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Monday of the Second Week in Lent

Reading 1 Dn 9:4b-10

"Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day:
we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem,
and all Israel, near and far,
in all the countries to which you have scattered them
because of their treachery toward you.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 79:8, 9, 11 and 13

R. (see 103:10a) Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name's sake.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Let the prisoners' sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.

Verse Before the Gospel See Jn 6:63c, 68c

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Gospel Lk 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

"Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you."
- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Second Sunday of Lent

Reading 1 Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, "Abraham!"
"Here I am!" he replied.
Then God said:
"Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you."

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD's messenger called to him from heaven,
"Abraham, Abraham!"
"Here I am!" he answered.
"Do not lay your hand on the boy," said the messenger.
"Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son."
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD's messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
"I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessing—
all this because you obeyed my command."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19

R. (116:9) I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
I believed, even when I said,
"I am greatly afflicted."
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people,
In the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

Reading 2 Rom 8:31b-34

Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?

Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us, who will condemn?
Christ Jesus it is who died—or, rather, was raised—
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.

Verse Before the Gospel Cf. Mt 17:5

From the shining cloud the Father's voice is heard:
This is my beloved Son, listen to him.

Gospel Mk 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
"Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
"This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Reading 1 Dt 26:16-19

Moses spoke to the people, saying:
"This day the LORD, your God,
commands you to observe these statutes and decrees.
Be careful, then,
to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.
Today you are making this agreement with the LORD:
he is to be your God and you are to walk in his ways
and observe his statutes, commandments and decrees,
and to hearken to his voice.
And today the LORD is making this agreement with you:
you are to be a people peculiarly his own, as he promised you;
and provided you keep all his commandments,
he will then raise you high in praise and renown and glory
above all other nations he has made,
and you will be a people sacred to the LORD, your God,
as he promised."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8

R. (1b) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
You have commanded that your precepts
be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
of keeping your statutes!
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
I will give you thanks with an upright heart,
when I have learned your just ordinances.
I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

Verse Before the Gospel 2 Cor 6:2b

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Gospel Mt 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Friday of the First Week of Lent

Reading 1 Ez 18:21-28

Thus says the Lord GOD:
If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him;
he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced.
Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked?
says the Lord GOD.
Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way
that he may live?

And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil,
the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does,
can he do this and still live?
None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered,
because he has broken faith and committed sin;
because of this, he shall die.
You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!"
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed,
does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7bc-8

R. (3) If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
Let Israel wait for the LORD.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
And he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?

Verse Before the Gospel Ez 18:31

Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD,
And make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

Gospel Mt 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I tell you,
unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."
- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Bishop Zaidan Calls for Peace and Humanitarian Aid as War-Torn Ukraine Marks Two Years Since Russian Invasion

WASHINGTON - As Russia’s war against Ukraine enters its third year, the need for humanitarian assistance has greatly increased to help the millions of Ukrainians impacted by violence and destruction. People are struggling to survive in the cold winter with little food, heat, or shelter, said Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon. As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, he urged the U.S. government to provide more aid immediately to alleviate the suffering of Ukrainians. Bishop Zaidan also expressed concern at Russia’s targeting of religious communities in Ukraine, destroying churches, arresting religious leaders, some of whom have been tortured and killed.

“The magnitude of the suffering in the Ukrainian conflict continues to sear the conscience of the faithful. According to a UN report, the number of civilians killed and injured since February 2022 exceeds 30,000. Schools, hospitals, apartments, and basic infrastructure supplying power have been hit by missiles. In the face of such destruction and death, people are repeatedly displaced, insecure as to where to find safety.

“The Catholic Church, including many Catholic welfare organizations are trying to meet these enormous needs both within Ukraine and in other countries impacted by this war which has raged on for two full years. The USCCB’s national collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe has been critical in providing much-needed aid to the region. Additionally, Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative has greatly heightened global food security concerns, increasing food prices, and jeopardizing the health and lives of poor and vulnerable people dependent on food assistance for survival. I urge the U.S. government to do all that it can to provide much needed humanitarian assistance quickly.

“At the same time, there are reports of religious communities, particularly the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, being attacked by Russian forces in territories they have seized. Over 600 religious structures have been damaged, some occupied by Russian forces and turned into military bases. Clergy have been harassed, persecuted, kidnapped, and even killed.

“On January 8, Pope Francis spoke about Ukraine saying we cannot allow the persistence of a conflict that continues to metastasize to the detriment of millions of persons. He also underscored that it is necessary to put an end to the present tragedy through negotiations, in respect for international law. I join with our Holy Father in calling for an end to the violence in Ukraine and call on all the faithful and people of good will to join with the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, in setting aside February 24 as a solemn day of prayer, fasting for the end of the war and for peace to come to this war-torn land.”

###

Woe to those who end up in media 'meat grinder,' papal preacher says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The media and social networks can be crueler than wild beasts, the preacher of the papal household told top Vatican officials and Vatican employees.

"When they point out the distortions of society or of the church," he said, then "they deserve all the respect and esteem," Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa said Feb. 23, offering his first Lenten meditation of 2024 in the Paul VI Audience Hall.

