Saturday, March 31, 2018

If not for Easter, we would celebrate this Saint for the 1st day of April

St. Hugh of Grenoble

Image of St. Hugh of Grenoble


Feastday: April 1
Birth: 1053
Death: 1132

Benedictine bishop of Grenoble, France, patron of St. Bruno. He was born in the Dauphine region and became a canon of the cathedral in Valence. In 1080, while attending a synod in Avignon, Hugh was named bishop of Grenoble. He attempted a massive reform of the diocese, but, discouraged, retired to Chaise Dieu Abbey, and became a Benedictine. Pope St. Gregoiy VII ordered him back to Grenoble. Hugh gave St. Bruno the land on which the Grande Chartreuse was founded, thus starting the Carthusians. Hugh died on April 1 and was canonized by Pope Innocent II

Easter ushers in April; begin praying with the Pope's April special intention


For Those who have Responsibility in Economic Matters

That economists may have the courage to reject any economy of exclusion and know how to open new paths.

Full text of tonight's homily of Pope Francis at the Easter vigil

He is Risen! Pope’s Homily at Easter Vigil (FULL TEXT)
‘Do Not Be Afraid, Follow Me.’

Vatican Media Screenshot
Following is the text of the Holy Father’s homily during the Easter Vigil, March 31, 2018, in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pope also administered the sacraments of Christian initiation to eight new members of the Church from Albania, Italy, Nigeria, Peru, and United States.
The text of the homily, provided by the Vatican:
We began this celebration outside, plunged into the darkness of the night and the cold. We felt an oppressive silence at the death of the Lord, a silence with which each of us can identify, a silence that penetrates to the depths of the heart of every disciple, who stands wordless before the cross.
These are the hours when the disciple stands speechless in pain at the death of Jesus. What words can be spoken at such a moment? The disciple keeps silent in the awareness of his or her own reactions during those crucial hours in the Lord’s life. Before the injustice that condemned the Master, his disciples were silent. Before the calumnies and the false testimony that the Master endured, his disciples said nothing. During the trying, painful hours of the Passion, his disciples dramatically experienced their inability to put their lives on the line to speak out on behalf of the Master. What is more, not only did they not acknowledge him: they hid, they escaped, they kept silent (cf. Jn 18:25-27).
It is the silent night of the disciples who remained numb, paralyzed and uncertain of what to do amid so many painful and disheartening situations. It is also that of today’s disciples, speechless in the face of situations we cannot control, that make us feel and, even worse, believe that nothing can be done to reverse all the injustices that our brothers and sisters are experiencing in their flesh.
It is the silent night of those disciples who are disoriented because they are plunged in a crushing routine that robs memory, silences hope and leads to thinking that “this is the way things have always been done”. Those disciples who, overwhelmed, have nothing to say and end up considering “normal” and unexceptional the words of Caiaphas: “Can you not see that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed?” (Jn 11:50).
Amid our silence, our overpowering silence, the stones begin to cry out (cf. Lk 19:40) [1] and to clear the way for the greatest message that history has ever heard: “He is not here, for he has been raised” (Mt 28:6). The stone before the tomb cried out and proclaimed the opening of a new way for all. Creation itself was the first to echo the triumph of life over all that had attempted to silence and stifle the joy of the Gospel. The stone before the tomb was the first to leap up and in its own way intone a song of praise and wonder, of joy and hope, in which all of us are invited to join.
Yesterday, we joined the women in contemplating “the one who was pierced” (cf. Jn 19:36; cf. Zech 12:10). Today, with them, we are invited to contemplate the empty tomb and to hear the words of the angel: “Do not be afraid… for he has been raised” (Mt 28:5-6). Those words should affect our deepest convictions and certainties, the ways we judge and deal with the events of our daily lives, especially the ways we relate to others. The empty tomb should challenge us and rally our spirits. It should make us think, but above all, it should encourage us to trust and believe that God “happens” in every situation and every person and that his light can shine in the least expected and most hidden corners of our lives. He rose from the dead, from that place where nobody waits for anything, and now he waits for us – as he did the women – to enable us to share in his saving work. On this basis and with this strength, we Christians place our lives and our energy, our intelligence, our affections and our will, at the service of discovering, and above all creating, paths of dignity.
He is not here… he is risen! This is the message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete gestures of charity. How greatly we need to let our frailty be anointed by this experience! How greatly we need to let our faith be revived! How greatly we need our myopic horizons to be challenged and renewed by this message! Christ is risen, and with him, he makes our hope and creativity rise so that we can face our present problems in the knowledge that we are not alone.
To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our “conventions”, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us. To celebrate Easter is to allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.
The stone before the tomb shared in this, the women of the Gospel shared in this, and now the invitation is addressed once more to you and to me. An invitation to break out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions, and our existence. An invitation that must be directed to where we stand, what we are doing and what we are, with the “power ratio” that is ours. Do we want to share in this message of life or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?
He is not here… he is raised! And he awaits you in Galilee. He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and he says to you: Do not be afraid, follow me.

Pope Francis celebrates the Mass of the Easter Vigil

Pope at Easter Vigil: ‘Break out of Routines’
‘He is not here… he is raised! And he awaits you in Galilee.’

Vatican Media Screenshot
‘He is not here… he is raised! And he awaits you in Galilee.’
“He is not here… he is risen! This is the message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete gestures of charity,” Pope Francis proclaimed in his homily for the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica, March 31, 2018. He continued with an urgent call to action for the faithful:
“How greatly we need to let our frailty be anointed by this experience! How greatly we need to let our faith be revived! How greatly we need our myopic horizons to be challenged and renewed by this message! Christ is risen, and with him, he makes our hope and creativity rise so that we can face our present problems in the knowledge that we are not alone.”
The Holy Father pointed out that “to celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our ‘conventions’, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us. To celebrate Easter is to allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.”
The Holy Father recalled the “darkness of the night and cold” the disciples faced, the “hours where the disciple stands speechless in pain at the death of Jesus”. And in the terrible hours of the Passion, while Jesus endured pain and suffering, “his disciples dramatically experienced their inability to put their lives on the line to speak out on behalf of the Master”.
Yet, the disciples, the women of the Gospel and even the stone before the tomb shared in the hope that comes with “he is risen”. And Francis reminded the congregation that the challenge to our “conventions” is issued to all of us.
“He is not here… he is raised! And he awaits you in Galilee,” concluded the Pope. “He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and he says to you: Do not be afraid, follow me.”

