Sunday, March 30, 2008

Feast of Divine Mercy

Pope Benedict at today's Regina Caeli address, from Asia News Italy:
A few days shy of the anniversary of John Paul II’s death, Benedict XVI announced during the Regina Caeli today that he would preside over a Mass in memory of the great Polish pope. The Mass will open the First World Congress on Apostolic Divine Mercy in Rome. Card Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, is among the organisers.

“Mercy,’ said Benedict XVI, ‘is in reality the core of the Evangelical message; it is the name of God itself, the face with which He revealed Himself in the Ancient Covenant and fully in Jesus Christ, incarnation of Creative and Redemptive Love. This love of mercy illuminates the face of the Church as well, and manifests itself via the Sacraments, in particular that of the Reconciliation, and charity, community and individual works. All that the Church says and does is a manifestation of God’s mercy for man. When the Church has to reiterate an unrecognised truth or a good thing that was betrayed, it does so driven by a merciful love that men may have life and have it more abundantly (cf Jn, 10:10). From Divine Mercy, which pacifies the hearts, comes true peace in the world, peace among different peoples, cultures and religions.”

It was thanks to John Paul II that the second Sunday of Easter (Dominica in Albis) became the ‘Sunday of Divine Mercy’. “This occurred at the same time as the canonisation of Faustina Kowalska, a humble Polish nun born in 1905 who died in 1938, a zealous messenger of the Merciful Jesus.”

“Like Sister Faustina,” the Pope added, “John Paul II was several times the Apostle of Divine Mercy. That unforgettable Saturday, 2 April 2005, when he closed his eyes to this world, was the eve of the Second Sunday of Easter, and many noted the singular coincidence with its Marian dimension, that of being the first Saturday of the month and that of Divine Mercy. In effect the heart of his long and multifaceted pontificate lies in that; his entire mission in the service of the truth about God and man and peace in the world is summarised in this announcement, which he made himself in Krakow-Łagiewniki in 2002, when he inaugurated the Shrine of Divine Mercy: ‘[A]part from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind.’ His message, like that of St Faustina’s, leads back to the face of Christ, the supreme revelation of God’s mercy. Constantly contemplating that face, that is the heritage he left us, and which we welcome and make our own with joy.”

At the end of his reflection, Benedict urged the faithful to place the congress that opens tomorrow in Rome “under the celestial protection of Mary, Holiest Mater Misericordiae. To her we trust the great cause of peace in the world so that God’s mercy may accomplish what is impossible to human forces alone, and inspire courage for dialogue and reconciliation.”

Friday, March 28, 2008

Where I was Today

Sitting next to Tim Drake who wrote this in his excellent Pope 2008 blog (the picture also was taken by Tim):

Father Benedict Groeschel, co-founder of New York's Franciscan Friars of Renewal spoke to a group of approximately 150 priests, brothers, and nuns this morning at the Institute on Religious Life National Meeting being held in Chicago. The photo is from the talk. While the two-part talk focused on the damage that modern psychology has done to religious life, and the importance of virtue, Father Benedict did offer some interesting asides related to the Pope's upcoming visit.

First, according to Father Benedict, Cardinal Edward Egan asked that representatives from the religious community be on-hand at the airport when the Pope arrives in New York. I didn't obtain the exact numbers, but it sounded as if at least 20 priests and brothers and many sisters from the community will be there to greet the Pope. Imagine all that gray along with the Pope's white.

Secondly, while Father Benedict didn't delve into what he thought the Pope might say while he's here, he did have one thing to say about the Pope's address to Catholic educators and Catholic college and university presidents at Catholic University of America.

"He's not going to give them roses," said Father Groeschel.

Great Quote

“To look at everything only in a human way, and not in the light of faith, is like looking through the opposite end of binoculars - instead of making everything look larger and closer, everything looks smaller and farther away.”S. C. Biela

Monday, March 24, 2008

Regina Caeli Message of Pope Benedict XVI

Given today at Castel Gandolfo, from Asia News Italy:
In the light of the Resurrection of Christ, "special value is accorded to commemoration and prayer for the missionary martyrs who died in 2007, while they were carrying out their missionary service. This is a duty of gratitude for the entire Church, and an encouragement for each of us". These were some of Benedict XVI's words following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, on the occasion of the annual day of prayer and fasting for missionary martyrs. This commemoration is observed today, on the occasion of the anniversary of the martyrdom of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, archbishop of San Salvador.

