The month of May is the "month which the piety of the faithful has especially dedicated to Our Blessed Lady," and it is the occasion for a "moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world [pay] to the Queen of Heaven. During this month Christians, both in church and in the privacy of the home, offer up to Mary from their hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration. In this month, too, the benefits of God's mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance" (Paul VI: Encyclical on the Month of May, no. 1).
This Christian custom of dedicating the month of May to the Blessed Virgin arose at the end of the 13th century. In this way, the Church was able to Christianize the secular feasts which were wont to take place at that time. In the 16th century, books appeared and fostered this devotion.
The practice became especially popular among the members of the Jesuit Order — by 1700 it took hold among their students at the Roman College and a bit later it was publicly practiced in the Gesu Church in Rome. From there, it spread to the whole Church.
Different countries celebrate Mary during May as well. In Japan, Catholics celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Tsuwano on May 3, while the Polish celebrate the Blessed Mother as Queen of Poland on the same day. Maronite Catholics celebrate Our Blessed Mother of Miles May 16 and Peruvians celebrate Our Lady of Cuzco May 23.
The pious practice of honoring Mary during the month of May has been especially recommended by the Popes. Paul VI wrote a short encyclical in 1965 using the Month of Mary devotion as a means of obtaining prayers for peace. He urged the faithful to make use of this practice which is "gladdening and consoling" and by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is honored and the Christian people are enriched with spiritual gifts" (no. 2).
In May of 2002, Pope John Paul II said, "Today we begin the month dedicated to Our Lady a favourite of popular devotion. In accord with a long-standing tradition of devotion, parishes and families continue to make the month of May a 'Marian' month, celebrating it with many devout liturgical, catechetical and pastoral initiatives!"
Pope Francis’ April 28 Regina Coeli > Latin Marian Hymn for "Queen of Heaven" > catholicsun.org
Before closing this celebration, I would like to entrust to Our Lady the confirmands and all of you. The Virgin Mary teaches us what it means to live in the Holy Spirit and what it means to accept the news of God in our life. She conceived Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit, and every Christian, each one of us, is called to accept the Word of God, to accept Jesus inside of us and then to bring him to everyone. Mary invoked the Holy Spirit with the Apostles in the Upper Room: we too, every time that we come together in prayer, are sustained by the spiritual presence of the Mother of Jesus, in order to receive the gift of the Spirit and to have the strength to witness to Jesus Risen. I say this in a special way to you who have received Confirmation today: may Mary help you to be attentive to what the Lord asks of you, and to live and walk forever with the Holy Spirit!
I would like to extend my affectionate greeting to all the pilgrims present from so many countries. I greet in particular the children who are preparing for Confirmation, the large group led by the Sisters of Charity, the faithful of several Polish parishes and those from Bisignano, as well as the Katholische akademische Verbindung Capitolina.
Now, in the light of Easter, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we turn together to the Mother of the Lord.
Much more than a haunting melody with nonsensical lyrics, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written by the English Jesuits during the 16th century as a catechetical device.By: Father Edward T. Dowling - Catholic.net
I’m sure you have all heard the Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” with its haunting melody. The carol dates back to the 16th century and its precise author is unknown. It has generally been assumed to consist of twelve nonsense verses built around a pretty melody. But in a fascinating article in Our Sunday Visitor
(12/20/92), Fr. Gilhooley, a chaplain at St. Mary’s College, informs us that the carol was written by the English Jesuits of the 16th century as a catechetical device and it is far from filled with nonsensical verses.
The carol is akin to the apocalyptic literature of Scripture that used obscure symbols to hide its true meaning from the enemy in time of persecution. To understand the background that gave rise to the carol, let us look briefly at the history of Catholicism in 16th century England.
