Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter "Gift From on High"

The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.

Introductory Prayer: I come before you, Lord, poor and unworthy. Yet you welcome me with such love. With my effort during this meditation I want to make a small return on your great kindness.

Petition: Help me to cooperate with your greatest gift, the Holy Spirit.

1. No Rationing: Jesus does not ration the gift of the Spirit. By and through the Holy Spirit, Christ lifts our whole life to another plane. The Lord’s generosity is amazing. Think of the Eucharist. Every time we receive the Lord, he leaves in our soul a renewal and deepening of the Holy Spirit’s presence. With every communion we are preparing our bodies and souls for the immortality of the Resurrection. Of course, such a gift invites a response. In the face of such generosity, how can we be stingy in return?

2. A Gift of Unity: The gift of the Spirit is vital for our human relationships. Jesus’ ardent prayer at the Last Supper was for the unity of his disciples: “that they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you” (John 17:21). For a unity like that, the Holy Spirit is absolutely indispensable. The gift of the Spirit, in order to be effective, provides the antidote for all our tendencies to disunity. The Spirit combats our pride and egotism by reminding us of Christ’s humility. He stirs up the realization that we have to live in charity and provides us with the strength to give without counting the cost. He enables us to persevere in unity.

3. A Personal Gift: The depths of our hearts is where we ultimately experience this gift of the Spirit. But at times we feel more like a dry well than a spring of water welling up to eternal life (cf. John 4:14). The Holy Spirit is at work — in abundance — no less in the moments of dryness than in the moments of consolation. He seeks to purify us of the petty attachments that hold us back. He directs us to seek God for his own sake and not to turn to him only as a divine dispenser of spiritual candy. But still, we should await the moment of consolation with the hope-filled knowledge that the Lord is near. When we experience this consolation, we will experience confirmation that the Lord’s gift of the Spirit is unlike any other!

Conversation with Christ: Lord, the Holy Spirit is the soul of Church. He is the gift you have given us with such generosity. Help us to live more in accord with this truth. Help us to be obedient when we are tempted to pride. Help us to love when we are tempted to reject. May your Holy Spirit constantly reinforce the bond that holds us together.

Resolution: I will foster charity by paying special attention to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Feast of Saint Mark, evangelist "Our Turn"


And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for taking the time to be with me. There are things in life, Lord, that attract me, but you attract me more. I hope in you because you are always faithful to your promises. Maybe I don’t fully understand what it means to love, and maybe I don’t love the way I should, but I do love you.

Petition: Lord, help me to focus on what I can do to tell others of your love.

1. Christ: When Christ blesses, it happens. When he takes yeast and kneads it with three measures of flour, it leavens the dough all through. When he blesses the bread, it multiplies. When he blesses the Eucharist, he is there for us. Christ blesses his apostles. These are not just events of the past, for God’s word is a living word. He also wants to bless me and my work. How can I draw down Christ’s blessing upon me, my family, the people I love, and the work I do? All I have to do is ask him to bless me and believe that he can and wants to. He will take care of the rest.

2. Apostles: Imagine the apostles talking after the Ascension. Andrew might say  to Peter, “Peter, Christ told us to preach to all nations.” “You are right, Andrew, we need to go to the next town,” Peter would agree. “No,” would urge Andrew, “we have to go to Athens and Rome.” Peter might object, “Athens and Rome! But we don’t know anyone there.” In an attempt to persuade him Andrew would add, “Peter, Jesus wanted us to begin here in Jerusalem because this is the largest Jewish city. However, he has shown that he has also called the Gentiles to the Church. We must go to their capitals, their cities of greatest influence so that they too might hear the message Jesus entrusted to us.” Despite their fears, they obeyed Christ and proclaimed the good news in new places.

3. Us: Now it is our turn. As it always has been, being an apostle today is difficult. As we get older, it gets harder. Nevertheless, it is our turn. We live at a crossroads of history. I know Christ is blessing me. He is sending me. I feel fear, but I know he is asking me to imitate the fidelity of the first apostles. He is only waiting for me to begin preaching so that he can bless all that I undertake in his name.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for coming. Thank you for giving the apostles the strength to resist and persevere. Now it is my turn. Grant me the graces I need to proclaim the good news.

Resolution: I live life but once. So today I will analyze how I use my time and resolve to eliminate one of the bad habits that leads me to waste time.


Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter "Children of the Light"


For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know my needs better than I do. I turn to your Spirit to teach me what to ask for in this prayer. I want to fulfill your holy will over my life. I love you, Lord, and I place all my hope in you.

Petition: Lord, increase my faith in the power of the Resurrection.

1. God Loves the World: The tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean countries in 2004 and the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 provoked many people to question God’s goodness. How could he, if he is good, have permitted such a catastrophe? But what does our faith teach us? That God loves the world, so much that he sent his only Son. Evil in the world is real and present, and such massive casualties show that nature herself cooperates with the power of death. But that power is being broken. The first decisive blow to the chain that binds the world was Christ’s death on the cross. The execution of Our Lord was the greatest act of moral evil history can ever see, but through God’s power, it has become the source of eternal life for us all, as we now celebrate in this Easter season. Through the power of the Resurrection, we are journeying towards the ultimate defeat of suffering and death.