In preparation for her entry into the church tonight Lizzie went to 1st confession

Lizzie is truly amazing and all who have encountered her videos are either being affirmed in their Catholic faith or if not Catholic are inquiring as to how to become Catholic.  For us who have been Catholic for sometime and have felt a need to never talk about confession, or struggle to defend confession, or avoid confession for whatever reason, truly listen to this video.  I pray for the enthusiasm Lizzie has as a new Catholic for the faith given to us directly by Jesus Christ:

And by the way, welcome home tonight Lizzie, welcome home!

Coming tonight: the proclamation of the Exsultet

The Exsultet: Christ Our Light


Parishioners gather around the Easter Vigil fire at the at Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington on April 3,  2010. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec
Parishioners gather around the Easter Vigil fire at the at Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington on April 3, 2010. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec
by Father Michael J. Flynn
The first major section of the annual Easter Vigil celebration may be the most memorable and engaging to the senses. It certainly includes some vivid symbols and actions which we do not encounter in the liturgy every day. Formerly called simply the “Service of Light”, in the present English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal this introductory sequence of liturgical elements is entitled “The Solemn Beginning of the Vigil or Lucernarium”. The solemn liturgy begins – usually outdoors – with the blessing of the fire followed by the preparation and lighting of the Paschal Candle. As the candle is being carried in procession into the dark church, all those in attendance are given individual candles which have received their light from the one Paschal Candle. When the Paschal Candle is placed in its prominent candle stand in the church, the church’s lights are turned back on, the candle is incensed, and the deacon (or a priest, or a lay cantor if need be) intones one of the most evocative and poetic hymns of praise in all liturgy: the Easter Proclamation – also known as the Exsultet, named after the first word of the Latin original. The liturgy’s symbolic movement has been from darkness to light; now words and music are used to praise and thank God for what the light represents: God’s saving activity throughout human history, culminating in Christ’s defeat of death and resurrection from the dead.
Pope Benedict XVI lights the Pashcal Candle at the Vatican's 2011 Easter Vigil. CNS Photo/Paul HaringTo appreciate fully the function of this great hymn on this most holy of nights, it is important to note that this portion of the Easter Vigil has not always been the only example of a “service of light.” Such services were once commonplace. Imagine how precious a candle, as the only source of light, must have been to families and monastic communities alike as the day came to an end and the sun began to set in Gaul, Spain, and other areas in the early Middle Ages. There were of course no electric street lights, no lamps available at the touch of a switch. Candles were costly, and often a single candle provided the sole source of light throughout the impenetrable darkness of the night. The importance of such a light found liturgical expression in evening lamp-lighting services called lucernaria. In monastic communities these often served as a kind of prelude to all-night vigils, especially on important feast days. The hymn and prayer texts which accompanied the lucernaria made ready use of the solitary light – this one sign of security and hope enclosed by an otherwise dark night – as a symbol of Christ as the light to the world. It is no wonder, then, that a most elaborate Lucernarium came to climax the opening moments of the Vigil of Easter, the most important vigil of the year.
In texts prior to the early Middle Ages, we find that a lengthy prayer of blessing of the candle was used in Rome and in the areas most influenced by Roman liturgy. In areas of northern Europe, however, the practice of a deacon intoning a proclamation of praise in the presence of the Easter Light became customary, and during the course of the Middle Ages, this was eventually imported into regular Roman practice as well. It is quite possible that the earliest of these Easter Proclamations were improvised, but by the Middle Ages the text we now know as the Exsultet became the standard hymn for the Easter Vigil in the West. In fact, in the important and influential Sacramentary compiled from both Roman and Northern European sources for the 9th century court of Charlemagne, we find the Exsultet essentially as we know it today. Despite its antiquity, this 1200-plus year old Latin text is nearly identical to the one in our Missal today, except that the older one is about one third longer. In this early Exsultet, there was an entire long section devoted to a rich symbolism drawn from the activities of bees. In our present version, this has been reduced to two references to the role of bees in the production of the wax which makes up the sacred candle – language which has been noticeably restored in the new English translation of the Exsultet. In Southern Italy during the later Middle Ages the Exsultet was often written out on elaborately decorated scrolls. As the deacon progressed through the long text, the assembly was able to see beautiful illuminations accompanying the various parts of the text. These illustrations on the “Exsultet Rolls” were painted upside down in relation to the text and musical notation, so that onlookers would see the figures right side up as the long scroll unfurled.
Despite its antiquity, this text still serves splendidly as a present-day expression of Easter joy and exuberant thanksgiving. Rich with patristic allusions, the Exsultet also provides a preview of the scriptural and theological themes that will ground the rest of the Easter Vigil liturgy. Salvation history, especially God’s deliverance of his Chosen People from Egyptian slavery and exile are prominent both in the Exsultet, and the extended Liturgy of the Word that will follow it. The text poetically recalls the Passover Feast; the candle present before the assembly is likened to the pillar of fire which guided Israel in its desert journey; their miraculous passage through the Red Sea serves as both a sign of deliverance and as a prefiguring of the waters of Baptism, another prominent element of Easter Vigils both ancient and modern. Having recalled key moments of the Old Covenant, the New Covenant between God and humanity is proclaimed eloquently in terms of the brilliant Light of Christ dispelling the darkness of sin and death for all time.
The Paschal Candle is lit at an  Easter Vigil service at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in De Pere, Wisc. CNS photo/Sam Lucero, The Compass
"Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness.”
— the Exsultet
As is fitting for a text of this importance and solemnity, the Exsultet should always be sung – unless singing it worthily would be truly impossible. The chant notation in the Missal is not difficult to sing, but the Easter Proclamation is lengthy, so preparation and practice well in advance is essential. It is also important to take note of the rubrical instructions concerning the Exsultet which are contained in the Missal. Deciding which of the various options best suits a given community and the capabilities of its ministers will go a long way to ensuring a rendition of the Exsultet which is both dignified and evocative of joy. As the rubrics indicate, intoning the Exsultet is primarily the responsibility of the deacon. In the absence of a deacon, it may also be sung either by the priest who is presiding, or by a concelebrant. However, if local circumstances suggest it, the instructions also permit the intoning of the Exsultet by a lay cantor, with certain indicated portions of the text being omitted. Finally, if the length of text proves daunting, the Missal also contains an abbreviated form of the Exsultet. These various options, together with the determination of which ministers will execute them, should be discussed early in the planning stages, and never left to chance at the last minute.
For centuries the Exsultet has served as a liturgical jewel of unsurpassed beauty on this, the “mother of all holy vigils”, as St. Augustine aptly described the Easter Vigil. As the Exsultet exhorts us, “Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness.” May this venerable Easter Proclamation serve us and our assemblies as a genuine expression of Easter hope and joy. 