When Henry VIII was rebuffed by Rome in his bid to divorce Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn, he declared himself head of the Church in England replacing the Pope and demanded that all swear an oath of allegiance to him as such. St. Thomas More, the Chancellor of the Realm, the equivalent of the Prime Minister today, refused the oath supporting the elimination of the Pope’s authority and Henry had him publicly beheaded. Catholic convents and monasteries were closed and looted. The situation was worse under his son, Edward VI, and better during the short reign of Catherine’s daughter, Mary Tudor. She was succeeded by her half-sister Elizabeth I, an ardent Protestant, the daughter of Anne Boleyn. The practice of the Catholic faith was banned. Priests were exiled and forbidden under pain of death from returning or performing the sacraments.
But many priests risked their lives to come back and minister to the flock and many lay Catholics likewise risked their lives and fortunes to hear Mass and have their children baptized. Wealthy families built hiding places, called priests’ holes, in their homes to hide priests in case their homes were raided by the secret police.
The story is told of one priest who was almost caught in a surprise raid. He had just time to squeeze into his hole before the police broke in on the family. The police went right to the fireplace where the priest’s hole was located. But try as they might, they couldn’t find the entrance. Then in their frustration they ordered a fire to be lit to drive out the priest. When he didn’t emerge, because to do so would subject the host family to prison or death, they ordered more logs on the fire. Eventually all were driven from the room by the intense heat and the police left in disgust. The family rushed to get the priest out of the hole but he was already dead, baked alive. He gave his life under cruel circumstances to save those whom he had come to serve. And he was only one of many.
With this as a background we can see the need for secrecy and deception. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written to educate the faithful in the doctrines of the faith and yet not be obvious to the persecutors. The numbers are simply a mnemonic to help Catholics remember some basic facts. Recall the words of the song. “On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: twelve lords a leaping, eleven pipers piping, ten ladies dancing, nine drummers drumming, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.” “The Twelve Days of Christmas” celebrates the official Christmas season, which starts on Christmas Day and ends twelve days later on the Feast of the Epiphany, and here each of the verse's true meanings are revealed:
- “My true love” refers to God, “me” is the individual Catholic
- The “twelve lords a leaping” are the twelve beliefs of the Catholic Church as outlined in the Apostles Creed
- The “eleven pipers piping” are the eleven Apostles who remained faithful after the treachery of Judas
- The “ten ladies dancing” are the Ten Commandments
- The “nine drummers drumming” are the nine choirs of angels
- The “eight maids a milking” are the eight Beatitudes
- The “seven swans a swimming” are the seven sacraments
- The “six geese a laying” are the six commandments of the Church or the six days of creation
- The “five golden rings” are the first five books of the Old Testament called the Torah, which are generally considered the most sacred and important of all the Old Testament
- The “four calling birds” are the four Gospels
- The “three French hens” are the Three Persons in God or the three gifts of the Wise Men
- The “two turtle doves” represent the two natures in Jesus: human and divine, or Old and New Testaments
- The “partridge” is the piece de resistance, Jesus himself, and the “pear tree” is the Cross
By: Renzo Allegri - Messenger of St. Anthony
Renzo, a journalist for Messenger of St. Anthony, had the privilege of meeting Mother Teresa, who explained to him why Christmas was so important for her
CHRISTMAS was the most significant feast for Mother Teresa. She used to say that her work with the poor began on Christmas Day in 1948. Celebrating Christmas for Mother Teresa meant being with the poor to whom she devoted her life. Yet the poorest of the poor according to her were abandoned children and the dying. This is why every Christmas she made sure she was free to spend time with them. This is what Monsignor Paolo Hnilica, the Slovakian priest who was Mother Teresa's close friend and collaborator for over 30 years, told me when I met him for this article.
'Christmas was at the centre of Mother Teresa's spirituality,' continued Monsignor Hnilica. 'Christmas is the event which has given meaning to the story of the universe. It reminds us of the birth of Christ who became a human being, just like one of the billions who have populated and will populate the earth. This was a choice made out of love, to 'redeem' humanity, to restore the damage done by Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of time.
