Friday, February 24, 2006


The Church’s preparation for the holy season of Lent reaches its conclusion with today’s liturgy. Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and, on this solemn day, the Church awakens us from our slothful slumber. We are signed with ashes with the prayer: “Remember man! Thou are dust and unto dust thou shall return!”

In the Introit of the Mass, we beseech God: “Be our Protector, and a house of refuge to save me.” Just as God delivered the Israelites and Joseph, He will deliver us. In the Collect, we pray that God will release us from our sins and guard us from all adversity.

We are beset with adversity and perils from all sides. The world about us, which becomes increasingly pagan and Godless, seeks to devour us. We are living in a “Culture of Death.” Yet, through it all, we have in Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Jesus, the Savior of the World, will never abandon us.

In the Epistle, Saint Paul teaches us of Love, the most fundamental of Christian principles. God is Love and He has made us for Himself. Without love we can never find happiness, for the alternative is hate. Indeed, hell can be described as a state of eternal hatred and banishment from God. In the eternal inferno, which is filled with hate, there is not a shred of love!

Faith cannot exist without love. Saint Paul tells us: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” Paul goes on to say that, if we had faith that could move mountains but have not love, we are nothing. Nothing!

Lest we become disheartened by our lack of charity, the liturgy then invokes the 99th Psalm. “Sing joyfully to the Lord, all the earth - - - Come in before His presence with exceeding joy. Know that the Lord is our God! He made us. We are His people! The Church never lets us stay down too long. She is quick to give us a dramatic reminder that God loves us. Despite our human weakness and sinfulness, He will never abandon us.

God’s infinite love is demonstrated beautifully in today’s Gospel story. The blind man hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. “JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!” The more the people tried to restrain him, the louder he cried out: “JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!”

Pope Saint Gregory the Great says that the blind man in today’s Gospel symbolizes the human race. He is you and I. Because of the sin of our First parents we have been blinded. Our solidarity in sin makes our condition more perilous. Despite this, Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. Just as the blind man cried out, we too cry out to Jesus. Our Blessed Lord will restore our sight also for this is His mission. Jesus Christ is the love and the mercy of God Who has become man. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World. With hearts filled with a longing for love, we too can cry out: ‘JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!”

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.

Monday, February 13, 2006


The “Mass of the Ages,” follows the Church Calendar, which was in use before the liturgical reform of 1970. Then, as now, the Christmas Cycle celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation.

Unlike the new calendar, there are three Sundays that introduce the Season of Lent. They are: Septuagesima Sunday, meaning seventy days before Easter, Sexagesima Sunday, sixty days, and Quinquagesima Sunday, fifty days before Easter. Numerically, it doesn’t compute; it is not meant to. The purpose was to gradually introduce Christ’s Faithful to the holy season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

In the Introit of today’s Mass, the Church cries out to God to save us. “Exsurge!” “Arise!” The Church cries out to God, figuratively, yet emphatically, asking God to rise from His sleep. “Why sleepest Thou, O Lord? Arise and cast us not off to the end. Why turnest Thou Thy face away, and forgettest our troubles?”

We are in dire need of Gods love and His mercy. Forget us not, Lord, is our prayer. No! God never forsakes us. It is we who forsake Him. Thus, the Church, recognizing our total dependence on God, again begs for mercy and forgiveness for our sins.

In the Collect or Opening Prayer of the Mass, the Church does something a little unusual in the Liturgy. We pray for the protection of one of the Apostles, Saint Paul. “Mercifully grant that by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles we may be defended against all adversities.”

Our struggle in the world is daily and endless. As in every era, the combat is a mighty one in our days. In January, we reflected upon the dreadfully evil Roe vs. Wade decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. This was evidently one of the most iniquitous acts in the history of man. Resulting from it, millions upon millions of unborn have been slaughtered.

Yet, we saw the ferocity with which some members of the Senate and their supporters are willing to exhibit in their opposition to anyone or anything that would overturn this evil. They engage in marches, demonstrations, and cries of indignation over the abolition of the alleged, “Woman’s rights of privacy.” Millions of Catholics sit by idly, not saying a word.

Pornography and immodest dress now have become commonplace. Even the House of God is not immune from this immoral attire. Many Catholics, scantily dressed, stubbornly approach the altar to receive the Bread of Life.

These are just a few examples of the egregious departure from the Gospel of Christ that we are witnessing in our days. Today’s liturgy reminds us that we must resist this mentality. In the Epistle, Saint Paul recounts the sufferings that he endured for the sake of the Gospel. He is in prison more often than not! Beaten with whips, stoned, thrice shipwrecked, a day and a night in the sea, in peril of robbers, in peril from the Gentiles and false brethren, in hunger and thirst in fasting and in nakedness, as the list of horrors goes on. Yet, the Apostle endured all of this and more for the love of Jesus Christ and His Church.

How then are we to react to temptation? Are we to give in at the first moment of trial? Do we join the crowd around the water cooler in their immodest speech? Do we deny that we even know the Lord? In the light of Saint Paul’s sufferings, how trivial is our small list of trials. The liturgy is asking us to stand up for our faith. Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, gives us the example.

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.