The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has several versions of the Stations of the Cross
Go to Prayers and Devotions
We shall follow the one based on the a series of meditations by Saint Pope John Paul II from 1991
Second Station: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, is Arrested
Then, while [Jesus] was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, “the man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely.” He came and immediately went over to him and said, “Rabbi.” And he kissed him. At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.
(Mark 14: 43-46)
grant us the courage of our convictions
that our lives may faithfully reflect the good news you bring.
The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has several versions of the Stations of the Cross
Go to Prayers and Devotions
We shall follow the one based on the a series of meditations by Saint Pope John Paul II from 1991
First Station: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then He said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When He returned to His disciples He found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
God of power and mercy,
in love you sent your Son
that we might be cleansed of sin
and live with you forever.
Bless us as we gather to reflect
on his suffering and death
that we may learn from his example
the way we should go.
We ask this through that same Christ, our Lord. Amen
Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him. The Father, “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4), after having revealed his name to Moses as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6), has never ceased to show, in various ways throughout history, his divine nature. In the “fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4), when everything had been arranged according to his plan of salvation, he sent his only Son into the world, born of the Virgin Mary, to reveal his love for us in a definitive way. Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father (cf. John 14:9). Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person reveals the mercy of God.
We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness
Pope Francis in calling us to a Year of Mercy, 2015-2016
I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will never die John 11:25a, 26.
It is true to say that the New Testament teaches us the Old Testament, just as Saint Jerome said ignorance of the Old Testament is ignorance of Christ. It is today’s Gospel of the raising of Lazarus that puts this passage from Ezekiel in its proper light. The “sign” which Jesus revealed in telling Lazarus to come out of the tomb was that God is true to his promise that he would be faithful and never abandon his whole people and the individuals among his people to everlasting death. He made us for all eternity — an eternity in his heavenly presence. Bodily death cannot put an end to God’s plan of eternal life for mankind. Recall that in today’s Gospel Jesus decided to go to the tomb of Lazarus knowing that his detractors would eventually kill him.
The expressions used by Ezekiel come from the historical setting. Being in the Babylonian Exile was like death. God kept his promise to liberate them some way and bring them back to their homeland as free people. This he did and restored them to the land where they could worship God as he wanted and live the covenant commandments to please him. The new element in Ezekiel’s prophecy is that the Lord would send his Spirit upon them to make them alive. From death to life, we might say. This short passage from the Old Testament prophet is really a continuation and explanation of the vision of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37). As he says today: You shall know that I am the LORD who freed you from Egypt and formed an eternal covenant with you, promising you life that never ends and doing it. I have promised and I will do it, says the Lord.
Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 (7)
With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
The phrase I will open your graves (tombs) may have suggested using this psalm which begins Out of the depths (of sheol — sheol being the realm of the dead). Then the wonderful hope in God’s promise of mercy and forgiveness: If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand. The promise to overlook our sinfulness and unfaithfulness so that the covenant may continue on our behalf. Thus it follows: For with the Lord is kindness (faithful covenant love), and with him plenteous redemption. Then following Ezekiel’s faith perspective, the whole people of God (Israel) will be freed from their sins. Looking forward to today’s Gospel the most important element here may be the covenant love. In the Lazarus account Jesus’ love for him and his family plays a prominent role. Jesus did what he did (even the point of death on the cross) to raise Lazarus from the dead.
Why is God doing all this for us through his Son: that he may be revered? So that we will love him back and live forever.
By your help, we beseech you, Lord our God may we walk eagerly in that same charity with which, out of love for the world, your Son handed himself over to death. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Alternate version of the Collect/Gathering Prayer
It is our heart’s desire and prayer of you, O Lord, God of your people, that we imitate by a joyful way of life the faithful covenant love of Jesus Christ, who freely gave himself and his life for us inspired by that same love that caused him to enter this world to save us
The scriptures have a special meaning in using the word love. It is connected to his covenant with his people, including the New Covenant established by his Son, the Word made flesh. There is a relationship between this prayer and the Gospel of the raising of Lazarus. Underlying it all is the fact that Jesus is the Covenant between heaven and earth. He is the Covenant in the flesh. Being so, his whole life and presence is the reality of God’s love for mankind. So to become like Christ Jesus we must live our lives originating, and constantly professing the love of Christ. This prayer is a plea that we, the body of Christ, will live such a life here and hereafter. The added element here is that we follow Christ’s love as the love of our crucified Lord, who so loved for others in giving his life. He love with all his heart and soul.