Divine Mercy Novena 2nd Day on Holy Saturday

Second Day

"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."
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.

* In the original text, Saint Faustina uses the pronoun "us" since she was offering this prayer as a consecrated religious sister. The wording adapted here is intended to make the prayer suitable for universal use. 

My Holy Week; rapidly approaching Easter

One of the most cathartic things I do in life is write; using this blog to hopefully shed a light for others on the life of just one Permanent Deacon.  I'm never sure how many read my stuff; sure there is a stat bar on my blog program but I've long ago learned to never really trust it.  I just know this, I love to write, I love to explore various articles about Catholicism and share them, I am always excited when something new, fresh and affirming comes along.

Today I am doing what every good clergy should be doing, resting briefly!!!  The days of/weeks leading to Holy Week are quite frankly exhausting.  Don't get me wrong, they are also incredibly prayerful. spiritual and deeply personal in one's own walk with Jesus, but yes, they are also very tiring.

Before I get too deep in my recent activities I also want to acknowledge that Easter 2018 is the first major holiday for "Pops" with now 3 precious grandchildren.  As we rapidly end March I pause to recall that this wonderful month is when Brennan Leigh came into the world.  Now almost 4 weeks old, Brennan is doing great.  She joins my grandson Calvin, now over 5 and a half years old, and Katelyn, almost 3 years old as my grandkids.  Pops loves and is proud of his grandkids and excited that Easter is a chance to celebrate with all 3; although 2 of them will be via Skype.

As a Permanent Deacon for enough years now I know to expect busy for Lent and Holy Week and Easter and, quite frankly, all the time.  I cannot imagine being a somewhat inactive Deacon.  My long string of ministry began late last week with offering Stations of the Cross on the last full Friday of Lent(Good Friday is part of the triduum).  I was able this year to offer the Stations 4 of the 6 Friday nights in Lent and then also visit with lots of parishioners at the KC Fish Fry dinners next door.  While these events do indeed take on a social atmosphere we must recognize that they do help draw more people to the Stations of the Cross and the monies raised from the Fish Fry are used to help charities and the church directly.  Last Saturday I had the privilege of baptizing two brothers right before our vigil Mass of Palm Sunday.  I love the liturgy of Palm Sunday as we read of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and then the Passion as shouts of Hosanna change to shouts of Crucify Him.  On Sunday I brought Holy Communion to my daughter, which also meant a chance to visit with Brennan, and then assisted at the last Palm Sunday Mass of the day, the 6 pm Sunday Mass.

Monday night I offered Stations of the Cross for all the PSR(CCD) students at St Jane's using special reflections written for children and young people.  Tuesday night there were some important parish administrative meetings that I attend; it turned out to be a very long meeting.  Wednesday night was my Holy Week visit to Rayburn and I was able to reflect on Holy Week & Easter with the almost 90 men present that night.  It is always a joy to be with these men but especially so around the beautiful holy days of Christmas and Easter.  Thursday night was the first liturgy of the triduum.  We had 2 Priests and 3 Deacons on the altar, counting yours truly.  We did have the washing of the feet and we also had the beautiful Eucharistic procession from the Church to the special Altar of Repose set up over in the parish hall.  Adorers remained with Jesus until midnight.  On Good Friday, aware that now my banking industry does not respect this day, I long ago arranged to be off from work to participate in the 3 pm Passion of the Lord.  Not a Mass, there is a very solemn feel to this service because we know this is the day that Jesus died and the tabernacle is empty.  Last night I attended the living stations of the cross at Most Holy Trinity, presented by the youth group.  From the first time I witnessed this as an assigned Deacon at MHT, I pledged to make this a Good Friday tradition no matter where I would later be assigned.  So glad I went last night because it was once again a beautiful presentation by the youth of the Lord's Passion and Death.  It was the perfect end to such an important day.

This morning dawns, a holy day itself, Holy Saturday, and we are called to quietly reflect on Jesus in the tomb.  But the modern world does not pause and pray and reflect; big events are happening all around us today including in Abita Springs where the last Saturday of March brings a whole town garage sale.  For me, I will continue to relax until our afternoon walk through of the great vigil, which will begin around 8 pm tonight.  Tonight we celebrate that great Mass of salvation history and the welcoming of the newly baptized and those fully entering the church.  It will be a great night, and after the Vigil, we too rise on Easter morn and celebrate Mass all morning long.

And then Easter continues, the octave all the way to Divine Mercy Sunday.

Yes, it is exhausting, but the spiritual benefits and the grace of God see us through.  I love our Catholic faith and the way we celebrate as this season of Lent gave us time to reflect and pray, to perhaps fast, to pray with His agony and death.  And now Easter season, where we can reflect on His rising from the dead and His great gift for us and celebrate a season where we focus on the Resurrection!

A Holy Saturday Homily

From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday
"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

"The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages."

Friday, March 30, 2018

Deacon, Martyr and Saint

St. Benjamin

Image of St. Benjamin


Feastday: March 31
Death: 424

St. Benjamin, Martyr (Feast Day - March 31) The Christians in Persia had enjoyed twelve years of peace during the reign of Isdegerd, son of Sapor III, when in 420 it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of Abdas, a Christian Bishop who burned the Temple of Fire, the great sanctuary of the Persians. King Isdegerd threatened to destroy all the churches of the Christians unless the Bishop would rebuild it.
As Abdas refused to comply, the threat was executed; the churches were demolished, Abdas himself was put to death, and a general persecution began which lasted forty years. Isdegerd died in 421, but his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with great fury. The Christians were submitted to the most cruel tortures.
Among those who suffered was St. Benjamin, a Deacon, who had been imprisoned a year for his Faith. At the end of this period, an ambassador of the Emperor of Constantinople obtained his release on condition that he would never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.
St. Benjamin, however, declared it was his duty to preach Christ and that he could not be silent. Although he had been liberated on the agreement made with the ambassador and the Persian authorities, he would not acquiesce in it, and neglected no opportunity of preaching. He was again apprehended and brought before the king. The tyrant ordered that reeds should be thrust in between his nails and his flesh and into all the tenderest parts of his body and then withdrawn. After this torture had been repeated several times, a knotted stake was inserted into his bowels to rend and tear him. The martyr expired in the most terrible agony about the year 424.

