Category Archives: Easter

Desolation

During any reading of the Passion, there are two things that touch my heart.  Yesterday, was no different.

First, I always cringe when we are “the Crowd” and I have to read the part that says “Crucify Him.”  Second, I am always struck by the utter desolation that is in the cry of Jesus.  “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”

About the first:  my sins crucified my Lord.  And that is part of the reason that I cringe.  I might not have been there, on the scene, but I was there.  When His arms were stretched out, He saw me and He saw every sin I would ever commit.  Yes, He died for me. Personally.

About the second:  Life is a spiritual roller coaster.  We are either in a period of Consolation or in a period of Desolation or somewhere in between at any given point of our lives.  The periods of Consolation are awesome and a time of great spiritual joy.  The periods of Desolation are dry and sterile.  Sometimes when I am there, I don’t think I will ever experience great spiritual joy again.  Then I remember Jesus on the Cross.  “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”  And, that gives me strength to begin the ascent again, up the hill of the roller coaster, to a period of Consolation.

I am going to be making my weekend Ignatius Retreat: Consoling the Heart of Jesus beginning on Thursday evening.  & I will not be back on here again until Easter Monday.

I hope this Holy Week is a time of great consolation to you.  That’s my plan for me.

 

 

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Sunday’s Comin’

forty days for life40 Days for Life is over on Sunday.  I thought this was quite appropriate so I decided to share.

 

Reflection by Fr. Frank Pavone

This meditation, based on a sermon I once heard, is adapted for pro-life concerns.

It’s Friday. Jesus is on the cross. He has been killed by his enemies; he is off the scene.

But that’s because it’s Friday. Sunday’s comin’!

It’s Friday. Abortionists continue their work 3,300 times a day, tearing off the arms and legs of little babies and crushing their heads.

But that’s because it’s Friday. Sunday’s comin’!

It’s Friday. Pro-abortion groups receive blood money from billionaires who are as deceived as they are.

But that’s because it’s Friday. Sunday’s comin’!

It’s Friday. Liars attempt to speak for all women and hide the pain of abortion, and ignore the evidence of how it harms women, and call abortion a blessing.

But that’s because it’s Friday. Sunday’s comin’!

It’s Friday. People of hardened hearts guard the clinics and usher desperate women in to have their abortions, while keeping them from the pro-life people who want to give them hope.

But that’s because it’s Friday. Sunday’s comin’!

Hope does not mean that we ignore or minimize the evils around us. It means, rather, that we see the whole picture, which is that evil is conquered because of what happened one Sunday morning.

We are called to proclaim, celebrate, and serve that victory, waiting in joyful hope for Christ’s return and the full flowering of the Culture of Life!

Indeed, Sunday’s comin’!

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Lumen Fidei Chapter 3: I Delivered to You What I Also Received

The Church, Mother of our Faith

37.  “Those who have opened their hearts to God’s love, heard His voice and received His light, cannot keep this gift to themselves.  Since faith is hearing and seeing, it is also handed on as word and light.”

Faith is passed on by contact from one person to another just as at the Easter Vigil, many candles are lit from the one Paschal candle.  Faith can also be passed on by words.

38.  The transmission of faith travels through time from generation to generation.  So we see the face of Jesus through an unbroken chain of witnesses.  This is the ONLY way we can possibly verify something that happened so very long ago.

“The Church is a Mother who teaches us to speak the language of faith.”

She is the one witness that remembers everything about faith’s past.  She does this by the Holy Spirit who dwells in the Church and “unites every age and makes us contemporaries of Jesus, thus guiding us along our pilgrimage of faith.”

39.  “It is impossible to believe on our own.”

Faith must be open to the “We” of the Church.  It is not simply an individual decision.  It must take place with the communion of the Church.

When we say, “we believe” we are reflecting the openness of God’s own love, which is a relationship; a “We,” a communion of 3 persons.

“Here we see why those who believe are never alone, and why faith tends to spread, as it invites others to share in its joy.”