Saint Paul brings up an interesting point regarding the Holy Spirit in the light of the Gospel concerning the raising of Lazarus and Jesus’ own resurrection. The Apostle states: If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead makes his home in you, then that same person will give life to your mortal bodies through the same Spirit. Spirit and life are joined. The life of the Spirit in you assures you that you have been raised along with the Christ. The life of which Saint Paul speaks is a life of holiness guaranteeing the eternal inheritance of the sons and daughters of God. (This is also in the same chapter of the Letter to the Romans 8:14-17, just after our reading today.) How does this apply to Lazarus who had a baptism of sorts in which he died in Christ? He now “lives” and will live the rest of his life assured of resurrection to eternal life because of Christ’s Spirit in him. The Spirit of Christ and resurrection go together for us as well — the Spirit which descended upon Jesus at his baptism and which dwells in him prompting him to take the dangerous step of going to the area of Jerusalem, the hotbed of opposition and threats. Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus shows that he conquers sin and death. Therefore the crowds believe in him.
The raising of Lazarus is more about the death of Jesus than the death of Lazarus. The opposing Jewish leaders thought that if Jesus has the power to overcome death then they will prove him wrong by killing him. This way his whole preaching would fall apart and people will no longer follow him. Instead the people would once again follow their religious leadership. This was not God’s way and Jesus succeeded in overcoming sin and death according to the Father’s plan.
So John, the author of this Gospel and the disciple whom Jesus loved, gives us key phrases to understanding the whole passage.
He ends up with: Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
John also tells us in the beginning: This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God.
Jesus calls Martha to faith: I am the resurrection and the life…If you believe, you will see the glory of God.
The whole passage is to lead to faith in the risen Lord Jesus.
Bodily death is not to be confused with disastrous death which is separation from God. With Christ’s death and resurrection separation from God is no more for believers. That is the glory of God we see through faith.
The presence of the risen Jesus is now. We do not have to wait for the end of the world. Communion with God is current for us who believe and see the glory of God.
Excerpts from his article in Vatican II, Forty Personal Stories,
Twenty-Third Publications, 2003, pp. 91-93
Nineteen sixty-nine was a terrible time to be a seminary rector. Everything in the country seemed to be up for grabs, and much of what was in the church as well. Seminarians were demonstrating all over the country for greater freedom and greater say in their preparation for the priesthood. Nobody knew exactly what lay ahead, most certainly not the rector of St. Gregory’s Seminary in Cincinnati….
In a state of chronic panic, I established a committee of faculty and students whose purpose was to build up anew from top to bottom the whole seminary program….
I do recall that one of the committee’s members, who had been a peritus at Vatican II, urged us to set up a course in the council’s “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” [Gaudium et Spes].He said it was the obvious way to introduce college freshmen to contemporary ecclesial realities.
I volunteered to teach this course. Although I had a degree in theology, I had never done any regular teaching of it before. I had to do lots of reading, since the kind of theology that I had studied in Rome before 1961 was not exactly the kind of theology that lay beneath the council’s teaching….
During the summer of 1969, I spent hours each day reading about the history of the council and about Christian secularity. Here in Gaudium et Spes I was faced with a theological world that was concrete rather than abstract, practical rather than theoretical, oriented toward the world rather than heaven, toward the future rather than the past, toward the community rather than the individual….
That autumn I taught the course for the first time to our college freshmen. Once they got the hand of my teaching methods and of what I expected of them, they loved it. Gaudium et Spes spoke loud and clear to them.