'Mother Teresa saw the condition of all mankind in the fragile and defenseless child born in a stable in Bethlehem; and equally she saw the Baby Jesus in all human beings. She saw Him especially among the poorest of the poor, because those who suffer the most and have nothing are most like the baby born in Bethlehem. She saw Him in abandoned children as these innocent creatures represented Baby Jesus' condition even more clearly.'
Christmas in Calcutta
'I have spent many Christmases with Mother Teresa,' Monsignor Hnilica told me. 'But I remember one in particular. I was in Calcutta, India. Mother Teresa invited me to dinner on 24 December, Christmas Eve, to celebrate with her and the other nuns. It was a meagre meal as is usual for the Missionaries of Charity, but rich in joy, affection and fraternity. The atmosphere was so cordial that we almost forgot to eat.
'At a certain point, I heard a knocking on the door. One of the nuns went to see who it was and returned with a basket covered in cloth. 'A woman gave it to me and then rushed off,' she said. As she gave the basket to Mother Teresa she added, 'She was probably a benefactor who wanted to donate some food to us for Christmas.' Mother Teresa removed the cloth and her eyes lit up. 'Jesus has arrived' she said with a beautiful smile. The other nuns ran to see. In the basket there was a sleeping baby boy. He was an abandoned baby who was a few days old; the woman who had brought him, perhaps his mother, was unable to look after him and so entrusted him to the nuns; a frequent occurrence in Calcutta. The nuns squealed with joy and held onto the basket, moved by the sight of the sleeping baby. Their cries woke him up, and he began to cry. Mother Teresa picked him up, smiled and yet at the same time had tears in her eyes. 'Look, now we can say that our Christmas is complete,' she said. 'Baby Jesus has come to us. We must thank God for this wonderful gift.'
Christmas in Kosovo
The future Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, in Kosovo, in a well-to-do family. Her father had an important building company. She was baptized Agnes, but because she was so pretty, the family nicknamed her 'Gonxha' which means flower bud. She had one elder sister Agatha and one elder brother, Lazar. It was their mother, Drone (the Albanian equivalent of Rose) who instilled in them the importance of transmitting Christian love and helping those less fortunate in life.
'Each week, our mother took us to visit the city's poorest families bringing with us food and clothes,' Lazar, Mother Teresa's brother told me. 'While Agatha and I tried to ensure the visits were as brief as possible, Agnes was always very willing to help the dirty and malnourished children. On feast days and especially at Christmas, we hardly ever saw her as she was always with these children, to the extent that even our mother complained. She wanted Christmas to be a family occasion, all together at home. But it was impossible for Agnes to resist staying away from this poor family.'
Becoming a nun
As a young woman, Agnes knew several Jesuit missionaries who carried out their apostolate in India, in Bengal State, and she began to correspond with them. The religious used to send letters about what they were doing to save the abandoned children. It was these accounts which moved Agnes the most. She began saving money to send to these missionaries so that they could help more abandoned children. She also began thinking about going to India to dedicate her life to these children.
She didn't, however, want to become a nun. She wasn't attracted to the cloistered life. In those days, 'lay missionaries' didn't exist and she realized that only by entering into a religious order could she fulfill her dream. She thus agreed to become to a nun. At the age of seventeen she joined the 'Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto' because they had a mission in Bengal, and she departed for India.
She thought she would then be able to set up an initiative to help abandoned children, as she had always dreamed of doing; instead her superiors sent her instead to the College of Calcutta to teach the daughters of the city's wealthy families. Sister Teresa was upset, but she remembered the vow of obedience, and she submitted to the authority of her superiors.