2. Sin Is the Worst Evil: The physical evil brought by a natural disaster is terrible. But sin is worse. This Gospel reading reminds us of souls who consciously choose evil. The irony is that people make this choice pursuing some form of self-fulfillment. Instead of fulfillment, they encounter the emptiness of a life that carries with it the burden of self-imposed condemnation. They live in darkness as opposed to the light. If we knew someone who freely chose to live in a darkened cave, we would think that person nothing short of insane. But where are the dark patches in our own lives?

3. Christ Leads Us Towards the Light: Christ’s body had been physically destroyed through the evil decisions and cruelty of men. When the risen Lord appeared to the apostles in the Upper Room, his new life of glory pointed in a new direction, and they were flooded with the vision of where we are heading. Through our life in the Church, we are heading to a renewal of all things in Christ, in which death will be no more, and where every tear will be wiped away. The physical evil of natural disasters and the moral evil of sin may try to challenge our faith. But they are the last gasps of a defeated enemy. Let us take heart! We are headed to the light, where Christ is King and Lord of all.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I long to live in the light. Banish from my soul all darkness of sin or disbelief. At times I struggle to see the pattern of your divine plan. But through my faith, I know that you are love and mercy and you are guiding us towards the light that will never end.

Resolution: I will renew my spiritual vision of the world by frequently lifting my mind up to God during the day.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor of the Church "Born of the Spirit"

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus answered and said to him, “How can this happen?” Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know my needs better than I do. I turn to your Spirit to teach me what to ask for in this prayer. I want to fulfill your holy will over my life. I love you, Lord, and I place all my hope in you.

Petition: Lord, increase my faith!

1. You Are the Teacher of Israel: Nicodemus was one of the leading teachers, yet here he tries to make a quiet request for information from Jesus. As a religious teacher he was well versed in the rules and regulations, but there was still a gap in his knowledge. He didn’t know about the Holy Spirit and the new existence that we receive by being born of “water and the spirit.” In a way, he can’t be blamed, since Jesus had not yet revealed it, but it just goes to show us how fundamental spiritual knowledge is in order to be a credible spiritual leader. As committed Catholics, we need to lead others to deeper faith. But will we do so to the degree that we know the faith and are living it in our hearts?

2. Being Born of the Spirit: Are we practical materialists? At times we become so enmeshed in the reality of daily life that we don’t give the slightest thought to the spiritual world, which is infinitely greater than the material one that consumes all our attention. Through our baptism, we are marked out for heavenly things. We bear on our soul the indelible mark that proclaims to the universe that we are children of God. Every time we take a spiritual breath, and glance heavenwards, we renew that birth in the Spirit through which the Lord claimed us as his own. Let us never spend more than a minute as practical materialists!

3. Giving Testimony: Jesus speaks here about giving testimony. He wants us to be his witnesses as well. He wants us to continue to proclaim to the world the reality of the “heavenly things” that he revealed. Possibly the greatest testimony we can give is the happiness and charity of our lives. Joyful, charitable Catholics carry in their very demeanor the sign that their faith is authentic. Before you get angry, upset, or critical, ask yourself, “Is this the testimony of a life filled with the Holy Spirit?”

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit in my life. At times, I don’t always live in accord with the great blessing you have given me, but I know that your patience and mercy always give me another chance. Help me to love others and give them a glimpse of heaven through my charity.

Resolution: In my conversation today, I will try to say something that will plant a spiritual seed in others.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Monday of the Second Week of Easter "Eyes of Faith"

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother´s womb and be born again, can he?" Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ´You must be born from above.´ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know my needs better than I do. I turn to your Spirit to teach me what to ask for in this prayer. I want to fulfill your holy will over my life. I love you, Lord and I place all my hope in you.

Petition: Lord, increase my sensitivity to your Spirit.

1. Human Eyes: What do the eyes of our head see? They see the work of God in creation telling us that he loves us. They see creatures as a means to know and respond to our loving Creator. Our eyes see opportunities to exercise the love that we learn from this Creator. They see the mystery of Christ’s love in the Eucharist. They see around us the work of the Spirit in the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. The eyes are the apparatus of faith and serve us well on our way to the everlasting Kingdom. Is this the case for my own eyes?

2. Eyes of the Heart: If the things that flow from the heart can defile a man, so too the things that flow from the heart can sanctify a man. The eyes are also the apparatus of the heart. The eyes will focus on what the heart treasures. Christ stated it so clearly: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in your eye is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22).

3. Eyes of the Soul: “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, speaks to our souls without the noise of words. The eyes of the soul, guided by the same Spirit, help us to see -- to relish what is right and always rejoice in his consolation. In this Easter season, the Spirit begins to stir, and the Church begins to chant more fervently: “Veni Sancti Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit!” As members of this Mystical Body it is a compelling duty and a delightful right for us to join in this prayer.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, you promised to send your Holy Spirit upon your Church, and you prepared the disciples on multiple occasions to make themselves ready. Just as the Israelites quickly made ready for the Passover as people prepped for a journey, guide me to be prepared to journey with your Spirit.

