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Archive for the ‘Christian Celebrations’ Category

Today we commemorate Holy Saturday, the quiet, somber interlude between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Instead of sharing my own reflections I’d like to share this ancient homily, composed by an anonymous source. It brings to life that stirring line in the Apostle’s Creed: “He descended into hell.”

he-descended
What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son.

The Lord goes into them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: “My Lord be with you all.” And Christ in reply says to Adam: “And with your spirit.” And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.”

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Friends, on this Easter we should remember that Jesus is not just a soul that’s gone to heaven. The resurrected Christ, as Paul said, is the first fruits of a new life. A whole new human nature has appeared and emerged.

Resurrection can’t simply mean, as many contemporary authors want us to believe, that the cause of Jesus goes on. (As though you listen to the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven and the society of Beethoven lovers says, “Well, the spirit of Beethoven goes on.”) People don’t give their whole lives, don’t go to the end of the world preaching, don’t go to their death in support of a vague metaphor. What galvanized the first Christians was that Jesus – the crucified one who had died-is now alive again.

On this Easter, we Christians must avoid another problem: seeing the Resurrection simply as a return to this life. Lazarus was raised from the dead, only to die again. He still belonged to the realm of death. When Lazarus came forth, he was still wearing his grave clothes. He still belonged, in some way, to the tomb.

That’s not what happens in the Resurrection. When Jesus rises from the dead, He leaves his grave clothes behind. Jesus now lives a new life exalted through the power of the Father. His relationship to space and time is now completely changed. He passes through locked doors. He comes and goes as he pleases.

Jesus is the first fruit of a new way of being, a new life. It’s still a human life, but it is now lived at a higher pitch of intensity. This is such good news for us because this is what God intends for all of us: that we now will share in the risen life of Jesus.

It’s our human life – yes, still bodily – but now lived at a higher level, spiritualized and glorified.

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For more information on the Divine Mercy Devotion, please visit Divine Mercy 

During the course of Jesus’ revelations to Saint Faustina on the Divine Mercy He asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. The liturgical texts of that day, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, concern the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, the Tribunal of the Divine Mercy, and are thus already suited to the request of Our Lord. This Feast, which had already been granted to the nation of Poland and been celebrated within Vatican City, was granted to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sr. Faustina on 30 April 2000. In a decree dated 23 May 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that “throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come.” These papal acts represent the highest endorsement that the Church can give to a private revelation, an act of papal infallibility proclaiming the certain sanctity of the mystic, and the granting of a universal feast, as requested by Our Lord to St. Faustina.

Concerning the Feast of Mercy Jesus said:

Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. (Diary 300)

I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it. (Diary 341)

This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. (Diary 420)

On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.* [our emphasis] On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will I contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary 699)

Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbours always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary 742)

I want to grant complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy. (Diary 1109)

As you can see the Lord’s desire for the Feast includes the solemn, public veneration of the Image of Divine Mercy by the Church, as well as personal acts of veneration and mercy. The great promise for the individual soul is that a devotional act of sacramental penance and Communion will obtain for that soul the plenitude of the divine mercy on the Feast.

* The Cardinal of Krakow, Cardinal Macharski, whose diocese is the center of the spread of the devotion and the sponsor of the Cause of Sr. Faustina, has written that we should use Lent as preparation for the Feast and confess even before Holy Week! So, it is clear that the confessional requirement does not have to be met on the Feast itself. That would be an impossible burden for the clergy if it did. The Communion requirement is easily met that day, however, since it is a day of obligation, being Sunday. We would only need confession again, if received earlier in Lenten or Easter Season, if we were in the state of mortal sin on the Feast.

Diary, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul (c) 1987 Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Stockbridge, MA 01263. All rights reserved.

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Do you wish your prayer to fly toward God? Give it two wings: fasting and almsgiving. Saint Augustine

Today is Ash Wednesday, so I thought I’d post a little note on lenten rules for Catholic fasting during this season.

Abstinence from meats is to be observed by all Catholics 14 years old and older on Ash Wednesday and on all the Fridays of Lent.

Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday by all Catholics who are 18 years of age but not yet 59. [note: more sources say “not yet 60”]. Those who are bound by this may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to one’s needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted.

The special Paschal fast and abstinence are prescribed for Good Friday and encouraged for Holy Saturday.

