Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Saturday… Uncertainty and Anticipation

I am going to share with you bits of a reflection that I found to be very helpful in thinking about Holy Saturday:
Holy Saturday is one of most important moments of Holy Week - it speaks most directly to the daily reality of our lives. After the shock of death or words that bring despair (such as "cancer," "divorce," "terminal," "sorry, but we have to eliminate your position"), we have to begin living with the "what next?" as we enter the void of unknowing.
Most of us live, from time to time, in Holy Saturday. We experience the jubilation of Easter and the stark pain of Good Friday, but those are immediate and momentary. Holy Saturday is the time in between death and resurrection, fear and hope, pain and comfort. Holy Saturday is the valley of grief and uncertainty, for us and for Jesus' first disciples.
On Holy Saturday, we don't know what the future will bring. We don't know if the cancer can be cured or if we will love again or find the position that fulfills our vocation.
It is difficult for us to experience Holy Saturday during Holy Week. After all, we've read the story; we know that there's a happy ending—resurrection and new life! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! This luxury wasn't available to Jesus' first followers. All they had was the hope that somehow their Teacher and Savior would live on in their hearts and imaginations.
But, we can still share the journey of the first Christians. Perhaps, put yourself in the shoes of one of the first disciples on Holy Saturday—Peter, Thomas, John, Mary Magdalen, Mary or Martha of Bethany, Jesus' mother Mary. Visualize yourself as one of them: see your life situation in light of the cross, feel your loss at Jesus' hideous death, feel your sense of uncertainty, feel the unknown that lies before you.
And then, because we do have the privilege of knowing the ending, prepare your heart for the Resurrection!
This evening, after the sun goes down and it is liturgically Sunday, we will celebrate the Easter Vigil – where we will profess our faith in the Creed along with our newly baptized brothers and sisters, and we will partake in the Eucharistic sacrifice – the unbloody reenactment of Calvary.

-Katie DiFato

Friday, March 29, 2013

It is finished!

After this, aware that everything was finished, in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, He said, “It is finished.” And bowing His head, He handed over the spirit.”
-John 19:28-30
These two verses may be the most potent, and important, words in all of Sacred Scripture. Dr. Scott Hahn wrote, “The meaning of history comes down to 33 years: Jesus’ life. The purpose of His life came in 3 years: His public ministry. The goal of His ministry came in 3 days: the Holy Triduum. The climax of His sacrifice came in 3 hours: the Cross. The result of Jesus’ passion and death came in three words, ‘It is finished.’” This is literally the moment which the whole world has been waiting for, which Our Lord, speaking to St. Faustina Kowalska referred to as “the hour of great mercy for the whole world.”

Every human being is born with a God-given purpose, and every human being dies, but Jesus was the only person ever born whose purpose was to die. He was sent to Earth on a mission: to “free His people from their sins” by dying on the Cross. Essentially, in saying “It is finished,” Jesus is proclaiming triumphantly, “Mission Accomplished!” (In fact, “It is accomplished” is an alternate, and perhaps more meaningful, translation of the text.)
               It is clear throughout the Gospels that Jesus is aware of His destiny, and accepts it, but that does not mean that He did not wish there could be another way. He does not want to die, but He is willing to do so out of love for humanity and obedience to His Father. The second reading from the Good Friday liturgy also states, In the days when Christ was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death. (Hebrews 5:7)  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed three times, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will. (Matthew 26:39)
               It is interesting that Christ refers to His Passion as a “cup.” Immediately prior to this, at the Last Supper, we read in Matthew’s Gospel: “I tell you, from now on, I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” Then after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:29) This is important, because normally at the Passover Seder meal, such as the Last Supper, the hymn was followed by another cup called the cup of consummation. Jesus skips this. Furthermore, when Jesus is about to be crucified, He is offered “wine drugged with a myrrh,” (Mark 15:23) to deaden the pain. Jesus refuses this. It is not until He is about to die that Jesus cries out, “I thirst,” and takes the wine. 
               The Latin for “It is finished” is consummatum est.  Jesus skipped the “cup of consummation” because His entire Passion was His “cup of consummation.” This is why St. John tells us that these things occurred “in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.” Just as the sacrifice of the Passover lamb inaugurated God’s covenant with the Israelites and freed them from slavery in Egypt, the sacrifice of the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” fulfills this covenant, makes it new, and frees us from the slavery of sin. 
We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee; because by Thy Holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world!
 - Thomas McIntyre

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Fullness of Truth

In today’s readings we see the fullness of truth, God’s word and promises realized.  In the first reading, the promises of the Passover:
“Seeing the blood, I will pass over you;
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt,
no destructive blow will come upon you.

