March 31, 2016

Prayer for Christian Unity

[Jesus said] And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.
— John 17:22-23

Today's collect for Easter Thursday may also be recited as a prayer for Christian unity.

O God, who have united the many nations in confessing your name, grant that those reborn in the font of Baptism may be one in the faith of their hearts and the homage of their deeds. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Divine Mercy Novena | Day 7

The Divine Mercy Image.
Jesus, I trust in you.

Today is the seventh day of the Divine Mercy Novena. We pray that these Divine Mercy prayers will strengthen us as we celebrate the Octave of Easter. We also pray that we will grow closer to our Lord's Passion through saying this Novena.

You may post your prayer intentions here.

The novena prayers are from St. Maria Faustina's diary in which she wrote about her encounters with Jesus.

Christ specifically asked her to create a novena of Chaplets to be said leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday, beginning on Good Friday.

She wrote that Jesus said to her, "By this novena, I will grant every possible grace to souls."

Jesus gave St. Faustina an intention for each day of the novena. Each intention is that we would pray for a different group of souls each day, asking for God's mercy for them.

Click to sign up for daily reminders to pray the Divine Mercy Novena.

Divine Mercy Novena Prayers

Seventh Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

Intention: "Today bring to Me THE SOULS WHO ESPECIALLY VENERATE AND GLORIFY MY MERCY, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death."

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory.

Amen.

Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

For information about the image of Christ shown above click here. To learn about St. Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet or Divine Mercy Sunday see Who is Saint Faustina? and The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.

March 30, 2016

The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday

How should we prepare for this great Feast of Mercy?


Jesus told St. Faustina that this Feast of Mercy would be a very special day when "all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened." (Diary 699) Our Lord made a great promise to all those souls who would go to Confession and then receive Him in Holy Communion on the Feast of Mercy, on the Sunday after Easter, which is now called Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the Catholic Church.

Jesus promised that "The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment." (Diary 699) He went on to say "I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy." (Diary 1109)

We want to encourage everyone to take advantage of this incredible promise and the additional Plenary Indulgence on this great Feast of Mercy "Divine Mercy Sunday". We want you to benefit fully from these promises, and we also want you to notify all of your family and friends about them too and urge them to return to the practice of their faith About the feast day "Divine Mercy Sunday", Jesus said "…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 poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon the souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.... Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy." (Diary 699)

It is required of all Catholics to confess their serious sins at least once every year. If you haven’t yet met this obligation then take advantage of this outstanding opportunity to receive an outpouring of an ocean of graces that Jesus promises on this day. Those who have already confessed their sins should make room for others.

The Church allows for one to go to Confession for up to about 20 days, before or after Divine Mercy Sunday.

Divine Mercy Sunday Homilies 

Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Easter | Divine Mercy Sunday | April 3, 2016, Year C


Ironically, skeptics and doubters make daily acts of faith. When they board an airplane, for instance, they’re making acts of faith in the pilots of that plane, in the engineers who designed it, and in all others who have manufactured and maintained that airplane. So also they make acts of faith in their friends and in those they love. Read more...

St. John Paul's Homily on the First Universal Celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, 2001.

Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore" (Rev 1:17-18).

We heard these comforting words in the Second Reading taken from the Book of Revelation. They invite us to turn our gaze to Christ, to experience His reassuring presence. To each person, whatever his condition, even if it were the most complicated and dramatic, the Risen One repeats: "Fear not!; I died on the Cross but now I am alive for evermore"; "I am the first and the last, and the living one." Read more...

QUIZ: Can You Match These Liturgical Latin Phrases With Their Meanings?

Whether you're fluent in Latin or a neophyte, ChurchPop has a most excellent quiz. The quiz starts easy and gets progressively harder.


1. "Dóminus vobíscum."

Lord, have mercy.
The Lord be with you.
May the Lord be with you.
May the Lord be praised.

2. "Laus tibi, Christe."

Praise God, you Christian.
Praise to you, Christ.
Have mercy on us, Christ.
You praised God, St. Christopher.

3. "Sursum corda."

Give thanks in your heart.
Let us pray.
Hosanna in the highest.
Lift up your hearts.

4. "Orémus."

Let us pray.
God be praised.
The Mass is over.
And with your spirit.

5. "Et cum spíritu tuo."

It is just and right.
And with the Holy Spirit.
And with your spirit.
And also with you.

6. "Hoc est enim corpus meum."

For this is a symbol of my body.
This is our holy prayer.
For this is my blood.
For this is my body.

[ ... ]

See ChurchPop for more questions and the answers

Divine Mercy Novena | Day 6

The Divine Mercy Image.
Jesus, I trust in you.

Today is the sixth day of the Divine Mercy Novena. We pray that these Divine Mercy prayers will strengthen us as we celebrate the Octave of Easter. We also pray that we will grow closer to our Lord's Passion through saying this Novena.

You may post your prayer intentions here.

The novena prayers are from St. Maria Faustina's diary in which she wrote about her encounters with Jesus.

Christ specifically asked her to create a novena of Chaplets to be said leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday, beginning on Good Friday.

She wrote that Jesus said to her, "By this novena, I will grant every possible grace to souls."

Jesus gave St. Faustina an intention for each day of the novena. Each intention is that we would pray for a different group of souls each day, asking for God's mercy for them.

Click to sign up for daily reminders to pray the Divine Mercy Novena.

Divine Mercy Novena Prayers

Sixth Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

Intention: "Today bring to Me THE MEEK AND HUMBLE SOULS AND THE SOULS OF LITTLE CHILDREN, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. Only the humble soul is capable of receiving My grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence."

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages.

Amen.

Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

For information about the image of Christ shown above click here. To learn about St. Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet or Divine Mercy Sunday see Who is Saint Faustina? and The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for April 2016

Pope Francis' coat of arms Please remember the Holy Father Pope Francis' intentions in prayer through the month of April:

General Intention: Small Farmers

That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.

Evangelization: African Christians

That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.

March 29, 2016

Divine Mercy Novena | Day 5

The Divine Mercy Image.
Jesus, I trust in you.