Resolution: I will invoke the Holy Spirit in short prayers at three different times today.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Continued from the April 27th, Divine Mercy bulletin article



From the homily of Pope Saint John Paul II at the Canonization of St Mary Faustina Kowalska on Sunday, April 30, 2000 
"Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever" (Ps 118: 1). So the Church sings on the Octave of Easter, as if receiving from Christ's lips these words of the Psalm; from the lips of the risen Christ, who bears the great message of divine mercy and entrusts its ministry to the Apostles in the Upper Room:  "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.... Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20: 21-23).


Before speaking these words, Jesus shows his hands and his side. He points, that is, to the wounds of the Passion, especially the wound in his heart, the source from which flows the great wave of mercy poured out on humanity. From that heart Sr Faustina Kowalska, the blessed whom from now on we will call a saint, will see two rays of light shining from that heart and illuminating the world:  "The two rays", Jesus himself explained to her one day, "represent blood and water" (Diary, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, p. 132).



Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the heart of Christ crucified:  "My daughter, say that I am love and mercy personified", Jesus will ask Sr Faustina (Diary, p. 374). Christ pours out this mercy on humanity though the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love. And is not mercy love's "second name" (cf. Dives in misericordia, n. 7), understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for forgiveness?



Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time. By divine Providence, the life of this humble daughter of Poland was completely linked with the history of the 20th century, the century we have just left behind. In fact, it was between the First and Second World Wars that Christ entrusted his message of mercy to her. Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people, know well how necessary was the message of mercy.



Jesus told Sr Faustina:  "Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy" (Diary, p. 132). Through the work of the Polish religious, this message has become linked for ever to the 20th century, the last of the second millennium and the bridge to the third. It is not a new message but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel of Easter more intensely, to offer it as a ray of light to the men and women of our time.

What the Future Has for Us



What will the years ahead bring us? What will man's future on earth be like? We are not given to know. However, it is certain that in addition to new progress there will unfortunately be no lack of painful experiences. But the light of divine mercy, which the Lord in a way wished to return to the world through Sr Faustina's charism, will illumine the way for the men and women of the third millennium.

However, as the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen Christ, who shows the wounds of his Crucifixion and repeats:  Peace be with you! Humanity must let itself be touched and pervaded by the Spirit given to it by the risen Christ. It is the Spirit who heals the wounds of the heart, pulls down the barriers that separate us from God and divide us from one another, and at the same time, restores the joy of the Father's love and of fraternal unity.



It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this SecondSunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called "Divine Mercy Sunday". In the various readings, the liturgy seems to indicate the path of mercy which, while re-establishing the relationship of each person with God, also creates new relations of fraternal solidarity among human beings. Christ has taught us that "man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called "to practise mercy' towards others:  "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy' (Mt 5: 7)" (Dives et misericordia, n. 14). He also showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs. Jesus bent over every kind of human poverty, material and spiritual.



His message of mercy continues to reach us through his hands held out to suffering man. This is how Sr Faustina saw him and proclaimed him to people on all the continents when, hidden in her convent at £agiewniki in Krak√≥w, she made her life a hymn to mercy:  Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo.

Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday "The Limit of Evil"

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in your grace and your love for me.  This is why I come before you now. I know that through this meditation I can experience your love and be filled with your grace, so that I might fulfill my role in your plan of salvation. You know that I am weak and am sometimes tempted to lose heart. But I know I can count on your generous graces to bolster my courage and love. For my part, I will strive to spend this time with you well.

Petition: Jesus Christ, let me know your heart.

1. Touch His Heart: In this passage, Christ puts himself within touching distance of Thomas’ finger and hand. He invites this apostle, struggling with doubt, to reach into his side and come into contact with that Sacred Heart, filled to the brim with mercy. Not only could there no longer be any doubt about the Savior’s resurrected body, there also could no longer be any doubt about his mercy which he promised in the forgiveness of sins. With Thomas, then, let us come within touching distance of this heart of Christ and peer through his open side to see the heart that so loves all souls.

2. Allowing Him Touch My Heart: Not only do we want to touch Christ’s heart, we also want to invite the Lord to touch our hearts. Just like the lepers who presented their disfigured flesh for Christ to touch and cure, so we present our disfigured souls, asking him to touch and to cure. Saint Faustina would say that all that is necessary is for us to leave the door of our heart ajar and God will do the rest. Let us present to his “sacred finger” what in us needs to be touched by his grace, especially through the sacrament of reconciliation.

3. Thirsting for All Hearts: In Christ, the greatest thirsting love is too often met by the most outrageous ingratitude and affront on the part of souls. The Sacred Heart made mention of this in the pangs of his heart voiced to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. He explained to her that his sharpest pain was due to people’s ingratitude. Let us endeavor to bring his thirsting heart into contact with souls, though our prayers, sacrifices and apostolic efforts.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for the example of love and mercy you give us through your appearance to the disciples and your kindness to St. Thomas. May my heart always be full of gratitude and remain close to your loving, merciful touch.

Resolution: I will pray that someone I know may experience God’s mercy in the sacrament of confession. If possible, I will help someone directly to make this happen.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Saturday in the Octave of Easter "The World Awaits Our Witness"


When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either. But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you in heaven forever. I need to dwell more often on the good you have done for us and on your promises to those who put their trust in you. Thank you, Jesus for taking up your life again and leading the way home to heaven. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. I want to cooperate more fully with you in bringing many others to heaven with me.

Petition: Lord, grant me the grace of a profound apostolic zeal.

