Saturday, March 31, 2018

Divine Mercy: Hope of Salvation

According to Saint Faustina’s diary, Jesus said of Divine Mercy Sunday:
I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy.  If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity… tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near. —Divine Mercy in My Soul,Diary of St. Faustina, n. 965 

Between the sadness of the Cross and the joy of Easter


The following comes from Fr. Thomas Rosica at Salt and Light:

Holy Saturday is a day of grief and mourning, of patient waiting and hoping. With Mary and the disciples, we grieve the death of the most important member of our Christian community. The faith of Mary and the disciples was strongly challenged on that first Holy Saturday as they awaited the resurrection.
When the full impact of the death of friends and loved ones fully hits us, it has the potential to stun, dull, and crush the human heart. It can immobilize us from action and thought. If we are people without faith and hope, the experience of confusion, grief and loss has the potential to kill us.
Today we reflect on that period of confusion and silence, between the sadness of the cross and the joy of Easter. From the bewilderment of Jesus’ disciples to the great faith of Mary, we examine our own lives in light of the great “Sabbath of Time” and draw courage from Mary’s example to face the future with deep hope, patience, love and interior peace.
At the end of this long day of waiting, we celebrate the mother of all liturgies, a true feast for the senses. The Church gathers in darkness and lights a new fire and a great candle that will make this night bright for us. We listen to our ancient Scriptures: stories of creation, Abraham and Isaac, Moses and Miriam and the crossing of the sea, poems of promise and rejoicing, and the story of the empty tomb. We see, hear, taste, feel the newness of God in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. In the “Mother of all liturgies” the past and present meet, death and life embrace and life is triumphant; we reject evil and renew our baptismal promises to God.
On Holy Saturday, many of us are far too busy with Easter preparations to reflect on the significance of this day. We do not take the necessary time to grieve, ponder and enter into the mind and heart of Mary and the disciples on that first Holy Saturday.
I am very grateful to one of my good friends and Basilian confrères, Father Robert Crooker, CSB, who taught me years ago about the mystery and meaning of Holy Saturday. Father Crooker is a retired professor of Canon Law from our Basilian University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. Though now in his 80s, this priest is a great example of one who has remained “evergreen” in his faith, spirituality, outlook and love of the Church. He is one of those special persons with whom one can discuss the deepest spiritual and religious matters in simple, profound, wise and always hopeful ways.
Father Crooker sent me the following text back in 1990, which I have read on every Holy Saturday since. His words can help us appreciate more deeply the significance of this great day of watching and waiting.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Have Mercy Upon Me, O God

Have a blessed Good Friday.


Psalm 51:

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions:
and my sin is ever before me.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done this evil in thy sight:
that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest,
and be clear when thou judgest.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity;
and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness;
that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all mine iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from thy presence;
and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free Spirit.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways;
and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
thou God of my salvation:
and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

O Lord, open thou my lips;
and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.

For thou desirest not sacrifice;
else would I give it:
thou delightest not in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
a broken and a contrite heart, O God,
thou wilt not despise.

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion:
build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
with burnt offering and whole burnt offering:
then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Divine Mercy Novena


The Novena of Divine Mercy begins today!  You can get daily reminders and prayers in your email by signing up here.

The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday and goes until Divine Mercy Saturday. You can join thousands of people in praying the novena this year! Will you join us for the Divine Mercy Novena?
The Divine Mercy novena prayers were given to St. Faustina through an apparition of our Lord Jesus. Each day has a new petition that seeks God’s mercy for different purposes.
The message of Divine Mercy is a powerful and moving way to come closer to Christ.
His Mercy is central to our lives and we must continually depend on it and ask for it daily.
Join us in praying the Divine Mercy Novena beginning this Good Friday!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Archbishop Chaput: Holy Week and the gift of priesthood