“This day shall be a memorial feast for you,
which all your generations shall celebrate
with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution
In the second reading:
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

From The Gospel:
“I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Today we celebrate Holy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  The beautiful moment when Jesus institutes the Eucharist, his very BODY and BLOOD, given in sacrifice for us, so that we might have hope.  What joy to know that when receive His Body and Blood, we truly receive HIM, to sustain, to grow, to love.  God proclaims the memorial feast of the Passover in the old testament.  At the least supper, Jesus fulfills the beautiful promise begun so long ago with a new memorial feast, once and for all time! 

How carefully God planted  the seeds, grown and tenderly cared for by our forefathers in faith; Moses, Abraham, David…. Mary who says “yes” and paves the way for Salvation to enter the world through Christ.  Jesus, who taught his disciples, founded the Church and saved us poor wretched sinners.  Today we see all of thousands of years of history, thousands of years of future, eternity, bound together by one single moment in time.  How beautiful is the body of Christ!

-Melinda Cannady

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

O Sacred Head Surrounded

“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” – Matthew 26:21-22

Betray – such a horrible word. It is worse when the act of betrayal is against a friend.  It’s no wonder the disciples were completely surprised and afraid. Jesus reveals this to His followers; His friends, that one of them will turn against Him and hand Him over.  Before this we learned (in Monday’s Gospel reading) that Judas Iscariot would frequently steal from the group’s contributions.  To some extent we can see why it was easier for him to slip into an act of betrayal when he was tempted by money, an area of sin that he would indulge in. We know because most of us have experienced this in some form.

How many times have we sinned, betrayed Jesus, in smaller matters only to find ourselves falling for something graver because this sin had become a vice? Or how many times do we find ourselves betraying Christ’s love more often when we have let many “little” sins pile up? These sins do not have to be. Each and every sin that we commit is a choice of betrayal or love. This is why Christ accepted His cross and died on Calvary…so that we may no longer be a slave to sin and be eternally separated from His love. We must remember the suffering Christ – what He embraced for our sake. We must frequently call to mind the unconditional love that God has for us on the cross. We must recall in our minds exactly what our sins have done to Christ: betrayal, scourges, mockery, crucifixion, and death.

What would happen if we were able to picture His marred face, His bruised and scourged body, or the nails driven into His hands and feet every time we were tempted to sin? If we practiced this, certainly we would loathe to betray such a Love! And if we did, surely the sight of Him making this sacrifice for us would send us running to Him to beg for forgiveness which He offers freely.

Tomorrow we are preparing to enter into the holiest of days for our Church. Let us fix our gaze on what Love is and place ourselves at the foot of the cross so we might rise with Him.
I encourage you to reflect on one of the beautiful Lenten hymns that our Church sings as you remember Christ’s Passion.

-Helen Almeter

O Sacred Head Surrounded

O Sacred Head Surrounded
By Crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding Head, so wounded,
Reviled and put to scorn!
Death’s pallid hue comes o’er thee,
The glow of life decays,
Yet angel hosts adore thee,
And tremble as they gaze.

I see thy strength and vigor
All fading in the strife,
And death with cruel rigor,
Bereaving thee of life;
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesus, all grace supplying,
O turn thy face on me.

In this, thy bitter passion,
Good Shepherd, think of me
With thy most sweet compassion,
Unworthy though I be:
Beneath they cross abiding
Forever would I rest,
In thy dear love confiding,
And with thy presence blest.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I’d like to think I’d say “uh yea!” when Christ asks, “Will you die for me?” Quite honestly I think about martyrdom. In my fantasy theres always a gunman who asks “Do you believe in Christ?” and I’m like “heck yeah silly head!”Then at point blank he blows my head off. Gory, yea, but it is so quick and painless. There is absolutely no effort beyond the combination of lip movement and a gutteral sound, and at the end, I’m in heaven, which sounds sweet. But, I believe that Christ would say that this isn’t martyrdom at all.

See the guy in my fantasy doesn’t worship God. He wants to be heaven not because Christ is there but because he’d rather not be in hell. The guy in this fantasy knows about all the other martyrs but would prefer a bullet to the cortex because its less painful, and the question? Well that’s just because it’s the easiest way to become a martyr. No suffering, super easy, and it is all about me. So yeah. That’s not martyrdom.