This day, which is usually dedicated to prayer and fasting, falls on the first day after Easter. The pope cheerfully suggested, given the festive atmosphere, not to fast, but to pray: "To remember and pray, but perhaps not to fast, for these our brothers and sisters - bishops, priests, religious men and women, laity - who died in 2007, while carrying out their missionary service, is a duty of gratitude for the entire Church, and an encouragement for each of us to bear witness in an increasingly courageous way to our faith and hope in Him who on the Cross conquered forever the power of hatred and violence with the omnipotence of his love".

Before the prayer, which replaces the Angelus during the Easter season, the pope recalled that "at the solemn Easter vigil, after the days of Lent, there returned the singing of the Alleluia, a universally familiar word that means 'praise the Lord'. During the Easter season, this invitation to praise leaps from mouth to mouth, from heart to heart. It resonates beginning from an absolutely new event: the death and resurrection of Christ. The Alleluia sprang from the hearts of the first disciples of Jesus that Easter morning, in Jerusalem".

From that same experience, Benedict XVI continues, "is derived also the prayer that we recite today and every day during the Easter season in the place of the Angelus: the Marian antiphon Regina Caeli. The text is short, and has the direct form of a proclamation: it is like a new 'annunciation' to Mary, not made by an angel this time, but by Christians who invite the Mother to rejoice because her Son, whom she bore her womb, has risen as He had promised".

It is to be hoped, the pope continues, "that the Easter Alleluia may be profoundly impressed upon us as well, so that it becomes not only a word, but the expression of our life itself: the existence of persons who invite all to praise the Lord, and do this through their behaviour as 'risen' persons. 'Pray to the Lord for us', we say to Mary, so that He who, in the resurrection of his Son, has restored joy to the entire world, may grant us to taste this joy now, and in the life without end". In conclusion, Benedict XVI recalled the world day for the fight against tuberculosis, and said that he is "particularly close to the sick and to their families. I hope that the effort to overcome this scourge may increase on a worldwide level. My appeal is addressed above all to the Catholic institutions, so that those who suffer may recognise, through their work, the Risen Lord who gives them healing, comfort, and peace".

Sunday, March 23, 2008

To the City and to the World

Pope Benedict's Easter Message, from Asia News Italy:

Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum. Alleluia! - I have risen, I am still with you. Alleluia! Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus, crucified and risen, repeats this joyful proclamation to us today: the Easter proclamation. Let us welcome it with deep wonder and gratitude!


Resurrexi et adhuc tecum sum – I have risen, I am still with you, for ever. These words, taken from an ancient version of Psalm 138 (v. 18b), were sung at the beginning of today’s Mass. In them, at the rising of the Easter sun, the Church recognizes the voice of Jesus himself who, on rising from death, turns to the Father filled with gladness and love, and exclaims: My Father, here I am! I have risen, I am still with you, and so I shall be for ever; your Spirit never abandoned me. In this way we can also come to a new understanding of other passages from the psalm: "If I climb the heavens, you are there; if I descend into the underworld, you are there … Even darkness is not dark for you, and the night is as clear as day; for you, darkness is like light" (Ps 138:8,12). It is true: in the solemn Easter vigil, darkness becomes light, night gives way to the day that knows no sunset. The death and resurrection of the Word of God incarnate is an event of invincible love, it is the victory of that Love which has delivered us from the slavery of sin and death. It has changed the course of history, giving to human life an indestructible and renewed meaning and value.


"I have risen and I am still with you, for ever." These words invite us to contemplate the risen Christ, letting his voice resound in our heart. With his redeeming sacrifice, Jesus of Nazareth has made us adopted children of God, so that we too can now take our place in the mysterious dialogue between him and the Father. We are reminded of what he once said to those who were listening: "All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Mt 11:27). In this perspective, we note that the words addressed by the risen Jesus to the Father on this day – "I am still with you, for ever" – apply indirectly to us as well, "children of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" (cf. Rom 8:17). Through the death and resurrection of Christ, we too rise to new life today, and uniting our voice with his, we proclaim that we wish to remain for ever with God, our infinitely good and merciful Father.