Fr Dwight explains the mystery of three crosses


The Mystery of the Three Crosses

The three crosses on the hill of Golgotha carry deep symbolic meaning, but you have to dig down into the beliefs of first century Judaism to discover the full meaning. Brant Pitre’s The Jewish Roots of Holy Week has been brilliant for bringing out some of these details.
First we ask why the cross has been referred to as “the tree”. There are a couple of reasons. A gallows is usually referred to as a “tree”. For example the gallows at Tyburn in London where the English martyrs were hung, drawn and quartered is called “Tyburn Tree.”
This is also a reference to the Old Testament verse which called down a curse on anyone who either hung himself (like Judas) or anyone who was executed.”Cursed is he who hangs upon the tree” (Deut. 21:23)
But there is more to it than that. Pitre asks why, on Monday of Holy Week the gospels record the odd story about Jesus cursing the fig tree. (Mk. 11:12-14 & 20-25) The gospels portray it as a lesson in faith, but there is a deeper meaning which is revealed by learning about Jewish traditions of the time.
We have to get back to the garden. The garden of Eden. There were two trees. We think of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as an apple tree, but this is a recent tradition linked with the fact that in foundation languages “apple” was a generic word for “fruit”. In ancient Jewish tradition, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was the fig tree.
You remember that Adam and Eve made loincloths out of fig leaves. In an ancient non-Biblical Jewish text- The Life of Adam and Eve we learn that they made their skirts from the same tree from which they had eaten.
When Jesus curses the fig tree during Holy Week, therefore, he is giving a sign that echoes more deeply than just a lesson in having faith. When he says, “may no one will ever eat of you again” he is indicating that he will defeat the old curse of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good Evil. He will curse that curse as he curses the fig tree.
Jump forward to the time right after the Last Supper. Why do the disciples go to the Mount of Olives–the Garden of Gethsemane? It was (and still is today) an ancient olive grove. Why is this important? Pitre points out that according to the Jewish traditions, the Tree of Life in the garden was an olive tree. The dove in the Noah story comes after the flood with an olive branch in its beak–a sign of new life and a fresh start.
The other Mass during Holy Thursday is, of course, the Chrism Mass where the bishop blesses the holy oils which bring new life through confirmation, ordination, baptism and healing. And if you didn’t know, the oils used are olive oil.
Therefore two of the trees are significant in Holy Week: the fig which was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the olive–the Tree of Life.
Jesus comes and brings the third tree–the tree of his cross. This tree stands between the fig tree–the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the olive tree-the Tree of Life. Evil and Death is destroyed by the third tree and Life and Freedom is established by the third .tree.
Finally, when you see the three crosses on Good Friday remember that on either side of Jesus are two men who have to choose. The penitent thief chooses Life and his cross becomes a Tree of Life. The unrepentant thief rejects Christ and chooses the Dark Tree of Evil.
Jesus’ cross stands between them–offering forever the choice for Life or the choice for Death.

On Good Friday we begin the Divine Mercy Novena

The Divine Mercy Novena

Jesus asked that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday.  He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent of whom He said:
"These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.' The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy."
In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:
"On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy ... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls."
The different souls prayed for on each day of the novena are:
DAY 1 (Good Friday)  - All mankind, especially sinners
DAY  2 (Holy Saturday) - The souls of priests and religious
DAY 3 (Easter Sunday)  - All devout and faithful souls
DAY 4 (Easter Monday) - Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him
DAY  5 (Easter Tuesday) - The souls of separated brethren
DAY  6 (Easter Wednesday) - The meek and humble souls and the souls of children
DAY  7 (Easter Thursday) - The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy
DAY  8 (Easter Friday) - The souls who are detained in purgatory; 
DAY  9 (Easter Saturday) - The souls who have become lukewarm.
During the Solemn Novena leading to Divine Mercy Sunday,
the Chaplet of Divine Mercy should be offered each day for the
day's intentions.

First Day"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."
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.

Vatican claims no Papal interview and no Papal denial of hell

Vatican Denies Pope Francis Gave Eugenio Scalfari of Italy’s ‘La Repubblica’ an Interview
Greg Burke Warns That Any Dialogue Published Is Author’s ‘Own Reconstruction,’ Is Not Faithful

Greg Burke -- Copyright: Zenit
The Vatican denies that Pope Francis gave the soon to be 94-year-old Eugenio Scalfari, founder of Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper, an interview, noting it was only a private meeting, and that therefore anything published regarding an alleged interview is not reliable nor can be believed to be the Pope’s words.
Yesterday, Greg Burke, issued the following statement: “Recently, the Holy Father Francis received the founder of the Italian daily La Repubblica in a private meeting, on the occasion of Easter, but without granting him an interview.”
“What the author refers to in today’s article is the fruit of his reconstruction, in which the textual words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted.”
“Therefore,” the Vatican Press Office director concluded, “no quotation in the said article must be considered as a faithful transcription of the Holy Father’s words.”

Full text of Pope Francis homily at Rome Prison on Holy Thursday

Pope Francis’ Homily & Words at Regina Coeli Prison (FULL TEXT)
‘Renewing our way of looking at things does us good because, at my age, for example, one gets cataracts, and one doesn’t see well the reality: next year we’ll have to undergo an intervention’