Today is the fifth day of the Divine Mercy Novena. We pray that these Divine Mercy prayers will strengthen us as we celebrate the Octave of Easter. We also pray that we will grow closer to our Lord's Passion through saying this Novena.

You may post your prayer intentions here.

The novena prayers are from St. Maria Faustina's diary in which she wrote about her encounters with Jesus.

Christ specifically asked her to create a novena of Chaplets to be said leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday, beginning on Good Friday.

She wrote that Jesus said to her, "By this novena, I will grant every possible grace to souls."

Jesus gave St. Faustina an intention for each day of the novena. Each intention is that we would pray for a different group of souls each day, asking for God's mercy for them.

Click to sign up for daily reminders to pray the Divine Mercy Novena.

Divine Mercy Novena Prayers

Fifth Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

Intention: "Today bring to Me THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAVE SEPARATED THEMSELVES FROM MY CHURCH, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church, My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion."

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son's Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages.

Amen.

Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

For information about the image of Christ shown above click here. To learn about St. Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet or Divine Mercy Sunday see Who is Saint Faustina? and The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.

March 28, 2016

Are These Posts Controversial?

The Statue of Liberty weeping

We published these articles in the wake of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death. Antonin Scalia was a devout Catholic and a strict constructionist. He was also a staunch defender of religious freedom.  Although no one made comments [in the comments section] several readers weighed in using the contact function to disagree. Here are the articles in the order of their publication. What do you think?

Father Paul Scalia’s Eulogy Shows the Extent to Which Our Religious Liberty is in Jeopardy

Father Paul Scalia, the son of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, delivered a heartfelt and inspiring eulogy at the funeral Mass for his father at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday. In his remarks, Fr. Scalia celebrated his late father’s commitment to family, public service and the Law, as well as his dedication to truth, justice, the intellectually rigorous defense of liberty, personal virtue, and the sanctity of persons at every stage of life. While paying homage to Justice Scalia’s religious devotion, Fr. Scalia noted how: "God blessed [his] Dad with a deep Catholic faith: The conviction that Christ's presence and power continue in the world today through His body, the Church." Fr. Scalia’s tribute is part fond remembrance and part profound catechesis. [It is worth reading in full.]

Later on, Fr. Scalia makes the following observation which I draw to your attention:
God blessed Dad, as is well known, with a love for his country. He knew well what a close-run thing the founding of our nation was. And he saw in that founding, as did the founders themselves, a blessing, a blessing quickly lost when faith is banned from the public square, or when we refuse to bring it there. So he understood that there is no conflict between loving God and loving one's country, between one's faith and one's public service. Dad understood that the deeper he went in his Catholic faith, the better a citizen and public servant he became. God blessed him with the desire to be the country's good servant because he was God's first.
Let us pray for Justice Scalia’s soul, and in thanksgiving for his life, service and example. Given the increasing attacks on Christianity and expressions of Christian faith in the public square by those occupying "the commanding heights of the culture", [i.e. academia, the media, Hollywood, et al.] Justice Scalia’s passing is all the more concerning. Let us pray also that the freedoms he labored so courageously to preserve be protected and endure.
_________________

The Extent to Which Our Religious Liberty is in Jeopardy, Part 2

With Justice Antonin Scalia's passing, a reliable defender of religious liberty has departed from the Supreme Court. The current president, who stands to name his replacement, has been less than amenable to expressions of Catholicism. During the October 2013 government shutdown, Catholic military chaplains who said Mass faced arrest. The White House asked Georgetown University to cover all religious symbols [i.e. the monogram "IHS”–symbolizing the name of Jesus] at a venue where the president spoke. Bishop Robert Barron in his article "No Room for Catholics in Obama Country", examines the Obama administration's push for radical secularization at the expense of religious institutions:
In short, the slow but steady creep toward secularization of Catholic health-care has already been, for some time, a reality. But now the process has been given a massive push by the Obama administration's recent mandate that all health-care agencies and institutions must pay for insurance that covers contraception, sterilization, and certain kinds of abortifacient drugs-all of which are repugnant to Catholic teaching.
Here is what is particularly worrisome: the state seems no longer satisfied with a slow but steady evolution toward secularity; it is aggressively forcing Catholic hospitals off the stage, for it is creating for them an impossible situation. If they cave in and provide insurance for these verboten procedures, they have effectively de-Catholicized themselves; and if they refuse to provide such insurance, they will be met with fines of millions of dollars, which they cannot possibly pay. 
In light of the above examples, the current chief executive will most likely nominate someone who cares little for religious freedom or the rights of believers. Let us pray that the freedoms the late Justice Scalia worked so tirelessly to protect will survive for perpetuity. Saint Thomas More pray for us. 

Divine Mercy Novena | Day 4

The Divine Mercy Image.
Jesus, I trust in you.

Today is the fourth day of the Divine Mercy Novena. We pray that these Divine Mercy prayers will strengthen us as we observe the Octave of Easter. We also pray that we will grow closer to our Lord's Passion through saying this Novena.

You may post your prayer intentions here.

The novena prayers are from St. Maria Faustina's diary in which she wrote about her encounters with Jesus.

Christ specifically asked her to create a novena of Chaplets to be said leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday, beginning on Good Friday.

She wrote that Jesus said to her, "By this novena, I will grant every possible grace to souls."

Jesus gave St. Faustina an intention for each day of the novena. Each intention is that we would pray for a different group of souls each day, asking for God's mercy for them.

Click to sign up for daily reminders to pray the Divine Mercy Novena.

Divine Mercy Novena Prayers

Fourth Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

Intention: "Today bring to Me THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD AND THOSE WHO DO NOT YET KNOW ME. I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy."

Novena Prayers: Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages.

Amen.

Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

For information about the image of Christ shown above click here. To learn about St. Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet or Divine Mercy Sunday see Who is Saint Faustina? and The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.

March 27, 2016

Easter | 2016 | He is risen. Alleluia!

Resurrection of Christ
Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb,
Fra Angelico, c. 1440-1442.

