Sunday, April 19, 2009

Liturgical helps

There are many helpful sources for Catholics (and all Christians, if they choose to use them) to deepen their understanding of the mysteries of our Faith and to cooperate better with the Holy Spirit in the work of our sancitification. One of the principal ones is the liturgy. In first place there is the enriched selection of biblical readings for the Mass, especially the three readings for Sundays and Solemnities arranged in a three year cycle. The Eucharistic liturgy, that is rooted in Divine Revelation and the saving actions and word of Jesus Christ, can only be interiorized by a proper understanding of the Revealed Word of God.

To help in this many have found useful the monthly worship guide Magnificat. The daily meditations for each day, as well as the brief biographies of saints not found in the ordinary cycle of commemorations are the source of inspiration.

In addition to the Mass the Church's official liturgy is constituted by the Liturgy of the Hours. For me a privileged place in the Liturgy of the Hours is taken by the Office of Readings, which besides the usual psalms and prayers contains passages from Sacred Scripture and the Writings of the Fathers of the Church (and other holy men and women.) Taken together with the readings from the Mass these form a rich tradition of revealed truth and proven holiness.

Lastly, let me mention another book that is more related to piety and the basic teaching of the Church. That is the Handbook of Prayers edited by Rev. James Socias.

The liturgy is the best way to become immersed in God and the history of His Love for the creature he made in His image and likeness.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Christ has risen

Seen from the perspective of Easter there is a further dimension to the events we have solemnly commemorated during these days, with liturgical signs and symbols. The solemn announcement of Christ's resurrection from the dead is the proclamation that he is the Light in which all mankind is to walk; that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life. They do not look merely to the past, recalling events that happened two thousand years ago; nor are they just of today inviting us to embrace the Christian message or to deepen our commitment to it. They are given to us by the Church in fulfillment of the charge given to the faithful apostles, that those who believe in him and share in his divine Life should also take up the redemptive work that he continues to carryout in the world.

In the days before his death Jesus said, signifying the death by which he was to die, "When I am raised on high (on the cross of crucifixion) I will draw all things to myself." Jesus' death and resurrection are the beginning of the New Creation of which the Book of Revelations speaks: "Behold, I make all things new." (Rev. 21:5) With soteriological perceptiveness (of which they were probably unaware) the screen writers of the movie "The Passion of the Christ" placed these words on Jesus' lips when he meets his mother, Mary, on the way to Golgotha. On the Cross Christ makes all things new. When we follow in his footsteps, taking up the cross of suffering in ordinary life in the world, we are building up the earthly kingdom of men which is meant to be a kingdom of peace, happiness and human progress and prosperity that anticipates our definitive home, the heavenly kingdom that awaits us.

All this is not a myth invented by men but truth according to which generations have loved, lived and died.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

In his death on the Cross Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12. He gave his life as a sacrificial offering for the sins of all men, from Adam and Eve until the last person to be born at the end of time. He is the new passover lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. All who believe in him as God and Saviour and who are washed in the waters of Baptism are cleansed of their sins, reborn as children of God and receive a share in his divine life.

It is clear from St. Paul that the first Christians, who were pious, observant Jews, quickly came to realize that on the Cross Jesus was not only the Lamb of God but was also the priest who offers the expiatory sacrifice of his own human life and death. He is both priest and victim. They saw his words at the Passover meal of the supper before his death -this is my body, this is my blood that is given for you- together with the command "Do this is memory of me" as a new ritual sacrifice to be offered again and again by those to whom he had given the charge, for the sake of all who came to believe in him. Thus is born the Eucharistic liturgy which has sustained and nourished the Church and its faithful over two millennia.

