Mary Rose, author of Inquiring Minds interviews of college students on California Catholic Daily, discusses with Father Joseph Illo, pastor of Star of the Sea church in San Francisco his most recent blog post titled “Laetare” dated March 5, 2024.

Watch the 11-minute recording of this ninth one of the podcasts.

​To prepare us for this Sunday, I say Laetare!

Don’t you just love that first word of the Fourth Sunday of Lent? The word is “rejoice,” or Laetare in the official language of the Church. This word begins our Mass this coming Sunday, from what is called the “Introit” or “entrance antiphon,” the Scriptural text that the priest says as he “enters” (introire in Latin) the holy of holies to begin the Mass. It’s also called the “incipit” from the Latin incipere, “to begin.” So we begin the Fourth Sunday of Lent, our midway point to Easter, with these words from Isaiah 66:10-11: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning.”

I hope you love Jerusalem, although many over the years have hated the Holy City. Hitler certainly did, and many do today, but she will always be our source of joy, because it is there that the Lord God redeemed the world. Many have cause to mourn in Jerusalem today, and many of us have cause to mourn over the destruction of our own cities, for truly we are at war, a war of cultures. Bombs are dropping, both explosive “ordnance” in many parts of the world, but also the “digital” bombs that daily rain on us from various media. These “bombshells” and “breaking news” are calculated to destroy the good, the true, and the beautiful in our minds.

Digital media is used most effectively to cause fear and anxiety among the masses. People are dying, as the number of “deaths from despair” from opioids, suicide, and domestic violence have exploded over the last 20 years. We are in a war in which a pagan culture of death seeks to destroy our Christian culture of life. We are repaganizing.

And yet, we begin our worship this Sunday with the prophet’s words: “Rejoice, Jerusalem.” The earthly Jerusalem (the name means “City of Peace”) has never known lasting peace, but then it only points to the heavenly Jerusalem. Nonetheless we worship God in this earthly Jerusalem (our parish churches) in the persistent hope of reaching the heavenly Jerusalem, where there will be no more mourning, or crying out, or pain. It is with that joy that we enter, with the priest this Sunday, into the sanctuary of God.

Christ will indeed redeem our lives from the existential violence of despair, and he will do it in three weeks, at the great Easter Vigil. On that night, in my newly-restored church, at 8pm on March 30, the people will gather around a blessed Easter Fire, light the pascal candle, and process behind ten men and women who will be baptized that night. We will be baptized with them, again, into a new life of joy and peace that comes to us through every Paschaltide. Happy Easter, in advance!

From Father Illo’s Blog

Father Illo: Why not a media fast?