O God, who on this day, through your Only Begotten Son, has conquered death and unlocked for us the path to eternity, grant, we pray, that we who keep the solemnity of the Lord's Resurrection may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit, rise up in the light of life.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

May the blessings of Easter be with you and yours; now and always. 

March 26, 2016

Homily for Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016, Year C

The Resurrection of Christ


Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

(Click here for today’s readings)

We have come here to this sacred place, in this holy time, both of which are set apart from the rest of the world around us, in order to hear what God is saying to us. We are here, hopefully, to respond to God’s call, to surrender to God’s love, and to receive the Bread of Life Jesus won for us on His Cross. May you, and I with you, now yield to God’s love and respond to the gift He offers us here in this the most important celebration in our Church.

As Catholics, we hold a sacred trust. It is our calling to remain integral with the Church of the eyewitnesses of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Catholics, our integration with the Church of the Apostles is something that we hold precious. May we receive and always treasure what they have handed on to us.

More people come to Mass on Easter than on any other Sunday of the year, some making the effort only this one time each year. The possible motives might be habit, tradition, nostalgia, or perhaps simply because of family ties. Many are here in profound faith. Perhaps some not of our Christian faith are here because they have heard the rumors of angels. For all of us, whether devoted faithful or just marginally so, any spiritual indifference is jarred on this supremely important day of the year. I gratefully acknowledge and warmly welcome all of you. You need to know that I, along with you, need to be here too.

Our egos are bruised by the truth that nothing human lasts for very long. Like April snowflakes human lives quickly melt away. Fortunes are made and lost with unnerving ease. Entire civilizations (Aztec, Roman, Byzantine, and Renaissance, to name a few instances) come and go, along with philosophies such as Feudalism, the Enlightenment, Fascism, and Communism. “The paths of glory head but to the grave”, wrote the British poet Thomas Gray.

Why, we ask, must everything end in death? If death is the end of life, then ultimately nothing lasts except this endless, senseless process of not lasting. If it is by happenstance that we live because of some cosmic chance, then we also die by chance – without meaning or purpose. Is there anything at all that is lasting? Is death our entrance into oblivion?

Our American culture answers the question by not facing it, by living in colossal denial and endless skepticism. Why, the skeptics ask, did Mary Magdalene go to the tomb “while it was still dark”? Did she lack common sense? Why bother to put more expensive spices on Jesus’ dead body? She did it once before, the Scriptures tell us. The money, Judas suggested, should have been given to the poor who could have used it to far greater avail. Dead bodies rot, the skeptics tell us. They corrupt, decompose, and eventually turn to dust.

Our Christian response is to ask if souls do likewise? Does the human personality and character, the essential elements of a human soul, come from a senseless and purposeless origin, only to return by blind chance into an empty nothingness? Does human love have nothing of anything that lasts? Another Englishman, the writer Hugh Walpole once had one of his characters declare: “There is a sniff of immortality about our love for one another.”

Some claim that the followers of Jesus fabricated Easter’s fantastic story simply to calm their own fears of dying. They well knew where He had died; they knew where His body lay buried.
Having left their careers and businesses, having left everything in order to be with Him, all of their hopes had been smashed. But for them to construct a fable out of such ash and debris would have made no sense whatsoever, an absurdity out of absurdities dwarfing the simple truth of what those disciples did in fact report. The Church always remembers that those very same Apostles went on to die for what they had witnessed that first Easter. They did not die for a fable that they had made up.

No, the simple truth of the Resurrection is that it was God’s unselfish love that has conquered all. It was not the Apostles’ selfish fears that are the foundation of their account, it is the unconquerable reality of Christ’s unselfish love, a love that cannot die. Death has no dominion over that sort of love, coming as it does from God’s love made incarnate in human flesh and blood. Nobility of soul, heroic courage, priceless love, soaring character, selfless living without counting the cost, generative and creative commitment – these are the pieces of circumstantial evidence pointing to God’s gift of human immortality given to us in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Easter message is the rumor that there is more within us than we dare to believe. Hopefully that is what now brings so many back to our Mother Church, particularly during her birthing time: Easter. Hopefully that will bring us all here each and every Sunday, those special days that are in themselves little Easters.

In today’s Gospel we heard about some of Jesus’ disciples leaving Jerusalem after the disaster they had experienced in Christ’s crucifixion and death. There on the road to Emmaus they were trying to make sense of it all. Many of us could well walk with them, especially those who live in Haiti, or Chile, or whose jobs have been lost or homes lost due to the financial collapse we are experiencing. Each one of us travels his or her spiritual journey. Each one of us interprets events and tries to gain insights in our own ways. What we all are called upon to recognize is that Jesus is with us not only collectively in His Mystical Body, the Church, but also individually.

In our quest to find answers we must begin with the love of God, the God who has taken on our humanity and all that the forces of darkness in our world can hurl at us. God can be found in the passion and death of Jesus Christ. God can be gloriously found in Christ’s resurrection, and found in the power of God’s Holy Spirit who comes to us in the Risen Christ. Our Ancient Enemy, Satan, lives in defeat and despair, a condition in which we wants us all to live. God, however, cannot be outdone by our Ancient Enemy. He sent us His Christ to give us His life-giving Holy Spirit, that gift that Christ handed over to us when He died on the Cross, that gift that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and that gift we will celebrate on the Feast of Pentecost, fifty days from now.

May the Spirit who infused the dead humanity of Jesus Christ and raised it in glory likewise infuse you your humanity and fill you with God’s life. If you surrender to His Presence, to the Spirit-filled Christ who left nothing to chance, He will love you, and gather you into Himself, and raise your humanity in His, into a new and higher life, one in which the glory of God is revealed to all who know you.

Truly, as was said so long ago, “The glory of God is humanity fully alive.” And that glory, if you surrender to Him who died to give it to you, is yours, O child of God. For Christ is truly risen and can be found now in the likes of you and me.

Alleluia!

Holy Saturday — Easter Vigil | 2016

Christ in the tomb
May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.
— From the Easter Vigil Liturgy

On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord's tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. The altar is left bare, and the sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Only after the solemn vigil during the night, held in anticipation of the resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of fifty days.