In the process of responding to what my faculty colleague and I had perceived to be the theological needs of the students, I had backed into a whole new theological specialty. It was hard work, not only because of the quantity of reading and study it required, but also because of the effort to understand how these new approaches and new insights could be in harmony with what I had learned before. But it was a wonderful way to prepare to be a bishop. My work in the teachings of Vatican II reshaped my view of church and ministry and revelations and world and gave me excellent spiritual and intellectual equipment for the exercise of church leadership. Nobody planned it that way. Things more or less just happened. But that’s the way God’s providence often works.
As I go about my work in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, I often encounter priests who were my students in their seminary days. It’s not unusual for us to trade memories about our time together with Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium. I am grateful to them for their kind reminiscences and grateful to the Lord for the way in which he has provided for all of us and for his church.
In future days as we listen once again to the Passion of Christ from the Gospels Peter’s denial of Christ makes us wince at the thought that someone so close to Jesus would not stand up for his Master at such a time. Then we recall the situation and the threats of having to undergo the same as Christ. We feel for Peter whom we now call a saint. We also look into our own consciences and see some of the same when we met some opposition to our own being Christian or Catholic. So reading the part of John’s Gospel after the resurrection (Chapter 21) God’s word makes it clear that the risen Lord was merciful to Peter. We know that Peter wept bitterly immediately following his denial. But here on the seashore Jesus takes the initiative and approaches Peter with the famous questions: Do you love me? Then the feed my lambs… We know the mercy and forgiveness was there because the Lord continued in his call to Peter to be a fisher of men and in that promised that he would back him up in his mission. (See Psalm 130 elsewhere on this homepage.) Christ is doing the same for his people and reassures us right now of his mercy and forgiveness.
The mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord is central to our faith. The Eucharistic celebration which we love and miss these days always contains a reference to who we are in the light of the Son of God becoming man. It is in the Offertory/Preparation of the Gifts. When the priest mixes water with the wine in the chalice says:
By the mystery of this water and wine
may we come to share in the divinity of Christ
who humbled himself to share in our humanity.
The small amount of water disappears into the wine. Christ is symbolized by the wine; we are symbolized by the water. The whole reason he humbled himself to come among us is that we may become one with him in the glory of heaven — the mystery of salvation, the Covenant. God wants us to share his life, his divinity and thereby reach a happiness beyond human capabilities. That is his gift to us. Lastly, to bring about this incredible gift to mankind the Lord Jesus humbled himself, emptied himself so much that he loves us. Is not that what the crucifixion is all about?
Here is part of the obituary sent us from the Archdiocese.
Emeritus Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk died on March 22, 2020 at Archbishop Leibold Home for the Aged (a.k.a. Little Sisters of the Poor.). He was born August 12, 1934 in Dayton, Ohio. His studies included five years at St. Gregory Seminary in Cincinnati, three years of philosophy and four years of theology at the Pontifical Urban College “de Propaganda Fide” receiving his Licentiate in Philosophy and Theology. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 20, 1959, at the Pontifical Urban College “de Propaganda Fide” in Rome by Cardinal Gregorio Agagianain. After his ordination, he continued as a graduate student in theology for one year earning his Doctorate, while also serving as the first prefect of the College. Effective August 24, 1961, Father Pilarczyk was appointed Assistant Chancellor and assistant at St. Louis Church in Cincinnati. On October 20, 1961, Father was appointed to teach at St. Gregory Seminary for the 1960-1961 scholastic year while continuing in residence at St. Louis Church and in the other offices at the parish and Chancery. On October 23, 1962, he was appointed Administrator of St. Michael Parish in Ripley, Ohio, taking up residence there, but continuing with his other assignments. In June 1963, he was advised to take whatever courses were helpful and available in preparation for his appointment on August 20, 1963, as a member of the Faculty of St. Gregory Seminary and as Assistant Pastor at St. Andrew Church in Milford, with residence at the Seminary.