She remained in this beautiful college for 18 years. Her Christmases in this period were in the traditional style of the wealthy: the crib was made, presents were exchanged, Christmas cards were written, Midnight Mass was celebrated with solemn hymns and carols and a succulent lunch was eaten on Christmas Day. She still managed to find a way to remember the abandoned children for whom she became a nun. In the college, an association called the Female Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin was created. The girls who belonged to it visited poor families once a week. For Christmas, Mother Teresa prepared small gifts, and through the girls' help, ensured that they were distributed to the poorest children. Only in this way did she feel she was celebrating fittingly the birth of Jesus Christ. Then a change occurred.
Poverty in Calcutta
On the evening of 10 September 1946, Mother Teresa departed for a few days' rest in the mountains, at the foothills of the Himalayas. She arrived at the train station at about 8 p.m. to catch the night train and avoid the suffocating heat of the season. There she discovered Calcutta's poverty.
She had lived in the city for a long time and she knew that it was considered the poorest capital in the world. Nowhere else was it possible to find so many poor people. At times, she used to leave the college and find herself in a teaming mass of starving and dying people, yet that night it appeared somehow different. It was as if she saw reality for the first time. While traveling to the station and waiting for her train, she looked around worriedly as if she were lost. In the old and decrepit station, there were numerous outcasts, reduced to walking skeletons through hunger and marked by disgusting diseases: young mothers breast feeding their children were begging; groups of children dressed in rags followed foreigners asking for food; cripples and the blind were seated on the floor using their mouths to plead for some food to appease their hunger pains.
The train arrived full of passengers and increased its load with even more. When it set off, it moved slowly to prevent the various people on the carriage steps and on the roof from falling off. The train stopped at every station and each time Sister Teresa was presented with the same terrible vision of an enormous crowd of begging skeletons. The nun continued to look around appalled and bewildered. She had never before felt so much pity or remorse in her life.
She thought and she reflected. She tried to find an explanation for all of this pain and human desolation. Her faith told her that these human larvae which travelled with her or rested in the stations, were God's children, in the same way as she and her pupils at the college were. The difference being that she and her pupils had had the good fortune to have a well-to-do existence, while these 'Children of God' suffered enormously, were deprived of everything, and their existence was worse than that of animals.
Meeting Mother Teresa
'It was that exact night,' Mother Teresa told me one day while recounting her life 'that I opened my eyes to human suffering and deeply understood the essence of my vocation. In fact, I can say that that night I received a new calling from God. A calling within the calling. The Lord invited me not to 'change my status' as a nun, but to 'modify' it making it more in keeping with the Gospel and the missionary spirit he had given me. It was an invitation to improve the vocation that I have had since a young girl. I felt that the Lord was calling me to give up my peaceful life within the religious Congregation and to go out on the streets in order to serve the poor. It was a clear and precise message: I had to leave the convent and live with the poor.
I asked Mother Teresa if her new mission began straight away. 'No,' she replied, 'I had to wait two more years. Two years in which I had to explain to my superiors the new vocation I had received. I had to convince them that I was serious and that it wasn't just a whim. I then had to ask the Pope for permission to leave the Congregation in which I had lived 18 years, and begin a new life while remaining a nun. It was a difficult and painful process, but the Lord had called me and He saw to it that everything was sorted out.'
'Eventually in the summer of 1948, I obtained Pope Pius XII's permission, I left the convent and did a nursing course so that I could help the poor better. I wanted to begin my new mission on Christmas Day 1948, because Christmas represents the essence of our faith, the assuming of a human nature by God.'
'On the morning of that 25 December 1948, having attended Mass, I went to visit the only slum I knew, the one in Motijhil, an area near the college where I had taught for many years. I used to send my pupils to that slum with the Christmas gifts I used to prepare for the poor children that I didn't know. At last I could meet these children face to face. I could celebrate Christmas together with Jesus who lives in the poor.