O God, who make this most sacred night radiant with the glory of the Lord's Resurrection, stir up in your Church a spirit of adoption, so that, renewed in body and mind, we may render you undivided service. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Divine Mercy Novena | Day 2

The Divine Mercy Image.
Jesus, I trust in you.

Today is the second day of the Divine Mercy Novena. We pray that these Divine Mercy prayers will strengthen us as we fast and do penance on Holy Saturday. We also pray that we will grow closer to our Lord's Passion through saying this Novena.

You may post your prayer intentions here.

The novena prayers are from St. Maria Faustina's diary in which she wrote about her encounters with Jesus.

Christ specifically asked her to create a novena of Chaplets to be said leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday, beginning on Good Friday.

She wrote that Jesus said to her, "By this novena, I will grant every possible grace to souls."

Jesus gave St. Faustina an intention for each day of the novena. Each intention is that we would pray for a different group of souls each day, asking for God's mercy for them.

Click to sign up for daily reminders to pray the Divine Mercy Novena.

Divine Mercy Novena Prayers

Second Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

Intention: "Today bring to Me THE SOULS OF PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS, and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave Me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind."

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service, that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard--upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end.

Amen.

Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

For information about the image of Christ shown above click here. To learn about St. Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet or Divine Mercy Sunday see Who is Saint Faustina? and The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.

March 25, 2016

Divine Mercy Novena | Day 1

The Divine Mercy Image.
Jesus, I trust in you.

Today is the first day of the Divine Mercy Novena. We pray that these Divine Mercy prayers will strengthen us as we fast and do penance on Good Friday. We also pray that we will grow closer to our Lord's Passion through saying this Novena.

You may post your prayer intentions here.

The novena prayers are from St. Maria Faustina's diary in which she wrote about her encounters with Jesus.

Christ specifically asked her to create a novena of Chaplets to be said leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday, beginning on Good Friday.

She wrote that Jesus said to her, "By this novena, I will grant every possible grace to souls."

Jesus gave St. Faustina an intention for each day of the novena. Each intention is that we would pray for a different group of souls each day, asking for God's mercy for them.

Click to sign up for daily reminders to pray the Divine Mercy Novena.

Divine Mercy Novena Prayers

First Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

Intention: "Today bring to Me ALL MANKIND, ESPECIALLY ALL SINNERS, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me."

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever.

Amen.

Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

For information about the image of Christ shown above click here. To learn about St. Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet or Divine Mercy Sunday see Who is Saint Faustina? and The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.

Good Friday | 2016

[Jesus said] "It is accomplished." Bowing his head, He gave up his spirit.
— John 19:30

Remember your mercies, O Lord, and with your most eternal protection sanctify your servants for whom Christ your Son, by the shedding of his Blood, established the Paschal Mystery.  Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen

Today the whole Church mourns the death of our Savior. This is a day of sadness, spent in fasting and prayer. The title for this day varies in different parts of the world: "Holy Friday" for Latin nations, Slavs and Hungarians call it "Great Friday", in Germany it is "Friday of Mourning," In Norway, it is "Long Friday". Some view the term "Good Friday" [used in English and Dutch] as a corruption of the term "God's Friday". This is an obligatory day of fasting and abstinence. In Ireland, the "black fast" is practiced, which is to consume nothing but black tea and water.

March 24, 2016

The Seven Last Statements of Christ from the Cross


1. Jesus addresses the Father.

Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." [Luke 23:34]

This first saying of Christ on the cross is traditionally called "The Word of Forgiveness". It is theologically understood as Christ’s prayer for forgiveness for those who were crucifying him: the Roman soldiers and all others involved in his torture and death. By virtue of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, forgiveness is possible, the gates of Heaven are opened, and sin is forever conquered.

2. Jesus speaks to Dismas. 

And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise." [Luke 23:43]

This saying is called "The Word of Salvation."  In Luke's Gospel, Christ was crucified between two thieves (Dismas, the good criminal, and Gestas), Dismas supports Jesus' innocence and asks him to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. Jesus replies, "Truly, I say to you..."

The punctuation of Christ’s reply has been the subject of doctrinal differences among Christians. Protestant Christians typically read this as, "today you will be with me in Paradise". This understanding presumes direct passage to Heaven. Catholics, however, interpret it as, "I say to you today," leaving open the possibility that the statement was made presently, but eternal beatitude would be experienced later.

3. Jesus entrusts his mother to the beloved disciple. 

Jesus saw his own mother, and the disciple standing near whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold your mother." And from that hour, he took his mother into his family. [John 19:26-27]

This statement is called "The Word of Relationship." Jesus entrusts his mother to the care of "the disciple whom Jesus loved," the Apostle John. Even in the depths of his misery, Christ cared not for himself but for the well-being of Mary.

4. Jesus cries out to the Father.

Around the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud voice, saying"Eli Eli lama sabachthani?" which is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" [Matthew 27:46]

And at the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud voice, "Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" [Mark 15:34]

Of the last seven sayings of Christ, it is the only one that appears in two Gospels. It is a quote from King David in Psalm 22. Some see it as an abandonment of the Son by the Father. Others understand Christ’s cry as that of one who was truly human and felt forsaken. Tortured to death by his foes, deserted by his friends, Jesus may have felt deserted by God.

5. Jesus is thirsty.

He said, "I thirst." [John 19:28]

This is called "The Word of Distress" and is contrasted with Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan Woman at the Well in John.

The Gospel of John says Jesus was offered a drink of sour wine. A sponge dipped in wine on a hyssop branch was held it to Jesus' lips. Hyssop branches figured significantly in the Old Testament and in the Book of Hebrews.

This statement of Jesus fulfills the prophecy given in Psalm 9:21(cf. Psalm 22:15), thus the quotation from John's Gospel "to fulfill the scriptures."

6. "It is finished." 

