This week we celebrate the third and last Scrutiny with our elect who are preparing to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. Their time of pre-baptismal preparation is quickly coming to an end and the Sacred Triduum is fast approaching. The Gospel for the Third Scrutiny recounts Jesus’ greatest and final sign before his death and resurrection: the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This is the scrutiny of life. The Elect are asked, together with all of us who pray for them and celebrate the Rite with them, to make a fundamental choice. Will we chose the path of life or will we chose the path of death?
In the Gospel, Lazarus is dead already four days. His body is rotting. The tomb is sealed. He is gone. His sisters had called for Jesus to come while Lazarus was gravely ill but still alive and Jesus arrived too late. Or so they thought. Jesus must push Mary and Martha to the limits of their faith in Him. Can they truly believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? Can their faith in Him be stronger even than the stone tomb, with its huge rock sealing it and the darkness and death lying within?
“Lazarus come out!”
Jesus does not drag Lazarus out of the tomb. He calls him out. Lazarus must hear the Lord’s voice and he must abandon his tomb. He must come out of the darkness and decay within.
This Sunday we pray that the Elect will make the same choice. The path of the Gospel offers life. The path of this world devoid of God leads only to death. It would seem that the choice would be easy, but it is not and that is why during the scrutinies we pray for them to make the right choice. The tomb has a seductive safety and reality, as does sin: wealth and money are real and they make people feel safe and secure, but can wealth save anyone from death? Anger and violence are real and they make people feel good at times, but do they give anyone the serenity that comes with peace and patience? Prejudices are real and they make people feel superior to others, but do they real cure anyone’s sense of inadequacy? Lust and gluttony offer real pleasures but does using other people and the good gifts of God’s creation for my selfish amusement really offer meaning and joy? Do any of these cure the ache in our hearts that there must be more to this life that God has given us than a slow march to the dark tomb?
No, but their attraction is strong, and so we pray for help. We pray that the Spirit lets us hear the voice of Christ calling us: “Come out!” Come out into the light, come out into life, come out into love, into peace into justice, into mercy, into forgiveness, and into all the joy that God promises us. God did not create us for death. He created us for life –abundant life. The final scrutiny asks us all, as Good Friday and Easter approach: will we choose life no matter what the cost?
Director of Evangelization
This Sunday at the 5:00 PM Sunday liturgy, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi will celebrate the first of three special, intense prayers over those in our community preparing to be baptized this Easter. These prayers, called the “Scrutinies,” capture the very heart of the spirituality of Lent. We began this sacred season marking our heads with ashes and hearing the exhortation: Repent, and be faithful to the Gospel!
Lent calls us to a turning, in Latin, a conversion. The prayer, fasting and almsgiving of Lent are meant to strengthen our conversion away from sin and toward a deeper commitment to Christ. The scrutinies distill this journey into three intense liturgical prayers on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent. Each scrutiny is composed of three parts: solemn silent prayer for the Elect followed by spoken intercessions for their conversion, a prayer of exorcism that they might turn away from evil, and the laying on of hands where the priest calls down the Holy Spirit to help them be faithful to the Gospel. All of this is to scrutinize the readiness of the Elect for their Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
We should make no mistake here: we are not scrutinizing anyone. It is God who scrutinizes His Elect, sifting through what needs to be left behind and strengthening what is good in his people. God scrutinizes all of us in just the same way. As Psalm 139 says, God knows us and He probes us.The scrutinies are celebrations for all of us. Certainly we are invited to pray for the Elect, but also pray for ourselves that we too may be more faithful disciples. We must open ourselves to be scrutinized by God so that we might turn away from our sin and ask God to strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good in us.
The First Scrutiny is the scrutiny of water. This week we hear the Gospel of the Woman at the Well. There are references to thirst in the reading: physical thirst as well as spiritual thirst. Jesus is thirsty. The woman is thirsty. There is water that quenches for a time. There is living water that quenches thirst for eternity. The first scrutiny invites us to examine ourselves: what do I really thirst for? Am I thirsty for the things that the world offers that will not really quench my thirst: Money? Fame? Power? Beauty? Status? The water from these wells do not really quench our thirst. Or are we thirsting for the Living Water which Christ offers? Love, Peace, Justice, Patience, Gratitude, Mercy, Faithfulness…?
As we pray for our Elect this week, maybe we can ask also ourselves: From which well do we spend our time and energy filling our bucket? Are we seeking water that does not satisfy? Or are we seeking the Living Water only Christ can give?
Director of Evangelization
Next week: The Scrutinies and the Reality of Evil
after the 4:00 PM Mass
Clare Room of the St. Francis Parish House.
Do you have a will?
Do you have questions about the will that you already have?
Are their tax shields for your inheritance by making charitable grants in your will?
These questions and more will be answered by an attorney, experienced in this area of law, during the seminar.
He will give a presentation and there will be time for questions and answers.
Free of charge.
For more information, please email email@example.com.
The Ugnayan Filipino Ministry is hosting an afternoon of recollection with Fr. Brian Smail, O.F.M.
Saturday, March 11
1:00 to 4:00 PM
Fr. Brian’s topic will be: ‘Our Lenten Journey: Where is God Calling You?’
The ministry extends its hospitality to the non-Filipino members of our church community.
In the Franciscan spirit, all are welcome.
For more information,please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scroll down for schedule of Masses, Confessions
and Imposition of Ashes
Welcome to St. Francis of Assisi!
Here is some information you might find helpful about our parish community
Inspired by the Franciscan tradition of ministering to people who are alienated, displaced, or persecuted, the “pilgrims and strangers” in our midst, The Migrant Center at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi welcomes immigrants/migrants of various ethnic backgrounds regardless of political or religious affiliation.
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi has a vibrant community of young adult Catholics in their 20’s and 30’s who celebrate life and faith together. Our Young Adult Ministry combines spiritual, social and outreach events to support our life together.
In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” The Church of St. Francis of Assisi LGBT Ministry is a fellowship where gay and lesbian people of faith are welcome to explore their spirituality and share their experience, strength, and hope with one another. We actively provide and promote faith opportunities that build community for those who have experienced spiritual disconnection. We attempt to fulfill our mission by providing a safe place for spiritual events, educational and social activities, and outreach to the larger parish and Archdiocesan community.
To find out more about our LGBT ministry please contact Meredith Augustin at email@example.com
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process by which people can question, search, and inquire into the Catholic faith. It is a journey which leads many to seek full membership in our Church. For others this journey may not lead to full membership. Either way, all are welcome to come and see, to ask questions, and to look more deeply.
To find out more about our RCIA ministry email Joe Nuzzi at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please call Fr.Brian Smail, O.F.M. at 212-736-8500, Ext. 204 to inquire.
ASH WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE
Masses in the upper church:
7:00, 7:45, 8:30, 11:30 AM,
12:15, 1:15, 4:30, 5:30, 6:30 PM
Confessions in the lower church:
• 7:30-8:30 AM
• 11:00 AM-6:00 PM
Imposition of ashes in the lower church:
7:00 AM to 7:00 PM and in the upper church following the 6:30 PM Mass
Brochures are available in the church, and you can also register online now at stfrancisnyc.org/courses.
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