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Lent: March 28th

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Other Commemorations: St. Gontran, King (RM; St. Stephen Harding, Abbot (RM) ; Other Titles: St. Contran or St. Guntramnus or Guntram


March 28, 2023 (Readings on USCCB website)



Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent: Grant us, we pray, O Lord, perseverance in obeying your will, that in our days the people dedicated to your service may grow in both merit and number. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.


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Today we have another ancient beautiful Lenten lesson. The division between Jesus and His enemies becomes more critical, more sharp. There are references in both readings to “being lifted up.” This reminds us of the crucifixion on Calvary and of events coming ten days from now. —The Vatican II Weekday Missal

The Roman Martyrology today honors St. Gontran (d. 592), also known as Contran or Guntramnus. He was the son of King Clotaire and the grandson of Clovis I. He was raised pagan and became King of Orleans in 561.

St. Stephen Harding (1060-1134) is also commemorated today. He became a monk at Molesme Abbey and with St. Robert of Molesme began the Cistercian reform by helping found Citeaux Abbey in 1098. He joyfully accepted St. Bernard and his companions when they joined the Cistercians.

Today's Station Church >>>

Meditation—Necessity of Faith in Christ’s Divinity
During the mortal life of Jesus, His Divinity as hidden under the veil of His Humanity; even for those who lived with Him, His Divinity was an object of faith.

Doubtless, the Jews were aware of the sublimity of His doctrine. “Never did man speak like this man,” they repeated. They were the witnesses of works, which, as they acknowledged, God alone could do. But they saw too that Christ was man; it is said that even His near acquaintances who had only known Him in the workshop of Nazareth did not believe in Him in spite of His miracles.

Faith in the Divinity of Christ Jesus constitutes the first step towards the divine life for us as well as for the Jews of His time. To believe that Jesus is the Son of God, God Himself, is the first condition that is necessary in order to be numbered among His sheep and be pleasing to His Father. Hoc est opus Dei ut credatis in eum quem misit ille. “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He hath sent.” We are not truly God’s children unless our life is based on this faith.
—Dom Columba Marmion, Christ the Life of the Soul

St. Gontran or Guntramnus
St. Gontran was the son of King Clotaire and grandson of Clovis I and Saint Clotildis. When Clotaire died in 561, his domains were divided among his four sons. While Gontran's brother Caribert reigned at Paris, Sigebert in Metz, and Chilperic in Soissons, he was crowned king of Orleans and Burgundy in 561. He then made Chalons-sur-Saone his capital.

When compelled to take up arms against his ambitious brothers and the Lombards, he made no other use of his victories, gained under the conduct of a brave general called Mommol, than to give peace to his dominions. The crimes in which the barbarous habits of his nation involved him, he effaced by tears of repentance. The prosperity of his reign, both in peace and war, condemns those who suppose that human policy cannot be determined by the maxims of the Gospel, whereas the truth is just the contrary: no others can render a government so efficacious and prosperous.

Saint Gontran always treated the pastors of the Church with respect and veneration. He was the protector of the oppressed, and the tender parent of his subjects. He gave the greatest attention to the care of the sick. He fasted, prayed, wept, and offered himself to God night and day as a victim ready to be sacrificed on the altar of His justice, to avert His indignation, which Saint Gontran believed he himself provoked and drew down upon his innocent people. He was a severe punisher of crimes in his officers and others, and by many wholesome regulations he restrained the barbarous licentiousness of his troops, but no man was ever more ready to forgive offenses against his own person. With royal magnificence, he built and endowed many churches and monasteries.

This good king died on the 23rd of March in 593, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, having reigned thirty-one years.
—Excerpted from Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

Patronage: Divorced people; guardians; repentent murderers

Symbols and Representation: king finding treasure and giving it to the poor; king with three treasure chests, one of which has a globe and cross

Highlights and Things to Do:

  • Read more about St. Gontran:
  • He was buried in the Church of Saint Marcellus, which he had founded in Chalon. Almost immediately, his subjects proclaimed Gontrand a saint and the Catholic Church celebrates his feast day on 28 March. The Huguenots scattered his ashes in the 16th century. Only his skull remains in the Church of St. Marcellus in a silver case.
  • See the print from 1636 in the Met Museum of St. Gontran.

St. Stephen Harding
Stephen Harding, son of an English noble, was born at Sherborne in Dorsetshire, England, about the middle of the eleventh century. He consecrated himself to the monastic life in the Abbey of Sherbonne in Dorsetshire, where he received his early education. He later studied in Paris and Rome, where he pursued a brilliant course in humanities, philosophy and theology.

After studying in Paris and Rome, he visited the monastery of Molesmes. Impressed by its leaders, Robert of Molesmes and Alberic (who were later canonized), Stephen joined the community.

After a few years, the three men, along with another 20 monks, established a more austere monastery in Citeaux. Eventually, Robert was recalled to Molesme (1099), Alberic died (1110), and Stephen was elected abbot.

Stephen Harding is credited with writing the famous Carta Caritatis (Charter of Charity—often referred to as the Charter of Love). It was a six page constitution which laid out the relationship between the Cistercian houses and their abbots, set out the obligations and duties inherent in these, and ensured the accountability of all the abbots and houses to the underlying themes of charity and living according to the rule of Benedict.

Since the monastery received very few novices, he began to have doubts that the new institution was pleasing to God. He prayed for enlightenment and received a response that encouraged him and his small community. From Bourgogne a noble youth arrived with 30 companions, asking to be admitted to the abbey. This noble was the future St. Bernard. In 1115 St. Stephen built the abbey of Clairvaux, and installed St. Bernard as its Abbot. From it 800 abbeys were born.

In 1133, Stephen resigned as the head of the order, due to age and disability, and died the following year.
—Excerpted from Catholic Fire

Highlights and Things to Do:

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Station with Santa Maria in via Lata al Corso (Our Lady at Via Lata)
The Station in Rome was formerly the church of the martyr St. Cyriacus, and as such it is still given in the Roman missal; but this holy sanctuary having been destroyed, and the relics of the holy deacon translated to the church of St. Mary in Via lata, it is here that the Station is now held.

For more on Santa Maria in via Lata al Corso, see:

For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.