Jesus said, "Tetelestai", meaning "It is finished." [John 19:30]

This statement is called "The Word of Triumph," and is interpreted by some as the announcement of the end of Jesus’ earthly life in anticipation of his Resurrection.

Under this interpretation, these words are a cry of victory, not resignation. Jesus had completed his divine mission. Salvation was now possible. Christ had assumed our brokenness and taken our place. He had offered himself fully to God as a sacrifice on behalf of humanity.

Jesus refused the initial drink of vinegar, gall and myrrh (Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23) offered to alleviate his suffering. But here, several hours later, we see Jesus fulfilling the messianic prophecy found in Psalm 69:21.

Catholic theologian Scott Hahn offers this interpretation:

"They put a sponge full of the sour wine on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine he said the words that are spoken of in the fourth cup consummation, "It is finished." What is the ‘it’ referring to? That grammatical question began really bothering me at some point. I asked several people and their response was usually, "Well, it means the work of redemption that Christ was working on." All right, that's true, I agree it does refer to that, but in context. An exegete, a trained interpreter of the word is supposed to find the contextual meaning, not just import a meaning from a theology textbook. What is Jesus speaking of when he says, "It is finished?" I mean, our redemption is not completed once he - he's not yet raised. Paul says, "He was raised for our justification."

So what is the ‘it’ talking about? He said, 'It is finished', and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit, his breath. The ‘it,’ of course you realize by now, is the Passover sacrifice. Because who is Jesus Christ? He is the sacrifice of Egypt, the firstborn son. Remember, the Egyptians involuntarily had to offer up their firstborn sons as atonement for their own sins and wickedness. Christ dies for Egypt and the world. Plus, he is the Passover lamb, the unblemished lamb, without broken bones who offers himself up for the life of the world. This fits with John's gospel, because as soon as Jesus was introduced in chapter 1 of the fourth gospel by John the Baptist, what did John say? He said, "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." And here is the lamb, headed for the altar of the cross, dying as a righteous firstborn and as an unblemished lamb. I believe that it's best to say in light of scripture that the sacrifice of Christ did not begin with the first spike. It didn't begin when the cross was sunk into the ground. It began in the upper room.

7. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."

And speaking in a loud voice, Jesus said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." [Luke 23:46]

From Psalm 31:5, this saying is an announcement, not a request. It’s traditionally called "The Word of Reunion" and is understood as the proclamation of Jesus returning to the Father in Heaven.

In this final utterance, we see Christ’s complete trust in the Father. Jesus encountered death in the same way he lived his life, offering up his earthly existence as a perfect sacrifice and placing himself completely in God's hands.

Reminder: Three O’clock on Good Friday is the Great Hour of Divine Mercy

The Divine Mercy Image
The Divine Mercy Image
At three o'clock on Good Friday we solemnly remember Christ's death on the cross. In that moment, the redeeming ministry of our Savior culminated in the sacrificial offering of the Lamb of God for our sins. Three o'clock on Friday is, therefore, an hour of abundant grace and mercy, especially for sinners. Christ told Saint Faustina that:
At three o'clock implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. I will allow you to enter into My mortal sorrow. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion... (Diary 1320).
The Lord asked Sister Faustina to pray especially for sinners at three o'clock in the afternoon, the moment of His death on the cross. This is the hour of great mercy for the world, and can be a moment of reflection on His Passion and Death for us. If possible, it is a good time to visit the Blessed Sacrament and/or make the Stations of the Cross.
I remind you, My daughter, that, as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul. In this hour, you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world - mercy triumphed over justice. My daughter, try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour, provided that your duties permit it; and if you are not able to make the Stations of the Cross, then at least step into the chapel for a moment and adore, in the Blessed Sacrament, My Heart, which is full of mercy; and should you be unable to step into the chapel, immerse yourself in prayer there where you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant. I claim veneration of My mercy from every creature... (Diary 1572).
Three O'clock Prayer for Mercy

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelope the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

And then, recite three times,

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, as
a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You.

This Lent, as we prepare to meet the risen Christ at Easter, let us reflect in gratitude on the sacrifice our Lord made on our behalf.

Holy Thursday | 2016


I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.
— John 13:34
These are the words spoken by our Lord to His apostles at the Last Supper, after he completed the washing of the feet. We should emulate Christ's humility in living our lives in the imitation of His.


O God, who have called us to participate in this most sacred Supper, in which your Only Begotten Son, when about to hand himself over to death, entrusted to the Church a sacrifice new for all eternity, the banquet of his love, grant, we pray, that we may draw from so great a mystery, the fullness of charity and of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

March 23, 2016

Reminder: Plenary Indulgence Opportunities During the Easter Triduum

Dominican cross

There are several plenary indulgences that may be obtained during the Easter Triduum — from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. An indulgence may be either partial or plenary. It is partial if it removes part of the temporal punishment due to sin, or plenary if it removes all punishment. A plenary indulgence may only be obtained once per day. The following prayers/professions will merit a plenary indulgence — provided the conditions for a plenary indulgence are met. (See below.)

Plenary Indulgences Available During the Easter Triduum

◗ Every Friday of Lent: Recitation of O Good and Sweetest Jesus after reception of the Eucharist before an image of the crucified Christ.

◗ Holy Thursday: Praying the Tantum Ergo after the Mass of the Last Supper.

◗ Good Friday: Participating in the Veneration of the Cross.

◗ Holy Saturday: Renewing your baptismal vows at the Easter Vigil Mass (renewing your baptismal vows on the anniversary of your baptism may also earn a plenary indulgence). Attending any Mass of First Communion (Easter Vigil Mass is a First Communion Mass) may likewise earn a plenary indulgence.

◗ Stations of the Cross: This always merits a plenary indulgence, no matter the season. It must be performed before 14 stations, lawfully erected, with devout meditation on the Passion of Our Lord and movement from one station to the next. If the crowd is large, the leader at least must move from cross to cross.

Requirements for Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence

◗ Perform/recite the prescribed work or prayer.

◗ Worthily receive Communion. (Preferably, the day of the work or prayer.)

◗ Say one "Our Father" and the "Apostles Creed".