© Vatican Media
In keeping with his practice each year of his Pontificate, Pope Francis on Holy Thursday, March 29, 2018, washed the feet of prison inmates during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
This year, the Holy Father visited Regina Coeli Prison, perhaps the best-known of Rome’s prisons, located very close to the Vatican.  It was built in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood in 1654 as a Catholic Convent, converted to a prison in 1881.
The prison holds detainees from more than 60 nations, holding up to 900 inmates. It has received attention in the media due to overcrowding and high suicide rates.
The inmates chosen for the ritual of the washing of the feet were 12 men from seven countries: four Italians, two Filipinos, two Moroccans, one Moldovan, one Colombian, one Nigerian and 1 from Sierra Leone. Eight were Catholic; two were Muslims; an Orthodox and a Buddhist.
At 3:45 yesterday afternoon, Pope Francis left Saint Martha’s and went to the Regina Coeli prison of Rome.
On his arrival, around 4:00 pm, the Pope met with sick prisoners in the infirmary. Then he presided over the celebration of the Mass in Coena Domini, beginning of the Paschal Triduum, and he left as a gift the altar on which he celebrated.
Finally, before returning to the Vatican, he met with inmates of the 8th Section.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the transcription of the homily that Pope Francis gave off-the-cuff after the proclamation of the Holy Gospel, as well as the words at the end of his visit.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Homily
Jesus ends His discourse saying: “I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you (John 13:15) — wash the feet. At that time, slaves washed the feet: it was a slave’s task. People walked on the street, there wasn’t any pavement; there weren’t any cobblestones. At that time there was the dust of the street and people got their feet dirty. And, at the entrance of a home, there were slaves that washed the feet. And Jesus wished to do this service, to give us an example of how we must serve one another.
Once, when they were walking, two of the disciples who wanted to get ahead, asked Jesus if they could occupy important posts, one at his right and the other on the left (Cf. Mark 10:35-45). And Jesus looked at them with love — Jesus always looked with love — and He said: “You do not know what you are asking” (v. 38). The rulers of nations — Jesus says– command, have themselves served and are well (Cf. v. 42). We think of that time of kings, of very cruel emperors, who had themselves served by slaves . . . But among you — says Jesus — it must not be so: he who commands must serve. Your ruler must be your servant (Cf. v. 43). Jesus turns upside down the historical, cultural habit of that time — also that of today –, he who commands, to be a good ruler, wherever he may be, must serve.  I often think — not of this time because everyone is still alive and has the opportunity to change his life and we can’t judge, but we think of history, if many kings, emperors, Heads of State had understood this teaching of Jesus and instead of commanding, of being cruel, of killing people had done this, how many wars would no have happened! Service: there are, truly, people that don’t make this attitude easy, arrogant people, odious people, people that perhaps wish one evil, but we are called to serve them even more. And there are also people that suffer, that are discarded by society, at least for a period, and Jesus goes there to say to them: You are important for me. Jesus comes to serve us, and the sign that Jesus serves us here today, in the Regina Coeli prison, is that He wished to choose 12 of you, as the 12 Apostles, to wash the feet. Jesus takes risks with each one of us. Know this: Jesus is called Jesus; He’s not called Pontius Pilate. Jesus knows nothing about washing his hands: He only knows how to risk. Look at this very beautiful image: Jesus bending down among the thorns, risking getting wounded, to pick up the lost sheep.
Today I, who am a sinner like you, but I represent Jesus, I am Jesus’ ambassador. Today, when I bend down before each one of you, think: “Jesus has risked in this man, a sinner, to come to me and tell me that He loves me.” This is service; this is Jesus: He never abandons us; He never tires of forgiving us. He loves us so much. Look how Jesus risks!
And so, with these sentiments, we go on with this ceremony, which is symbolic. Before giving His Body and His Blood, Jesus takes risks for each one of us, and He risks in service because He loves us so much.
* * *
At the gesture of the exchange of peace, the Holy Father pronounced these words:
And now, all of us  — I’m certain that all of us – have the desire to be in peace with all. However, in our heart there are often contrasting sentiments. It’s easy to be in peace with those whom we love and with those that do us good; but it’s not easy  to be in peace with those who have done us wrong, who don’t love us, with whom we are in enmity. In silence, for a second, each one think of those that love us and those that we don’t love, and also each one of us think of those that don’t love us and also those that we don’t love and also — rather — of those on which we wish to vindicate ourselves. And, in silence, let’s ask the Lord for the grace to give all, the good and the bad, the gift of peace.
The Holy Father’s Final Words
Here are the Holy Father’s words, in response to the greeting of the Directress of the prison and of an inmate, at the end of the Visit to the Regina Coeli prison.
You have spoken of a new look: of renewing the look . . . This does one good because, at my age, for example, one gets cataracts, and one doesn’t see well the reality: next year we’ll have to undergo an intervention. However it happens so with the soul: life’s work, exhaustion, mistakes, disappointments darken the look, the look of the soul. Therefore, what you said is true: take advantage of opportunities to renew the look. And as I said in St. Peter’s Square [at yesterday’s General Audience] in so many countries, but also in my land, when the bells of the Lord’s Resurrection are heard, mothers, grandmothers take the children to wash their eyes so that they have the look of hope of the Risen Christ. Never tire of renewing your look, of doing that cataract intervention to the soul, daily, but always renew your look. It’s a good effort.
You all know the half-full wine bottle: if I look at the empty half, life is awful, it’s awful, but if a look at the full half, I still have something> to drink.  The look that opens to hope, a word that you said and also you [the Directress] said; and you repeated it several times. One can’t conceive a prison such as this one without hope. Guests are here to learn, or to have the “sowing of hope” grow: there is no just sentence — just sentence! — without it being open to hope; a sentence that isn’t open to hope isn’t Christian, it’s not human!
There are difficulties in life, awful things, sadness — one thinks of one’s own, of one’s mother, father, wife, husband, children . . . that sadness is awful. But don’t let yourselves get down: no, no. I’m here but to be reinserted, renewed. And this is hope; sow hope — always, always. This is your work: to help to sow the hope of reinsertion and this will do everyone good — always. Every sentence must be open to the horizon of hope. Therefore, the death penalty is neither human nor Christian. Every sentence must be open to hope; it must be open to reinsertion, also to share the experience lived for the good of other persons.
Water of resurrection, new look, hope: I wish this for you. I know that your hosts have worked a lot to prepare this visit, even whitewashing the walls. I thank you. It’s for me a sign of benevolence and hospitality and I thank you very much. I’m close to you, I pray for you, and you pray for me and don’t forget: the water that makes the look new, and hope.

Fr Cantalamessa preaches on Good Friday

Fr. Cantalamessa: The Truth of the Passion
“We have the Testimony of an Eye-Witness!”