Martyrdom if anything is always selfless, and always countercultural. Note that culture is a relative to the word cultus which means worship.  Every martyr that died, did so because their faith was a threat to anothers culture, and that’s what I mean by countercultural. Currently there are 1.2 billion catholics in the world, because throughout history the catholic church had  developed a culture based on the liturgy and by liturgy I mean the mass and feast days, prayer and so on. Since the worship of God was at the center of culture, despite the corruption and misuderstandings, the church has been able to hold the people together.  
Right now we are in a war between cultures. If we go back to the fantasy martyrdom it perfectly resembles the current culture of man. We fight for pleasure and ease and the individual, all of which are not bad except that we worship these values. For example we deny doing what we believe is right because to take a stand could cause us the pain of losing friendships. What we have to see is that to give in to this culture will cause us a greater pain, the loss of what we desire most, God. 

As new evangelists if we wish to bring back the catholics who have fallen, we have to build a new culture, a culture of life based on the liturgy. It is the free gift from God that orients ourselves back to the truth. The time to hide our faith is done. This is a culture of life for all and so it must be made known regardless of our own suffering , regardless of the ammount of effort and regardless of ourselves. Martyrdom does not required physical death, only a death that dies to the ways of the world, and if we can do this then we can honestly say yes when Christ asks, “Will you die for me?”

-Dominic Price

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday of Holy Week

Psalm 27, Monday of Holy Week

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
When evildoers come at me
to devour my flesh,
My foes and my enemies
themselves stumble and fall.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
even then will I trust.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation

The psalm today is one of the many places in Scripture where Jesus acknowledges the trials we face as Christians.  From the beginning of time, people who sought after God had to walk through fires in pursuit of Him.  It is no different today than it was in Old Testament times.  The enemy is still alive and present. He has simply modernized his efforts to thwart our path to Christ.  Instead of our foes being a neighboring tribe, they may be a family member with whom we have a disagreement or an unrelenting boss. He may use an addiction to drugs, alcohol, pornography, or seemingly less obvious foes such as social media. He may use depression or fear to take up the place in our hearts where only Jesus should be.  It is not a matter of if. At some point in our Christian walk, the psalmist tells us , evildoers WILL  come, war WILL be raged upon us.

But as the psalms do so well, this psalm brims with confidence and hope. “The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear...Though war we waged upon me, even then will I trust. Wait for the Lord with courage!”  In each of our trials, the Lord wants to shelter us, to protect us and rescue us. We just have the difficult task of trusting Him. There truly is nothing to fear if we wait for the Lord to deliver us. While we wait, we can pray that wonderful prayer of St. Michael against evil. We can arm ourselves with the truth and comfort of Holy Scripture.  We can praise Him in our suffering, so that when we come out on the other side, we will know Him better. We can know that in every step of every trial, He is beside us, hurting with us, hoping with us, and ultimately, delivering us from all of our hardships.

This week is Holy Week. Like us, Jesus hurt. He waited for the war that was raged on Him to be finished. He waited on His Father to deliver Him from his pain. He endured torture, physical and the worst, that of being separated from His Father. He is no stranger to pain and empathizes with ours. On Easter Sunday, He was delivered, rescued, redeemed. If we courageously wait on Him, He will deliver us, rescue us, redeem us. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Entering the Scene

I think today, and really all this week, is a good time to put ourselves into the time of Jesus and evaluate what character we would be in the gospel readings.  For example, on this day, Psalm Sunday, where would you have been as Jesus walked through Jerusalem?  Would you have been in the background wondering whats going on?  Would you be a Pharisee telling Jesus to "order your disciples to stop"?  Or would you have "spread your cloak on the road", "praising God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen"?  In less than a week, however, would you then turn on Jesus and cheer for His crucifixion?  Would you mock Him on the cross and spit in His face ?  Just because everyone else was or because you really wanted to?  Would you love Jesus and believe in Him but fear the Jews and hide in the upper room?  Or would you be at the foot of the cross comforting Jesus's sorrowful mother?  Back to today's readings, when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper and said "This is my body, which is given for you" And "This cup that is  poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood", would you accept that and see it as it really is?  Would you betray Jesus?  Would you lose focus, arguing about who is greater, and not see the incredibly intimate gift Jesus JUST gave you of His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity?  Do we do this even today?  Lose focus on the true meaning of the Eucharist?  That Jesus doesn't only spill out His blood for our sins on the cross but that He also allows us to fully receive Him into our bodies!!  If we could only fully and completely understand and believe in this miraculous gift of God, imagine just how much we could do with this strength of God inside us.  Just look at the lives of Blessed Mother Theresa and Blessed John Paul II.  These are people who took the power of the Eucharist into the world and used it as it should be used.  How can we use this power?  How has God CALLED us to use it?  Meditate on this throughout Holy Week and ask Jesus to reveal how you can fully accept His sacrifice for you and use the gifts that come from it in your life.  Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever.