Saturday, April 23, 2022

First Week of Eastertide

Second Sunday of Easter 

Low Sunday or Divine Mercy Sunday

The 50 days of Eastertide began with Easter Sunday and continues through the Saturday before Pentecost.

Scripture of the Week

From my professor:

I feel like I return to this verse often; I hope it gives you motivation this week as it is to me!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

I responded:

Thank you! Yes, it is good to be reminded that the Lord does not have plans to harm us, but to prosper us in hopes of a prosperous future. Sometimes I feel as though I (we) are being tried, as if by fire, and He speaks to us about that too:

·        1 Peter 1:7

    • So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

And I am also reminded of...

    • Luke 14:27 
    • Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

And comforted by...

    • Matthew 11:28-30
    • Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

From the sermon at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Henderson, NV - The whole sermon was on St. Thomas, and Father's theme was he was playing St. Thomas' attorney to right his name and proposes doing away with "Doubting Thomas." He argued, after all, St. Peter denied Jesus 3 times - and 2000 years later we're not calling him "Denying Peter!" Or how about James and John. while they are still referred to as the "Sons of Thunder,"  recalling Luke 9:54 where they wanted to call down fire from heaven to punish the Samaritan cities that did not accept Jesus; we do not call them the "over-zealous brothers!" But look at what St. Thomas accomplished! 

St. Thomas travelled all the way to the south-east corner of India - however - we did not know this until the 16th century when St. Xavier landed in India to preach the Gospel - only to be told by the native Indians, "Oh, you mean the Christian Church? It's over here! When Xavier visited the church he discovered it was founded over a millennia earlier by none other than St. Thomas the Apostle! They were celebrating all the Sacraments of the Catholic Church already! Later research also shows a path from Israel to India with Christian churches all along the way - all founded by St. Thomas! So... Father, our defense attorney for St. Thomas, proposes that from now on we refer to him as "St. Thomas the Traveler!" 



 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

He Is Risen - Say it in Ukrainian!

 

Say it in Ukrainian!

Keep in mind, as well, that "Eastertide" just STARTED on Easter Sunday - it lasts FIFTY DAYS - all the way to Pentecost Sunday! So, those of you who have not done your "Easter Duty," you still have time!

Happy Easter 

to all who are reading this!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Holy Saturday - A Brief Synopsis of the Easter Vigil


Holy Saturday is the day we commemorate Jesus in the tomb. He was crucified and buried on Good Friday, and Christians all over the world commemorate in slience the awaiting of Easter Sunday and the Resurrection of our Lord, victorious over death! 

Traditionally, there is no Mass on this day. The morning starts with Tenebrae. Tenebrae is part of the Triduum, celebrated on the three days prior to Easter Sunday (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) and confessions can be scheduled throughout the day, and while there is no Mass, there can be a celebration of Holy Communion with pre-consecrated hosts from Holy Thursday. The word tenebrae comes from the Latin meaning of "darkness" or "shadows" -  as each day of the Triduum, the lights (candles) in the church are gradually extinguished up to the Tenebrae of Holy Saturday, when ALL lights/candles are put out - the church is left in darkness and silence as we wait. 

So what does happen on Holy Saturday? One of the most meaning-packed liturgies of the entire year! Easter Vigil! The vigil traditionally starts at 10 PM local time, and it takes about 2 hours to complete - then - precisely at midnight begins the First Mass of Easter!

The first vigil I ever attended was in the traditional Latin, or extraordinary rite. To be honest, that first time I was not prepared for what was in store for me. First, being a relatively new convert to the Catholic Faith, I did not know all the history and meanings behind all the readings of the vigil. Second, not being really prepared, I got extremely tired before the First Mass of Easter began - but when it did, I was still amazed! The next time I went, I rested up, was a bit more aware of what was going on and was able to follow the readings much more and I was utterly awed by the experience! Then, when the bells began ringing and the statues were unveiled - the experience of the Resurrection explodes throughout the church. The long awaited Easter is HERE and Lent is over! 