© Vatican Media
“No one could convince us that this solemn attestation does not correspond to historical truth, that the one who says he was there and saw it was really not there and did not see it,” said Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Pontifical Household. “What is at stake, in this case, is the honesty of the author. On Calvary, at the foot of the cross, was the mother of Jesus and next to her, ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ We have the testimony of an eye-witness!”
His affirmation of faith came on Good Friday, March 30, 2018, in his homily during the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over by Pope Francis.
Why such “unbounded” attention to the cross of Christ?  Why is this symbol “omnipresent” in every Christian place?
Fr. Cantalamessa answers: “On the cross, God reveals himself…himself as he really is, in his most intimate and truest reality. ‘God is love,”’ John writes (1 Jn 4:10), oblative love, a love that consists in self-giving, and only on the cross does God’s infinite capacity for self-gift manifest the length to which it will go.”
Reminding the congregation that the Church will hold a Synod on Young People this year, Fr. Cantalamessa pointed out that the apostle John likely joined Jesus when he was quite young and his presence on Calvary may have a special message for today’s youth.
“It was a real falling in love,” Fr. Cantalamessa explained. “Everything else suddenly took second place. It was a ‘personal,’ existential encounter. Whereas at the center of Paul’s thinking is the work of Jesus—his paschal mystery of death and resurrection—at the center of John’s thinking is the being, the person, of Jesus. This is the source of all the ‘I am’ statements with divine resonance that punctuate his Gospel: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’; ‘I am the door’; simply ‘I am.’
“It is appropriate during this year that we make an effort to discover together with young people what Christ expects from them, what they can offer the Church and society. The most important thing, however, is something else: it is to help young people understand what Jesus has to offer them.”
John not only offered the example of his life but left a message directly aimed at young people, Father continued.  The message comes in John’s first letter, from an elder John to young people in the churches he founded:
I write to you, young men because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world. (1 Jn 2:14-15)
“The world that we must not love and to which we should not be conformed, as we know, is not the world created and loved by God or the people in the world whom we must always go out to meet, especially the poor and those at the lowest level of society,” Fr. Cantalamessa continued. “‘Blending in’ with this world of suffering and marginalization is, paradoxically, the best way of ‘separating’ ourselves from the world because it means going in the direction from which the world flees as much as it can. It means separating ourselves from the very principle that rules the world, self-centeredness.
“On the cross Jesus not only gave us an example of self-giving love carried to the extreme; he also merited the grace for us to be able to bring it to pass, to some extent, in our lives. The water and blood that flowed from his side come to us today in the sacraments of the Church, in God’s word, and even in just looking at the Crucified One in faith. One last thing John saw prophetically at the cross: men and women of every time and place who were turning their gaze to ‘the one who was pierced’ and who wept tears of repentance and of consolation (see Jn 19:37 and Zac 12:10).”

Pope Francis and the Way of the Cross at Rome's Colloseum

The Way of the Cross
Pope Francis Presides over the Way of the Cross in Rome’s Colosseum

Vatican Media Screenshot
Pope Francis presided over the Way of the Cross in Rome’s Colosseum on the evening of Good Friday, March 30, 2018.  Crowds holding lighted candles joined the event, with meditations prepared by a group of young Italian students.

Good Friday

In preparation for the Passion of the Lord today at 3 pm and in recognition of the solemn day this is I will resume posting later this afternoon.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

If not for Good Friday this would be our Saint of the Day

St. John Climacus

Image of St. John Climacus


Feastday: March 30
Birth: 525
Death: 606

Abbot of Sinai, so called "Climacus" from the title of his famous book, The Climax, or The Ladder of Perfection; also known as John Scholasticus. He was a Syrian or a Palestinian who started his eremitical life at sixteen, living for many years as a hermit on Sinai. He then went to Thale. Revered also as a scriptural scholar, he authored The Ladder of Perfection to provide a comprehensive treatise on the ideal of Christian perfection and the virtues and vices of the monastic life. Composed in thirty chapters, it was intended to correspond to the age of Christ at the time of his baptism by John the Baptist. John was elected abbot of the monks of Mt. Sinai at the age of seventy He died there on March 30

Passover begins; Pope Francis sends greetings

Pope Francis’ Passover Greetings to Jewish Community
Message Addressed to Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni

Prof. Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi Of Rome 31 08 017 © L'Osservatore Romano
Pope Francis on March 29, 2018, send “cordial and fraternal” greetings to the Jewish Community of Rome, according to Vatican News.
His greetings came in a message to Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni.
“May the Almighty bless and accompany the journey of the beloved Jewish People”, wrote the Pope. “May the Most High allow us to grow ever more in friendship and to be witnesses of peace and harmony.”
The Holy Father concluded with a request for prayers and with the greeting, “Chag sameach” – “Happy Feast” in Hebrew. The Rabbi also sent Easter greetings to Pope Francis. This year the dates of Passover and Easter coincide.

Pope Francis washes feet of prisoners at Mass of Lord's Supper

Pope Has Mass of Lord’s Supper at Regina Coeli Prison
Holy Father Washes Feet of 12 Inmates from Around World

© Vatican Media
In keeping with his practice each year of his Pontificate, Pope Francis on Holy Thursday, March 29, 2018, washed the feet of prison inmates during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
This year, the Holy Father visited Regina Coeli Prison, perhaps the best-known of Rome’s prisons, located very close to the Vatican.  It was built in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood in 1654 as a Catholic Convent, converted to a prison in 1881.
The prison holds detainees from more than 60 nations, holding up to 900 inmates. It has received attention in the media due to overcrowding and high suicide rates.
The inmates chosen for the ritual of the washing of the feet were 12 men from seven countries: four Italians, two Filipinos, two Moroccans, one Moldovan, one Colombian, one Nigerian and 1 from Sierra Leone. Eight were Catholic; two were Muslims; an Orthodox and a Buddhist.
The Pope explained to the inmates that the in the time of Christ, washing of feet was something slaves did for travelers when they entered their home after traveling the dusty roads.  When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples it was to show them the importance of service – of how we must treat one another.
“I am a sinner like you. But I represent Jesus today,” Pope Francis told the inmates, as reported in Vatican News. “Jesus took a risk with this man, a sinner, to come to me to tell me that he loves me. This is service. This is Jesus. Before giving us himself in his body and blood, Jesus risked himself for each one of us—risked himself in service—because he loves us so much.”
In addition to celebrating Mass and his encounter for the 12 for the washing of feet, the Holy Father visited inmates in the prison infirmary and those held in a special section because they require extra security.
In previous years, the Holy Father Francis celebrated Holy Thursday Mass in the following places:
2017 Prison of Paliano
2016 C.A.R.A. Castel Novo di Porto
2015 Rebibbia
2014 Don Gnocchi Foundation
2013 Casal del Marmo child prison
Francis is the fourth pontiff to visit Regina Coeli Prison:: Pope John XXIII in 1958, Pope Paul VI in 1964, and Pope John Paul II in the year 2000.