◗ Say one "Our Father" and one "Hail Mary" for the Holy Father’s intentions (the intentions designated by the Holy Father each month).

◗ Make a sacramental confession within 20 days.

◗ For a plenary indulgence, one must be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin (or the indulgence is partial, not plenary).

For more on the Church's teachings on indulgences, read the Enchiridion of Indulgences promulgated by the 1968 Decree of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary. Also see The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Indulgences, Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 4, Subsection 10.

March 21, 2016

Easter Homily

Sunday's homily is usually published well in advance of the Sabbath. Due to the solemnity of Holy Week — and its remembrance of the final acts of Christ's earthly ministry; culminating with His Passion and Death — we will publish Father Charles Irvin's Easter homily on Holy Saturday.

May this Holy Week draw you closer to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

March 20, 2016

The Facts of Crucifixion

The Crucifixion

Robert Gidley

This article is disturbing; there is nothing pleasant about crucifixion. However, having an understanding of crucifixion helps us understand what Jesus went through on the day of his death. This article is based on various articles written by medical doctors, including a study by the Mayo Clinic published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1989.

Crucifixion probably started first with the Persians (what is modern day Iran). Initially, the victim was suspended to keep their feet from touching holy ground. The Phoenicians, traders to many lands, seem to have also acquired the practice and probably spread it to other cultures, including the Greeks.

Alexander the Great (a Greek) introduced the practice to Carthage, where it was picked up by the Romans. The Romans started using it around the time Jesus was born.

The Romans perfected crucifixion as a punishment designed to maximize pain and suffering. It wasn't about killing somebody — it was about killing somebody in a really horrible way. Someone who was crucified suffered the maximum amount of pain.

Crucifixion was also the most disgraceful form of execution. It was usually reserved for slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and vile criminals. The only time a Roman citizen was ever crucified was for desertion from the army.

What was flogging?

Flogging, or scourging, was done before every crucifixion. The scourging was intended to bring a victim to a state just short of death.

Also, it hurt. A lot.

The whip had iron balls tied a few inches from the end of each leather thong on the whip. Sometimes, sharp sheep bones would be tied near the ends. The iron balls would cause deep bruising, while the leather thongs would cut into the skin. The sheep bones would hasten the process of cutting into the skin. After a few lashes, the skin would be cut through, and the muscles would begin to be cut. Blood loss was considerable, and the pain would probably have put the victim in a state of shock.

What was a typical crucifixion like?

After the flogging, the victim would carry his own cross bar (called a patibulum) from the flogging area inside the city to the crucifixion area outside of the city walls. The crucifixion area was always outside the city, because the process was horrible and disturbing to citizens.

The upright part of the cross (the stipe) was permanently mounted in the crucifixion area. The part that the victim carried was the cross bar, weighing in at 75 to 125 pounds. The cross bar would be balanced on the victims shoulders, and their arms would be tied to the crossbar. In this position, if the victim tripped or fell, they could not use their arms to break their fall, and they would likely fall face first into the ground.

The victim was escorted by a Roman guard (probably a centurion and several soldiers), who were responsible for guarding the victim until his death. One of the soldiers would display a sign with the crime written on it.

Once the crucifixion area was reached, the victim would be offered a drink of wine mixed with myrrh to act as a mild painkiller. The drink was a charitable service performed by an association of women in Jerusalem.
Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. - Mark 15:23
The victim would then be nailed to the cross bar. The nails would be driven through the wrists, not through the palms, as these would not support the body weight.

The cross bar would be raised and placed on the upright post, where the victims heels would be nailed to the post.

Once crucified, a victim would live for a period ranging from a few hours to a few days. How long he lived depended mostly on how severe the scourging was.

If no one claimed the body, it would be left on the cross to be eaten by predatory animals. The family could, however, claim the body for burial. In this case, a Roman soldier would pierce the chest with a sword or spear to make sure the victim was dead.

What actually kills the victim?

The initial scourging would weaken the victim, cause massive blood loss, and probably induce shock. By the time the victim had carried the cross bar to the crucifixion area, he would be exhausted.

Once up on the cross, the victim would have his body weight suspended by their arms. In this position, it is difficult to completely exhale. The victim could take shallow breaths for a while, but eventually would be forced to push himself up to take a full breath.

At this point three things happen:
◗ The victim's weight is now fully supported by his feet. The nails through the feet would be likely to hit two major nerves running through the area. The result would be excruciating pain in the legs.
◗ The nails in the wrists would be likely to pierce the main nerve running through the arm. As the victim pushed up to breath, the wrists would rotate against the nail, irritating the nerves and causing intense pain in the arms. Some authorities also believe that the crucifixion position would dislocate the shoulder or elbow. Any movement would aggravate the pain from these injuries.
◗ The wounds on the victim's back from the scourging would push up against the rough part of the centerpiece. This would tend to reopen the wounds, leading to more pain and blood loss.
This combination of pain would quickly force the victim to lower himself back down. Eventually, the victim would no longer be able to raise himself up and would suffocate. The shock from blood loss due to the scourging would hasten this process.

In some cases, the victim's legs were broken to finish him off. This would prevent the victim from being able to raise himself up and he would suffocate in a matter of minutes.

Jesus crucifixion mostly followed the standard procedure, although there were some differences. These differences help account for the fact that he died after a relatively short period of time on the cross.

Specifics of Jesus' crucifixion

Jesus crucifixion mostly followed the standard procedure, although there were some differences. These differences help account for the fact that he died after a relatively short period of time on the cross.
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. - Luke 22:44
There is a condition called hemohidrosis or hematidrosis which occurs in people under extreme physical or emotional stress. The blood vessels in their sweat glands rupture and leak blood into their sweat. The effect is one of sweating blood. Several authorities believe that this is a plausible explanation for what happened to Jesus.