But there should be no praise when "they attack someone out of bias, simply because he does not belong to their side" or when they are driven by "malice and with destructive, rather than constructive, intent," the Capuchin friar said. 

cantalamessa
Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, presents a Lenten meditation for members of the Roman Curia and Vatican employees in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican in this file photo from Feb. 26, 2021. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The reflection came after Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia suspended their usual activities to participate in a week of personal spiritual reflection for the beginning of Lent Feb. 18-23. A number of chairs reserved for curial officials and Pope Francis were empty.

"Unfortunately, today there exists in society teeth that grind without mercy, more cruelly" than the teeth of wild beasts, Cardinal Cantalamessa said. "They are the teeth of the media and the so-called social networks."

"Unfortunate indeed is whoever ends up in this meat grinder today, be it a layperson or clergy!" he said.

"In this case, it is legitimate and necessary to assert one's reasons in the appropriate forums, and if this is not possible, or it is seen that it is of no use, all that remains for a believer is to join Christ scourged, crowned with thorns, spit upon," he said.

"It is a difficult and painful thing to say the least, especially if one's natural or religious family is involved," he said. "But the grace of God can make -- and often has made -- all of this an opportunity for purification and sanctification."

"It's about having faith that, in the end, as happened with Jesus, the truth will triumph over lies. And the triumph will be better served, perhaps, with silence than with the most aggressive self-defense," he said.

The papal preacher said he would dedicate each of his five Lenten reflections to five of the seven "I am" declarations Jesus revealed in the Gospel of John, starting with "I am the bread of life."

"How did he, Jesus, become the bread of life for us?" Cardinal Cantalamessa asked.

Jesus provided the answer in the Gospel of John (12:24) when he said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit," the cardinal said.

The image of grain falling to the ground and dying, he said, indicates not only Jesus' destiny, but also "that of every one of his true disciples."

On his way to Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote how he was willing to become "food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God's wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ's pure bread," the cardinal said, quoting the saint.

"This has something to say to us, too," the cardinal said. "Each of us has, in our environment, these teeth of wild beasts that grind us" given that -- quoting St. Augustine -- human beings are "vessels of clay that are damaged by the slightest nick."

"We must learn to make this situation a means of sanctification and not of hardening of the heart, hatred and complaint," Cardinal Cantalamessa said.

"There are many opportunities not to be wasted if we, too, want to be ground to become God's flour, and everyone must identify and sanctify what is offered to him in his place of service," he said.

"One opportunity is to accept being contradicted, to give up justifying oneself, and to always want to be right when this is not required by the importance of the matter," he said.

The other is "to put up with someone whose character, way of speaking or acting gets on our nerves, and to do so without ourselves becoming irritated internally, thinking, rather, that we too are perhaps such a person for someone," he said.

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

Reading 1 1 Pt 5:1-4

Beloved:
I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Responsorial Psalm PS 23:1-3a, 4, 5, 6

R. (1) 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.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
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.
R. 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.
R. 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.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Verse Before the Gospel Mt 16:18

You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church;
the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

Gospel Mt 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Bernini's baldachin masterpiece disappears from public view until Holy Year

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Like a giant Tinkertoy construction, a skeletal tower of scaffolding slowly inched its way up the twisting bronze columns of the baldachin over the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica. 

baldachin scaffolding
Workers are erecting metal scaffolding around the 100-foot-tall baldachin over the main altar in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 21, 2024. (CNS photo/Robert Duncan)

Workers on the ground picked through piles of shiny metal platforms, poles, clamps and couplers to then hoist them up high with pulleys to their workmates above. They had begun erecting the scaffolding after Mass on Ash Wednesday Feb. 14 and it reached almost halfway by Feb. 21.

The 100-foot-tall baldachin was set to be completely covered by metal scaffolding before Easter to allow a team of 10 to 12 restorers to start cleaning, repairing and revitalizing the masterpiece designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1624 and completed around 1633.

The biggest problem facing the restorers "is getting there, that is, to be close enough" to the bronze and wood structures and many decorative details that need to be restored, Alberto Capitanucci told Catholic News Service. 

capitanucci
Alberto Capitanucci, the head engineer of the Fabbrica di San Pietro -- the office responsible for upkeep of the basilica -- poses for a photograph at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 21, 2024. (CNS photo/Robert Duncan)

Capitanucci, the head engineer of the Fabbrica di San Pietro -- the office responsible for upkeep of the basilica -- said the baldachin is a monumental architectural structure that is as high as a 10-story building.

But it is mostly empty space with its four fluted spiral bronze columns, each set upon a massive marble pedestal alongside the marble steps leading to the main altar over the tomb of St. Peter. The most delicate part of the structure is the canopy above, he said, which is made entirely of wood.

The wooden ceiling "is the size of a vessel, that is, it was designed to be the wooden planking of a boat," Capitanucci said.

Despite its enormous size, Bernini wanted the baldachin to resemble the light, open and airy cloth-covered canopy used in processions of the Blessed Sacrament. The term "baldachin" or "baudekin" comes from a special brocade fabric made in Baghdad and traditionally used for processional canopies. 

