Sunday, April 20, 2014

Urbi et Orbi Easter 2014


Easter 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, a Happy and Holy Easter!

The Church throughout the world echoes the angel’s message to the women: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay” (Mt 28:5-6).

This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.

That is why we tell everyone: “Come and see!” In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… “Come and see!”: Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.

"Christ is risen from the dead!"

As per long-standing Καθολικός διάκονος tradition on Easter Sunday morning, Keith Green's timeless classic "He Is Risen."

This reality changes everything!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Christos anesti!

The Resurrection of Christ (detail), Jacopo Tintoretto, 1579-1581
Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you (Matt 28:5-7)

The Triduum Continues: Holy Saturday

It is a beginning without parallel, as if Life were arising from Death, as if weariness (already such weariness as no amount of sleep could ever dispel) and the uttermost decay of power were melting at creation’s outer edge, were beginning to flow, because flowing is perhaps a sign and a likeness of weariness which can no longer contain itself, because everything that is strong and solid must in the end dissolve into water. But hadn’t it - in the beginning - also been born from water? And is this wellspring in the chaos, this trickling weariness, not the beginning of a new creation?

The magic of Holy Saturday.

The chaotic fountain remains directionless. Could this be the residue of the Son’s love which, poured out to the last when every vessel cracked and the old world perished, is now making a path for itself to the Father through the glooms of nought?

Or, in spite of it all, is this love trickling on in impotence, unconsciously, laboriously, towards a new creation that does not yet even exist, a creation which is still to be lifted up and given shape? Is it a protoplasm producing itself in the beginning, the first seed of the New Heaven and the New Earth?- Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Friday, April 18, 2014

Divine Mercy Novena: Day One

"On Good Friday, 1937, Jesus requested that [St.] Faustina make a special novena before the Feast of [Divine] Mercy, from Good Friday through the following Saturday. [Jesus] dictated the intentions for each day. By means of a specific prayer she was to bring to His Heart a different group of souls each day and thus immerse them in the ocean of His mercy, begging the Father - on the strength of Jesus' Passion - for graces for them."

Because the Lord commanded St. Faustina to write down the specific prayer intentions for each of the nine days of the novena, it seems that His intention was for others to pray the Divine Mercy novena as well.

Today, then, is the first day of the Divine Mercy novena. "It is greatly recommended that the" novena prayer intention for each day "be said together with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, since Our Lord specifically asked for a novena of Chaplets, especially before the Feast of [Divine] Mercy." For those who do not know, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is prayed on normal rosary beads. You can click on either of the two links to see in what prayers the Chaplet is made up.

Day 1: "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 my bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges me."

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
For the intentions of and prayers for the remaining 8 days, please go here.

Lumen Christi

This morning I kept to my schedule for reading the entire Bible in a year. I finished the Book of Ezra. In the ninth chapter, Ezra becomes keenly aware of how unfaithful Israel has been to God by intermarrying against God's explicit command prohibiting this. It seems that God's reason for this prohibition was to keep Israel from worshiping idols and false gods. Given that today is Good Friday, I was struck by Ezra's penitential prayer, which I will make mine today:
My God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to raise my face to you, my God, for our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads and our guilt reaches up to heaven (Ezra 9:6)
Like Israel of old, who returned to the Promised Land from exile, "mercy came to us from the LORD, our God" (Ezra 9:8).

Jesus Christ is Divine Mercy. He came to deliver us from the land of our exile, from our alienation and estrangement from God, from our shame and guilt, not because we deserve it, but because God loves us that much. "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:17). Nonetheless, "the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil" (John 3:19). We can condemn ourselves by our lukewarmness or by our outright refusal of God's love and mercy. Choose this day to end your exile, your estrangement, from God, who longs for you to address Him as "Abba, father." As St Paul wrote:
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him (Rom 8:15-18)

The Triduum Continues: Good Friday

The Crucifixion, Bartolomé Estebán Murillo, ca. 1675

"He mounted the Cross to free us from the fascination with nothingness, to free us from the fascination with appearances, with the ephemeral."- Msgr. Luigi Giussani

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Triduum Begins: Holy Thursday

So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over;...

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Birthday greetings to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Today is His Holiness, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's 87th birthday. I am so grateful for the life, witness, and papacy of this humble worker in the Lord's vineyard.

I was born on Holy Saturday, 16 April 1927, in Marktl am Inn. The fact that my day of birth was the last day of Holy Week and the eve of Easter has always been noted in our family history. This was connected with the fact that I was baptized immediately on the morning of the day I was born with the water that had just been blessed. (At that time the solemn Easter Vigil was celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday). To be the first person baptized with the new water was seen as a significant act of Providence. I have always been filled with thanksgiving for having had my life immersed in this way in the Easter mystery, since this could only be a sign of blessing (Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, 8)
Ever since I first read Pope Benedict's autobiography, I have loved this passage. I was baptized at the Easter Vigil in 1990. But no matter on what day you were baptized, your life, too, is to be immersed in the Paschal Mystery of Christ's death and resurrection.

I take great comfort knowing that Pope Emeritus Benedict spends most of his days praying. God's ear is particularly attuned to the prayers of His righteous ones. I would be remiss not to draw attention to Artur Rosman's recognition that the most recent Benedictine papacy was more radical than the Franciscan one so far: "What Do We Make of a Disturbingly Radical Papacy?"

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"This traitor is loved"

One of the most difficult things for me is learning to look at myself with the same tenderness with which Jesus looks at me. I just started Fr Paul Donoghue's book The Jesus Advantage: A New Approach to a Fuller Life. Just now I read this:
Jesus asserts that we are to love God with the entirety of our being - mind, heart, soul. The touchstone for the truth of our love for God is the love of our neighbor. 'You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.' But there's the rub. We don't really love ourselves. If the criterion of how we love our neighbors is the love we have for ourselves, our neighbor may be in trouble

Writing from my own, often painful experience (most of the pain self-inflicted), I would add that it is only the love God gives me in and through Christ by the power of their Holy Spirit, the kind of love Andy Freeman described Jesus having for Judas in Episode 28 of 24-7 Prayer's Anagnorisis series, that allows me to love myself. Hence, I can love because I am loved.

Speaking of God's love, no sooner had I posted this than I began to think about that ol' Ragamuffin, Brennan Manning. My thought was prompted by the profile picture of one of my Facebook friends that looked like Brennan. It turned out to be a photo of René Girard. I thought what a fitting time to think of Brennan Manning! Then it dawned on me that he died exactly one year ago this very day, 12 April 2013.

In his book Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging, Brennan wrote: "Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion." Please remember this week that Jesus did it all for love of you.