In this way we enter the depths of the Paschal mystery. The astonishing event of the resurrection of Jesus is essentially an event of love: the Father’s love in handing over his Son for the salvation of the world; the Son’s love in abandoning himself to the Father’s will for us all; the Spirit’s love in raising Jesus from the dead in his transfigured body. And there is more: the Father’s love which "newly embraces" the Son, enfolding him in glory; the Son’s love returning to the Father in the power of the Spirit, robed in our transfigured humanity. From today’s solemnity, in which we relive the absolute, once-and-for-all experience of Jesus’s resurrection, we receive an appeal to be converted to Love; we receive an invitation to live by rejecting hatred and selfishness, and to follow with docility in the footsteps of the Lamb that was slain for our salvation, to imitate the Redeemer who is "gentle and lowly in heart", who is "rest for our souls" (cf. Mt 11:29).


Dear Christian brothers and sisters in every part of the world, dear men and women whose spirit is sincerely open to the truth, let no heart be closed to the omnipotence of this redeeming love! Jesus Christ died and rose for all; he is our hope – true hope for every human being. Today, just as he did with his disciples in Galilee before returning to the Father, the risen Jesus now sends us everywhere as witnesses of his hope, and he reassures us: I am with you always, all days, until the end of the world (cf. Mt 28:20). Fixing the gaze of our spirit on the glorious wounds of his transfigured body, we can understand the meaning and value of suffering, we can tend the many wounds that continue to disfigure humanity in our own day. In his glorious wounds we recognize the indestructible signs of the infinite mercy of the God of whom the prophet says: it is he who heals the wounds of broken hearts, who defends the weak and proclaims the freedom of slaves, who consoles all the afflicted and bestows upon them the oil of gladness instead of a mourning robe, a song of praise instead of a sorrowful heart (cf. Is 61:1,2,3). If with humble trust we draw near to him, we encounter in his gaze the response to the deepest longings of our heart: to know God and to establish with him a living relationship in an authentic communion of love, which can fill our lives, our interpersonal and social relations with that same love. For this reason, humanity needs Christ: in him, our hope, "we have been saved" (cf. Rom 8:24).


How often relations between individuals, between groups and between peoples are marked not by love but by selfishness, injustice, hatred and violence! These are the scourges of humanity, open and festering in every corner of the planet, although they are often ignored and sometimes deliberately concealed; wounds that torture the souls and bodies of countless of our brothers and sisters. They are waiting to be tended and healed by the glorious wounds of our Risen Lord (cf. 1 Pet 2:24-25) and by the solidarity of people who, following in his footsteps, perform deeds of charity in his name, make an active commitment to justice, and spread luminous signs of hope in areas bloodied by conflict and wherever the dignity of the human person continues to be scorned and trampled. It is hoped that these are precisely the places where gestures of moderation and forgiveness will increase!


Dear brothers and sisters! Let us allow the light that streams forth from this solemn day to enlighten us; let us open ourselves in sincere trust to the risen Christ, so that his victory over evil and death may also triumph in each one of us, in our families, in our cities and in our nations. Let it shine forth in every part of the world. In particular, how can we fail to remember certain African regions, such as Dafur and Somalia, the tormented Middle East, especially the Holy Land, Iraq, Lebanon, and finally Tibet, all of whom I encourage to seek solutions that will safeguard peace and the common good! Let us invoke the fullness of his Paschal gifts, through the intercession of Mary who, after sharing the sufferings of the passion and crucifixion of her innocent Son, also experienced the inexpressible joy of his resurrection. Sharing in the glory of Christ, may she be the one to protect us and guide us along the path of fraternal solidarity and peace. These are my Easter greetings, which I address to all who are present here, and to men and women of every nation and continent united with us through radio and television. Happy Easter!

Holy Week (Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form)

My Holy Week was spent in two different parishes--one in the usual ordinary form of the liturgy for Holy Thursday and the other in a parish using the extraordinary form for Good Friday and the Easter Vigil.

Holy Thursday: (Ordinary Form) A simple liturgy, somewhat subdued (no washing of feet or stripping of the altars--in fact it seemed that the altars had been stripped beforehand)--still a beautiful simple liturgy with chant and incense. A modest crowd.

