CHRIST IS RESURRECTED

 

Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious! God’s mercy always triumphs! What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. God’s love can do this. The Gospel of Easter is very clear: we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection.  This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia.  It is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth.~ Pope Francis 

The power of the resurrection is clear we are redeemed through Christ, we are saved by our savior. This news is so BIG and BOLD that we need to spread it to the world so that it can be transformed. My prayer for each of you is to live the Easter message throughout the year with JOY! and to remember when times are hard that you follow a resurrected king!

happy joyful easter 

 

IN THE SILENCE

 

tissot-the-descent-from-the-cross-525x724                                       The Descent of the Cross by artist James Tissot

In the aftermath of the violent death of Jesus, was silence…….. as Mary held the lifeless body of her son. During the Triduum I always think of Mary. I try to visualize all of the accounts of Jesus suffering, his passion, his death and resurrection through the eyes of his beloved mother. I meditate on the words written by Richard Furey, (Praying the Stations with Mary the Mother of Jesus)

What greater pain is there for a mother than to see her son die right before her eyes! I, who had brought this savior into the world and watched him grow, stood helplessly beneath his cross as he lowered his head and died. His earthly anguish was finished, but mine was greater than ever. Yet, this had to be and I had to accept it, so I stood by and I mourned silently. The crowd had gone; the noise had stopped. I stood quietly with one of Jesus’ friends and looked up at the dead body of our savior, my son. Then two men took the body from the cross and placed it in my arms. A deep sorrow engulfed my being. Yet, I also felt deep joy. Life had ended cruelly for my son, but it had also brought life to all of us. I knew this had to be, and I prayed silently. We brought Jesus’ body to a tomb and I arranged it there myself, silently weeping, silently rejoicing. I took one more look at my loving son, and then walked out. They closed the tomb and before I left, I thought, I knew this had to be….it had to be for you! I would wait in faith silently.

michelangelo_pietaPieta Statue St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome

How beautiful he has captured what Mary may have said to herself. I can’t imagine the depth of sorrow that pierced her heart, witnessing the death of her son. I imagine her cleaning him for burial and examining every inch of his body as she did when she birthed him. What gentle care she gave him preparing him to be wrapped up tight and placed in the tomb as if her very loving touch was able to heal him. How hard it must have been for her to leave that tomb carrying with her a heavy, broken heart. 

This Holy Saturday, I sit and wait with her, holding my faith and praying in silence for the resurrection, the promise of new beginnings and an everlasting life. Searching for ways to love more my spouse, children and those God has placed in my life, and I look for ways to let go of situations that weight me down and prevent me from joy. May the bondage of fear be torn open and destroyed with the torn temple and graves that God crushed to bring new life. The silence in waiting has begun……………..

TRIDUUM~THE 3 DAYS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

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The most central event of the liturgical year is the Easter Triduum (Latin, three days) celebrating the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. These sacred three days (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) are a liturgical season in themselves and not strictly part of Lent. Holy Thursday we see many things taking place such as Jesus giving us the eternal gift of Himself in the Holy Eucharist. It’s through this eternal gift that Jesus is with us until the end of time. Pope Benedict XVI in his homily, Solemnity of Corpus Domini, 26 May 2005 says,

 O that night, Jesus goes out and hands himself over to the betrayer, the destroyer, and in so doing, overcomes the night of evil. Only in this way is the gift of the Eucharist, instituted in the Upper Room, fulfilled; Jesus truly gives his Body and his Blood. Crossing over the threshold of death, he becomes living Bread, true manna, endless nourishment for eternity. 

He gave us himself as food for eternal life on the night of passover. He was the sacrifice to replace the bull or lamb to atone for sins as was the custom at that time. At every mass this sacrifice is repeated and the miracle of Calvary is before us in our pews. How blessed are we?

This last supper also established the vocational call to the priesthood and true discipleship through servant leadership. He bent down on his hands and knees to wash the dirtiest parts of His friends.  He wasn’t afraid or ashamed of taking a lesser role, a role so low, even the servant were not required to do it. He invites us to bend in humility doing the same to those he places in our lives as well.  

Good Friday we enter the passion, and death of Jesus and on Holy Saturday we await his resurrection.  He passes from destruction to victory. We sometimes tend to forget this when we are going through our own Calvary and like Jesus a lot can happen in just 3 days. We will suffer in our lives, but we should remember when we are suffering, that we belong to a resurrected king and we wear the invisible crown of royalty. We will one day rise and sit at the banquet table of heavenly splendor surrounded by love. That is plenty of reason to exude joy.

Gospel of Joy (Evangelii Gaudium) Apostolic Exhortation of the Holy Father Francis | November 24, 2013

5-6. The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice. … There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter…Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.

PALM SUNDAY

PALM SUNDAY

Palm Sunday begins Holy week, we relive the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, the suffering of Christ and our own weaknesses. We cry out today during mass “Crucify Him” while we hold palm branches in our hands from the celebration of accepting Jesus and His ministry. How quickly we flip-flop even today these palm branches represent to me, my frailty, my part through my sins Jesus being crucified. 

jesus.donkey

Holy week is a very important time for the life of a Christian, because we are reminded of the deep, passionate love our God has for each of us. It’s a time of conversion which means: the act or an instance of converting or the process of being converted.”the conversion of food into body tissues” synonyms: change, changing, transformation, metamorphosis, transfiguration, transmutation.

