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A guide to celebrate the 4th Sunday of Lent at home

CATECHIST
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Here you have the prayers, Readings, and everything else you need to celebrate with God’s Word

In the days and weeks to come, many of us will be legitimately prevented from participating in Sunday Mass. Therefore, Aleteia is taking the initiative to propose to you, with the help of Magnificat, an aid to sanctify this 4th Sunday of Lent with a celebration of the Word of God.

Preparation / How to use this guide:
— If you’re alone, it is better to simply read the readings and prayers of this Sunday’s Mass in your missal and/or to follow the Mass on television.
— This celebration requires the presence of at least two people.
— It can take place anytime from Saturday evening (Sunday vigil) to Sunday evening. However, Sunday morning remains the most appropriate time.
— This celebration is particularly suitable for use with family, friends and neighbors.  However, in order to respect quarantine measures, you should verify whether it is permissible to invite neighbors or friends. In any event, if you do so, you should ensure that all safety guidelines are strictly followed.
— Set up the needed number of chairs in front of a prayer corner, respecting the distance of one yard between each.
— A simple cross or crucifix should be visible in the background.
— Light one or more candles, placing them on non-flammable stands (such as candlesticks or small porcelain plates). Don’t forget to blow them out at the end of the celebration.
— If you have a garden, you can pick some flowers to decorate the area, since their use is possible on Laetare Sunday in view of the joy of Easter.
— Designate a person to lead the prayer. In order of priority, they could be: a deacon, an instituted lay person (lector, etc.), or the father or mother of the family.
— The leader also determines the length of the moments of silence.<
— Designate various readers for the readings.
— Prepare the Universal Prayer (see a model below) in advance and select someone to lead it.
— You may also prepare appropriate songs.

* * *

Laetare Sunday
Celebration of the Word

“Don’t take any part in the activities of darkness…”

All are seated. The leader of the celebration reads:

Brothers and sisters,
This [morning], on this 4th Sunday of Lent,
exceptional circumstances prevent us from participating in
the celebration of the Eucharist.
Nevertheless, we know well that when we gather
to pray in His name,
Christ Jesus is present in our midst.
We believe that when we read Scripture in the Church,
it is the Word of God itself that speaks to us.
His Word is then real food for our lives.
That is why, coming together,
in communion with the whole Church, we listen to His Word.

Pause

This 4th Sunday of Lent is also called
Laetare Sunday because the opening antiphon
is taken from a passage of Isaiah (Is. 66:10-11):
“Rejoice (Laetare in Latin), Jerusalem,
and all who love her…”
Halfway through the penance of Lent,
the Church invites us to take a moment now
to look towards the finish line—the perfect joy of Easter—
and to enjoy a foretaste of it.

Pause

Brothers and sisters,
at the heart of our tribulations,
in the depths of our trials,
the Church invites us to contemplate
and to desire the ultimate goal:
the blessed resurrection that is promised to us
by Jesus Christ our Savior,
with him and in him.
Let us now prepare to open our hearts,
by remaining silent.

After a real time of silence, all rise and make the Sign of the Cross, saying:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The leader continues:
To prepare ourselves to receive God’s Word
and in order for it to heal us,
we recognize ourselves as sinners.

The penitential rite follows. For example:

Have mercy on us, O Lord.
For we have sinned against you.
Show us, O Lord, your mercy.
And grant us your salvation.
May Almighty God have mercy on us;
forgive us our sins,
And bring us to everlasting life.
Amen.

The following is said or sung:

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The leader says the prayer:

Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.
Be joyful, all who were in mourning;
exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.
Amen.

The readings are taken from the Mass on this 4th Sunday of Lent.
The reader of the first reading stays standing while the others sit down.

FIRST READING
David receives anointing as king of Israel

A reading from the first book of Samuel (1 Samuel 16:1b,6-7,10-13a)
The Lord said to Samuel: “Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”
As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice, Samuel looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is here before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.” In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any one of these.” Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Send for him; we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.” Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them. He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold and making a splendid appearance. The Lord said, “There—anoint him, for this is the one!” Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed David in the presence of his brothers; and from that day on, the spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.
The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The reader of the psalm stands, while the others remain seated.

PSALM (Ps 22 (23), 1-2ab, 2c-3, 4, 5, 6)

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The reader of the second reading stands up.

SECOND READING (Eph. 5:8-14)
“Rise from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you”

A reading the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians
Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says:
“Awake, O sleeper,/ and arise from the dead,/ and Christ will give you light.”

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

All rise as the Gospel is said or sung.

Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
I am the light of the world, says the Lord.
Whoever follows me will have the light of life.
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

The Gospel, however, is not proclaimed, but merely read.
If there are young children, one may read only the short reading, omitting the text in brackets.
The reader simply says, solemnly:

GOSPEL (Jn 9: 1-41)
“The man who was blind went off and washed himself and came back able to see.”

Gospel of Jesus Christ according to St. John
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. [His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this,] he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam”—which means Sent—. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is,” but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” [So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.”]

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

[Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?” His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.”] They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. [Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”]

No acclamation concludes the reading.

All sit down and the leader repeats slowly, as if in distant echo:
“If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see!’, so your sin remains.”

Keep five minutes of silence for silent personal meditation.

All rise to profess the faith of the Church by reciting the Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.

All remain standing for the universal prayer, as it has been prepared,
Or according to the following formula:

UNIVERSAL PRAYER

R. Our Father, send your Spirit
to renew the face of the earth.

To our Pope, Francis, to our bishops, to our priests,
send the Spirit of piety: that in these times of trial
they may remain, more than ever, good pastors
who, above all by their example, guide
your children on the paths of holiness.

R. Our Father, send your Spirit
to renew the face of the earth.

To our rulers, send the Spirit of counsel:
may they make the right choices for the common good.

R. Our Father, send your Spirit
to renew the face of the earth.

To our researchers, send the Spirit of knowledge:
that they find remedies to save the sick.

R. Our Father, send your Spirit
to renew the face of the earth.

To caregivers, send your Spirit of love:
may the gift they make of themselves
in the service of others be transfigured.

R. Our Father, send your Spirit
to renew the face of the earth.

To sick people, send the Spirit of fortitude:
that they have the courage to offer their passion,
in union with the eucharist of your Son Jesus Christ.

R. Our Father, send your Spirit
to renew the face of the earth.

Send us, finally, the Spirit of wisdom,
so that, in all circumstances,
we may love the benevolent plan of your Providence;
also send us the Spirit of understanding,
so that we may find in your Word the answers to our questions;
sends us also the Spirit of fear of the Lord,
so that we may remain faithful to your love,
and fear only what could separate us from you.

R. Our Father, send your Spirit
to renew the face of the earth.

At the end, the leader introduces the Lord’s Prayer:

United in the Spirit and in the communion of the Church,
we dare to pray as the Lord Jesus himself
taught us:

The Our Father is said or sung:

Our Father…

Continuing immediately with:

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.

Then the leader invites those present to share a sign of peace:

We have just joined our voices
with that of the Lord Jesus to pray to the Father.
We are sons and daughters in the Son.
In the love that unites us with one another,
renewed by the word of God,
we can exchange a gesture of peace,
a sign of the communion
we receive from the Lord.

All then exchange a greeting of peace from a distance, for example, by bowing deeply towards each other in turn; or, as a family, by blowing each other a kiss.

All sit down.

SPIRITUAL COMMUNION

The leader says:
When we can’t receive sacramental communion
for lack of a Mass,
Pope Francis urges us to practice spiritual communion,
also called “communion of desire.”
The Council of Trent reminds us that this
“consists in an ardent desire to feed on the Heavenly Bread,
with a living faith that acts through charity
and that makes us participants in the fruits and graces of the Sacrament.”
The value of our spiritual communion
depends therefore on our faith in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist
as a source of life, love and unity,
and our desire to receive Communion in spite of our inability to do so.

With that in mind, I now invite you to bow your head,
to close your eyes and recollect yourselves.

Silence

Deep in our hearts,
may a burning desire arise within us to unite ourselves with Jesus,
in sacramental communion,
and then to bring His love to life into our lives,
loving others as He loved us.

All remain in silence for 5 minutes for a heart-to-heart conversation with Christ Jesus

A hymn of thanksgiving is sung.

All stand.

The leader says, in the name of all, the blessing:

Through the intercession of St. N.
[patron saint of the parish, diocese or country],
and of all the saints of God,
May the God of perseverance and courage
grant us to manifest throughout our lives
the spirit of sacrifice, compassion and love
of Christ Jesus.
Thus, in the communion of the Holy Spirit,
we will give glory to God,
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
for ever and ever!
Amen.

The celebration can be ended by singing an antiphon or hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

To continue to sanctify this Sunday, it would be good to reconnect with the venerable tradition of Sunday vespers by celebrating, towards the end of the afternoon, the office of the Liturgy of the Hours that you can find online, or we can take this Sunday’s Evening Prayer, which can be found on the Magnificat website.

For upcoming Sundays and for Holy Week, we will offer you increasingly rich formulas, to help you continue to celebrate, despite everything, the special seasons of our Christian life, for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.

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