In the years after Vatican II the Easter Vigil in the ordinary rite is traditionally celebrated approximately one hour after sunset. This is, in part, aligned with the Jewish celebration of Shabbat (Sabbath) as the traditional Jewish day begins at sunset and ends sunset the following day - hence the need to have Jesus buried quickly on Friday because once Shabbat begins, no work is to be performed. Personally, though similarly done (it is much shorter in the Novus Ordo), from our European perspective of the day starting at midnight, for this writer, at least, having it "early" minimizes some of the mystique of bringing in Easter Sunday ON Sunday in the first moments of Easter. If you have not experienced the Easter Vigil in the Traditional Latin (extraordinary) Rite - I highly recommend it!

What to do to prepare for Easter Vigil

1) Be rested! The celebration is long, even in the Novus Ordo, as there is a LOT packed into the readings.

2) Be ready for what is being read! The Vigil begins in the Old Testament, setting the foundation for and reminding us of the very REASON for Easter!

3) Be prepared to be AWED by the experience - in the fullest sense of the word! In fact, our family tries to only use the word "awe" or "awesome" in matters that relate to God - for God truly is the only One worthy of our awe.

How the Vigil Begins

It starts outside. During the three days of Tenebrae the lights/candles of the church are gradually extinguished so that by Holy Saturday, the inside of the church is completely darkened. Outside the church The Paschal Candle is blessed and prepared - in one significant stage, five "nails" (pins amde from incense) are inserted into the cross on the candle, symbolizing the  five wounds crucifixion, the burial incense - and a reminder - WE put those nails in. Next, a "new fire" is lit - traditionally from striking flint into kindling, and building a fire from there. In modern days, some will use a lighter - which technically is still valid if it uses flint to strike the flame (electronic striking lighters, technically, do not suffice here). Prayers are read, hymns are sung and the Paschal Candle is lit from the new fire. The tradition of the "new fire" used to be a daily practice in the ancient church, eventually was done on each Saturday, throughout the year, and in the 11th century the ceremony was restricted to the Easter Vigil. Then, the congregation, each holding a candle of their own, lights their candle starting from the Paschal Candle. That One Light brings light to all. Next comes the procession into the church.

The Procession Into the Church


The priest leads the way in, pausing first at the door and chanting "Lumen Christi!" (the Light of Christ), then the doors open and he takes a few steps in, pauses and chants again, in slightly higher tone, "Lumen Christi!" This repeats several times as the congregation proceeds in behind him. Keeping in mind, the church is wholly darkened and is only being lit by the candles processing in - it is truly symbolic of the Light of Christ entering into the sanctuary - and back into the world. 

The Readings

The readings begin with the creation of the world, through the story of the fall of mankind into sin, to the promise of Abraham, to Moses, to Isaiah. If you are paying attention and meditating on these words, you may experience the Vigil in the deeper sense for which it was designed - to remind us of who we are, from where we came. and WHY we went through the penance of Lent, Passion Week, and are brought to this point - the Vigil of Easter - where we are encouraged to think upon the women approaching the Empty Tomb.

The Joy of Easter!


The preparation and readings of the Vigil. which again, take approximately 2 hours to go through and is why we start at 10 PM, perfect timing for the First Mass of Easter - which begins promptly at midnight. Bells ring loudly (they have been silenced since Holy Thursday, first day of the Triduum) and the purple veils over the statues (and other artwork) are removed - HE IS RISEN! And we celebrate with the sung High Mass!

The timing in most celebrations of the ordinary (Novus Ordo) rite are a bit different - but the meanings are still there. Again, I have been to both - but I prefer the whole build-up and timing of the First Mass of Easter beginning at midnight - in the first moments of Easter Sunday as celebrated according to the extraordinary rite (and some ordinary rite parishes may still adhere to the more traditional ritual).



Thursday, April 14, 2022

Holy Thursday and Good Friday

THE TRIDUUM BEGINS!


Holy Thursday - or Maundy Thursday we celebrate the FIRST MASS! This is the day Jesus gathers with His Apostles for Passover and therein consecrates the FIRST EUCHARIST enabling ALL Christians to fulfill His repeated command from John 6 to "Eat My Flesh... or you have no life in you!" Jesus takes the bread and wine from the Passover festival and declares, "This IS My Body" and "This IS My Blood," and further commands that we "DO THIS" each time we partake in this - which, as Catholics, we partake in "this" at every celebration of the Mass - again, which all commemorate this FIRST MASS!


