By Fr. Mike Boutin
Next Sunday, February 21st, is the First Sunday in Lent. The liturgical color is violet, and should be distinguished from the purple color of Advent. Consider at least two different sets of vestments, one for Advent and one for Lent. The purple of Lent should have red tones, while the purple of Advent should have blue and gray tones.
During Lent, call attention to the penitential and baptismal elements of the liturgy. Sing the penitential rite. Consider using the Confiteor, followed by the Kyrie. Perhaps the assembly could kneel during this Rite. The order would be: Sign of the Cross, Greeting, Invitation to the Penitential Rite: "My brothers and sisters, in these Lenten days, let us turn away from our sins so that we might be reconciled to God and to one another. As a sign of a truly repentant spirit, please kneel." Continue with Confiteor, Kyrie chanted, and Absolution Prayer. Then stand for Opening Prayer.
Though Lent has a baptismal character, the sprinkling rite should be reserved for the Easter season, to call to mind the baptisms of the Easter Vigil.
A seasonal responsorial psalm and a different set of Eucharistic acclamations can also serve to unify the season of Lent.
On the First Sunday of Lent, the liturgical books suggest beginning the liturgy with a Penitential Litany.
The First Sunday of Lent is also the beginning of the Period of Enlightenment and Purification for the RCIA. On this First Sunday of Lent, catechumens are enrolled in the Rite of Election at the diocesan cathedral with the bishop. A Rite for Sending the Catechumens to the Rite of Election should be used at one of the principal parish Masses. Prayers for the elect and the candidates should be included in all parish Masses until the Easter Vigil. Consider replacing the sacred oils with a Book of the Elect that would include pictures of the elect, a prayer for them, and perhaps a brief biography of each of the candidates that could also be posted on the web and included in the bulletin.
Click here for next Sunday's readings.
Here are a few good sites for exegesis (an explanation of what the biblical texts are trying to say):
General Intercessions (Prayers of the Faithful):
The general intercessions at Mass should be written in the community that will pray them. Don't rely on canned prayers. Your community deserves someone who will pray about what this particular community's needs are this week, and then help them to articulate their needs and the needs of the larger community.
General intercessions should be just that: general enough that everyone can pray them. Prayers for the world, for the local community, for the sick, for peace, and for the dead should be numbered among the prayers you articulate. Adding a list of the local sick and deceased is a good way to make these prayers the prayers of this local community. Here are some general principles and a good example of general intercessions for next Sunday.
When I am preparing to preach, my process includes a number of pieces: 1) prayer with the scriptures 2) a weekly Bible study with parishioners on Tuesday morning that forces me to interact with the texts before Friday! 2) looking at a few different "homily helps" not in order to use a canned homily (honestly, I've never done that), but instead, sometimes to find a different angle, or a starter story, or some particularly useful insight.
The sources I use include:
- The Preachers' Exchange is a great website for Catholic preachers, by Jude Siciliano, OP. Well worth adding to your Favorites list.
- Celebration, published by NCR, is my favorite homily preparation type service, though it describes itself as a "comprehensive worship resource." It is an ecumenical and multi-cultural resource, has very fine scriptural scholarship and homily starters, interesting and useful articles and features, a daily Mass supplement. Overall, a lot of liturgical and preaching bang for your hard-earned buck!
- Prepare the Word is an online resource published by True Quest, whose strongest asset is Alice Camille, one of its writers, but whose weakest link is customer service and subscriptions.
- Connections, published by Media Works and edited by Jay Cormier, is a great resource: a couple of short stories, fables, news events that relate (some more, some not quite so much!), but which provide only a springboard for your own preaching...
- This Sunday's Scripture, is published by Word Press and is one of the best available resources. Good exegesis and pastoral application, and some useful homily starters. This resource is grounded in a prayerful weeklong approach to the Sunday scriptures and preaching.