The following comes from Archbishop Chaput at Catholic Philly:
Holy Week is the most sacred time of the Christian year. And on every Holy Thursday, priests of the archdiocese gather at the annual Chrism Mass to renew their fraternal bonds and the meaning of their vocation.
The readings of the Chrism Mass have a special beauty and power, and they deserve the attention of all the faithful, not just our priests:
First reading: Is 61:1-3a, 6a, 8b-9
Second reading: Rev 1:5-8
Gospel: Lk 4:16-21
The Bible has dozens of dramatic moments, but the one that arguably matters most is the last line of the Chrism Mass Gospel: “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” If human history has a center, this is it. If Scripture has a direction and meaning, this is it. All of God’s contact with humanity either leads up to this point, or flows from it. As C.S. Lewis once famously observed, in speaking these Gospel words Jesus is either stating a fact, or he’s blaspheming, or he’s mentally ill. There’s no middle ground. And the people in the synagogue who heard him say the words, understood this very well — which is why they tried to assault him.
Christ’s radical claim requires a radical response. The apostles who followed him reconfigured their lives and risked or gave away all that they owned. Joy and fruitfulness come from this kind of discipleship, but very little comfort. Faith is not a leisure activity. And it may become even less so in the years ahead as many people forget their religious roots and drift away from the Church as their home.
Living the Catholic faith, for every committed Christian, is a life of conscious focus and sacrifice. But for priests, whom Christ configures to himself through ordination, this is especially true. The priesthood is a “helping profession” only in the sense that it “helps” to have someone around who’s willing to live, serve, intercede, suffer and die on our behalf. Jesus lived and died for all of us. In like manner, priests are called to live and die for their people in his name. Otherwise the priesthood means nothing.
The lives of our priests have a purpose that no one else can fulfill. As Isaiah reminds priests in the Chrism Mass readings, “God has anointed” them. Anointing is the outward physical mark of a permanent, interior covenant. Priests have a mission to which they must conform their lives; a mission to heal the wounded; offer real and enduring freedom to their people; to comfort the suffering, to restore gladness and glory to those who mourn.
The people who carried the Catholic faith forward in history, who made the culture of beauty, music, art and architecture rooted in the Christian understanding of God and humanity – these generations were taught, spiritually fed, and shaped by priests exactly like the men who minister to us in our local Church. Where there is Catholic faith anywhere in the world, it exists because priests offered their lives for the sake of Jesus Christ and the people God called them to serve.
The crisis of our time is not finally a crisis of resources or personnel or intelligence or talent. God has given us enough of all these things, if we steward them with prudence.
Rather, what too many people lack today is faith. Unbelief is easy, like adultery in a marriage where the spouses have stopped cultivating their love out of indifference or resentment. But it leads nowhere, because faith is the only firm foundation for human hope.
Fidelity can be difficult. But it leads in the opposite direction – to meaning, hope and life. And priests play an irreplaceable role in strengthening the faith of the Christian people.
This Holy Week, as we remember Christ’s suffering on the cross and ready ourselves for the joy of the Resurrection, please also remember our priests. They need our love and support as brothers in the Lord’s work. Thank God for them. Pray for them in a special way. The bond of Christian people and their priests is the strength of the Church in a skeptical world that has never needed the Word of God more urgently.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Baptism in the Holy Spirit and Fire

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Scott Hahn on Prayer

"If we do not fill our mind with prayer, it will fill itself with anxieties, worries, temptations, resentments, and unwelcome memories."  
                                               Scott Hahn

Holy Spirit: Breath of God

Monday, March 26, 2018

Scott Hahn: Holding on to Hope


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Holy Spirit: God's Love Poured Out

Dr. Scott Hahn: "The Evangelical Catholic Moment?"

Palm Sunday: The Victory of Humility

The following comes from the The Crossroads Initiative: 

Palm Sunday -- When a conquering hero of the ancient world rode into town in triumph, it was in a regal chariot or on the back of a stately stallion.  Legions of soldiers accompanied him in the victory procession.  Triumphal arches, festooned with relief sculptures, were often erected to immortalize his valiant victory.

After driving out demons, healing the sick, and raising the dead, it was time for the King of Kings to enter the Holy City.  But to do so, he rode not on the back of a warhorse, but a donkey. His companions accompanied him brandishing not swords, but palm branches.  The monument to his victory, erected a week later, was not an arch, but a crucifix.