1A Saint Who Is Sad Is a Sad Saint: “When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.” From these lines of scripture we can see the power our emotions can exercise over our faith. Melancholy can affect our trust. Perhaps we have been hurt by others and our sorrows are as real as those of the disciples. But let us not get accustomed to our tears; rather, with the courage and help of Our Lord, let us put aside past resentments and pain. After all, if his love is enough to convert our hearts, what grounds do we have to think that it is not powerful enough to convert the hearts and lives of those who hurt us? Humanity will not be converted by the distressed. We should be willing to give the world a joyful witness to the Resurrection, for the source of our joy is in the Lord, not in the hands of our adversaries.

2. Rebuked for Unbelief and Hardness of Heart: We may be a bit scandalized at Our Lord’s apparent lack of understanding and sympathy towards his disciples who were mourning his tragic loss. Sometimes though, a good shaking-up is required to slough off a melancholic spirit and to switch us from an inordinate self-love and self-pity to a concern for others. In moments when we begin to despair and feel suffocated by our sufferings, St. Paul reminds us to have hope: “I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38). We must never allow anything to rob us of our trust in Christ. He is faithful to his promises.

3. We Are to Be Witnesses to His Love: Despite their unbelief, Our Lord did not retract his gift of redemption or lessen our responsibility for the mission. “It is not to a dull everyday routine that we return.… We need to imitate the zeal of the Apostle Paul: ‘Straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14)’”(John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 59). Our encounter of faith with the Risen Lord cannot be kept solely for the private sphere of our life. Rather, it needs to draw us to be zealous in proclaiming him to others. The sense of Christ’s command—“Go into the whole world”—is to proclaim him to as many others as possible.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I have taken away from this meditation the lesson that it is time for me to wake from my slumber to fulfill your words. I must “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” Help me to realize that my past sinfulness and disbelief do not excuse me from this mission.

Resolution: The next time I find a person struggling or in turmoil, I will offer to pray with them—or at least for them if they decline. 


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Friday in the Octave of Easter "Fire of Mercy, Fire of Love"

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathaniel from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee´s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We also will come with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No." So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast." And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you forever in heaven. I need to dwell more often on the good you have done for us and on your promises to those who put their trust in you. Thank you, Jesus, for taking up your life again and leading the way home to heaven. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. I want to cooperate more fully with you in bringing many others there with me.

Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to seek your mercy and offer it to others.

1. I Am Going Fishing: In a meditation earlier this week we saw how the two apostles, Peter and John, entered into the tomb. Scripture notes that John believed, yet it is silent on the subject of Peter’s faith (cf. John 20:8). Peter had to resolve something in his life before his faith would completely commit him to Our Lord. Peter is mulling in his heart over his past infidelities. When men feel uncomfortable in situations, they tend to seek out familiar, daily securities that can restore their self-confidence and worth. For Peter, that security was fishing, and so he goes, inviting along the other apostles who had also abandoned Our Lord in his passion. Perhaps their own discomfort is why they so readily joined Peter…. Do I have the interior wherewithal to turn back to Our Lord when I have offended him? Do I have a spirit of reflection, humility and courage?

2. True Friends Bring Us Back to Our Lord: Perhaps John entered the boat with different intentions than did Peter and the rest of the disciples. Perhaps this fishing trip reminded him of the previous trip that brought Peter to repent and declare, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (cf. Luke 5:1-11). Acting on this inspiration, John may have entered the boat to stay close to Peter until an opportunity of reconciliation would arise. The opportunity came suddenly when John shouted out, "It is the Lord." John did not abandon Peter. Neither are we to abandon each other. We all have “baggage” in our lives. It’s comforting to have a friend who brings us back to the Lord. We also need to know how to approach others with humility and understanding to bring them back to the Lord. Am I friends to others like John was a friend to Peter?

3. From the Fire of Betrayal to the Fire of Mercy: As Peter arrived on shore he saw the charcoal fire. How it must have rekindled his sorrow of the night before Our Lord’s passion when, as he warmed himself by a fire, he denied Jesus by saying, “I don’t even know the man” (Matthew 26:72-74). How he must have wished he had said other words, like when he declared, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Peter’s history, like ours, wasn’t always written with constant fidelity. But Our Lord invites all to the rich banquet of his mercy: "Come, have breakfast." Our Lord returns kindness for evil, leaving us with a real and eloquent illustration of the Beatitudes (cf. Luke 6:27-38). The disciples didn’t need to ask him, "Who are you?” Three years of seeing Jesus forgive sins and cure the sick helped them to know Jesus as the Merciful One. Do I know him by that name?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, may I always understand that your act of redemption doesn’t end just with the forgiveness of my sins. It ends with my heart changed and willing to forgive and even to serve those who have wronged me. Allow me to spread your charism of love everywhere.

Resolution: I will do a significant but hidden act of charity to someone whom I find difficult to be with, perhaps even someone I consider to be my enemy.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thursday in the Octave of Easter "You Are Witnesses of These Things"

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, it is really I. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you in heaven forever. I need to reflect more often on the good you have done for us and on your promises to those who put their trust in you. Thank you, Jesus, for taking up your life again and leading the way home to heaven. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. I want to cooperate more fully with you in bringing many others to heaven with me.