Father Pilarczyk also served as Rector of St. Gregory Seminary (1968-1974), Synodal Judge for the Archdiocesan Tribunal (1971-1982), and Vicar for Education (1974-1978). In 1969, Father Pilarczyk received his Ph.D. in “Classics” from the University of Cincinnati. On November 12, 1974, Pope Paul VI appointed Father Pilarczyk to Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati and Titular Bishop of Hodelm. On December 20, 1974 he was ordained as Bishop at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains by Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin as Consecrator and Bishops Nicholas Elko and James Malone as Co-consecrators. On January 2, 1975, Bishop Pilarczyk was appointed Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and on April 24, 1978 he was appointed Director of Educational Services for the Archdiocese. Bishop Pilarczyk served in both of these capacities until 1982. On August 23, 1982, he was elected Administrator of the Archdiocese by the College of Consultors. Bishop Pilarczyk was named Archbishop of Cincinnati in Rome on October 30, 1982 and it was announced in the Archdiocese on November 2, 1982. He was installed as Archbishop of Cincinnati on December 20, 1982 by the Most Reverend Pio Laghi, Apostolic Delegate in the United States. In addition to the previous appointments, Archbishop Pilarczyk also served on numerous committees for the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) from 1975 – 2009, Member & Chairman for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL/1987-1997), and Member and Chairman of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative (1996-2011). He served on the Board of Trustees for the Catholic Health Association, Pontifical College Josephinum and Catholic University of America and was Chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Athenaeum of Ohio. Archbishop Pilarczyk retired on December 21, 2009, serving the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for 40 years as a Priest, 25 years as a Bishop and 17 years as an Archbishop – faithful and humble Servant!
Mass of Eternal Rest: Friday, March 27, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. at Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains, Cincinnati. Celebrant: Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr. The clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese are encouraged to join in prayer for Archbishop Pilarczyk by following the Mass via live streaming from the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains.
A Mass with the presence of the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese will be celebrated at a later date.
Here are the Mass prayers from the Altar Missal for a deceased Bishop:
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that the soul of your departed servant Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk,
to whom you committed the care of your family in the Church of Cincinnati,
may, with the manifold fruit of his labors,
enter into the eternal gladness of his Lord.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Prayer over the Offerings
We humbly beseech your boundless mercy, Lord,
that this sacrifice,
which your departed servant and Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk,
while in the body, offered to your majesty
for the salvation of the faithful,
may now bring him, too, your pardon.
Through Christ our Lord.
Prayer after Communion
May your merciful kindness,
which we have implored, O Lord,
benefit the soul of your departed servant Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk,
that, by these sacrificial gifts,
he may know the eternal company of Christ,
in whom he hoped and whom he preached.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
I’ve told you this story before, but it’s one that bears repeating.
Amazing Grace is perhaps the most beloved hymn of all time. It appears in every denomination’s hymnal. Amazing Grace has been recorded more than any other song in history.
Many of us believe that Amazing Grace originated as an African-American hymn. Perhaps because it has always been so well beloved by African-American people. But it is neither African nor American. It was actually written by a white man from Great Britain. And this particular white man was not a very nice guy. In fact, he was deeply involved in one of the cruelest occupations in history. He forcefully captured and transported by ship natives from West Africa to be sold into slavery.
But God works in mysterious ways. One day, while going about his regular duties, John Newton’s ship got caught in a terrible storm. Fierce lightning, mighty winds, and crashing waves were tearing his ship apart. John Newton feared for his life. Hidden away in a remote section of the ship, he was struck by some books that fell off a nearby bookshelf. One was The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. John Newton began reading the book. He learned about God and about Jesus Christ. Perhaps for the first time in his life, John Newton prayed. He had realized his great sins and he cried out to God for forgiveness. He vowed to change his life.
John Newton survived what should have been a fatal shipwreck. He decided then and there to dramatically turn his life around. He eventually became an ordained minister of the Anglican Church. He set out to preach against slavery, and became one of the greatest orators in England’s history. It was then that he penned these now famous words:
Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
By what sins are we blinded? Have we allowed ourselves to get caught up in racial prejudice basing our own worth on the color of our skin or forming opinions about others because of the color of their skin? Black or white, how do we react when we encounter someone from the Middle East? Do we prejudge them because of terrorism? What about those of other faiths? Or of the opposite sex?
Before we can turn our lives around, we must first acknowledge our own sinfulness, and then ask God for forgiveness. Do it now, before your ship wrecks.