Today, however, the Church suspends the celebration of this liturgy to turn its eyes to the Sacrifice from which it draws its life: Jesus on the Cross and the water and blood that flow from his opened side. We pray for all the needs of mankind and the conditions and states of the men and women of today. We are invited to unite our sufferings to those of the Redeemer for the needs of all who are bound to us by the bond of human solidarity, especially those who do not know the living God of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, the Father of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. All the things of man find meaning in Jesus Christ: the past, the present and the future. We pause in the shadow of the Cross to reflect on this.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Reflections on Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday is above all the commemoration of Christ's institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper with his faithful apostles. In his first Encyclical John Paul II emphasized the centrality of the Eucharist to the life of the Church and of the People of God of the New Covenant in his Blood. (It is an essential truth, not only of doctrine but also of life, that the Eucharist builds the Church, building it as the authentic People of God, as the assembly of the faithful...... ever building and regenerating it on the basis of the Sacrifice of Christ, since it commemorates his death on the Cross, the price by which he redeemed us. In the Eucharist we touch in a way the very mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Encyclical "Redeemer of Man, n. 20") He returned to this same topic in his last Encyclical, "The Church Lives by the Eucharist."

In the two solemn liturgies of Holy Thursday (the Chrism Mass and the Mass of the Lord's Supper) the Church celebrates the deeper understanding, to which she has been led under the light of the Holy Spirit, of some of the mysteries contained in Jesus' passion, death and resurrection. Jesus' intention was that the commemoration of his last supper should be a living memorial of his expiatory sacrifice on the Cross the following day; that the apostles who had received the command "Do this in memory of me," should not only fulfill this charge themselves but hand it on to others whom they might choose, thus giving rise to the sacrament of Holy Orders of Bishop and Priest. The evening liturgy highlights as well that the whole community of those who believe in him should be enlivened by a spirit of self-giving and sacrifice, imitating his example.

These truths that the Church teaches these days reflect the new-found appreciation for the Sacred Scriptures and for the contribution of generations of saints, whom we refer to as Fathers of the Church, whose reflections on the Word of God and the Life of God's Holy People, enriched her life in the early centuries were brought to the contemporary Church by the Second Vatican Council.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Catholic liturgy (and other Christian liturgical traditions) endows the ceremonies of the Paschal Triduum with a rich tapestry of gestures, words, light, music and incense that bestow transcendence on the actions and events they signify. This union of the material and the spiritual, the human and the divine, offers to sinful man the possibility of a transforming experience of the Love of a merciful and forgiving God. The Word of God, His Son, made man, who teaches us all truth about God and man himself, who dies on the Cross for us, and who rose from the tomb and proceeds us into our definitive home in Heaven becomes real to our senses in the words and signs of the liturgy. This is the mysterious and sacramental character of the liturgies of the Paschal Triduum.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sacred Triduum

Catholic faith refines the understanding of Holy Week by focusing on the commemoration of the institution of the Eucharist, the sacramental memorial of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection, together with the institution of the new priesthood which offers the new propitiatory sacrifice, on Holy Thursday. On Good Friday the Church commemorates Jesus' passion and Death in a solemn but austere liturgical ceremony that includes the reception of Holy Communion consecrated during the previous day's Mass of the Lord's Supper. At the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday evening the Church solemnly proclaims the world's redemption from the beginning of time until its consummation on the last day through the Risen Christ who goes before us and who is truly the Light of the world who leads us as the Way, the Truth and the Life. It does this in the company those who have been born again in the waters of baptism and sent into the world to bare witness to the New Life in Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Holy Week

We have begun the week that Christians call Holy: the seven days from Palm Sunday to the Great Easter Vigil of Holy Saturday. During these days Christians ought to reflect on the events in the life of Jesus that culminate in his passion, death and resurrection. This is his hour, as he said, for which he had come into the world. In some way these days are holy because the events they commemorate make holy those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that through his death and resurrection he has freed us from our sins and granted us a share in his own life and holiness.

Friday, April 3, 2009


For anyone who reads this Blog I want to state that whatever I write represent my personal opinions which I pray are always in agreement with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. I hope to be able to reflect at greater length than is possible in the mini-blogs that have become popular in recent years.