Petition: Lord Jesus, bring me your Easter peace. Let me share in your victory over sin and death. May I live for you alone.

1. The Disciples’ Mixed and Changing Reaction to the Resurrection: The Gospel narratives manifest the disciples’ volatile situation. They want to believe, but lack confidence. They experience the sincere joy of seeing Christ resurrected, but have not completely overcome their cautious disbelief. The two from Emmaus recount their encounter, and Christ himself appears to them. Yet even when he is right there in front of them, they are slow to believe. Our Lord’s patient, accepting attitude is encouraging. He did not come for a meal, but takes a piece of fish to help them believe. We all have our moments of light and generosity, and our moments of sluggishness and inner resistance. I want to believe, but because it implies letting go of my false securities, I need detachment and purification. Christ aids my weakness by his nearness and closeness.

2. It Is I Myself: Christ is not a ghost. He is not a figment of my imagination, nor the result of my wishful thinking––something too good to be true. Christ is more real than my fears; his grace is stronger than my weakness, more powerful than sin and death itself. As the disciples have mixed reactions to his presence, he invites them to get a grip on themselves and reflect in faith. Reflection and contemplation in faith always lead to the truth of Christ. Am I living in an illusory world of my own making because I’m not reflecting in faith on the realities and experiences of my life? All I need to do is overcome my incredulity with faith and trust in the Christ. 

3. Thus It Was Written: The Cross was not a mistake. Christ does not see it as a necessary evil. Rather, “it was written”. In other words, it could not have been any other way. Without the Cross, no resurrection. Without the Resurrection, no experience of the fullness of life, no hope for things to come. My life too has its own experience of Christ’s cross. What for me might be an unexpected twist, an obstacle or a problem, is for the Lord a means of purifying my heart, and bringing me to the Resurrection.

Conversation with Christ: At times Lord, I fear I am seeing a ghost, just like the disciples. Your plan and will are so far beyond me that at times I have difficulty distinguishing my own wishful thinking or false hopes from your will and your call. Help me to find in you the only source of my hopes, and the One who will never fail me.

Resolution: Today I will speak of Christ’s resurrection and the hope which it brings us.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter "Unexpected Company and Personal Reassessments"

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?" And he replied to them, "What sort of things?" They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see." And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?" So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you forever in heaven. I need to dwell more often on the good you have done for us and on your promises to those who put their trust in you. Thank you, Jesus, for taking up your life again and leading the way home to heaven. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. I want to cooperate more fully with you in bringing many others there with me.

Petition: Lord Jesus, walk by my side. Open up my person to the meaning of Scripture and the events of life. Make my heart burn within me with your words .

1. Two Downcast Faces: These two disciples had been badly shaken by the events of the last few days. They had courageously left home and family to follow the Lord. They had listened to his words, witnessed his miracles, and even generously gone out and preached in his name. They had expected Jesus to be the longed-for Messiah. And it was precisely at the moment Jesus referred to as “his hour”, when he was accomplishing his greatest work, that these disciples broke with Jesus. What when wrong? God worked in a way and with a power these disciples had not expected, and which they did not accept. The cross and suffering had not entered into their plans. A gloriously triumphant path, they could accept; but not a crucified Lord. As long as there were miracles, encouraging crowds and the high of emotion, following Christ was their thing. But when the Cross cast its shadow, they threw in the towel. And so, they are on their way back home, back to their old lifestyle, hopes shattered and faces downcast. Their conversation was a self-pitying reconstruction of events, without faith, without a sense of God, sunken in their own sorrow.

2. Unexpected Questions from an Unexpected Guest: The two disciples are so centered on their own woes and wounds that they do not recognize who walks alongside them. Feeling sorry for ourselves does not help us go to God, but only immerses us further in our own impotence. What breaks through this situation? An unexpected question that destroys the incorrect assumptions of these two malcontents and invites them to look more deeply at their own situation. Reflection on the obvious, on the real events of our life (and not our own broken, limited plans and hopes) is what begins to open the door to a reborn hope. What are you talking about? Why? Did you fail to grasp something?

3. The Breaking of the Bread: Christ is the shepherd that seeks out these two stray sheep. As always, he masterfully and gently enlightens their conscience and leads them to the truth. Listening to Christ prepares these two disciples to recognize him when he takes, breaks, blesses and gives them “bread” – the same actions of the Last Supper. After recognizing Our Lord in the “breaking of the bread”, their entire dispositions change. Even their way of assessing events and situations changes. They had stopped for the evening, but after experiencing the Lord, they race out in the middle of the night to share their experience with the others.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, teach me detachment from self, and acceptance of your glorious plan. Walk always by my side, and help me realize, that as long as I am in conversation with You, even without my realizing it, there is always hope and salvation.

Resolution: I will let God break my own limited plans and expectations. I will talk to Christ about what goals he wants me to set for my life, impossible though they may seem. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter "From Tears of Sorrow to Tears of Joy"

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don´t know where they laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabboni," which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Stop holding onto me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ´I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.´" Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and what he told her.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you in heaven forever. I need to reflect more often on the good you have done for us and on your promises to those who put their trust in you. Thank you, Jesus, for taking up your life again and leading the way home to heaven. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. I want to cooperate more fully with you in bringing many others there with me.

Petition: Lord, grant me a faith that is alive, operative and fruitful.