'I remained in Motijhil for the whole day, socializing with the mothers and playing with the children. I was so happy that I forgot I had nowhere to sleep. Thus, that night, I began looking for a place to stay and I felt as if I were re-living the tale of the pregnant Virgin who was unable to find a hotel and ended up in a stable where she gave birth to Jesus. In the middle of the night, I succeeded in finding a woman who allowed me to stay in a miserable hut for five rupees a month. The next day, in that hut, I began teaching five children: my first children. In the hut there was no table, no chairs nor a blackboard. I traced out the letters of the alphabet on the ground with a stick and that was how I taught. Three days later, those five children became twenty-five, and at the end of the month there were forty-one. I later constructed a school for 500 children on that very spot. From then on,'concluded Mother Teresa, 'every year I celebrate the beginning of my work at Christmas time.'
By: The Most Rev. John Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City
As we begin the Advent season, our thoughts naturally turn to Christmas in anticipation of the birth of our Savior. Already we are inundated by Christmas decorations in stores, Christmas cards, Christmas party invitations and Christmas carols on the radio.
But not so fast! For Catholics, Dec. 2 marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Advent, not Christmas. It is a time of expectation, of longing and of preparation for the coming of the Messiah, the newborn Christ child. We must wait until Dec. 24 at the vigil Mass to celebrate his arrival.
For most of us, however, waiting means annoyance. We don’t like to wait – we want to do, we want to be on the move. We sometimes fail to appreciate that Advent really is a gift that helps us open our hearts to that which we are expecting. This is unfortunate, because by rushing through to Christmas we miss many valuable experiences.
Advent is, in this way, similar to those awaiting the birth of a child. I’ll bet that if you asked any mother or father, they would tell you that their days of pregnancy were filled with wonder, awe and joyful expectation as they bonded with the child in the womb. No doubt, though, those same parents also were getting things ready so that their baby would be healthy and have a comfortable home.
Waiting involves passive pondering and active anticipation. The Church calls us to both at Advent. We can take our cue from Isaiah who, according to St. Matthew, provided the text for John the Baptist in calling us to "make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low." (Isaiah 40: 3b - 4a)
Isaiah was referring to the preparations made for the triumphant arrival of the emperor. In those times, roads were marred with deep ruts dug by chariot wheels. To make a smooth highway on which the great ruler would enter the city, all the townsfolk would break down the high ridges and fill in the treacherous ruts. That hard work is precisely what we are called to do this Advent as we await for the coming of God-made-man at Christmas.
Advent is a precious period for us to ponder and prepare.
Pondering is another word for prayer. Most of us have huge holes in the road of our lives where we miss opportunities for prayer. Admittedly, we are very busy; our days are filled with various responsibilities as we respond to our families, friends, jobs, extracurricular activities and so forth. In the midst of all this activity, we are called by God to pause and listen, to allow his Spirit to fill our weary souls with the refreshing words of his love and mercy. If sleep knits up the raveled sleeve of care, then prayer fashions the entire garment! We are created to be one with our God, but we cannot do that if we are always on the go. Advent invites us to find a few minutes each day to ponder what it means that God became one of us, that God loved us into existence and that God wants us to be one with him forever in heaven. In light of these realities, answering that one last e-mail does not seem quite as important.
Preparation also is part of Advent. We are called to make the valleys and hills made low, a poetic way of saying that we must repent as we level the obstacles our sins place on our road to the Lord. Bad habits, sinful inclinations and poor choices abound, making it difficult for the new-born Savior to enter our lives. Advent is an excellent time to take stock, to see how we can spend more time with loved ones, speak more charitably at work, be more giving and help those less fortunate, including the sick. As a dear friend of mine always said, "The takers eat well and the givers sleep well." Probably most of the mountains and hills constructed by our sins could be greatly leveled by reaching out to others instead of caring only for ourselves.
Christ became one of us in the incarnation because of God’s love. This Advent we are called to ponder, pray and prepare so that when Christmas finally comes we will be ready to embrace our God, who comes to us as a vulnerable baby. Now is the time to make the roads of our lives smooth so the emperor of all creation can approach us.
