One of the restrictions the Government and the health authorities placed on Churches was, not allowing the assembly to attend daily celebration of the Eucharist. Hence, Mass takes place each day on webcam and people attend virtually. This is a cause of great upset to many people. Others see this restriction is in the best interest of safety. However, this does not deter God’s faithful from praying or from taking more time to reflect on the Liturgy of the Word.
Parish churches for the most part are open after Mass for private prayer. Many people go there daily to pray, while many pray at home. They light a candle at one shrine or another, sit quietly praying, and remain attentive to God. Some sit and allow God to gaze on them. The fruit of this quiet prayer is a sense of peace and one’s response can only be one of gratitude.
Today, the reading proclaimed at Mass is from the prophet Daniel (Dan 3: 25, 34-43). It is a great model for prayer. Azariah with his three friends is condemned to death and he is in great distress. He stands before God knowing his great need. He pleads with God asking him ‘not to abandon us forever… and not to withdraw favour from us.’ Azariah recalls the covenant God made with his people. He tells God why he feels abandoned because ‘we have at this time no leader, no prophet, no prince…no place where we can offer first fruits and win your favour.’ Azariah offers a contrite heart to the Lord. He then prays that it might be God’s will that they follow him wholeheartedly. Azariah recognises the importance of trust in God. He identifies God as gentle and compassionate and asks that God might ‘treat us gentle, as you yourself are gentle and very merciful.’
Just as God is gentle and merciful, he also desires that we would treat one another gently and with mercy.
The Gospel proclaimed today (The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Mt 18:21-35) calls God’s people to forgive others if they have offended them, just as God forgives us. Each time the faithful pray the Our Father they say, ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ In this Gospel, we reflect on the reaction of the king to the servant who failed to forgive. In this parable, Jesus tells us that he will treat us in the same way as the king treated the unforgiving servant if we do not forgive those who offend us.
During this Lenten season, God asks us to turn away from sin and love with all our hearts. The way we do this is through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. God will give us the courage to forgive. We can pray the Prayer for Forgiveness.
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St Frances of Rome. She is buried in the Church of Santa Maria in Rome. Every year in Rome outside the church police cars, buses, ambulances and cars assemble to receive the blessing of St Frances. She is the patron saints of motorists. Frances lived in the 15th century when there were no cars but she had great devotion to her guardian angel.
Frances suffered greatly in her life. Her entire family died in a civil war. She strongly and faithfully believed that her guardian angel was always at her side. After her family died, she spent her life helping people who lived in poverty. She opened her house as a makeshift hospital and a shelter for people who were homeless. She established a Christian community of women to help her. Before her husband Lorenzo died, his last words to Frances were, ‘I feel as if my whole life has been one beautiful dream of purest happiness. God has given me so much in your love.’
VERITAS publications offers free online resources to support the themes and lessons on Forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. These include the Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-books. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Mt 18:21-35) and accompanying resources are in the Sixth Class/P8 Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé programme (Theme 3 Lesson 2). Access available at;
- From the Bible or from Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book read the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Mt 18:21-35)
- Pray the Prayer for Forgiveness/Prayer after Forgiveness
- Pray to the Guardian Angel/ Paidir chuig an Aingeal Coimhdeachta
- St Frances of Rome, pray for us.
- If someone hurts your feelings, how would you like that person to show they were sorry?
- If you hurt someone’s feelings and you wanted to show you are sorry what would you do?
- Find out some facts about St Frances of Rome.
Sr Anne Neylon