Before we get to that FIRST MASS, however, there is the FOOT WASHING. Jesus commands us all to be servants of one another, and by His example - He washes the feet of the Apostles as the gathered for the Passover. This ceremony is also commemorated at most Catholic churches throughout the world on Holy Thursday before Mass. It is also the FINAL Mass celebrated until the First Mass of Easter (during the Easter Vigil). On Good Friday and Holy Saturday during Tenebrae, there may be distribution of pre-consecrated Holy Communion (consecrated on Holy Thursday).

This is also the first day of Tenebrae - the darkening of the church which goes fully dark on Holy Saturday - more on that on Holy Saturday's posting. 

We we remember The First Mass, The Agony in the Garden, Jesus' arrest and His Passion begins.

GOOD FRIDAY

The second day of the Triduum - and the second Tenebrae - more candles are extinguished, fewer lights are left on in the church. There is no "Mass" today, but there may be distribution of pre-consecrated Eucharist - often this is referred to as a "Mass of the Pre-Consecrated."


Today we remember Jesus being presented before Caiphas and Pontius Pilate - His conviction under Pilate, The Way (or Stations) of the Cross - including and His Crucifixion, death and burial.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Palm Sunday - The Last Sunday of Lent

 

Humor aside, this Sunday begins Holy Week - the week that changed the world! This week begins with Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, on Sunday, and by Holy or Maundy Thursday they have arrested Him and the next day, Good Friday, they have hung Him on the Cross.

Meditations for the Week


Today we think of Jesus' glory and recognition as the Messiah, gather your palms and after Mass take them home and display them for the year. They will be returned to the church a week or two before Ash Wednesday and burned - their ashes then used on Ash Wednesday.


Thursday, Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday - Jesus is celebrating Passover with the Apostles. Later this night He goes to Gethsemene to pray. Jesus knows what is coming and He pleads with the Father that this cup may pass if it be the Father's will - but not His own will. He prays so hard that He sweats blood. It is here that Judas betrays Him with a kiss and Jesus is arrested and taken off to Caiphas.


Friday, before Pontius Pilate, Jesus is sentenced to death on the Cross. He is taken out and forced to carry His Cross to Golgatha - the hill of the skull. He is crucified, died, and is buried.

Lent is coming to an end.

Saturday, April 02, 2022

Fifth Sunday of Lent

 

Fifth Sunday of Lent

The Fifth Sunday of Lent is also called Passion Sunday or Judica Sunday, from the first word in the Introit – which in English is "Judge me…" (again, from the Extraordinary Rite of the Mass).

The Epistle: Hebrews 9:11-15

This passage speaks of the Old Testament Law and sacrifice and how those sacrifices did bring on the cleansing of the flesh. However imperfectly, the Sacrifice of Christ brings this cleansing perfectly. It is through our participation in the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass that we cooperate with His Grace and receive His Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine.

The Gospel: John 8:46-59

Jesus reveals Himself to the Jews (especially in the verses which immediately proceed this Gospel), and He tells them that they do not hear Him because they do not belong to God (v. 47). They do not hear Him and look to kill Him – because they are not of God. Jesus reaffirms that their father, Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing Him – and he (Abraham) saw that day and was glad (v. 56). Jesus closes with, "Verily I say to you before Abraham was born, I Am!" (v. 58). The Jews then began to pick up stones to kill Him, but He hid Himself and slipped away (v. 59).

Passion Sunday is also the start of Passiontide, the last 2 weeks before Easter - many churches and homes cover all crucifixes and other religious art with purple veils.



Scripture of the Week

 From my professor:

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." -Deuteronomy 31:6

These are the words of Moses to Israel as he was passing his authority on to Joshua to lead them across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. Those whom they should not fear are the current occupants of the land. A similar story to what we have in the Gospel on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, as the Jews – the current occupants of the Holy Land were not following God, if they had been, they would have seen that the Messiah had indeed come – and instead of accepting and following Him, they looked to kill Him.