Laetare Sunday, The Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Fourth Sunday of Lent: Laetare Sunday
Celebrant: +Rt. Rev. Edward L. Tatro, Jr., D.Div.

Processional Hymn: In Christ there is No East or West

Celebrant: Bless the Lord who forgiveth all our sins;
His mercy endureth forever.

The Celebrant says: Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the following may be said: Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Here is sung or said;
Kyrie eleison
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

Gloria in Excelsis
Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men.
We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks
to thee for thy great glory,
O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ;
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the
world, have mercy upon us.

Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.
For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord;
thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

The Collect
The Celebrant: The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down
from heaven to be the true bread which giveth life to the
world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us,
and we in him; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the
Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Hymn of Praise: Where Charity and Love Prevail

The Ministry of the Word
A Reading from Joshua 5:9-12 (NLT):
9Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this day.

10While the Israelites were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month.11The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the land. 12No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Psalm 32 (NLT)
1Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
2Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
3When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
4Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
5Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
6Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
7For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.
8The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
9Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
10Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
11So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

Attende Domine:

A Reading from The Epistle of 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NLT)
16So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

18And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

The Word of the Lord!
Thanks be to God!

The Sequence Hymn: Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy

The Holy Gospel
A procession may be formed, and the Deacon, with assistants, may carry the Gospel book to a place in the centre of the church, or other convenient place where it may be heard.

Then, all standing, the Deacon or a Priest reads the Gospel, first saying The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32.
Glory be to thee, O Lord.

1Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

3So Jesus told them this story:

“A man had two sons. 12The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son’

22“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

After the Gospel, the Reader says: The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise be to thee, O Christ.
At the conclusion of the Gospel, the Bishop or Celebrant may kiss the Gospel book. If the celebrant is not part of the Gospel procession, the deacon or other Minister may carry the Gospel book to the celebrant to be kissed.

A Story of St. Francis And the Wolf
Archbishop Edward L. Tatro, Jr.

Today is Laetare Sunday, also known as the Fourth Sunday in Lent. The term is derived from the opening words of the Latin Mass, “Rejoice (Laetare) Jerusalem” (Is 66:10). The church is called to joyful anticipation of the victory to be won. This joyful theme provides lightening from the penitential emphasis of Lent. Since the thirteenth century the celebrant of the eucharist has been permitted to wear rose-colored vestments which express the change of tone in the Lenten observance. Laetare Sunday therefore may be called “Rose Sunday.”

There is a more joyful tone at this halfway point in the Lenten season. Traditionally, the Apostles Creed is “handed over” to the catechumens, the last step for those preparing for Baptism in the Church at the Great Easter Vigil.

Laetare Sunday is also called Mothering Sunday, named because a person would visit his “mother church,” another name for the church he grew up in, on this day. This day also became connected with visiting one’s biological mother on Laetare Sunday.
Various customs developed on this Sunday, including the baking of “mother cakes.” These cakes are also called “simnel cakes,” and sometimes the fourth Sunday of Lent is called Simnel Sunday.

The Sunday also goes by Refection Sunday, or Refreshment Sunday, named because of the Scripture reading of Joseph feeding his brothers. Finally, the fourth Sunday of Lent is called Rose Sunday because of the papal blessing of the golden rose, a floral spray blessed by the pope and given to a notable person or institution.

Now on to my story. “There was a town in the hill country of Italy named Gubbio. It was a prosperous town, not too big, nor to small. The people lived without fear tending their vineyards and olive orchards and watching over there flocks of sheep. They had a good life, a peaceful and prosperous life. Until one day a ferocious wolf attacked their flocks and their shepherds killing a sheep and severely wounding a shepherd. It happened again the next day and the next. The people went to the mayor of the city and demanded action. The mayor sent out the town guard to hunt the wolf but they came back defeated carrying one of their own that had been killed.

What was the poor town of Gubbio to do? They were so afraid. They stayed locked up in their houses fearful to tend their vineyard, orchards and flocks. They grew hungry and had little water. Finally, the town priest suggested to the mayor that they send for Brother Francis, the monk who was rejuvenating the hearts of the people in hill country with his joyful preaching and his devotion to peace. It was said he was in such communion with the Spirit of God that he could preach to the birds of the air and they would listen and respond.

The mayor immediately sent a messenger to Assisi where Brother Francis lived and worked outside the walls of the city. Francis agreed to come to Gubbio though he was not sure what he could do. As he journeyed to the town so full of fear, he prayed that God would inspire him. After reaching the town and hearing the stories of the fierce wolf and his devastation, Francis agreed to seek out the animal in hopes of understanding why he was attacking the town’s flocks and people.

Francis left the city gates and walked into the countryside. All the while he was praying. He soon found himself in a wooded area. There in a clearing was the wolf resting and tending a wound from his battle with the town guard on one of his hind legs. As he heard Francis approach his ears pricked up. But he did not run. He stood and faced the monk. They looked at each other for a long time. Francis’ warm brown eyes were seeking to see into the depths of the wolf’s golden yellow eyes. The wolf gazed steadily back, apprehensive, on the ready, but not fearful or angry.

Finally, Francis approached the wolf. “Good day, Brother Wolf. I am Francis, a lover of God. I have come to ask why you are attacking the good people and the flocks of Gubbio.” The wolf cocked his head and sat down. He looked at Francis and licked his lips. “Ah,” said Francis. “You are hungry. You are just trying to feed yourself.” And then Francis realized that the wolf was alone in the woods. This was unusual because wolves usually lived in packs. “Where is your pack?” said Francis. ”Why do you live on your own? Do you not have a family?” The wolf stood. He turned and loped in a circle around the clearing. Francis could see that besides his wound from battle, one of the wolf’s hind legs was shorter than the other. He was crippled and could not keep up with a wolf pack. So he had to forage for food on his own. Francis said, “I am so sorry! I see now why you do not live with a pack. You were abandoned and outcast. In your hunger you attacked the sheep and when the people defended them you became very afraid and fought back.

Tell me, Brother Wolf, if you could be fed in another way would you stop attacking the sheep and the people of Gubbio?” The wolf sat down on his hind legs. He lifted up his head and howled joyfully ending with a happy whine. “Come with me,” said Francis. He smiled.

And that is how the town of Gubbio received a new member of their village family. Francis explained the wolf’s story to the mayor and all the townspeople. The wolf lay meekly at Francis’ feet as he told the story. The people were unsure at first. Then spontaneously two children approached Francis and the wolf. They looked at Francis who smiled and nodded. They knelt down and held their hands out for the wolf to smell. He sniffed but did not attack. Then he licked the young girl’s hand and she put her hand on his head. The young boy followed suit. Suddenly the wife of the guard who had been killed approached with a bowl of food. She had tears in her eyes. Gently the wolf began to eat the food. The people of Gubbio agreed that they would take turns feeding him each day. As the townspeople gathered around to thank Francis he put his hand on the head of the wolf and lifted up a prayer of thanksgiving that peace had returned to Gubbio. The wolf stayed with the town for several years. He guarded the gates of the city at night. He played with the children during the day. And he was always fed. When he died the people mourned the passing of their good friend, Brother Wolf.”

Now normally I preach on the prodigal son…but this story does that and much more. Our Lord sought out the outcasts. The sick, the sinners, those cast out by society. He brought them what they sought all along. Redemption, healing and forgiveness. He brought them the Good News, the great Gospel.

We still need to follow His example. This whole congregation is full of sinners, if you think not then you are very foolish and blind. The Church is the hospital, therapist, chef, etc. to those that seek. Repent! Repent for the kingdom is at hand! Return to His Traditions. Return to His Will, His Work!

Hymn: Amazing Grace

Let us in one voice declare our faith!
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Prayers of the People
The Leader and People pray responsively:
Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church;
That we all may be one.
Grant that every member of the Church may truly and humbly serve thee;
That thy Name may be glorified by all people.
We pray for all bishops, priests, and deacons;
That they may be faithful ministers of thy Word and Sacraments.
We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world;
That there may be justice and peace on the earth.
Give us grace to do thy will in all that we undertake;
That our works may find favour in thy sight.
Have compassion on those who suffer from any grief or trouble;
That they may be delivered from their distress.
Give to the departed eternal rest;
Let light perpetual shine upon them.
We praise thee for thy saints who have entered into joy;
May we also come to share in thy heavenly kingdom.

Let us pray for our own needs and those of others.
The People may add their own petitions.
The Celebrant adds a concluding Collect.

Lord, hear the prayers of thy people; and what we have asked faithfully, grant that we may obtain effectually, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Lord our God accept the fervent prayers of thy people; in the multitude of thy mercies, look with compassion upon us and all who turn to thee for help; for thou art gracious, O lover of souls, and to thee we give glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Hasten, O Father, the coming of thy kingdom; and grant that we thy servants, who now live by faith, may with joy behold thy Son at his coming in glorious majesty; even Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

The Confession
The Deacon or Celebrant says the following:

Ye who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways: Draw near with faith, and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.

Silence may be kept.

Celebrant and People: Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men: We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, to the honour and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Absolution
The Celebrant says: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all those who with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him, have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hear the Word of God to all who truly turn to him.

This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Timothy 1:15

The Peace
All stand.

The Celebrant says to the people: The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And with thy spirit.
Let us now share a sign of Christ’s Peace.
Then the Ministers and People may greet one another in the Name of the Lord.

The Offertory
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and make good thy vows unto the Most High. Psalm 50:14

Offertory Hymn: Somebody’s Knocking At Your Door

Celebrant: The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father , the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.

Recessional Hymn: The Church’s One Foundation

The Deacon, or the Celebrant, may dismiss the people with these words: Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

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