1. Blinded by Love, Mary Stayed Weeping: St. John observes that “they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:9). Because the reality of the Resurrection had not yet entered into the mind, and much less the heart, of Mary, she stayed weeping outside Christ’s tomb. Take this moment to contemplate this moving scene which shows Mary’s deep love for Our Lord. Even angels could not persuade her with their questioning: “Why are you weeping?” Admire her love; imitate her love; want what she wanted – to be with her Lord, always! May our love for Our Lord give us the same fortitude in love that Mary showed at the tomb.

2. They Had Taken Her Love Away: Poor Mary! The sorrows of her life were so mean and pitiful. One sad day, desperation had led her into a life of prostitution. With her dignity gone, her empty soul seemed suited only to be a haven for roaming devils (cf. Luke 8:3; Mark 16:9). The world, the flesh and the devil saw her only with contempt and selfish opportunity. But Our Lord had seen her differently and loved her differently. The love that he had restored to her life, however, was now trampled upon as she contemplated his empty tomb. See her heart, already heavy with grief and horror at seeing her Lord mistreated, beaten and crucified. All these thoughts welled up in her mind and caused her to conclude, “They have taken my Lord.” Feel the depths of her helplessness as she finished her thought: “And I don´t know where they laid him.”

3. “Why Are You Weeping?” Mary’s love was at the right time, in the right place, and for the right person. Her tears were for her Lord. Jesus, moved by Mary’s show of love, would not let her remain in such a state. It is now Christ who asks her, “Why are you weeping?” In effect, Jesus is saying, “The sins of your past will no longer have power over you. Nor will those cruel men, or the devil. I am here and I am the Resurrection, the Way, the Truth and the Life! Sin, evil men, the devil, and death might stake their claim on you, but they cannot have you, for you are mine! I have bought you with the price of my own blood; I have laid down my life for you, my friend!” Our Lord sums up this great truth with but a simple, tender utterance of her name: “Mary”. Yes, Jesus knows us personally and loves us in a personal way. We must come to our senses and believe in the truth of the Resurrection. We must believe in Jesus.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you lead me to life everlasting. Let me draw ever closer to you, trusting always in your ways and never fearing the cross. May I love you from the little cross of my life, whatever its form or character may be.

Resolution: I will seek out a friend I may have alienated by my bad example or lack of self-control, and I will strive to be reconciled through a generous act of charity and understanding


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Monday "The Supreme Measure of Paschal Joy"

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” While they were going, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. They assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, "You are to say, ´His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.´ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection from the dead gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you forever in heaven. I need to dwell more often on the good you have done for us and on your promises to those who put their trust in you. Thank you, Jesus, for taking up your life again and leading the way home to heaven. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. I want to cooperate more fully with you in bringing many others there with me.

Petition: Lord, as a fruit of my experiencing your love, grant me the grace of witnessing to you.

1. Coming into the Light of the Resurrection: Contemplate the women at the tomb. Feel their distress upon entering an open and empty tomb. Experience their fears for where the body might be. Share in their joy because their faith, and ours, awakens to the reality of Our Lord’s resurrection. Indeed, it is true! He has truly risen! Alleluia! Approach him and bow down, then adore and embrace the loving feet of Our Lord. He wants to be our strength, our light, and our love. He wants to be our Lord.

2. From Contemplatives to Missionaries: From our contemplation we must become missionaries. This is the instruction Our Lord gives these privileged women: “Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”From their adoration, Our Lord calls them to be witnesses to the world, beginning first with the apostles. These women, insignificant in the eyes of the world, have become irreplaceable heralds of the Gospel. Why? It is not because of any social class or role they had had. Rather, it is because of the faith and love with which they would live and accomplish the mission entrusted to them. They were faithful to Our Lord in spreading the Good News of the Resurrection to the apostles and the world.

3. Obedience of Faith Allows Us to See: Our Lord asks the apostles to obey his command: “Go to Galilee … there they will see me.” Christ requires our obedience in order for us to see him in faith and experience his resurrection. Without obedience, we might not recognize him. The guards at the tomb were obedient to the orders of the chief priests. Yet the guards lacked faith, so they did not believe what they saw and thus did not adore. We all obey someone. However, it is obedience to Christ that leads to faith which leads to life: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36).

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for this time I have spent with you in prayer and contemplation of your resurrection. Help me always grow and mature in my faith. Without it I am lost. Without it I am unable to see you, and if I cannot see you, how will I be able to follow you? I place my trust in you and your promise of eternal life.

Resolution: I will make a special effort to speak well of others today, especially those with whom I may disagree


Easter Sunday "Empty Tomb, Expectant Heart"



On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran off to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him." So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter, and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down to look in and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not lying with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he had to rise from the dead.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the source of all life because you are life itself. Your resurrection gives me the hope of being raised from the dead to rejoice with you forever in heaven. Thank you for your presence in my life. I love you, and I want to follow after you with all my heart. Be with me now, and inspire my prayer.

Petition: Lord Jesus, grant me the joy of seeing my hopes constantly kindled by your power over sin and death. May the strength of your resurrection overcome the weaknesses of my human nature.