Pope Francis at today's Chrism Mass

Pope at Chrism Mass: Homily Is Touchstone for Judging a Pastor’s Closeness
Says Priests Are to Make Faithful Feel Presence of Jesus

“The homily,” Pope Francis says, “is the touchstone for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate to his people. In the homily, we can see how close we have been to God in prayer and how close we are to our people in their daily lives.”
Pope Francis underscored this during the Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica this Holy Thursday morning, as he underscored that priests’ fundamental role is to make faithful feel the presence of Jesus.
He began his Holy Thursday homily reminding his brother priests that when he was reading the texts of today’s liturgy, he kept thinking of the passage from Deuteronomy: “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” (4:7), and specifically the closeness of God, our apostolic closeness.
Lord Always Draws Close to Us
Recalling the reading from the prophet Isaiah, the Pontiff noted how we contemplate the Servant, “anointed and sent” among his people, close to the poor, the sick, the prisoners, as well as the Spirit who is “upon him”, who strengthens and accompanies him on his journey.
Likewise, in Psalm 88, the Holy Father noted, we see God’s closeness, as He leads King David when he was young, and sustained him as he grew old, takes on the name of fidelity: closeness maintained over time is called fidelity.
“The Lord always comes to us, if we choose to draw near, as “neighbors”, to the flesh of all those who suffer, especially children.”
At the heart of today’s Gospel, we see the Lord through the eyes of his own people, which were “fixed on him” (Lk 4:20). Jesus stood up to read in his synagogue in Nazareth. He was given the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled it until he found, near the end, the passage about the Servant. He read it aloud: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed and sent me…” (Is 61:1).
Jesus, the Pope stressed, finds the passage and reads it with the proficiency of a scribe. “He could have been a scribe or a doctor of the law, but he wanted to be an “evangelizer”, a street preacher, the “bearer of joyful news” for his people, the preacher whose feet are beautiful, as Isaiah says.”
God’s Great Choice: Closeness
“This is God’s great choice: the Lord chose to be close to his people. Thirty years of hidden life! Only then did he began his preaching. Here we see the pedagogy of the Incarnation, a pedagogy of inculturation, not only in foreign cultures but also in our own parishes, in the new culture of young people…”
Closeness, the Pope stressed, is more than the name of a specific virtue. it is an attitude that engages the whole person, our way of relating, our way of being attentive both to ourselves and to others.
“When people say of a priest, “he is close to us”, they usually mean two things. The first is that “he is always there” (as opposed to never being there: in that case, they always begin by saying, “Father, I know you are very busy…”). The other is that he has a word for everyone. “He talks to everybody”, they say, with adults and children alike, with the poor, with those who do not believe… Priests who are “close”, available, priests who are there for people, who talk to everyone… street priests.”
Closeness, the Pope stressed, is crucial for an evangelizer because it is a key attitude in the Gospel (the Lord uses it to describe his Kingdom).
We can be certain that closeness is the key to mercy, for mercy would not be mercy unless, like a Good Samaritan, it finds ways to shorten distances. But I also think we need to realize even more that closeness is also the key to truth. Can distances really be shortened where truth is concerned? Yes, they can. Because truth is not only the definition of situations and things from a certain distance, by abstract and logical reasoning. It is more than that. Truth is also fidelity.”
“It makes you name people with their real name, as the Lord names them,” Francis stressed, “before categorizing them or defining “their situation.”
We must be careful, the Pontiff warned, not to fall into the temptation of making idols of certain abstract truths.
“They can be comfortable idols, always within easy reach; they offer a certain prestige and power and are difficult to discern. Because the “truth-idol” imitates, it dresses itself up in the words of the Gospel, but does not let those words touch the heart. Much worse, it distances ordinary people from the healing closeness of the word and of the sacraments of Jesus.”
Homily Is a Measure of a Pastor’s Closeness
The Pope suggested that priests meditate on three areas of priestly closeness  “spiritual accompaniment”, “confession” and “preaching”.
Speaking on closeness in preaching, the Pope gave priests some homily advice.
“The homily is the touchstone “for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate to his people” (Evangelii Gaudium, 135). In the homily, we can see how close we have been to God in prayer and how close we are to our people in their daily lives.”
The good news, he highlighted, becomes present when these two forms of closeness nourish and support one another.
“If you feel far from God, draw nearer to your people, who will heal you from the ideologies that cool your fervor. The little ones will teach you to look at Jesus in a different way. For in their eyes, the person of Jesus is attractive, his good example has moral authority, his teachings are helpful for the way we live our lives.”
Remember How Precious Each Person Is in Jesus’ Eyes
If you feel far from people, the Pope recommended, approach the Lord and His word.
“In the Gospel, Jesus will teach you his way of looking at people, and how precious in his eyes is every individual for whom he shed his blood on the Cross. In closeness to God, the Word will become flesh in you and you will become a priest close to all flesh. Through your closeness to the people of God, their suffering flesh will speak to your heart and you will be moved to speak to God. You will once again become an intercessory priest.”
A priest who is close to his people, Francis noted, walks among them with the closeness and tenderness of a good shepherd. In shepherding them, the Pope said, he goes at times before them, at times remains in their midst and at other times walks behind them.
“Not only do people greatly appreciate such a priest,” the Pope said, “even more, they feel that there is something special about him: something they only feel in the presence of Jesus. That is why discerning our closeness to them is not simply one more thing to do. In it, we either make Jesus present in the life of humanity or let him remain on the level of ideas, letters on a page, incarnate at most in some good habit gradually becoming routine.”
Pope Francis concluded, saying: “Let us ask Mary, ‘Our Lady of Closeness’ to bring us closer to one another, and, when we need to tell our people to ‘do everything Jesus tells them,’ to speak with one tone of voice, so that in the diversity of our opinions, her maternal closeness may become present. For she is the one who, by her ‘yes’, has brought us close to Jesus forever.”

The Triduum begins

Holy Thursday Good Friday Holy Saturday; the Triduum.

Tonight is the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the mandatum, Adoration until midnight.

Friday brings the Passion of the Lord, Stations of the Cross will be offered.

Saturday we contemplate Jesus in the tomb.  Finally we give way to Easter glory at the great vigil.

Pray the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I can't wait to see what she will do for the church once she enters the church Saturday night

The interview between Patrick Coffin and Lizzie is another source of hope, inspiration and joy in the realization that the Catholic Church home!

She is ready to come fully into the church Saturday night and I pray she will continue to be a shining light for others, especially the youth and those who are in other faiths and know that home really exists in the true bride of
Christ, the Catholic Church:

Wonderful video by Lizzie

Another wonderful video by Lizzie Answers:

Remember, she becomes a Catholic In just a few days!