It’s an opportunity to change our direction, to grow and to move closer to Christ and our faith. As we hear on Ash Wednesday “turn from sin and return to the Gospel” it’s a time to start again trying to live the Gospel. When we look at those palms we receive today and carry them home with us let it remind us of our frailty and the incredible gift God gave us to begin again. Jesus teaches us how to do this if we look at Holy Thursday when he bent down on his hands and knees to serve those he loves. He washed the feet of the dirtiest place on the body at that time. This was an act of service that even the slaves did not perform. This foreshadows the next act that no one wants to willingly do which is die in humiliation and suffering on a cross naked.

These are acts of love, true, deep, passionate love. Are we ready to love that deeply our co-worker, boss, betraying friend, the people in our lives that don’t agree with us or understand us? It isn’t easy, and we will fall, but the good news is we are forgiven and we can start again. Try to make time in your schedule this week to be a part of the Triduum at your local church. These services are a gift to our church for our benefit. Holy Thursday is the reenactment of the last supper and washing of the feet. Good Friday is the veneration of the cross, Holy Saturday is a time for reflection. This 2 minute video explains it best check it out to understand Holy week better.

 

 

HOPE IN DISCOURAGEMENT

This story made National news and in seeing it, I recalled a similar experience my son had on the playground in the second grade. Check this out

Like this sweet little girl, my son was at recess having a discussion with his friends about heaven and an aide over heard him. She told him that if she ever heard him say the name of, or talk about, “God” again he would be in big trouble. This was a very big deal in our house and my son was very upset and decided that he wanted to go to catholic school to be around kids like himself where he would be free to talk about God whenever he wanted.

About a week ago, I was talking with an older woman who is very concerned about her Grandchildren.  They were raised catholic, are good kids, and as young adults don’t feel it’s necessary to go to church. She is the voice of many concerned mothers around the world. Like this little girl in the cafeteria wanting to pray before she eats and my son having casual conversation about God on the playground and being told “NO” overtime in an effort to fit in with the secular world, as young adults they take a step back from their beliefs and they question, judge and challenge. But, I believe that through our prayers, through our example and through the education we gave them they will find their way back.

I think every mother after giving birth and being a part of that unbelievable miracle, ponders how their children are God’s creation and not so much our own. At least I know I did, and I also realized, that as much as I love them, God loves them more.  I leave you with this hope and example of a young adult doing drugs, in a gang and ending up in prison before finding his way back to God.

GOT MARY?

Got Mary?   There are many Catholics who do not have Mary in their lives. I know, because for the longest time I was one of them. As a cradle Catholic, I did not understand Mary’s role and as a result I feared her and kept her at a distance. My fear was wrapped around the thought that she would lead me away from Jesus. I was convinced the devil used her precisely for that purpose so, I stayed away.

I can remember a time a priest made the unfortunate mistake of sitting next to me at my cousin’s wedding. I barraged him with questions about Mary and I’m sorry to say that in my lack of understanding I gave him a hard time.  So hard, that he began to chain smoke, fidget nervously and drink (rather quickly) his scotch. I probably gave him a huge headache in the morning but, I am thankful and grateful to him. He was a good listener and my lack of “getting it” increased my desire to find it.

I will share with you a few things I have learned in my search from one of my favorite contemporary Theologians Tim Gray. In his book “The Luminous Mysteries” he sheds light on Mary’s role from John’s Gospel, the wedding feast of Cana and at the foot of the cross.

         In both scriptures John calls Mary “woman.” The use of “woman” in these passages in reference to Mary is highly symbolic. At  the beginning of John’s Gospel, we see Mary at the wedding feast of Cana, acting as a mother to this newly married couple by bringing their need to Jesus. At the end of the Gospel, we see Jesus giving His mother to “the disciple whom he loved.” Jesus says to John, “Behold, your mother!” And to Mary, He says, “Woman, behold your son!” Symbolically, the Apostle stands in for all of the followers of Christ; therefore, Jesus gives Mary to be our mother, too.

Mary acts as mother to us and advocates for us to Jesus. This may sound simple for those of you who have always known Mary, but for me this was new and I found this revelation confirmed through the people I met sharing their Mary stories with me. One man in particular, cried as he told me how abusive his father was and how he could not get close to Jesus, a male and father figure. He felt safe with Mary and trusted her to advocate for him as he put it, “she never fails me and I can get close to Jesus through her.”

Tim Gray points to the Old Testament as well to explain Mary’s role. He uses King Solomon as an example and explains how the Jewish culture viewed the role of king and queen differently than we do. King Solomon had hundreds of wives and hundreds of concubines so, who would be the queen? Since the king has one mother, his mother becomes the queen and rules the kingdom beside her son. She advocates the needs of the people to the king. In 1 Kings 2: 19-21 King Solomon says to his mother Bathsheba,  “make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you”  Tim comments, that this foreshadows the intercessory role of the Mother of Jesus, the greatest and last King of Israel. She, like her Old Testament counterparts, brings the petitions of her children before the throne of Jesus Christ in Heaven. 