The twisting pattern on the gilded columns makes them look lighter and draws the eye upward along decorations of snaking branches of olive and laurel, bees and lizards, until it reaches the top which resembles canopy brocade and tassels blowing in the wind, he said. The top of the baldachin is meant to look like "a billowing sail" of a boat. 

cherubs baldachin
A cherub holding the keys of St. Peter and one holding up a papal tiara can be seen in this close-up photograph of the wooden canopy of the baldachin over the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in this undated photo. (CNS photo/Fabbrica di San Pietro)

The angels holding floral garlands and standing at the four corners are 13 feet high, he said, and four scroll-like ornaments, shaped like dolphin backs, go from the corners up to a globe that supports a cross, which is 40 feet tall. There are four pairs of cherubs holding up the keys of St. Peter, a papal tiara and the sword and book of St. Paul.  

What looks small from below is, in reality, enormous in size, Capitanucci said, indicating that the bees on top are as long as a briefcase. Pope Urban VIII, who hired Bernini to design the baldachin, belonged to the Barberini family, whose coat of arms consists of three bees.

Capitanucci said they used drones to take over 6,000 photographs of the hard-to-reach canopy and its inner ceiling featuring the dove of the Holy Spirit surrounded by golden fire. The up-close images will help them plan how to proceed with the restoration, he said.

The entire structure will be covered in sheer cloth to shield workers from the public, he said, and still let in lots of natural light.

And, once the scaffolding is completely up, the wooden box now protecting the main altar will be removed so the altar can still be used for papal ceremonies for the rest of the year. The entire restoration should be completed by the end of December for the start of the Holy Year. 

enzo fortunato
Franciscan Father Enzo Fortunato, director of communication for St. Peter's Basilica, poses for a photograph at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 21, 2024. (CNS photo/Robert Duncan)

Franciscan Father Enzo Fortunato, director of communication for St. Peter's Basilica, told CNS the baldachin "is the linchpin of the basilica."

It draws attention to the main altar, which is "the heart, where the Eucharistic sacrifice takes place, the Eucharistic celebration that is the source and summit of Christian life," he said.

The current restoration project, funded by the Knights of Columbus, marks only the second restoration since the baldachin was built, he said, the last restoration being in the late 1700s.

When works of art are preserved well, he said, it keeps alive the belief that "beauty leads to God" and it reminds people "what human genius can create."

The baldachin also symbolizes that it is possible for all people to work together to create something spectacular, Father Fortunato said. Many other artists worked with Bernini to build the masterpiece, including his fiercest rival, Francesco Borromini.

"This makes us understand that teamwork, working together, always bears beautiful and good fruit," the Franciscan friar said.

A historic restoration in St. Peter's

A historic restoration in St. Peter's

A look at a monumental restoration project in St. Peter's Basilica.

Wednesday of the First Week in Lent

Reading 1 Jon 3:1-10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:
"Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you."
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD's bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day's walk announcing,
"Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,"
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh,
he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe,
covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.
Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh,
by decree of the king and his nobles:
"Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep,
shall taste anything;
they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water.
Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God;
every man shall turn from his evil way
and from the violence he has in hand.
Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing wrath,
so that we shall not perish."
When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.

Responsorial Psalm PS 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19

R. (19b) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Verse Before the Gospel Jl 2:12-13 Jl 2:12-13

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart
for I am gracious and merciful.

Gospel Lk 11:29-32

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

New Initiative Strives to Explain the Perennial Question: “What is Love?”

WASHINGTON – “Conversations about love, marriage, sexuality, family, and the human person can be confusing and polarizing”, said Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester. “This is why I am pleased to announce the launch of Love Means More to help bring clarity and compassion to those questions.”

As the month of February brings cultural attention to Valentine’s Day and with it, conflicting notions of love, Bishop Barron noted that “cultural narratives tell us love is mostly about feeling good. True love is deeper than that, calling us to follow Christ’s example of sacrificial love so we can live in union with Him forever.”

The Love Means More initiative is an ongoing campaign, based around a new website that takes a deep dive into the meanings of love. It is a versatile resource for Catholic catechists, as well as “seekers” from any religious background, but also welcomes those who profess no religious background at all. Bishop Barron is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, which is spearheading the initiative.

Love Means More renews the effort begun by Marriage: Unique for a Reason to promote and defend what Christ has revealed about marriage and family, but also addresses a broader range of topics in the area of human sexuality, organized around the central question, “What is love?” This approach enables learners to see how some difficult discussions can actually be the result of hidden assumptions about more basic questions, such as:

Is love only how someone makes you feel?
Does love mean ‘to will the good’ of the other?
Is unity necessarily the goal of all love?

The Love Means More initiative is the result of wide consultation with bishops, pastors, educators, medical and mental health professionals, and lay Catholic leaders involved with family life ministry. The initiative has also heard, and seeks to address, questions and concerns received from people who are uncomfortable with some Church teachings. These include those who uphold the possibility of divorce and remarriage, LGBT-identifying individuals, and those who defend pornography. As content continues to be added post-launch, this initiative will be a valuable resource for engaging in cultural conversation about love.

The website for Love Means More may be accessed at: https://lovemeansmore.org/

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