1. Confusing Signs: Without faith, realities that should inspire hope and expectation only cause confusion. Jesus’ empty tomb is the sign of the most complete victory, the most extreme love, and the most powerful presence. Mary Magdalene, Peter and John all see the empty tomb. But their limited faith needs time to grow and completely accept the great gift that is offered to them. In approaching the mystery of God, I must stoke up my faith. Otherwise, what should cause hope and courage will only wind up becoming a stumbling block for me. Only a sincere and generous faith in Christ enables me to take the circumstances of life in hope, confidence and security.

2. Running to the Experience of Faith: Running is an integral part of this Gospel. Mary Magdalene runs. Peter runs, and John outruns Peter. Love for the Lord creates a sense of urgency. What they saw at the tomb could have been seen without running at all. But promptness is a sign of love for the Lord. If I wish to experience Christ and the power of his resurrection, I need to have a sense of urgency in my relationship with the Lord. I must strive to meet him and give myself to him in my here and now. I can’t wait for the “ideal” moment. If I don´t give myself to Christ now, under the present conditions, there is no reason to think I ever will.

3. Faith Begins with the Experience of the Senses, but Does Not End There: John, Peter and Mary Magdalene will eventually have an unshakeable conviction in the Resurrection, and become messengers of the Resurrection. But they first need to see the empty tomb and pick up the wrappings. They would also need to see and touch the risen Christ. All this would cause wonderment, reflection, and eventually a growing realization that would induce faith. God works in the same way in my life. First there are the lived experiences of my life: people I meet, circumstances I face, events that occur… Then my wonderment and reflection on what it all means. Then the slow dawning of faith.

“It is clearly evident that Christ´s resurrection is the greatest Event in the history of salvation, and indeed, we can say in the history of humanity, since it gives definitive meaning to the world. The whole world revolves around the Cross, but only in the resurrection does the Cross reach its full significance of salvific Event. The Cross and Resurrection constitute the one paschal mystery in which the history of the world is centered. Therefore Easter is the Church´s greatest Solemnity. Every year she celebrates and renews this Event, fraught with all the prophecies of the Old Testament, beginning with the "Protoevangelium" of the Redemption, and of all the eschatological hopes and expectations projected towards the "fullness of time", which was realized when the Kingdom of God definitively entered human history and the universal order of salvation” (John Paul II, General Audience, March 1, 1989).

Conversation with Christ: >Lord Jesus, you know how to prepare your disciples to experience your presence deeply and know you intimately. I ask today for a deepening in my faith in your resurrection. Let all the events of my life point me to the truth that you are alive.

Resolution:I will be prompt in meeting the duties and responsibilities of today, in the truth of the risen Christ.




Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Vigil, The Resurrection of the Lord "Dazzling Dawn"

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said 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, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ´He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.´ This is my message for you." So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

Introductory Prayer: Jesus, you are my faithful friend in life and in death. May I discover in your rising my guarantee and hope of everlasting life. After such a show of love you deserve all my faith, all my hope and all my love. I offer these to you humbly and gratefully. You alone are the Lord of my life. You are the true purpose of my life. I long to see your loving face, Lord, but I must wait in hope to see you in eternity.

Petition:  Lord, renew me by your Resurrection.

1. The Dawn of the New Creation  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary head to the tomb on the “first day” of the week, as day is dawning. But today holds a new beginning. On the original “first day” God had said, “Let there be light.” Now a new light is dawning. Easter is the dawn of a New Creation. Nature is restored and elevated by the grace of Christ’s Resurrection. There is an earthquake – not because nature convulses as it did on Good Friday – but because an angel has descended from heaven. No lightning strikes from the sky, yet the angel’s appearance is like lightning. His clothing is white as snow, yet no blizzard buries the disciples in desperation. Redemption from sin is won: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Let my soul bathe in this Easter light; may I become dazzling white such as no fuller on earth can bleach me.

2. Unafraid  The cause for fear has vanished: “I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.” The worst had been expected after the devastation of Good Friday; instead, Easter unimaginably fulfills the greatest hope. The place where Christ had lain is now empty. Rather, the soldiers who had guarded the tomb are the ones who lie like dead men on the ground. O Death, where is your sting? Death has proven defenseless against the Resurrection. Fearless joy bids me to run tell the disciples.

3. Greetings!  Jesus does not delay long in encountering the souls he has redeemed. He stops the two women who are running along their way: “Greetings!” Only he has the words of everlasting life. He is the Resurrection. He is to be worshipped as the Source of Life itself. His light dispels every last shadow of fear. He confirms his disciples in the faith. This is the Good News: All of his brothers will witness the Risen Lord. And we shall be his witnesses to the ends of the earth!

Conversation with Christ:  Lord Jesus, I desire to encounter you by Easter light. Wash my soul white as snow. Dispel all darkness from my heart. Flood me with your joy. Allow me to be your witness to the ends of the earth.

Resolution:  After the Easter Vigil and before Easter Sunday is over, I will greet someone by saying joyfully, “The Lord is Risen!