Jesus will cure your blindness too! You’ll see!
Gene M. Ostenkamp, Music Director
The text of the Scriptures can be found on this homepage at left under Today’s Readings
1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
The Church’s traditions for Lent are in full force here. Last Sunday God spoke to us through the incident of the Samaritan woman at the well, today he speaks to us in the Gospel of the miraculous healing by Jesus of the man born blind. Next Sunday he opens our hearts to the raising of Lazarus. These are to lead us into a renewal of faith as we witness the new members of the body of Christ through the Easter Sacraments.
It may seem a bit strange then for us to return to the selection by God of David to be king a 1000 years before the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. What catches our attention is that the anointing of David as king happens also in Bethlehem and this helps us to understand how the Jewish scribes (experts in God’s word of old) would report to Herod at the time of the magi that the Messiah would be found in Bethlehem, the place of the origin of King David. The chosen shepherd of Israel would be associated with Bethlehem in the land of Judah (Matthew 2). Jesus the Christ would be anointed with the Holy Spirit. He also would be chosen by the heavenly Father and, though an unlikely choice by human standards, would exhibit the wisdom and love and power of the Father above. This is the Jewish faith, tightly held in the hearts of God’s people for centuries. Our Christmas scriptures attest to this. Jesus is all of these and today’s Gospel of the healing of the man born blind will reveal all this and call us to renew ourselves along with all of God’s people in the covenant of old between God and his people. Today we make this tradition ours once again.
Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
- (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
How appropriate then is this magnificent psalm. We sing/read/listen with King David in mind as well as Jesus Christ who not only called himself the Good Shepherd but also acted that way (see the Gospel). We heard from the first reading that God is the one who makes the choice of his king on the earth to represent him. He has chosen his beloved Son. The divine power will be evident as he shepherds God’s people. One nuance of this psalm is God’s shepherding is ongoing. As presented to us in our translation it may come across as static whereas it actually is dynamic. So do not think of our Lord the Shepherd as a picture of God as an oil painting handing on the wall. Rather it gives us a picture of our God as actively engaged in pasturing his people. He has done so in the past but more importantly he is doing it NOW. (By the way we have the whole psalm here — a rarity for our responsorial which generally has just selected verses.) So every line of this psalm is telling us that the LORD Yahweh is actively engaged in our salvation this very day, this very time as we walk through the dark valley.
There is something very familiar about this reading. What is it? We find phrases here which we hear and use in our liturgies of Easter: children of light coming out of the darkness, now pleasing to the Lord, awake from sleep and arise from the dead Christ will give you light. The connection with today’s Gospel cannot be missed. Saint Paul makes it clear how we can say that we have been raised from the dead. This is because Christ the Light is within us. We no longer sleep. We awake to the sunshine. Sinfulness (opposition and rebellion to the Covenant) — are former way of life is replaced with a life harmonious to God’s plan for us. We are children of the light which uses the image of being born again — the image of our baptism. We recommit ourselves to live then our baptism, our reawakening to the light of Christ, our being raised from the dead. We are about to celebrate and live the resurrection.
Verse Before The Gospel
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life John 8:12.
The baptism reference reappears here in description of the man’s plight as an affliction from birth. Do not overlook the instructions given him by Christ is to go and wash in the waters of Siloam. This, too, recalls baptism. Then there is the joining of washing and seeing. Then there is the clay made into a salve used for the anointing of the man’s eyes. This brings to mind the creation of Adam and the recreation which Christ has made in us through a power that only the Creator has.
Perhaps we need to take notice of the disbelief of some of his contemporaries and the repeated efforts to draw an explanation from the cured man. God in his mercy has not forgotten them even in their refusal to accept what he is doing in our midst. God is merciful beyond compare. The cured man said to them: Do you want to become his disciples, too? The believers thus become a constant sign to the world of God’s saving presence among us of the Anointed of God. We have been baptized into the faith not just for ourselves but as living signs of God is among us with his healing and saving power. It is a continuing responsibility we have today. His gift of faith is to be shared. Take some of the final words of the Gospel to heart: I do believe, Lord and he worshiped him.