Good Friday: (Extraordinary Form) Celebrated by a priest of the Fraternity of Saint Peter (in my experience--these priests do it well and speak Latin with great ease). Amazing how little this liturgy (which I believe was modified greatly by Pius XII) has changed. Everything in Latin, including the Passion, which the priest read changing his voice for each character. One part of John's Passion that jumped out at me, (and all you authors out there who have worked with an editor will relate) , was the exchange between the chief priests and Pilate. It struck me that Pilate's response is the motto of all authors--while the chief priests represent the editorial motto "Write not: The King of the Jews, but that He said: I am the King of the Jews" to which Pilate responds: "Quod scripsi, scripsi" literally "what I have written, I have written." The priest used the modified prayer of Pope Benedict in the Intercession when praying for the Jewish people--I'm surprised the "Heretics and Schismatics" as well as the "pagans" haven't been complaining about being prayed for as well. About 100 or so present, all seemed conversant with the Latin and to follow the liturgy with no problem--mostly young (read under 40 crowd).

Holy Saturday (Extraordinary Form): At 11 p.m. This was a first for me--I had been to the Good Friday liturgy once before it was reformed as a young child, but never to the Easter Vigil before the reform. I found it very interesting. Most of the same elements, blessing of the fire, candle, Exultet, vigil readings (four), blessing of the Baptismal water, font (before the "Mass"), then High Mass followed by Solemn Lauds--all in about three hours. The readings were all chanted by the priest. The service began outside and it was cold (in the 20's with wind). The thing that struck me most was how long the blessing over the water was and the various exorcisms by tracing the cross, flinging water to the four directions, breathing the cross, breathing the Greek letter psi while the Easter Candle was submerged, pouring the Oil of the Sick as well as Sacred Chrism into the water. Without any baptisms or confirmations the Mass was three full hours. Most of the liturgy involved the active participation of the faithful (a fairly small crowd of maybe 60 people) up until Mass began. Then as Mass began, we gathered became essentially spectators, the priest reading to himself, saying all the prayers to God and only every now and then were were a part of an "Amen" or "Et cum spiritu tuo." And its at that point that whenever I experience the extraordinary form that I always see why reform of the liturgy was needed--and this is one of the gifts that Pope Benedict is giving to the church by making the extraordinary form more available--reeducating us as to what the reform of the liturgy hoped to accomplish. I only wish that the baby hadn't been thrown out with the bath water and that is the problem--how beautiful it would be to have the Liturgy of the Word chanted in English, while at the same time chanting common Latin prayers as it seems the Council envisioned. There is much to experience in the Extraordinary Form and I hope many who have never experienced it will venture out to do so. I also hope pastors of the ordinary form will do so too--in order to recapture much of what is missing from their parish liturgies today.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Turn Towards the Lord

From Pope Benedict XVI's Easter Vigil homily:
In the early Church there was a custom whereby the Bishop or the priest, after the homily, would cry out to the faithful: “Conversi ad Dominum” – turn now towards the Lord. This meant in the first place that they would turn towards the East, towards the rising sun, the sign of Christ returning, whom we go to meet when we celebrate the Eucharist. Where this was not possible, for some reason, they would at least turn towards the image of Christ in the apse, or towards the Cross, so as to orient themselves inwardly towards the Lord. Fundamentally, this involved an interior event; conversion, the turning of our soul towards Jesus Christ and thus towards the living God, towards the true light. Linked with this, then, was the other exclamation that still today, before the Eucharistic Prayer, is addressed to the community of the faithful: “Sursum corda” – “Lift up your hearts”, high above the tangled web of our concerns, desires, anxieties and thoughtlessness – “Lift up your hearts, your inner selves!” In both exclamations we are summoned, as it were, to a renewal of our Baptism: Conversi ad Dominum – we must distance ourselves ever anew from taking false paths, onto which we stray so often in our thoughts and actions. We must turn ever anew towards him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We must be converted ever anew, turning with our whole life towards the Lord. And ever anew we must allow our hearts to be withdrawn from the force of gravity, which pulls them down, and inwardly we must raise them high: in truth and love. At this hour, let us thank the Lord, because through the power of his word and of the holy Sacraments, he points us in the right direction and draws our heart upwards. Let us pray to him in these words: Yes, Lord, make us Easter people, men and women of light, filled with the fire of your love.

Pope Baptizes Prominent Italian Muslim

From Yahoo News:
An Egyptian-born, non-practicing Muslim who is married to a Catholic, Magdi Allam infuriated some Muslims with his books and columns in the newspaper Corriere della Sera newspaper, where he is a deputy editor. He titled one book "Long Live Israel."