The Sacraments and the Transmission of Faith

40.  So how are we sure that the faith that is being passed down by the Church is whole and true?

“It is through the apostolic Tradition preserved in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit that we enjoy a living contact with the foundational memory.”

And how does the Church witness to and communicate the Faith?  Faith needs a means that is worthy and suitable to what is being communicated.

The answer is, of course, the sacraments, celebrated in the Church’s liturgy.  The sacraments engage the core of our being, touch our minds, wills, and emotions.  They are the only things capable of “engaging the entire person, body and spirit, interior life and relationships with others.”

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Conversion: It’s not Just for Pagans, Anymore.

“The Year of Faith, from this perspective, is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world.  In the mystery of his death and Resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 5: 31).  For Saint Paul, this Love ushers us into a new life: ‘We were buried. . . with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life’ (Rom 6: 4).  Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the Resurrection.  To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thought and affections, mentality and conduct are slowly purified and transformed, on a journey that is never completely finished in this life.” –Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei (n. 6)

“Never completely finished in this life.”  The faith journey is ongoing; a sweet adventure, the passage to an eternal life with an infinite God where we will continue to explore the mysteries of faith forever.  This is one my my favorite thoughts to ponder and, yet, it is also a mystery, so I can never wrap my mind around it.  It’s like looking at the night time sky and trying to imagine the universe beyond the stars that we can see: a universe that goes on infinitely; a world without end.

However, I can wrap my mind around people and relationships.  I know that Jesus calls us to have a relationship with Him and to convert and follow Him.  We must turn away from the bad direction we are heading and find the good way.  Faith is the act of believing that there is a good path to follow.  Faith in Jesus believes that He is the Way to eternal life with the Father and that He will strengthen us to walk the right path all the way to its completion in eternity.

During the next few times on this blog, we are going to study some examples from the New Testament of persons who heard Jesus’ call and followed Him.  In other words, they “converted.”

On Friday, we will begin with St. Peter who is mentioned the most in the New Testament after Jesus.  After studying him, we will consider St. Matthew, Bartimaeus, and the Woman at the Well.

There are many conversion stories in the New Testament.  Faith in Jesus changed the lives of:

  • Zachaeus  Luke 19: 1-10
  • A man born blind  John 9: 35-38
  • the Ethiopian eunuch  Acts 8: 26-40
  • Saul  Acts 9: 1-22
  • Cornelius  Acts 10: 1-48
  • Lydia  Acts 16: 11-15
  • the jailer in Philippi  Acts 16: 25-34

This week let us pray the 13th century prayer of St. Richard of Whyche.

“O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly; love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.”

100px-Dürer-PetrusNext time:  Simon Peter

Meditation:  How might I be blind to my own faults or sins?

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So What Do Catholics Believe?

“Not without reason, Christians in the early centuries were required to learn the creed from memory.  It served them as a daily prayer not to forget the commitment they had undertaken in baptism.  With words rich in meaning, Saint Augustine speaks of this in a homily on the redditio symboli, the handing over of the creed: ‘ the symbol of the holy mystery that you have all received together and that today you have recited one by one, are the words on which the faith of Mother Church is firmly built above the stable foundation that is Christ the Lord.  You have received it and recited it, but in your minds and hearts you must keep it ever present, you must repeat it in your beds, recall it in the public squares and not forget it during meals: even when your body is asleep, you must watch over it with your hearts.'” –Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei (n.9)

Instead of professing the Creed on Easter Sunday, the priest poses the questions of the Baptismal liturgy to the whole congregation so that we may all respond with a faithful “I do!”  So, at least, once a year, we can renew our baptismal promises and affirm our assent to the fundamentals of the mysteries of our faith.

Every other Sunday, we renew our act of faith in the mysteries of revelation by proclaiming the Nicene Creed.  We renew our commitment to our Faith by saying “Credo!” or “I believe!”

Now we are going to look up the Scriptures that underlie each statement of the Creed.  May God’s grace help us to make ever deeper commitments to these mysteries.  And may we come to know Him more intimately through them.

