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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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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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This entry is my response to the blog post: We are Christians, not Catholics because we choose to follow Christ

The article above ( unfortunately, the link to it has been broken) is full of misconceived ideas. A sad problem that I see in a lot of former Catholics, specially in America. But this problem has deep roots, as most former Catholics had never really known their Catholic faith as they decide to leave the Church. In my experience, this is true in 99% of the cases, more often then not their opinions on Catholicism are not based on facts, but on their personal (mis) perceptions and experiences.

It is interesting when someone says: “As a Catholic I didn’t know Jesus and the Bible”, as though it was the Church’s fault they didn’t! No Christian person should feel they can blame others for their own failure in building a relationship with the Lord. 

I always try to prompt former Catholics and critics of Catholicism to ponder on the fact that although we have the Liturgy of the Word at daily Mass, the Catholic worship is not a Bible study assembly. Mass is a thanksgiving celebration to God the Father that includes the Liturgy of the Word, along with the Eucharist (thanksgiving in Greek).  However, to deny that the study of the Scripture is an important part of the Catholic faith is to declare  that one doesn’t know what takes place at Mass.  The Church goes through the entire Bible in the course of two years, with no repeating passages read each day. Every Sunday the readings include at least one passage from the OT, plus the Psalms, which are carefully selected to shed light on the NT readings.  At daily Mass two NT passages are read and explained in the homily.

Everyday many millions of Catholics listen to the readings at Mass and then come home and open their own Bibles to reflect on the teachings that they have read in Church. I guess what I mean is that it takes a personal commitment to follow Jesus. Unfortunately,  these days people have grown more and more comfortable with the notion of pointing fingers, rather than taking responsibility for their actions or inactions.

On the other hand, I have seen numerous protestant Christians who, in their search for the truth, have joined the Catholic Church either because they could no longer bear the weight of division within Protestantism, the diversity of scriptural interpretations accepted and professed by the different churches, or simply because when they learn what Catholic Christianity actually teaches  they are taken by surprise by the richness of the Church’s Scriptural foundations.

The article I am debating here, at a first glance, seems to be calling people to be true followers of Christ, which is great and clashes in NO shape or form with what the Catholic faith teaches.  However, a closer look tell us that in fact the poster has an agenda and his  focus is not simply to promote discipleship of Jesus, but to incriminate the Catholic Church and indirectly discriminate her members.

Christ is the centre of the Catholic Faith. We believe that salvation is a free gift of God, and that faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation. Therefore, imitation of Christ is a core belief of Catholicism. Obedience to His teachings and the keeping of God’s commandments are the fruits of our faith. In other words, Catholics are called to be true disciples of Christ not only through their faith but also in their actions.

Clearly,  prejudice against Catholicism is a problem that cannot be tackled only through ‘apologetic efforts’.  I suspect that giving a true witness of the Gospels would be considerably  more effective. However it may be,  I am a follower of Christ and a proud Catholic. Amen!

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Jesus said: “Whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in
Me will never thirst” (Jn 6:35).

JESUS CHRIST,  MARTIN LUTHER OR HULDREICH ZWINGLI?

Behind the high altar of the Benedictine Church of Ottobeuren in Swabia, Germany, there is a painting representing Christ, whose countenance radiates heavenly calm and divine majesty.  On one side of Him is Luther and on the other Zwingli.  Beneath the picture is written:

“Christ says, this is my Body; Luther says, this will become my body; Zwingli says, this represents my body.”

Which of the three is correct: Jesus Christ, Martin Luther, or Huldreich Zwingli?

THE HOLY BIBLE: THE MOST AWESOME STATEMENTS EVER MADE

Of all the books ever written—in the history of the world—it is most probable that the only statement of a truth ever mentioned nine (9) consecutive times is found in the Holy Bible, St. John’s Gospel, the sixth chapter,verses 48-58:

(verse 48): “I am the bread of life.”
(verse 49): “Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.”
 (verse 51): “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
(verse 53): “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”
(verse 54): “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
(verse 55): “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.”
(verse 56): “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
(verse 57): “Just as the living father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”
(verse 58): “This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
(verse  6l):
“Does this shock you?”

No words Our Lord spoke were ever more relevant than “Does this shock you?”

THE FOUR EVANGELISTS

The Four Evangelists quote Christ’s Divine authority on this matter and they not only affirm what He said, they actually equate His body and blood in the Holy Eucharist with His body and blood offered on the cross!  They, therefore, are both literally true or they are both symbolic!
(Mk l4:24): “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”
(Lk 22:l9):  “This is my body, which will be given for you.”
(Mt 26:28): “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.”
(Jn 6:5l): “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

History proves Christ did offer his real flesh and blood on the cross—therefore His real flesh and blood are available to us in Holy Communion.

FOOD THAT ENDURES

Recall Christ’s words: “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for that which endures unto life everlasting which the Son of Man will give” (Jn 6:27).  Only a Catholic priest, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can give us the Bread “which endures unto life everlasting,” by changing bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ—the Sacred Host, the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament.  The bread and wine at Mass, “By the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1333). 

SYMBOL?

“When you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now” (Mother Teresa of Calcutta). 

Protestant denominations claim that at the Last Supper, in His last will and testament, Jesus Christ, God and man, who said: “I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Mt 28-20), meant He was going to leave us a symbol of Himself—but not literally Himself! 

Who can possibly conceive of a dying father, whose only surviving family members are a daughter and a son, in his last will and testament, presenting a picture of his multi-million dollar home to his daughter and saying:

“Sweetheart, here is a picture of my beautiful home.  I leave this picture to you as a remembrance of me.”  And, to the son, presenting a picture of his lucrative family business and saying: “Son, here is an aerial photograph of my huge multi-million dollar business.  I leave this picture to you as a remembrance of me.”