As a choir sang, Pope Benedict XVI poured holy water over Allam's head and said a brief prayer in Latin.

"We no longer stand alongside or in opposition to one another," Benedict said in a homily reflecting on the meaning of baptism. "Thus faith is a force for peace and reconciliation in the world: distances between people are overcome, in the Lord we have become close."

Vatican Television zoomed in on Allam, who sat in the front row of the basilica along with six other candidates for baptism. He later received his first Communion.

Second Day of Divine Mercy Novena

From Divine Mercy Novena:

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.

New Papal Master of Ceremonies Explains All

From The New Liturgical Movement:
The office of Master of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Pope is important because, if it is true that lex orandi lex credendi (the Church believes in that which She prays [Rodari's translation]), then to direct the papal ceremonies with rigour and faithfulness to the norms is a help to the Faith of the entire Church. "The liturgy of the Church - explains Marini -, with its words, gestures, silences, chants and music causes us to live with singular efficacy the different moments of the history of Salvation in such a way that we become really participant in them and transform ourselves ever more into authentic disciples of the Lord, walking again in our lives along the traces of Him who has died and risen for our salvation. The liturgical celebration, if it is truly participated in, induces to this transformation which is the history of holiness."

And a help in this "transformation" can be that "repositioning" of the Cross in the centre of the altar, which has been carried out in the papal liturgies, as a residue [Rodari's word] of the old "orientation towards orient" of churches towards the rising Sun, Him who is coming. "The ion of the Cross at the centre of the altar - says Marini - indicates the centrality of the Crucified in the eucharistic celebration and the precise interior orientation which the entire congregation is called to have during the eucharistic liturgy: one does not look at each other, but one looks to Him who has been born, has died and is risen for us, the Saviour. From the Lord comes the salvation, He is the Orient, the Sun which rises to whom we all must turn our gaze, from Whom we all must receive the gift of grace. The question of liturgical orientation, and also the practical manner in which it takes shape, is of great importance, because through it is conveyed a fundamental fact, at once theological and anthropological, ecclesiological and relevant for the personal spirituality."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Divine Mercy Novena Begins Today

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.

Say the above prayer and recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. For the entire novena see:

Pope Stays Undercover for Stations


Held during a driving rainstorm, from the Associated Press:

Pope Benedict XVI presided over the Good Friday night Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum during a driving rainstorm but did not carry the cross as planned during the tradition, which was dedicated to religious freedom this year.

The pope wore a long white coat as he stood sheltered from the cold, pelting rain under a canopy erected on the Palatine Hill overlooking the Colosseum.

At the end of the procession, Italian Cardinal Camillo Ruini handed Benedict the tall, slender, lightweight cross. The pope gripped the cross briefly. Then, in a strong voice, he blessed the crowd of thousands being drenched by the rain and buffeted by gusty winds and told them: "Thank you for being patient under the rain. Happy Easter to you."

The pope was supposed to carry the cross for the final minutes of the more than hour-long procession, taking his turn after a young woman and a young priest from China walked with the symbol of Jesus' crucifixion.

But Vatican officials said that because of the storm, it was decided that the pope, who turns 81 next month and has two more days of strenuous ceremonies in the days ahead to mark Easter, should stay dry under the canopy.

Behold the Wood of the Cross


Good Friday--The Penitenti


From Reuters:
Penitent Fernando Mamangan weeps in pain as he is nailed to a wooden cross in a voluntary crucifixion on Good Friday in Santa Lucia village March 21, 2008. Filipinos including a 15-year-old were nailed to crosses and scores more whipped their backs into a bloody pulp on Friday in a gory ritual to mark the death of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holy Thursday

The Lamb of God...and I presume a highlight of Jesus of Nazareth II...

From Pope Benedict's homily of 2007:

It was on the eve of his Passion that Jesus together with his disciples celebrated this meal with its multiple meanings. This is the context in which we must understand the new Passover which he has given to us in the Blessed Eucharist.


There is an apparent discrepancy in the Evangelists' accounts, between John's Gospel on the one hand, and what on the other Mathew, Mark and Luke tell us.



According to John, Jesus died on the Cross at the very moment when the Passover lambs were being sacrificed in the temple. The death of Jesus and the sacrifice of the lambs coincided.
However, this means that he must have died the day before Easter and could not, therefore, have celebrated the Passover meal in person - this, at any rate, is how it appears.