The following is taken from The Year of Faith by Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J.  (pg. 40-41)

Page One

Page 2

Next Time:  Conversion

Meditation:  What new insight about the faith have we received from the cited Scripture readings this past week?

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Believer or Doubting Thomas?

“To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this year.” -Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei (n. 9)

Consider

Jesus was concerned with the truth.  He was especially strong in His rejection of the teachings of the Pharisees.  He often rebuked them for neglecting God’s deeper truths while observing the external rituals of tradition.  In Matthew 23: 1-35, He give a long critique of the Pharisees.  He rejects them for failing to practice what they preached.  Jesus never tolerated anything that contradicted His own Gospel.

After Pentecost, the Church criticized false teaching and morals just as Jesus did.  Sts. Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude had to vigorously reproof those who taught false content of faith and morals.  These false teachers threatened the very core of the Faith; so the saints had to address these falsehoods strongly and publicly.

Heresies in the Early Church

Now, we are going to look up some passages that deal with false teachings and heretical groups in the early Church.  As we read each passage, determine what errors are contained in each variant form of Christianity.  If there is a motive for those that taught error, write those down, too.  Here’s an example:

Galatians 1: 6-9; 2: 4-5  The False Teaching:  that circumcision was a necessary prerequisite for salvation.  Motive: the Judaizers preach circumcision in order to avoid persecution by their Jewish kinsmen.

Here are the other verses:  (2 Corinthians 11: 1-6, 12-15) (Philippians 3: 2-11, 17-21) (1 Timothy 1: 3-7, 18-20) (Hebrews 6: 1-6) (2 Peter 2: 1-3: 4) (1 John 2: 18-25; 4: 1-6)

The early Church considered true and correct doctrine an important component of authentic faith in Jesus Christ.

Other Heresies

In the second century, Gnosticism arose.  Gnostics believed that the material world (and their bodies) were created by a wicked deity in the Old Testament while God the Father created a spiritual world.  Gnostics also rejected apostolic tradition and the New Testament.

Another false teaching was that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not 3 persons in one God, but three modes of one divine person as he relates to the world and the humans in it.

Arianism held that Jesus Christ is not divine.

Monophysitism taught that Jesus had only one divine nature without a human soul so that he wasn’t truly human.

Nestorianism taught that Jesus was 2 separate persons; one human and one divine.

To preserve the orthodoxy of the faith, the bishops met in Synods and councils to confront the false doctrines of the day.  (more about this on Wednesday.)

MC900436065Our Meditation:  Reread the Baptismal Promises from Easter Sunday.  How can we show that we truly mean our “I do’s?”

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Have You Gone Fishing Already?

So, St. Peter had seen the Risen Christ at least three times, but he rebels against Jesus by returning to the fishing business.  (cf Mk 1: 17; Jn 21: 3)  He seems to be modeling behavior that a lot of us might be guilty.  Lent is over.  Christ is risen.  Easter was 6 days ago.  Now we return to our old way of life?  If the Resurrection means anything. . . no way will we do that!

Faith in the Risen Lord should set out a whole new task for our lives just as it did for the disciples especially after they received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  Faith should highlight and illuminate the Gospel for us if we let the Holy Spirit work in us.  Sometimes, I think we treat the Holy Spirit like a credit card that we haven’t activated.  He sits in our drawer waiting for us to “use” Him.

Let us allow faith to renew our reading and meditating on the Gospels in such a way that God’s grace will transform our lives through them.  A good way to do this is preparing for Mass by reading the Gospel ahead of time and jotting down one reflection by which we will live that day or that week.

By faith, we, too, live; by the living recognition of the Lord Jesus, present in our lives and in our history.–Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Porta Fidei, n. 13)

Two Questions for Meditation

030   Who do I think Jesus is?

  What difference does Jesus make in my life?

  Let’s ask Jesus to increase our faith where it is weak, so we don’t “go fishing.”

 

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