His earthly beginning was frightfully humble.  And his earthly end would be no different.  The wood of the manger prefigured the wood of the cross.

From beginning to end, the details are humiliating.  No room in the inn.  Born amidst the stench of a stable.  Hunted by Herod’s henchmen.  Growing up in a far-flung province of the Roman Empire--Galilee, the land where the country accent is so thick, you can cut it with a knife.  How it that the high priest’s servant-girl knew Peter was a disciple of Jesus?  His hillbilly accent gave him away (Matthew 26:73).  Jesus disciples were not cultured, learned men of ability.  They were drawn from the low-life of a backwater region…

When one of his closest companions offered to betray him, he did not require millions.  Jesus’ worth was reckoned to be no more than the Old Testament “book value” for a slave--thirty pieces of silver (Ex 21;32).  When he was finally handed over to the Romans, he was not given the punishment meted out to Roman citizens.  Beheading was the quick, dignified way to execute someone of any standing.  Instead Jesus was given punishments reserved only for slaves and rebellious members of subjugated peoples – flagellation and crucifixion.  These two penalties were not just about the pain, but about the humiliation.  In first century Palestine, men and women typically covered themselves from head to toe, even in the scorching heat.  A crucified man was stripped naked and put on display for all to see.

But this is not primary a story of violence and humiliation.  The events of Holy Week are much more about love and humility.

That’s why on Passion Sunday we read the powerful words of Paul’s letter from the Philippians (2:6-11).  Though the Divine Word was God, dwelling in the serene heights of heavenly glory, he freely plunged to the depths of human misery, joining himself to our frail nature, entering into our turbulent world.  As if this act of humility were not enough, he further humbled himself, accepting the status of a slave.  His act of stooping down to wash the feet of his disciples (Jn 13) was a parable of his whole human existence, for this act was regarded as so undignified that not even Israelite slaves could be compelled to do it.

But that’s just it.  Jesus was not compelled to do it.  He willingly lowered himself in his birth, in his ministry, in his death.  No one took his life from him.  He freely laid down his own life (Jn 10:18).  Others did not have the chance to humble him; he humbled himself.

It had to be so.  The Second Adam had to undo the damage caused by the first.  What was the sin our first parents?  They disobeyed because they wanted to know what God knew, to be like God, to exalt themselves over God (Gen 3).  They were bitten by the Serpent, and injected with the deadly venom of Pride.  The antidote, the anti-venom could only be humility.  The foot-washing, donkey-riding New Adam would crush the head of the deadly serpent by means of loving, humble obedience. 

The first-born of many brothers lowered himself to the dust from which the First Adam has been made–indeed humility comes from the word “humus.” But God responded to his humility by exalting him far above Caesars, kings, and even Hollywood stars.  And he invites us to share his glory with him.  But first we must walk on his road to glory, the royal road of the cross.

The Joy of Suffering

The following comes from In God's Company 2:

"I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us." -Romans 8:18

When we suffer, we may take a pill for pain relief. However, Paul recommends that we pray for a deeper awareness of God's glory. We need to increase our awareness of God's glory more than decrease our pain. Then we will consider our suffering as nothing compared to His glory to be revealed in us. We can even become so aware of God's glory that we consider suffering a privilege (Phil 1:29), find our joy in our suffering (Col 1:24), and even rejoice in proportion to our suffering (1 Pt 4:13).

For most people, their joy increases as their suffering decreases. For Christians aware of God's glory, our joy increases as our suffering increases. This is only possible for those deeply aware of God's glorious presence (1 Pt 2:19). This fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10), even of wisdom concerning our suffering. We find joy in suffering only when we suffer redemptively through self-sacrifice and persecution.

Most suffering should be removed through repentance, evangelization, deliverance, and/or healing. Redemptive suffering, however, should be compared to God's glory and considered nothing (see Rm 8:18). We should rejoice in redemptive suffering and even seek to increase it by living totally for Christ.

 Father, give me the faith and love to pray to share more in Your sufferings (see Phil 3:10).