According to the three Synoptic Gospels, the Last Supper of Jesus was instead a Passover meal into whose traditional form he integrated the innovation of the gift of his Body and Blood.


This contradiction seemed unsolvable until a few years ago. The majority of exegetes were of the opinion that John was reluctant to tell us the true historical date of Jesus' death, but rather chose a symbolic date to highlight the deeper truth: Jesus is the new, true Lamb who poured out his Blood for us all.


In the meantime, the discovery of the [Dead Sea] Scrolls at Qumran has led us to a possible and convincing solution which, although it is not yet accepted by everyone, is a highly plausible hypothesis. We can now say that John's account is historically precise.



Jesus truly shed his blood on the eve of Easter at the time of the immolation of the lambs.
In all likelihood, however, he celebrated the Passover with his disciples in accordance with the Qumran calendar, hence, at least one day earlier; he celebrated it without a lamb, like the Qumran community which did not recognize Herod's temple and was waiting for the new temple.

Consequently, Jesus celebrated the Passover without a lamb - no, not without a lamb: instead of the lamb he gave himself, his Body and his Blood. Thus, he anticipated his death in a manner consistent with his words: "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord" (Jn 10: 18).


At the time when he offered his Body and his Blood to the disciples, he was truly fulfilling this affirmation. He himself offered his own life. Only in this way did the ancient Passover acquire its true meaning.



In his Eucharistic catecheses, St John Chrysostom once wrote: Moses, what are you saying? Does the blood of a lamb purify men and women? Does it save them from death? How can the blood of an animal purify people, save people or have power over death? In fact, Chrysostom continues, the immolation of the lamb could be a merely symbolic act, hence, the expression of expectation and hope in One who could accomplish what the sacrifice of an animal was incapable of accomplishing.
The Lamb and Temple

Jesus celebrated the Passover without a lamb and without a temple; yet, not without a lamb and not without a temple. He himself was the awaited Lamb, the true Lamb, just as John the Baptist had foretold at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (Jn 1: 29).


And he himself was the true Temple, the living Temple where God dwells and where we can encounter God and worship him. His Blood, the love of the One who is both Son of God and true man, one of us, is the Blood that can save. His love, that love in which he gave himself freely for us, is what saves us. The nostalgic, in a certain sense, ineffectual gesture which was the sacrifice of an innocent and perfect lamb, found a response in the One who for our sake became at the same time Lamb and Temple.


Thus, the Cross was at the centre of the new Passover of Jesus. From it came the new gift brought by him, and so it lives on for ever in the Blessed Eucharist in which, down the ages, we can celebrate the new Passover with the Apostles.


From Christ's Cross comes the gift. "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord". He now offers it to us.


The paschal haggada, the commemoration of God's saving action, has become a memorial of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ - a memorial that does not simply recall the past but attracts us within the presence of Christ's love.



Thus, the berakah, Israel's prayer of blessing and thanksgiving, has become our Eucharistic celebration in which the Lord blesses our gifts - the bread and wine - to give himself in them.
Let us pray to the Lord that he will help us to understand this marvellous mystery ever more profoundly, to love it more and more, and in it, to love the Lord himself ever more.

Let us pray that he will increasingly draw us to himself with Holy Communion. Let us pray that he will help us not to keep our life for ourselves but to give it to him and thus to work with him so that people may find life: the true life which can only come from the One who himself is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Way of the Cross (Vatican)

Beautiful artwork that accompanies this year's stations composed by Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong following the modified stations of Pope John Paul II (beginning with the Agony in the Garden). So far only online in Italian, but the English should be there by Good Friday...here.

Bin Laden Threatens the Pope

Blames him for Danish cartoons of three years ago, from Reuters:

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden threatened the European Union with grave punishment on Wednesday over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

In an audio recording posted on the Internet, Bin Laden said the cartoons were part of a "crusade" in which he said the Catholic Pope Benedict was involved.

The message was released on the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Pope to Reduce Good Friday Activity

From Reuters:

Pope Benedict will reduce his activity at this week's Good Friday procession by watching most of the service from a vantage point instead of walking around Rome's ancient Colosseum, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Rev. Federico Lombardi confirmed the change, reported earlier on Tuesday by the French religious news agency I-Media.