I do wonder, though, who is waiting for whom. Could it be that as we are waiting for the Christ child, God is waiting for us to run down our newly smoothed highway to greet him as he comes?
A blessed Advent to you all!
+ The Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City
By: Teresa Manion
Today is the feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday celebration in the liturgical year. My college loves this feast because the school chapel (pictured left) is named Christ the In this feast, the church celebrates the kingship of Christ which stretches across heaven and earth. This is a huge dominion that encompasses time, space, and human understanding. While Christ has power over more than we could ever possibly comprehend in the weakness of our human thought, there is one place that Christ wishes for the authority to be king, our hearts.
While this idea might seem simple at first, I’d challenge that letting Christ reign as King of your heart is much more difficult than accepting Him into your life. When you make Christ King of your heart you allow Him to have complete dominion over not only your life in general, but every thought and every action that you take. He desires to be the omnipotent, omniscient ruler whom we share everything and ask advice on everything that we encounter throughout our lives. This sounds intense, but that is because it is intense. Christ loves each one of us with such an immense love that He desires this kingship over our hearts. We can take faith in the knowledge that if and when we do make Christ the King of our hearts that He will give us the grace to continue to grow and to love Him more deeply, thereby allowing us to continue to let him rule our hearts.
On this feast of Christ the King, make Christ the King of your heart.
All Saints Day - Sweden
By: Scott P. Reichert-About.com
All Saints Day, the day on which Catholics celebrate all the saints, known and unknown, is a surprisingly old feast. It arose out of the Christian tradition of celebrating the martyrdom of saints on the anniversary of their martyrdom. When martyrdoms increased during the persecutions of the late Roman Empire, local dioceses instituted a common feast day in order to ensure that all martyrs, known and unknown, were properly honored.History of All Saints Day
By the late fourth century, this common feast was celebrated in Antioch, and Saint Ephrem the Syrian
mentioned it in a sermon in 373. In the early centuries, this feast was celebrated in the Easter
season, and the Eastern Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, still celebrate it then.
The current date of November 1 was instituted by Pope Gregory III (731-741), when he consecrated a chapel to all the martyrs in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and ordered an annual celebration. This celebration was originally confined to the diocese of Rome, but Pope Gregory IV (827-844) extended the feast to the entire Church and ordered it to be celebrated on November 1.Cultural Customs-Catholic Online
In Portugal, Spain, and Mexico, offerings are made on this day. In Spain, the play Don Juan Tenorio
is traditionally performed. In Mexico, All Saints Day coincides with the celebration of "DÃde los Inocentes" (Day of the Innocents), the first day of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) celebration, honoring deceased children and infants. In Portugal, children celebrate the PÃ£por-Deus tradition, and go door to door where they receive cakes, nuts and pomegranates. This only occurs in some areas around Lisbon.
In Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and American Cities such as New Orleans people take flowers to the graves of dead relatives.
In Poland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Croatia, Austria, Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Catholic parts of Germany, the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives.
In the Philippines, this day, called "Undas
", "Todos los Santos
" (literally "All Saints"), and sometimes "Araw ng mga Patay
" (approximately "Day of the dead") is observed as All Souls' Day. This day and the one before and one after it is spent visiting the graves of deceased relatives, where prayers and flowers are offered, candles are lit and the graves themselves are cleaned, repaired and repainted.
In English-speaking countries, the festival is traditionally celebrated with the hymn "For All the Saints" by William Walsham How. The most familiar tune for this hymn is Sine Nomine
by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Catholics generally celebrate with a day of rest consisting of avoiding physical exertion.
Hey friends! Check out my new post on Austin Catholic New Media! "As Catholics, we're usually pretty good at sacrificing. That is to say, we've usually had some practice with it, and we're used to talking about it as part of our faith life. Most of us focused on it daily for the past 6 weeks! Now, in these next 7 weeks, let us focus on REJOICING! Ever notice that the Easter Season is longer than Lent? The Lord knows that after walking with Him through the desert, we need to feast for longer than we fasted! Why is it that each night in Lent we ask ourselves if we were faithful to our Lenten strivings, yet in Easter we do not daily rejoice with the Lord in His victory and thank Him?" Read the rest here!
