is not in essence a rite of pardon, lessens the value of both sacraments. When the father assembles his family at a meal and communicates his own life to them, does not that simple gesture include pardon? Our great theological and pastoral need is eucharistic celebration which will be once more "for the remission of sins."
—Guide for the Christian Assembly, Thierry Maertens and Jean Frisque
St. Lucius I
St. Lucius, according to the "Liber Pontificalis," was a Roman, the son of Porphyrius. When he succeeded St. Comelius, the persecution of Trebonianus Gallus was still raging, and the new Pope was exiled. Soon, however, the persecution died away and Lucius was able to return to Rome. There is extant a letter from St. Cyprian congratulating the Pope on his return from exile and praising him for his confession of Christ.
St. Lucius continued the policy of Cornelius in admitting repentant apostates to communion after due penance. St. Cyprian praises him for this.
The Liber Pontificalis attributes to Pope Lucius a decree ordering that two priests and three deacons should live with a bishop that they might be witnesses for him. Duchesne, however, considers this decree apocryphal.
According to the Liber Pontificalis, Pope Lucius was beheaded in the persecution of Valerian. This is almost certainly inaccurate, for Lucius died before the persecution of Valerian broke out. At any rate, St. Lucius died some time in the beginning of March 254, and was buried in the Cemetery of Calixtus. His tombstone has been discovered. The feast of St. Lucius is kept on March 4.
—Excerpted from Popes Through the Ages, by Joseph Brusher
Highlights and Things to Do:
St. John Joseph of the Cross
Saint John Joseph of the Cross was born on the feast of the Assumption in 1654, on the island of Ischia in the kingdom of Naples. From his childhood he was a model of virtue, and in his sixteenth year he entered the Franciscan Order of the Strict Observance, or Reform of Saint Peter of Alcantara, at Naples. Such was the edification he gave in his Order, that within three years after his profession he was sent to found a monastery in Piedmont. He assisted in its construction himself and established there the most perfect silence and monastic fervor.
One day Saint John Joseph was found in the chapel in ecstasy, raised far above the floor. He won the hearts of all his religious, and became a priest out of obedience to his Superiors. He obtained what seemed to be an inspired knowledge of moral theology, in prayer and silence. He assisted at the death of his dear mother who rejoiced and seemed to live again in his presence, and after he had sung the Mass for the repose of her soul, saw her soul ascend to heaven, to pray thereafter their God face to face.
With his superiors’ permission he established another convent and drew up rules for the Community, which the Holy See confirmed. Afterward he became a master of novices vigilant and filled with gentleness, and of a constantly even disposition. Some time later he was made Provincial of the Province of Naples, erected in the beginning of the 18th century by Clement XI. He labored hard to establish in Italy this branch of his Order, which the Sovereign Pontiff had separated from the same branch in Spain. His ministry brought him many sufferings, especially moral sufferings occasioned by numerous calumnies. Nonetheless, the Saint succeeded in his undertakings, striving to inculcate in his subjects the double spirit of contemplation and penance which Saint Peter of Alcantara had bequeathed to the Franciscans of the Strict Observance. He gave them the example of the most sublime virtues, especially of humility and religious discipline. God rewarded his zeal with numerous gifts in the supernatural order, such as those of prophecy and miracles.
Finally, consumed by labors for the glory of God, he was called to his reward. Stricken with apoplexy, he died an octogenarian in his convent at Naples, March 5, 1734. Countless posthumous miracles confirmed the sanctity and glory of the Saint, and he was canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI.
—Excerpted from Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year, edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O. Cist., Ph.D.
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read this longer life of St. John Joseph of the Cross at All Saints & Martyrs.
Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
Station with San Pudenziana al Viminale (St. Pudentiana):
Today's station is in the church of St. Pudentiana, daughter of Pudens the senator. This holy virgin of Rome lived in the second century. She was remarkable for her charity, and for the zeal wherewith she sought for and buried the bodies of the martyrs. Her church is built on the very spot where stood the house in which she lived with her father and her sister St. Praxedes. St. Peter the Apostle had honored this house with his presence, during the lifetime of Pudentiana's grandfather.
For more on San Marco al Campidoglio, see:
For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.