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Good Friday "Attend the Crucifixion"

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, "Who are you looking for?" They answered him, "Jesus the Nazorean." He said to them, "I AM." Judas his betrayer was also with them. When he said to them, "I AM," they turned away and fell to the ground. So he again asked them, "Who are you looking for?" They said, "Jesus the Nazorean." Jesus answered, "I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go." This was to fulfill what he had said, "I have not lost any of those you gave me." Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest´s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave´s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?" So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, and brought him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people. Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus. But Peter stood at the gate outside. So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in. Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, "You are not one of this man´s disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire that they had made, because it was cold, and were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm. The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine. Jesus answered him, "I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me? Ask those who heard me what I said to them. They know what I said." When he had said this, one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, "Is this the way you answer the high priest?" Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm. And they said to him, "You are not one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not." One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, "Didn´t I see you in the garden with him?" Again Peter denied it. And immediately the cock crowed. Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium. It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the Praetorium, in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and said, "What charge do you bring against this man?" They answered and said to him, "If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you." At this, Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law." The Jews answered him, "We do not have the right to execute anyone," in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled that he said indicating the kind of death he would die. So Pilate went back into the Praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?" Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here." So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" When he had said this, he again went out to the Jews and said to them, "I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover. Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?" They cried out again, "Not this one but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a revolutionary. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly. Once more Pilate went out and said to them, "Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him." So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, "Behold, the man!" When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." The Jews answered, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God." Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid, and went back into the Praetorium and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" Jesus did not answer him. So Pilate said to him, "Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?" Jesus answered (him), "You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin." Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, "If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar." When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated him on the judge´s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha. It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. And he said to the Jews, "Behold, your king!" They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews." Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write ´The King of the Jews,´ but that he said, ´I am the King of the Jews.´" Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written." When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. So they said to one another, "Let´s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be," in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled that says: They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. This is what the soldiers did. Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother´s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there 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 the disciple took her into his home. After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I thirst." There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, "It is finished." And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may come to believe. For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: Not a bone of it will be broken. And again another passage says: They will look upon him whom they have pierced. After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.

Introductory Prayer: Help me Jesus, suffering friend of my soul, to accompany you as Simon the Cyrene, Mary Magdalene, John the Apostle, and like your Mother, Mary. May I experience love and please you more by showing my appreciation for your suffering and death for me.

Petition: Help me Lord, to accompany you in your Passion. Sometimes in my life, I know I am adding to your suffering. But sometimes I am consoling you.Help me to love so that I will be more of a help to you in your redemption and less of a hindrance.

1. I Scourge Jesus.  In a sense, today’s meditation should be easy. We need only to choose some aspect of the Passion and contemplate it. I need to accompany Jesus as best I can, and I do that best when I try to imagine myself in one of the scenes from his Passion, living it with him. Perhaps I can imagine him in the scourging. I place myself in the same room where it is happening. I hear the sound of the whips hitting his flesh, driven by all the strength of the men doing the scourging. They are professionals and know how to make the pain as excruciating as possible. I see the blood trickle down his back. First it is just droplets, but it gets to be more and more until I cannot believe a human body can hold that much blood, let alone lose it. I imagine myself doing the whipping since it is my sins that have brought Jesus to this moment.

2. I Help Jesus to Carry His Cross.  Perhaps I concentrate on Simon the Cyrenean. I walk with him through the crowd. We are unaware of what’s going on. We are attracted to the spectacle of three men being led to crucifixion. We are horrified by the state of the men we see, especially one who seems like he won’t be able to go another step. We are certain he is going to die right in front of us. Suddenly, the Roman soldiers are pointing at Simon. “You’re going to help him.” Simon doesn’t want to, but he doesn’t have any choice. As he moves away, I imagine myself in Simon’s shoes: A million thoughts flood my mind. At first I think, “Why did this have to happen to me?” But then I see something in the eyes of this man who I am supporting at every step. I realize he is the prophet I have heard people talking about – Jesus of Nazareth! As we walk along I am more willing to help him. When at last we arrive at Golgotha, I wish there were more I could do for him.

3. I Stand at the Foot of the Cross.  I imagine Jesus on the cross. I stand there at the foot of the cross with Mary and John and Mary Magdalene. We look up at the face of Jesus. He doesn’t move or speak much but I can see how much he is suffering. Every breath is an effort. I look at Mary and see how much she is suffering. I know that now is not the time to speak to her. The important thing is just to be with Jesus. It’s very cold. If I am cold down here, fully dressed, how cold is he, up there in the wind, stripped and almost naked? We wait together, sharing his suffering as much as we can, trying to accompany him silently. Finally, he looks down at us and I see in his eyes the same love for me as he has when he looks at the others. Then he speaks one last time and dies.

Dialogue with Christ: Dear Jesus, you have suffered everything for me and I have ignored you so often. When Cardinal Lustiger of Paris was a boy, he made a frivolous confession, more for the fun of making up sins to shock the priest than for seeking forgiveness. His penance was to kneel before a crucifix and say ten times, “Jesus, you died for me and I don’t care.” He couldn’t finish. It touched him too deeply. Sometimes I am just as heartless and careless. You died for me and anyone looking objectively at my life would have to say it looks like I don’t care. Help me to care. Take the heart of stone out of me and replace it with a real one, one that can love at least a little. I am tired of not caring. Help me to love you since you have done everything for me.

Resolution: I will attend Good Friday services even if it means a sacrifice for me. I will spend more time in prayer than I usually do even though it might be hard for me. I will try to do what I can to let Christ know that his Passion means a lot to me. I will not leave him alone on the cross like so many others have done.