Photo by Frances D'Emilio and Diaa Hadid
By: Diaa Hadid, Jerusalem and Tom Breen, North CarolinaAn overview
Pope Benedict XVI, arrives at the altar to celebrate the Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square at the the Vatican, Sunday, April 8, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating Easter Sunday Mass in sun-drenched, flower-adorned St. Peter's Square, before tens of thousands of people. Easter is Christianity's most joyous day. At the end of Easter Mass, Benedict will go to the central balcony of the basilica to deliver a speech about spreading global peace, with an emphasis on ending violence in Syria. Benedict, who turns 85 on April 16, was wrapping up stamina-taxing Holy Week ceremonies that drew huge crowds to Rome.
To learn more about Pope Benedict's Easter address, visit: http://www. boston.com/yourtown/salem/articles/2012 /04/08/ pope_marks_easter_with_call_for_syria_violence_end/
Hello friends! Here is the next update of what our Holy Father, PBXVI, has to say to us for our journey this Lenten Season. He speaks to us about the Second Sunday of Lent on two occasions. First, PBXVI gave a wonderful homily for the Second Sunday of Lent in a parish in Rome called St John Baptist de la Salle.
Pope Benedict talks about each of the readings, helping us dive into their deeper significance and encouraging us to keep our eyes and hearts turned toward Christ's Resurrection at Easter. The last part of the homily is more pastoral advice for the parish itself, but I encourage you to read his reflections on the readings! Here is a quote to entice you the read the rest! (Read it here)"Dear brothers and sisters, from Mount Tabor, the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Lenten journey takes us to Golgotha, the hill of the supreme sacrifice of love of the one Priest of the new and eternal Covenant. That sacrifice contains the greatest power of transformation of both the human being and of history. Taking upon himself every consequence of evil and sin, Jesus rose the third day as the conqueror of death and of the Evil One. Lent prepares us to take part personally in this great mystery of faith which we shall celebrate in the Triduum of the Passion, death and Resurrection of Christ.
Let us entrust our Lenten journey and likewise that of the whole Church to the Virgin Mary. May she, who followed her Son Jesus to the Cross, help us to be faithful disciples of Christ, mature Christians, to be able to share with her in the fullness of Easter joy. Amen!"Pope Benedict also gives un a more in depth meditation on the Transfiguration, from the Gospel of Second Sunday of Lent during his appearance for the Angelus on March 4. He connects the Transfiguration to our own personal Lenten journeys, as we walk through these desert days to the One who is the Light of World. (Full text here)"After this event, therefore, he will be an inner light within them that can protect them from any assault of darkness. Even on the darkest of nights, Jesus is the lamp that never goes out. St Augustine sums up this mystery in beautiful words, he says: “what this sun is to the eyes of the flesh, that is [Christ] to the eyes of the heart” (Sermones 78, 2: PL 38, 490).
Dear brothers and sisters, we all need inner light to overcome the trials of life. This light comes from God and it is Christ who gives it to us, the One in whom the fullness of deity dwells (cf. Col 2:9). Let us climb with Jesus the mountain of prayer and, contemplating his face full of love and truth, let us allow ourselves to be filled with his light. Let us ask the Virgin Mary, our guide on the journey of faith, to help us to live out this experience in the season of Lent, finding every day a few moments for silent prayer and for listening to the Word of God."
We continue together with our Holy Father through this Lenten journey!