He also reminds us that Mary does not try to run the show; she simply tells the servants at the Wedding feast to listen to Jesus, placing all the attention on her Son. Which brings me to a dream I had during my searching. I dreamt that I was waiting in a long line, we were waiting to be directed as to where to go next. When I looked to the front of the line I saw Mary directing the people. They were happy to see her and receive her council. Now keep in mind I haven’t found Mary yet, so seeing her as the one to direct me troubled my spirit. I thought surely when it is my turn I am in BIG  trouble. Although the line was long, heaven’s time moves differently than earthly time and before I knew it I was face to face with Mary. She did not speak to me, but lowered her head and walked away with the intention for me to follow her, which I did. She led me to a cold, dark, stoned room with a stone bench that held Jesus. He was weeping and when he saw me He looked at his mother gratefully as though He had been waiting for me a long time.  He then leaped into my arms and hugged me while He sobbed. I never questioned or doubted Mary’s role after that dream again.

Everyone has to find their own truth in their own time. I regret, that it has taken me this long to find and accept the gift of the Blessed Mother. I would have made better choices and saved myself from much sorrow, had I accepted her when I was young. I was wrong and deprived myself of countless blessings and Grace that she can provide. May you be wiser than me and allow Mary to lead you into the heavenly embrace of love, which is her son Jesus. For those who have been Graced to always have her in your life, you are very blessed indeed.

POPE FRANCIS THE COMEDIAN?

Since Pope Francis was elected Pope, I have found myself intrigued, excited and hopeful for the future of the church. I do believe he has broken the mold from previous Pope’s and his fresh perspective has brought many people back to the faith.  Social media, bloggers and writers are on the edge of their seats hanging on his every word, anxious to retweet, comment and share what he has to say with their followers and the world. I believe his popularity is unprecedented, he has without a doubt brought a fresh face to catholicism and he never ceases to surprise. This tape you are about to watch is one of those surprises. It was shared with me by one of my Franciscan friends. Get ready to laugh :)

SHATTERED FAITH

A few weeks ago, I was at a church advocating for adoption when a couple came up to me with questions. At one point the husband became clearly upset and apologized to his wife for what he was about to share. He told me he is very angry at God and at his breaking point. God has taken his only son and continues to allow his daughter to miscarry leaving her barren. He desperately wants to see his daughter blessed with life and wants a Grandchild and doesn’t understand why he is suffering so much loss. As a faithful man doing all that he knows to be right and having bad things happen, he is beginning to lose his faith in the God he always believed in. He asked me why God has allowed all this pain in his life? when will his suffering end? and when will the blessings come? 

The age-old questions, as you can imagine he touched my heart deeply and I understood his pain. Suffering and loss are inescapable. God is a mystery and so are his ways but, he ALWAYS brings good out of the bad and in time blessings follow. I don’t believe that God actually tests us but, I do think he will allow suffering to challenge us to the degree that we can measure our own faith. Do we really believe as much as we think we do?

Mathew 17:20  “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

And yet it is, when we are face to face with our faith through suffering what do we see?  I’ve found that when I’m put to the test….I am weak.  Job was forced to face his beliefs more than anyone in scripture and he was able to endure. He endured, by trusting God and praising him. He didn’t give in to the voices around him encouraging him to stop believing.  These voices are traps that are easy for us to fall into. I can remember witnessing the pain and suffering of others traumatized by unexpected life experiences that it shattered their faith and they fell from Grace. They were gradually beaten down until they lost hope and gained despair, depression and sometimes addiction. “There but by the Grace of God go I” and sometimes there, despite the grace of God, go I. Our lives can change with one phone call and in one moment we can easily be in their shoes and when we are, will we have faith to sustain or will it be shattered?  Jesus pondered this question as well for He says in Luke 18:8 “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

When we fall, we should drop our pride and embrace the Simon’s in our lives that are willing to help us carry our crosses. 

Simon

Another help to us in mending our weakened or shattered faith is the Eucharist.  To receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1336). David E. Rosage in the book “The Bread of Life” suggests this,

Jesus wants us to come to the Eucharist

* to  nourish, sustain, and strengthen us on our pilgrimage through life.

* to remind us that he is dwelling within us in his risen, glorified life.

* to permit him to fill that longing and desire we have to be united with him.

* to come together with our brothers and sisters to adore, worship, and thank our loving Father.

* to unite ourselves with his high-priestly prayer of praise to the Father.

* to open ourselves to receive the outpouring of his love.

The Eucharist has the power to build our faith and heal our heavy, weary souls. Some life experiences may seem dark and grim with no way out but, the truth is, this situation is only for a season and in time will pass. Don’t stop praying, don’t stop going to mass, embrace the Simon’s in your life, write 5 things your grateful for each day , remind yourself “this too shall pass” and find comfort in this scripture verse: 

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:9

carrying crosses