“The season of Lent is a preparation for the celebration of Easter. The liturgy prepares the catechumens for the celebration of the paschal mystery by the several stages of Christian initiation: it also prepares the faithful, who recall their baptism and do penance in preparation for Easter.” (General Norms for the Liturgical Year, #27)

By the threefold discipline of fasting, almsgiving and prayer the church keeps Lent from Ash Wednesday until the evening of Holy Thursday. All of the faithful and the catechumens should undertake serious practice of these three traditions. Failure to observe any penitential days at all or a substantial number of such days must be considered serious.

As the season of Lent draws near, it is helpful to recall the discipline of the Church in regard to fast, abstinence, and other forms of penance.

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence. The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence in the United States.

The Obligation of Abstinence (refraining from eating meat) begins at the age of 14. The law of fasting (limiting oneself to one full meal and two lighter meals) obliges all between the ages of 19-59. No one should consider this obligation lightly.

Those individuals who have a medical condition in which fasting or abstaining may be considered harmful are not obliged to fast or abstain, but should perform some other act of penance or charity.

As a general rule, a request of dispensation from the obligation of abstinence on Friday of Lent will not be considered, unless some serious reason is present. The attendance at social events, banquets, wedding rehearsals or receptions are not considered sufficient reasons to request a dispensation.

Pastors and parents are to see to it that minors, though not bound by the law of fast and abstinence, are educated in the authentic sense of penance and encouraged to do acts of penance suitable to their age.

All members of the Christian Faithful are encouraged to do acts of penance and charity during the Lenten season beyond what is prescribed by law.

All members of the Christian Faithful are encouraged to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, since it is a true encounter with the loving, forgiving Savior, Who takes away the burden of our sin, forgives our failing and is the source of peace and joy.

A parish community may celebrate the Easter vigil only ONCE. In the Diocese of Pittsburgh, celebrations of the Easter Vigil ordinarily may not begin before 8:30 pm.

The celebration of an anticipated Easter Mass, prior to the Easter Vigil, is forbidden.

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Today is the feast of Christ the King, a reminder to all of us Catholic Christians of what we daily profess as our Faith at Mass, as we pray:

” Christ has died, Christ has Risen, Christ will come again”.

Through the readings of this feast day, the Church invites us not only  to celebrate Our  Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ  as our King, but to reflect on Jesus kingship and his ultimate sacrifice for our Salvation. Today’s Gospel tells us about the two thieves on their crosses, and so we should feel encouraged to meditate on those so strikingly opposing attitudes of the two thieves, the good one and the unrepentant thief.

Jesus was mocked and challenged to the point of humiliation, on His Cross. His death ‘bed’…

Pope Benedict celebrated the Feast of Christ the King by celebrating the Mass of the Rings, in which he gave the ring of office to the 24 new Cardinals he created on Saturday.

During his homily he reflected on Christ the King, reigning from the Cross.

During a discourse which described in detail the scene surrounding Jesus on the Cross, the Pope mentioned those who mocked him, and called to him to come down from the Cross. He told the Cardinals that the Gospel of the day calls us to be with Jesus and Mary:

“Do not ask him to come down from the cross, but stay there with him.”

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Chorus
You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat,
Come give to us, O saving Lord, the bread of life to eat.

1.
As when the shepherd calls his sheep,
They know and heed his voice;
So when You call Your family, Lord,
We follow and rejoice.

Chorus

2.
With joyful lips we sing to You,
Our praise and gratitude,
That You should count us worthy Lord,
To share this heavenly food.

Chorus

3.
The mystery of Your presence Lord,
No mortal tongue can tell;
Whom all the world cannot contain
Comes in our hearts to dwell.

Chorus

4.
You give yourself to us, O Lord,
Then selfless let us be,
To serve each other in Your

Music and lyrics by Robert E. Kreutz

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It’s been a great week! I think that the expectations for the celebrations of the day of the Resurrection have somehow made time seem to have gone faster than usual; and as we celebrate Easter Sunday today, it almost feels as though one day is not enough to express all our joy and thanksgiving  for God’s gift to us: Jesus’ Resurrection.

It really was great to attend the Holy Mass this morning and sing songs of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord.  I am sure the atmosphere felt   different, and that is not because of the Easter Egg hunt that the Parish put together as a treat for the kids after the Mass, but because people were genuinely happy to be there celebrating the greatest blessing  of our Christian faith.

Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: “Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven.” When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status: “Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions. We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul.”

— St. Rose of Lima

First Reading:
Psalm:
Second Reading:
Gospel:
Acts 10:34, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
John 20:1-9

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