Lombardi said there were no worries about the health of the pope, who will turn 81 during his trip to the United States in April.

"It is reasonable that he would want to conserve his energy," Lombardi said in response to a question.

Instead of walking around the Colosseum for all 14 of the "stations of the cross" as he did in previous years, the pope will watch most of the event from Rome's nearby Palatine hill.

Benedict is expected to walk the procession only for the last three "stations". The 14 stations commemorate the events between Christ being condemned to death and his burial.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Problem at Notre Dame

Well put...from Exile Street:
This is not a discussion of censoring works of art like VM. They are easily available to any who wish to view them. It is the failure of Notre Dame to become a place where such sin is not celebrated. Can’t there be one “last homely home,” one last Rivendell, where an alternative culture can exist?

Must one allow sin, blasphemy and the celebration of the unholy, to live the examined life? Aquinas did not think so. Socrates did not either. What does the President of Notre Dame know that they did not?

Once a mind has been debased, Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers make it clear that purity is difficult to regain. What academic merit would justify such a thing?

The notion that having one token Catholic to respond on a “panel” to a forceful dramatic presentation is so weak and impotent as to merit pity or laughter more than anger. It is as if the owner of a home felt honored that he was allowed one seat at his own dinner table, dominated by barbarians.

The sheep have invited the wolves to dinner, but a shepherd will comment after the meal.

Where Owning a Rosary Might Put You in Prison

Saudi Arabia extends a hand of friendship to the Pope, from the Times Online:

The Vatican is believed to be holding talks with Saudi authorities over opening the first Roman Catholic church in the Islamic kingdom, where Christian worship is banned and even to possess a Bible, rosary or crucifix is an offence.

The disclosure came the day after the first Catholic church in Qatar was inaugurated in a service attended by 15,000 people and conducted by a senior Vatican official.

The Vatican and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations. However, Archbishop Paul-Mounged El-Hachem, the Papal Nuncio to Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, Yemen and Bahrain, who attended the Doha inauguration, said that moves towards diplomatic ties were under way after an unprecedented visit to the Vatican last November by King Abdullah. This would involve negotiations for the “authorisation of the building of Catholic churches” in Saudi Arabia, he said.

The move would amount to a potential revolution in Christian-Muslim relations, since Saudi Arabia adheres to a hardline Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam and is home to Mecca and Medina, the most holy sites of the religion. No faith other than Islam may be practised.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New (Old) Papal Cross

The Holy Father used the crosier (papal cross) of Pius IX and XII in today's Palm Sunday liturgy. Chances are this is only a temporary change--even Pope John Paul II used several different "ferula"
during his pontificate.

From the Roman Catholic:


Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Passion of the Lord

From Matthew's Gospel...

Beginning with Hosanna, literally "save us!" to invoking the Blood of the New Covenant upon us and our children:

  • what might seem to be a shift in the crowd is ironically in a twist a consistent plea to be saved, albeit in a way that the human actors are unaware--much as we who voice their words as ours on Palm Sunday
  • there is a consistent theme of God's plan coming to fruition in spite of human sinfulness
  • even the thirty pieces of silver are used to purchase a field of "blood" in which to bury foreigners--that precious blood makes available the possibility of eternal life, not only for the people of the Covenant of Moses, but alas for all people--the "many"

Yet here is the one passage that struck me as new and gave me pause to reflect--and something to go and study now (I italicize and put in bold the parts of the passage that I had never quite heard before in this way):

The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

A New Cuban Saint

GIUSEPPE OLALLO VALDÉS

From the Vatican:

- un miracolo, attribuito all’intercessione del Venerabile Servo di Dio GIUSEPPE OLALLO VALDÉS, Religioso professo dell’Ordine Ospedaliero di San Giovanni di Dio; nato a L’Avana (Cuba) il 12 febbraio 1820 e morto a Camagüey (Cuba) il 7 marzo 1889;

Friday, March 14, 2008

Solemnity of Saint Joseph

Early this year, because the usual feast falls during Holy Week. A Saint I invoke endlessly and with age have only more reason to double my petitions. The words of Pharaoh, recorded in Genesis, became the Word of God when they were imortalized the Sacred Scriptures and so what meant one thing when spoken, now to Christians takes on a new meaning:

“Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.”


Genesis 41:55