Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Lord has Risen!

The following poem from the second century priest Melito of Sardes (Asia Minor) praises the Resurrection:

Trembling for joy cries all creation;
What is this mystery, so great and new?
The Lord has risen from among the dead,
And Death itself He crushed with valiant foot.
Behold the cruel tyrant bound and chained,
And man made free by Him who rose!

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, April 19, 2019

Fr. Benedict Groeschel: Good Friday

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.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Passion Sunday: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Passion of the Christ

The following comes from Scott Hahn at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology:

What is written about Me is coming to fulfillment,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel (see Luke 22:37).
Indeed, we have reached the climax of the liturgical year, the highest peak of salvation history, when all that has been anticipated and promised is to be fulfilled.
By the close of today’s long Gospel, the work of our redemption will have been accomplished, the new covenant will be written in the blood of His broken body hanging on the cross at the place called the Skull.
In His Passion, Jesus is “counted among the wicked,” as Isaiah had foretold (see Isaiah 53:12). He is revealed definitively as the Suffering Servant the prophet announced, the long-awaited Messiah whose words of obedience and faith ring out in today’s First Reading and Psalm.
The taunts and torments we hear in these two readings punctuate the Gospel as Jesus is beaten and mocked (see Luke 22:63-6523:10-11,16), as His hands and feet are pierced (see Luke 23:33), as enemies gamble for His clothes ( see Luke 23:34), and as three times they dare Him to prove His divinity by saving Himself from suffering (see Luke 23:35,37,39)
He remains faithful to God’s will to the end, does not turn back in His trial. He gives Himself freely to His torturers, confident that, as He speaks in today’s First Reading: “The Lord God is My help…I shall not be put to shame.”
Destined to sin and death as children of Adam’s disobedience, we have been set free for holiness and life by Christ’s perfect obedience to the Father’s will (see Romans 5:12-14,17-19Ephesians 2:25:6).
This is why God greatly exalted Him. This is why we have salvation in His Name. Following His example of humble obedience in the trials and crosses of our lives, we know we will never be forsaken, that one day we too will be with Him in Paradise (see Luke 23:42). Seeing and Believing

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Look to Jesus


The following comes from Msgr. Charles Pope:
One of the great tasks in our spiritual and moral life is to fix our point of reference. Simply put, is Jesus Christ our point of reference, or is our reference point where we stand viz a viz others?
Many, today, in order to assess their moral state, consider their position in relation to the vast numbers of people that surround them. Perhaps they will consider that there are some who are surely holier than they are. Yes, surely internationally known figures (like Mother Theresa was), surely they  rank up there way above us. Perhaps too in a more local way, many will see the holy ones who attend daily Mass or frequent Eucharistic Adoration or other devotions, and conclude that these sorts of people rank ahead of them in holiness and moral excellence.
But then comes the dark side of such relative moral ranking. For many of the same folks will also think of others as behind them and with relief say, “Well, I may not be perfect, but at least I am not like that drug dealer over there, or that prostitute, or that corrupt businessman or politician.”
And thus, most of us who use this point of reference will rank ourselves somewhere in the middle, and feel reasonably content. But this sort of contentedness is not the sort of assessment that helps us to be zealous to grow in holiness. And, more problematically, how I rank among others is not a valid standard, or meaningful assessment.
For indeed, we must find and fix our true point of reference on Jesus. He is the Way we must walk, he is the Truth to whom we must conform, He is the Life we must live. Jesus must be our moral reference, our moral compass.
Someone say, “Lord have mercy!” For now the standard shifts from a mediocre, middle of the pack, “at least I’m not as bad as so and so” reference point, to the very person of Jesus who also added: “You must be perfect, as the heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mat 5:43).
Thus, when Jesus is our standard and point of reference, we can rightly and with true humility and hope cry out “Lord, have mercy!” For with our sights fixed on Jesus, pride cannot long endure, and true humility begins to flourish.
For looking to Jesus, we know it is going to take boatloads of grace and mercy to ever close the gap between his holiness and our present unseemly state. Only grace and mercy will help us meet the standard that is Jesus himself.
To illustrate, go with me to the upper room, to the Last Supper. And as Mark’s gospel relates,
As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely it is not I?”(Mark 14:18-19)
“Surely it is not I?” And thus we see, none of us can be certain of our innocence in the presence of Jesus, in the presence of holiness Himself. Yes, in the presence of Innocence Himself, none of us are sure of our own innocence. Somehow, when Christ is our reference point, we see our truer state, and in a salutary grief and sober awareness of our capacity for sin, we simply and sincerely cry out: Kyrie, eleison! Lord, have mercy!
But now you see that we are thus equipped to trust Him, and to learn to depend on his mercy. He is not just the one who gets up over the top, or supplies what we lack. He is the one who has brought us back to life when we were dead in our sins! He is the one on whom we must wholly depend.
Too easily and smugly we rank ourselves among others, and too easily we falsely justify ourselves in this way. We grade ourselves on a kind of “moral curve” and thus become so easily prideful, self assured, and lacking in gratitude.
But when Jesus is our reference point, as He should be, we know our need to be saved. And perhaps we cry out the words of an old gospel hymn: “It’s me Oh Lord, Standin’ in the need of prayer!”
And looking to Him in this way, we may feel grieved, or overwhelmed, but in the end these are salutary, for they set the stage for, and usher in a kind of joyful humility and an immense gratitude, for what Jesus has done for us.
Knowing our unfathomable need for grace and mercy, how grateful we are to receive it! And being grateful, we are changed, we are different. Gratitude is a kind of joy. And when gratitude rushes into our chastened hearts, an awful lot of poison goes away. Anger, fear, resentment, ingratitude, greed, disappointment, desire for revenge, envy, jealously and so many other poisons, begin to vanish. And the joy of gratitude begins to usher in serenity, peace, love, generosity, forgiveness, mercy, contentment, and so many other gifts.
Yes, look to Jesus! Your neighbor is not the standard, not the point of reference, Jesus is. And while this look may bewilder at first, is is also a look that will save and bless us. Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A Prayer for Priests by Cardinal O'Connor

PRAYER FOR PRIESTS: Lord Jesus, we your people pray to You for our priests. You have given them to us for OUR needs. We pray for them in THEIR needs.

O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your sons who are close to you because of their priestly ordination and because of the power which they have received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs them so much. Be their comfort, be their joy, be their strength, and especially help them to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.

Lord Jesus, we your people pray to You for our priests. You have given them to us for OUR needs. We pray for them in THEIR needs.

We know that You have made them priests in the likeness of your own priesthood. You have consecrated them, set them aside, anointed them, filled them with the Holy Spirit, appointed them to teach, to preach, to minister, to console, to forgive, and to feed us with Your Body and Blood.

Yet we know, too, that they are one with us and share our human weaknesses. We know too that they are tempted to sin and discouragement as are we, needing to be ministered to, as do we, to be consoled and forgiven, as do we. Indeed, we thank You for choosing them from among us, so that they understand us as we understand them, suffer with us and rejoice with us, worry with us and trust with us, share our beings, our lives, our faith.

We ask that You give them this day the gift You gave Your chosen ones on the way to Emmaus: Your presence in their hearts, Your holiness in their souls, Your joy in their spirits. And let them see You face to face in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread.

We pray to You, O Lord, through Mary the mother of all priests, for Your priests and for ours. Amen.

(by John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York)


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

A Medjugorje Documentary