 "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it." -Is 55:11

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Lamentation of Jesus

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
As Jesus walks the Via Dolorosa, among the procession of people, He sees His beloved Mother who is accompanied by John and some holy women of Jerusalem.  He gazes at his sorrowful Mother who is humble, silent, resigned and valiant as always. His suffering is mirrored back to Him in the perfect anguish of her maternal heart. We can perceive the lamentation of the Lord as he communicates to His sorrowful Mother.
Jesus speaks to Mary in the silent gaze of love on the way of the cross:
My beloved Mother, My enemies deride Me, but they will not disrespect you. Even amidst this bloodthirsty crowd you are esteemed, as you should be. No one will lay a hand on you, Mother of the Condemned One!  No one will speak an unkind word to you, Mother of the Messiah! They will not cease their cruelty against Me until I breathe my last. Death by crucifixion is their only aim: it is a sport to them.
The devils are unleashed to enter into this crowd to carry out the most tortuous execution possible. But the devils dare not to approach you, Mother of the Redeemer. The Father will not permit it. Legions flee from your presence for you are altogether too much for the fallen angels. Any number of these people will do their evil bidding but not you!
Mother, I know that you ardently desire to share in my physical pain.  It is enough that you share in all the pain of my soul. Your sorrow is complete for I see the mystical swords that pierce your Immaculate Heart. Our two hearts are beating in the synchronized rhythm of love that we have always shared. I am bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh. Our hearts are inseparable.
This maddening crowd stares at you. They see you: “There is His Mother!”  But no one dares to come against you. While they have no sympathy for Me, you elicit sympathy from them. Your tender maternal heart is pierced as Simeon prophesied so that the thoughts of many will be revealed. I am a sign of contradiction that they seek to annihilate but you are a mother of love touching their hearts in a mysterious maternal manner.
Mother, your tears are sanctifying the earth. They fall like My blood and sweat to purify the earth’s children. Mother, your Son’s hour is now. We talked about this. We prepared one another for this hour. My enemies think it is their hour.  But you and I know the truth: this is hour of the redemption of the world.
Mother, your noble heart is thoroughly anguished yet rapt in love. My pure, gentle mother, your love always tends upward. You could no more wish ill upon my persecutors than I could! Your suffering is complete because of the affection you have for these people. You know that I love them and so do you. Love bears all things with equanimity. You are the flower of divine mercy and your fragrance of holiness is like heaven’s incense soothing my laboring lungs.
Your loving eyes speak volumes to me. You are always full of heaven’s grace, my selfless Mother. Valiant Lady, thank you for accompanying me along the Via Dolorosa. My friends have fled in fear but you remain near me always. Take courage, as I must complete the mission now. That My suffering is complete, I shall not receive the consolation of your loving gaze again until this Body is raised. Let Me look at your lovely face one last time before it is finished. Your countenance is sorrowful but noble for you are more radiantly beautiful than ever. My Queen, your heart is well prepared for the piercing swords of bitter sorrow that take hold of us in this hour. Most holy Mother, I die for you also. My will is fixed. Mother, fiat!
During Lent, we can spiritually accompany our Lord and Savior along the way of the cross. As we fix our eyes on His complete and perfect sacrifice, He looks back at us in a gaze that communicates His infinite, personal love for us. We may think that we are consoling Him (it is good that we try to do so), but in truth He is consoling us. Saint Luke tells us, “But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children (Luke 22:28).” These are the only recorded spoken words of the Lord along the way of the cross. They are an invitation to travailing, intercessory prayer. Our Lenten tears and sacrifices are not for the Lord, but for ourselves; that we may rediscover the joy of loving Him.
The grace of Lent is an opportunity to experience the personal and corporate weight of sin. Oh, that we may weep! Oh, that our tears of love will help purify the earth! During Lent may our tears join Mary’s tears on the Via Dolorosa to join Christ’s perfect sacrifice of love! When He sees us accompanying Him on the way of the cross, certainly He will speak the words we long to hear.

The Victory of the Cross



Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart; Give me right faith, sure hope, and perfect charity. Fill me with understanding and knowledge, that I may fulfill your command.

-St. Francis of Assisi