Rachel Elisa Gardner Perez
Alrighty, here's the second post in the series! This is the message PBXVI gave for last Sunday. Since it's pretty short, I'll paste most of it here (added emphasis is mine). And since my last post was so long, I'll keep my own comments brief!St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 26 February 2012"Dear Brothers and Sisters,On this First Sunday of Lent we meet Jesus who, after receiving Baptism from John the Baptist in the River Jordan (cf. Mk 1:9), is subjected to temptation in the wilderness (cf. Mk 1:12-13)...The wilderness referred to has various meanings. It can indicate the state of abandonment and loneliness, the “place” of human weakness, devoid of support and safety, where temptation grows stronger.
However, it can also indicate a place of refuge and shelter — as it was for the People of Israel who had escaped from slavery in Egypt — where it is possible to experience God’s presence in a special way. Jesus “was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan” (Mk 1:13). St Leo the Great comments that “The Lord wanted to suffer the attack of the tempter in order to defend us with his help and to instruct us with his example (Tractatus ...).
What can this episode teach us? As we read in the book The Imitation of Christ, “There is no man wholly free from temptations so long as he lives... but by endurance and true humility we are made stronger than all our enemies” (Liber I, C. XIII, Vatican City 1982, 37), endurance and the humility of following the Lord every day, learning not to build our lives outside him or as though he did not exist, but in him and with him, for he is the source of true life.
The temptation to remove God, to arrange things within us and in the world by ourselves, relying on our own abilities, has always been present in human history.
Jesus proclaims that “the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1:15), he announces that in him something new happens: God turns to the human being in an unexpected way, with a unique, tangible closeness, full of love; God is incarnate and enters the human world to take sin upon himself, to conquer evil and usher men and women into the world of God.
However, this proclamation is accompanied by the request to measure up to such a great gift. In fact Jesus adds: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). It is an invitation to have faith in God and to convert all our actions and thoughts to goodness, every day. The season of Lent is a favourable moment for renewing and reinforcing our relationship with God, through daily prayer, acts of penance and works of brotherly charity.
Let us fervently beg Mary Most Holy to accompany us on our Lenten journey with her protection and to help us to impress the words of Jesus Christ in our hearts and in our lives so as to convert to him." full text here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/angelus/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20120226_en.html
Let's look at that part again, "endurance and the humility of following the Lord every day, learning not to build our lives outside him or as though he did not exist, but in him and with him, for he is the source of true life" -
that is what Christ teaches us in the desert! How providential is this for that first Sunday of Lent, and even now a week later as you read this! We are in the thick of the Lenten marathon now, we've run quite a few laps and hopefully are in that steady stride where we feel like we've got this. We've passed the initial thrill and energetic starting point of Ash Wednesday, and we're even the first week and a half now. This is where we need endurance. The endurance to resist the temptation to sit and rest, to ease up on our efforts, to slack off. Or, if we missed the gunshot and never started running, it could seem like a great time to throw in the towel and say, "I'll never catch up now, so why try?" Because it's never to late to start - and never too soon to commit to going further! So the Holy Father tell us that what we need now is endurance! But humble endurance
. Not "I
can do this, I'm
tough enough, bring it on!," but, "Lord, with your daily portion of grace, I can make it. Give me strength!" A commitment of our own strength must go hand in hand with a commitment to trust in the Lord's strength - or we'll collapse long before the finish line and be easy prey to whatever temptation pulls us off course along the way. That daily asking for grace, for our daily bread, is really and truly a source of life,
of energy, of hope. Without this day to day perspective and trust in grace, these 40 days could seem like 40 years! So keep it up guys, keep running. Keep turning to God every day and asking Him for the necessary grace, and keep encouraging each other to do the same! Look out for your brothers and sisters, and cheer them on. No one can do it alone - we aren't meant to! May we grow each blessed day to be more "in him and with him" by growing in humility and honesty, letting every dusty corner of our inner lives be converted slowly, piece by piece, so that each day we are a few more laps closer to the finish line, that joyful celebration, our own resurrection from the dead in Christ, Our Lord.
Rachel Elisa Gardner Perez