Although the loss of blood would not be significant, it shows that he was under extreme stress, which would have weakened him physically.
The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. - Luke 22:63
Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, Prophesy! And the guards took him and beat him. - Mark 14:65
Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him - Matt 26:67
When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. Is this the way you answer the high priest? he demanded. - John 18:22
Before the scourging and crucifixion, Jesus was beaten by his guards, which would weaken him. In addition, he would have had no sleep that night, and walked back and forth from trial to trial.
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. - Mark 15:21
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. - Matt 27:32
As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. - Luke 23:26
Typically, a prisoner carried his own cross to the crucifixion site. The fact that Simon was pressed into carrying Jesus cross suggests that Jesus was too weak to carry his own cross.

It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus body.
Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. - Mark 15:42-44
Since the Jewish Sabbath would begin at Sunset, it was important that the bodies not be left up, as Jewish law required that they be buried by the Sabbath.

Note that Pilate is surprised that Jesus is already dead.
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. - John 19:31-32
As mentioned earlier, breaking the legs of a crucified person would cause suffocation within minutes, because they would not be able to raise themselves up to breath.
But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. - John 19:33-34
Again, this was typical crucifixion practice — to stab the victim to make sure he was dead before releasing him to relatives.

The water that John describes as flowing is probably serous pleural and pericardial fluid — fluid that would build up from shock and blood loss. This fluid would tend to accumulate in the chest cavity and lungs.

Short bits
A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus lips. - John 19:29
The second drink, which He accepts moments before His death, is described as a wine vinegar. Two points are important to note. The drink was given on the stalk of a hyssop plant." Remember that these events occurred at the Feast of the Passover. During this feast, (Exod 12:22) hyssop was used to apply the blood of the Passover lamb to the wooden doorposts of the Jews.
________________________________________

Acknowledgement

Robert Gidley. "The facts of crucifixion." The Cross Reading (Lent, 2000).

The Cross Reading, is a quarterly publication of Holy Cross (Episcopal) Church in Redmond, Washington.

This article is reprinted with permission from the author. You may reprint this article as long as you don't charge people for it, and you send a copy to robert@robertgidley.com.

The Author

Robert Gidley belongs to All Saints Episcopal Church in Redmond, Washington, where he also works as a Technical Writer. He has four computers, two cats, and one wife.

Copyright © 2000 Robert Gidley

Palm Sunday | 2016

Jesus entering Jerusalem
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on an ass's colt!"
— John 12:13-15
Almighty ever-living God, who as an example of humility for the human race to follow caused our Savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross, graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering and so merit a share in his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Homily for Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016, Year C

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. 
(Click here for today’s readings)

Once again the Book of Life is opened and the Liturgy calls us to recognize ourselves and recognize our God. Once again the Church places the Passion of our Lord before our eyes. In it we can see ourselves and see God’s only begotten Son in our humanity, this time in man’s inhumanity toward man. The same roles are there; the same actors, the same forces at work in our world just as they were in the year 33A.D.

First there are the indifferent, the easy-going, those who simply drift uncaring through life, those who give consent to the Passion by silence. There are millions and millions in this majority. They wash their hands of the whole thing. They never budge as long as the blows of life fall on the backs of others. They have no opinions to voice, no stand to take. They simply let events take their course. These silent ones let the sufferings and the crucifixions of God’s sons and daughters continue unchecked.

Then there are the escapists — those who cop out. They are the people who, when things get rough, say with Peter: “I do not know the man.” Over and over again, when suffering is immanent and even obvious, they deny knowledge and will have nothing to do with the crucified.

And look, too, at the executioners. They are always the same. With their wit and with their sarcastic and cutting tongues they cut to ribbons the reputation and the very living flesh of others. Also there are the ones who take the work of another’s brain and publish it as their own, crowning the brains of others in thorns and mental anguish.

In the mob we also find the hit and runner, the cowardly little man with his hidden and vicious bomb — the one who slaps the face of Christ, spits on Him, and then runs away yelping. They are in the same class as the functionary of the Temple with his rules and regulations designed to keep everything status quo and imprisoned.

To hell with Christ they all cry out. Damn His compassion, His mercy, and His call to change and convert our violent ways. “We have a law — and by it he must die,” they cry.

Finally there is the Son of Man — the infinitely patient victim who looks up with loving and sorrow-filled eyes and shames His persecutors. He exists now in a new body. He confronts us in His corporate body, in His Mystical Body — in the good people around the world who are suffering, in hundreds of thousands of truly disabled along with those who are on welfare and relief programs, in migrant workers, in the spit-upon and whipped little people, in the elderly who are sold into poverty for thirty­ pieces of silver and who now live in dirty little old folks homes with little food and cock-roaches crawling around their rooms.

We feel uncomfortable, don’t we? Christ didn’t live long ago and suffer long ago in some remote and distant land. He’s here among us. His passion goes on as we speak! In the homeless street people He is shuffling aimlessly down a litter-strewn street in our big cities, talking to Himself, while suffering the institutional violence that wants to get rid of Him. He is in agony among us, living in all of those who silently suffer our institutional violence in order that others might have thirty pieces of silver.

The drama of Palm Sunday occurred not only 2,000 years ago, it is occurring in our time, in our day, in our world right now, a reality that the Church puts in front of us during this Holy Week.

March 19, 2016

Prayer for Palm Sunday and Holy Week

Dominican cross

[This prayer may be recited individually or as a family before an image of Christ crucified on Palm Sunday and throughout Holy Week. It is taken from the words of Pope Pius XII On the Sacred Liturgy.]

Dearly beloved, in Holy Week, when the most bitter sufferings of Jesus Christ are put before us by the liturgy, the Church invites us to come to Calvary and follow in the blood-stained footsteps of the Divine Redeemer, to carry the Cross willingly with Him, to reproduce in our hearts His spirit of expiation and atonement, and to die together with Him.

V/ We ought to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

R/ in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection.

V/ Let us pray.

All-powerful, eternal God, You have chosen to give mankind a model of humility; our Savior took on our flesh, and subjected Himself to the Cross. Grant us the grace to preserve faithfully the lessons

He has given us in his Passion and to have a share in His Resurrection. This we ask of You through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.

R/ Amen.