Normally, this would be tomorrow's Saint of the Day

St. Ludolf of Ratzeburg

Image of St. Ludolf of Ratzeburg


Feastday: March 29
Death: 1250

Ludolf was a Norbertine priest (a canon regular of the Premonstratensian Order). In 1236 he was chosen to become bishop of the German see of Ratzeburg. While fulfilling his episcopal duties, he continued the practices of his Norbertine religious life. For his courageous defense of the Church, he was imprisoned and harshly treated by Duke Albrecht of Saxony-Lauenburg. Subsequently he fell ill and died from what he had suffered. A soldier tormented by excruciating pains in his head resulting from an arrowhead that had become embedded in his flesh during battle invoked the intercession of Saint Ludolf. Soon afterward, he found that the arrowhead had shifted to the surface of his head wound, so that he was able to extricate it with his hand. In thanksgiving to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saint Ludolf, the soldier donated to the Church a lavishly decorated missal and several beautifully adorned liturgical vestments.

Holy Week brings several plenary indulgences

Here are the Plenary Indulgences Available During Holy Week
We all have the opportunity for receiving a plenary indulgence each day of Holy Week. Then Easter Octave. Here’s how to gain them for ourselves and loved ones in purgatory.
The plenary indulgences that we can receive on every day of Holy Week actually are of two kinds. Certain ones are specific to Holy Week itself. Certain ones we can actually gain anytime.
They’re listed in the Norms and Grants in the official Manual of Indulgences, fourth edition (1999), the latest and most up-to-date edition of the Manual, or Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, the one that replaces all others.
First, let’s look at the plenary indulgences specific to Holy Week. Next, we’ll look at those also available during Holy Week plus any time of the year. Then we’ll review the basic mandatory conditions that must be fulfilled for any plenary indulgence. Then we’ll check on “extras.”

Holy Week Plenary Indulgences
These are the specific works listed in the Grants in the Manual of Indulgences:
Holy Thursday. “A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who piously recite the verses of the Tantum ergo after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday during the solemn reposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament.”
Good Friday brings two opportunities. “A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who
  1. Devoutly assist at the adoration of the Cross in the solemn liturgical action of Good Friday; or
  2. Personally make the pious Way of the Cross, or devoutly unite themselves to the Way of the Cross while it is being led by the Supreme Pontiff and broadcast live on television or radio.”
Most every parish conducts Stations of the Cross for parishioners on Good Friday.
On Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil brings another opportunity. “A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who, at the celebration of the Easter Vigil (or on the anniversary of their own Baptism), renew their baptismal vows in any legitimately approved formula.”
The Easter Vigil includes renewal of baptismal vows.

Early in Holy Week
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week we should try to make Mass and receive Holy Communion. That is a “must” because receiving Holy Communion is one of the basic conditions for any plenary indulgence. Here, we consider those certain plenary indulgences which can be gained all year. These are the ones we can obtain on Monday through Wednesday as long as we fulfill the basic conditions (more on them later) and also perform the work required.
The Manual of Indulgences makes this very clear to us: “Deserving of special mention are grants pertaining to these works by any one of which the faithful can obtain a plenary indulgence each day of the year,” always remembering “a plenary indulgence can be acquired no more than once a day.” The Manual lists them as four:
— Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for at least one half hour
—The pious exercise of the Way of the Cross
— Recitation of the Marian rosary or of the hymn Akathistos, in church or an oratory;
or in a family, a religious community, or a sodality of the faithful or, in general,
when several of the faithful are gathered for any good purpose
— The devout reading or listening to the Sacred Scriptures for at least a half an hour

Any one of these per day, Monday through Wednesday — plus Palm Sunday too — can obtain a plenary indulgence for us for ourselves or to apply to a soul in purgatory.

Basic Mandatory Conditions
“In general, the gaining of indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions and the performance of certain prescribed works,” reminded the Apostolic Penitentiary in 2000. The conditions are not many and are not at all difficult.
First, though, the office initially repeated the definition. “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church…” The office explained, “Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.
The Manual of Indulgences gives these basics conditions for any indulgence, plenary or partial. The person seeking the indulgence must be baptized, not excommunicated, and in the state of grace at least at the time the prescribed work is completed.
The Norms remind of another simple essential: we need to have the general intention of wanting to gain the indulgence as well as carrying out the specific works required, according to the sense of the Grant. That’s simple enough.
This next is important. The Norm states, “To gain a plenary indulgence, in addition to excluding all attachment to sin, even venial sin, it is necessary to perform the indulgenced work and fulfill the following three conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff.”
For simplicity sake, let’s review these simple essentials are presented by the office of the Apostolic Penitentiary in their words:
“To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.”
“A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:
— have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;
— have sacramentally confessed 
their sins;
— receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);
— pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.”

The Apostolic Penitentiary in 2000 clarified that One Our Father and one Hail Mary is suggested for the Holy Father’s intentions thought the faithful can chose what prayer, and one sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences.
As for the Stations of the Cross for a plenary indulgence, the manual details, “The pious exercise must be made before stations of the Way of the Cross legitimately erected…According to the common custom, the pious exercise consists of 14 devotional readings, to which some vocal prayers are added. To make the Way of the Cross, however, it is sufficient to meditate devoutly on the Lord’s Passion and Death, and therefore reflection on the particular mysteries of the individual stations in not necessary…Progression from one station to the next is required.” But if we’re making it publicly such as done for a parish, only the one conducting it has to move while we remain in our place.

Extras and Divine Mercy Sunday
We should not stop after Holy Week. Why not continue during the Easter Octave, from Easter Sunday through Divine Mercy Sunday? Monday through Saturday we have those four everyday possibilities for a plenary indulgence. Go to Mass, receive Communion. Then spend time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Pray the Rosary in church. Or with family or as listed above. Read Sacred Scripture for at least half an hour. Your choice.

Then Divine Mercy Sunday has a plenary indulgence of its own.
Through private revelation to St. Faustina, Jesus revealed, 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 (1109). The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion will obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (699). And we must trust in Divine Mercy.
According to Robert Stackpole, the director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, an apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, “The most special grace promised by our Lord for Mercy Sunday is nothing less than the equivalent of a complete renewal of baptismal grace in the soul: "complete forgiveness (remission) of sins and punishment.” (more explanation here)
St. John Paul II not only declared Divine Mercy Sunday a universal feast of the Church but in 2002 he attached a plenary indulgence to it. This made private revelation’s promise “official” as “the Holy See institutionalized the Promise in the form of an Indulgence.”
First there are the usual or standard three conditions of sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff.
Next, the specific conditions or “work” required: “On Divine Mercy Sunday
  • in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy
  • or, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. “Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”).”

For those unable to fulfill these conditions, there are explanations of what they can do for indulgences.
From Holy Week through Divine Mercy Sunday — and beyond — we should try not to miss out on these indulgences for ourselves or for any soul in purgatory who might get the chance to reach heaven in time for Easter and well beyond.