THE CHALLENGE

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (l774-l82l), Foundress of the Sisters of Charity, and a convert, offers all Protestants this challenge: “The words of our Lord are clear enough when taking bread He blessed it, broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said: “Take and eat: this is my Body . . .”  I defy Protestants to produce the authority of any of the Fathers of the first four centuries (whom they often quote as good authorities to prove religious truth), in support of their opinion that the words of Jesus Christ in the institution of this sacrament are to be taken in a figurative sense.” 

St. Justin Martyr, an Early Church Father, explains: “We do not receive this food as ordinary bread and as ordinary drink; but just as Jesus Christ, our Savior, become flesh through the word of God and assumed flesh through the word of God and assumed flesh and blood for our salvation, so too we are taught that the food over which the Eucharistic prayer is said, the food which nourishes our flesh and blood by assimilation, is the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.”

THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE“You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to Me; and yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life” (Jn 5:39).  Would He who said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn l4:6) confuse?  Would He who said “I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (Jn 18:37) lie?  Would He who said “If I speak the truth, why do you not believe me” (Jn 8:46) deceive? 

“PILLAR AND MAINSTAY OF TRUTH”The Bible says the Church—not the Bible—is the “pillar and mainstay of truth” (l Tim 3:l5)!  The ex-Satan worshipper Betty Brennan, in speaking to a Pentecostal prayer group, said of the Bible and the Church that gives us the Eucharist:
“For years, for years, I have persecuted the church.  When I left and went back to the church, I picked the Roman Catholic Church because every Satanic ritual is a take-off on the Roman Catholic Sacraments.  They [Satanists] know what the Eucharist is . . .  if everybody here, and everybody that came into the renewal, understood the Sacrament of the Eucharist—the Word enfleshed—they would not end up in a Pentecostal Church with a relationship with a book—how can you leave a Sacramental Church and go to another denomination following a word, a book?  The word of Jesus Christ brings you to the Word enfleshed, the Eucharist!

“Do you know that if there was a bona fide witch here, and you put out thirty hosts, or a thousand hosts, and only one was consecrated, they would know immediately which one was consecrated—because of the presence!  And yet we will go to x amount of prayer meetings, x amount of time with our prayer partner, but we don’t have that desire to be one with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ Himself!” 

THE HOLY EUCHARIST—JESUS WITH US—2,000 YEARS

lst century: St. Paul gave witness to these words of Christ: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes ” (l Cor 11:26).
Over the centuries, whenever the Real Presence of Jesus was questioned, the Church continued to affirm the truth that in the Sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1374; Council of Trent 1551: DS 1651).

20th century:
“The Second Vatican Council rightly proclaimed that the Eucharistic sacrifice is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’  ‘For the most holy Eucharist contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth: Christ himself, our passover and living bread. Through his own flesh, now made living and life-giving by the Holy Spirit, he offers life to men.’ Consequently the gaze of the Church is constantly turned to her Lord, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, in which she discovers the full manifestation of his boundless love” (Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 1).

TRUE WORSHIPERS: PERSONAL FRIENDS OF GOD

“The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him” (Jn 4:23).  When we come before the Holy Eucharist we worship God in “spirit and truth,” offering Him our adoration, thanks and praise. 
“The Eucharistic gift assumes even more awesome proportions when we reflect that . . . the total Eucharistic mystery [also] includes the presence of both the Father and the Holy
Spirit”
(Fr. Richard Foley, S.J.). 

“To be alone with Jesus in adoration and intimate union with Him is the greatest gift of love—the tender love of our Father in Heaven”  (Mother Teresa of Calcutta).

“Could you not watch one hour with Me?” (Mt 26:40).  Jesus asked His disciples for their true friendship, to watch, wait and worship.  Jesus watches and waits for us in the Holy Eucharist today, to heal, console and strengthen us.  Jesus longs to be our True Friend, and fill us with His love, joy and peace.  In our hour of Adoration, we enter into a personal relationship with God.
            
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen gave witness to the awesome movement
of hundreds of thousands of souls, Catholic and non-Catholics, who were inspired to accept his challenge of making  a daily Holy Hour.
 

Over 100,000 Protestants, said Archbishop Sheen, pledged themselves to spending this daily “hour of power” with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

THE GREATEST LOVE STORY OF ALL TIME!

The noted English writer, J. R. R. Tolkien, loved his Catholic Faith.  The heart and soul of his love was the Holy Eucharist, and Christ’s presence in the Mass.  To him this was the graduate school of divine love.  When his son, Michael, said that his faith was weakening, Tolkien wrote to him: “Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament . . . .  There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth” (J. R. R. Tolkien).

God can give no greater gift than Himself!  “The greatest love story of
all time is contained    in a tiny white Host”
(Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen). 

Every thing in the world pales into in significance when compared to the Holy Eucharist. This is why Church Father and Doctor St. Augustine could say

“Although God is all-powerful, He is unable to give more; although supremely wise,
He knows not how to give more; though vastly rich, He has not more to give,”and why St. Bernard could say “The Eucharist is that love which surpasses all
loves in Heaven and on earth.”  Heaven has nothing greater!

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Welcome all!! This is my very first post on this brand new blog and I am very excited about it. I will be posting as often as possible and hopefully I will be able to write about topics that can both interest you and inspire you to reflect on your own journey of faith.

As someone who is only beginning a personal journey towards truly knowing the Lord, I feel that writing a blog would give me not only additional motivation to study and meditate on God’s word and Jesus’ teachings, but it would be also a wonderful opportunity for me to share my journey with others as well as exchange mutual experiences.

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