Favour this dwelling, Lord, with Your presence. Far from it repulse all the wiles of Satan. Your holy angels, let them live here, to keep us in peace. And may your blessing remain always upon us. This we ask of You through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.

V/ Let us bless the Lord.

R/ Thanks be to God.

V/ May the almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless and keep us.

R/ Amen.

March 18, 2016

March 19th: Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary & Guardian of Our Lord

St. Joseph
Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster-father of Jesus, was probably born in Bethlehem and probably died in Nazareth. His important mission in God's plan of salvation was "to legally insert Jesus Christ into the line of David from whom, according to the prophets, the Messiah would be born, and to act as his father and guardian" (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy). Most of our information about St. Joseph comes from the opening chapters of Matthew's Gospel. No words of his are recorded in Sacred Scripture.

Devotion to St. Joseph in the early Church was nonexistent. It was the will of God that the Virgin Birth of Our Lord be first firmly impressed upon the minds of the faithful. St. Joseph was later venerated by the saints of the Middle Ages. Pius IX declared him patron and protector of the universal Church in 1870. (Video below.)

Adapted excerpt from Catholic Culture.org and the Catholic Encyclopedia.

The Life of St. Joseph

St. Joseph was an ordinary manual laborer although descended from the royal house of David. In the designs of Providence he was destined to become the spouse of the Mother of God. His high privilege is expressed in a single phrase, "Foster-father of Jesus." About him Sacred Scripture has little more to say than that he was a just man-an expression which indicates how faithfully he fulfilled his high trust of protecting and guarding God's greatest treasures upon earth, Jesus and Mary.

The darkest hours of his life may well have been those when he first learned of Mary's pregnancy; but precisely in this time of trial Joseph showed himself great. His suffering, which likewise formed a part of the work of the redemption, was not without great providential import: Joseph was to be, for all times, the trustworthy witness of the Messiah's virgin birth. After this, he modestly retires into the background of holy Scripture.

Of St. Joseph's death the Bible tells us nothing. There are indications, however, that he died before the beginning of Christ's public life. His was the most beautiful death that one could have, in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Humbly and unknown, he passed his years at Nazareth, silent and almost forgotten he remained in the background through centuries of Church history. Only in more recent times has he been accorded greater honor. Liturgical veneration of St. Joseph began in the fifteenth century, fostered by Sts. Brigid of Sweden and Bernadine of Siena. St. Teresa did much to further devotion to him as well.

At present there are two major feasts in his honor. On March 19 our veneration is directed to him personally and to his part in the work of redemption, while on May 1 we honor him as the patron of workmen throughout the world and as our guide in the difficult matter of establishing equitable norms regarding obligations and rights in the social order.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

St. Joseph is the patron of the Universal Church. He is the patron of the dying because Jesus and Mary were at his death-bed. He is also the patron of fathers, carpenters and social justice. Many religious orders and communities are placed under his patronage.

In addition to the following:

Patron: Against doubt; against hesitation; Americas; Austria; Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; California; Belgium; Bohemia; bursars; cabinetmakers; Canada; Carinthia; carpenters; China; confectioners; craftsmen; Croatian people (in 1687 by decree of the Croatian parliament) dying people; emigrants; engineers; expectant mothers; families; fathers; Florence, Italy; happy death; holy death; house hunters; immigrants; interior souls; Korea; laborers; Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin; Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky; Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire; Mexico; Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee; New France; New World; Oblates of Saint Joseph; people in doubt; people who fight Communism; Peru; pioneers; protection of the Church; Diocese of San Jose, California; diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; social justice; Styria, Austria; travelers; Turin Italy; Tyrol Austria; unborn children; Vatican II; Vietnam; Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston West Virginia; wheelwrights; workers; working people.

Symbols: Bible; branch; carpenter's square; carpenter's tools; chalice; cross; hand tools; infant Jesus; ladder; lamb; lily; monstrance; old man holding a lily and a carpenter's tool such as a square; old man holding the infant Jesus; plane; rod.

Collect Prayer

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that by Saint Joseph's intercession your Church may constantly watch over the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation, whose beginnings you entrusted to his faithful care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


     

Plenary Indulgences Obtainable During the Easter Triduum

Dominican cross

There are several plenary indulgences that may be obtained during the Easter Triduum — from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. An indulgence may be either partial or plenary. It is partial if it removes part of the temporal punishment due to sin, or plenary if it removes all punishment. A plenary indulgence may only be obtained once per day. The following prayers/professions will merit a plenary indulgence — provided the conditions for a plenary indulgence are met. (See below.)

Plenary Indulgence Opportunities During the Easter Triduum

◗ Every Friday of Lent: Recitation of O Good and Sweetest Jesus after reception of the Eucharist before an image of the crucified Christ.

◗ Holy Thursday: Praying the Tantum Ergo after the Mass of the Last Supper.

◗ Good Friday: Participating in the Veneration of the Cross.

◗ Holy Saturday: Renewing your baptismal vows at the Easter Vigil Mass (renewing your baptismal vows on the anniversary of your baptism may also earn a plenary indulgence). Attending any Mass of First Communion (Easter Vigil Mass is a First Communion Mass) may likewise earn a plenary indulgence.

◗ Stations of the Cross: This always merits a plenary indulgence, no matter the season. It must be performed before 14 stations, lawfully erected, with devout meditation on the Passion of Our Lord and movement from one station to the next. If the crowd is large, the leader at least must move from cross to cross.

Requirements for Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence

◗ Perform/recite the prescribed work or prayer.

◗ Worthily receive Communion. (Preferably, the day of the work or prayer.)

◗ Say one "Our Father" and the "Apostles Creed".

◗ Say one "Our Father" and one "Hail Mary" for the Holy Father’s intentions (the intentions designated by the Holy Father each month).

◗ Make a sacramental confession within 20 days.

◗ For a plenary indulgence, one must be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin (or the indulgence is partial, not plenary).

For more on the Church's teachings on indulgences, read the Enchiridion of Indulgences promulgated by the 1968 Decree of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary. Also see The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Indulgences, Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 4, Subsection 10.