This Lent, Archbishop Wuerl extended an invitation to those who have been away from church to come back and to attend Mass. (For more information, visitwww.Maybe-it’s-God.org.)
Did you invite someone to Mass this Lent? Were you respectfully, or not so respectfully, declined? For some people, there may be a vast difference between not going to Mass and going to Mass. Perhaps, some are more comfortable easing into the Faith.
For example, why not bring a friend to Conversations beginning next Wednesday? It’s being held at Busboys and Poets, which boasts an excellent restaurant and chic lounge. The format for the evening is pure Q&A, and there will be two panelists who will discuss whatever questions the audience has. It will be a casual atmosphere yet will provide an in-depth look at some of the most controversial teachings of the Catholic faith. It may be the first step on someone’s journey back to the Church!
Join the conversation. Bring your perspective and bring an open mind.
Busboys and Poets – 14th and V Streets NW
Doors open at 6:30pm. Q&A begins at 7:00pm
Wednesday April 15th – Science and Faith
Wednesday April 29th – Sex and Birth Control
Wednesday May 6th – Same-Sex Attraction
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Sponsored by the Office of Young Adult Ministry of the Archdiocese of Washington
TODAY IS HOLY THURSDAY, which marks the beginning of the sacred Triduum, or “three days.” Earlier today Jesus had given instructions to the disciples on how to prepare for this most holy meal, which will be his last supper. Through the day they make these preparations (cf Mt 26:17). This evening Jesus celebrates the first Mass and Last Supper with his apostles. In the Mass of the Lord’s Supper conducted at our parishes, we remember and make present that Last Supper. We are in the upper room with Jesus and the Apostles and do what they did. Through the ritual of washing the feet (Jn 13:1) of 12 parishioners, we unite in service to one another. Through our celebration of this first Mass and Holy Eucharist (Mt 26:26), we unite ourselves to Jesus and receive his Body and Blood as if for the first time. At this Eucharist, we especially thank God for his gift of the ministerial priesthood. After the Last Supper (First Mass) the apostles and Jesus made a short journey across the Kidron Valley to the Garden where he asks them to pray and he experiences his agony (cf Mt 26:30). We too will process in Church with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to a garden (the altar of repose) which has been prepared. The liturgy ends in silence. It is an ancient custom to spend an hour before the reposed Blessed Sacrament tonight. We are with Jesus in the Garden and pray as he goes through his agony. Most of our parish churches remain open until close to midnight. It was near Midnight that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, was arrested and taken to the house of the High Priest (cf Mt. 26:47).
The Catholic faith has a long tradition of offering retreats to clergy, religious, and lay members of the Church. Just as Jesus retreated in the desert for 40 days before beginning his public ministry, we often go on retreats to regain focus, jump-start our prayer life, or seek comfort following a hardship.
There are many different kinds of retreats: solitary or group retreats, thematic retreats, self-guided or directed retreats, single sex or co-ed retreats, day retreats, weekend retreats, etc. No matter what type it is, it’s a time to focus solely on our relationship with God. It often involves prayer, quiet reflection, meditation, reading spiritual books, Mass, and Eucharistic Adoration.
Could you take an afternoon or a weekend to separate yourself from the everyday hustle and bustle and just be with God? You might be thinking, “Sounds great, but I’m too busy.” At a retreat I went on a few years ago, I remember our director saying, “If you’re too busy to come on a retreat…you’re too busy, period.” That stuck with me.
When we talk about priorities, I’m reminded of the oft-quoted line: Don’t let the urgent get in the way of the important. With only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, sometimes spending time with our Creator doesn’t make the cut. But if making a retreat is important to you, set it at the top of your priority list.
The Easter Season is a wonderful, joyous, Spirit-filled time to go on a retreat. A simple Google search will bring up many Catholic retreat houses and the Archdiocese of Washington’s Catholic Standard also lists some upcoming retreats. If you’re a member of a parish, check the weekly bulletin or ask your pastor for recommendation.
I leave you with this quote from Mother Teresa’s No Greater Love.
Silence of our eyes.
Silence of our ears.
Silence of our mouths.
Silence of our minds.
…in the silence of the heart
God will speak.
Shameless Plug: The Office of Young Adult Ministry will be offering a Half-Day Retreat for Married Young Adults on May 16th 2009. For more information,click here.
“A clean heart create for me, God: renew in me a steadfast spirit.”
Taken from Psalm 51, it is the prayer of repentance and sets the tone for our entry into the celebration of the Triduum(the three day celebration of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil). It is a reminder that God’s grace is like a river of cleansing water. It is not too late to receive the grace of forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation. Your local parish probably has special times posted. The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is offering the sacrament from 10:00 a.m-6:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday with four priests available. See www.nationalshrine.com. The Franciscan Friars have confessions on the hour between 9:00 and 4:00 p.m. See www.myfranciscan.org.
Another practice of the heart is to calculate how much money you saved if you “gave up” something for Lent. In my case that daily cappuccino adds up to about $135.00. That makes a very nice contribution to my favorite charity or the poor box at church. I read something very interesting today. The fast of the Triduum is not so much the fast of a penitent but rather the fast of anticipation—of looking forward and readying ourselves for the celebration of Easter. It made me ask myself what should change in how I fast the next couple of days. What does an anticipation fast look like? If God is promising a steadfast spirit, what might a steadfast spirit look like for me?
A special tradition follows the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday. It is a period of adoration inviting people to do what the disciples who were with Jesus in the garden could not do—to stay and pray with him. Can we be different and pray with our Lord? Most churches will be open until 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. Why not plan to stay? There was a practice a generation or so ago to visit seven churches on Holy Thursday evening. Why not choose two or three near you to visit?
This blog began as part of our campaign to extend invitations to people we know who have been away from the Church to come back to Mass. If you’ve been meaning to ask someone, why not consider inviting that person to one our Holy Week services.
“Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.”
In the Gospel from St. John that we heard at the beginning of Mass on Sunday, it is written,” His disciples did not understand this at first, but when Jesus had been glorified they remembered that these things were written about him…” (John 12:16). In the moment the disciples were not able to make sense of what Jesus was saying. Do you sometimes feel this way at Mass when you hear the readings? Do you sometimes wish you could hit a pause button and think about what you just heard?
The Scripture for the liturgies of the Triduum celebration are rich in imagery and meaning. Why not plan to read through them before you go to church. You can find the readings at www.usccb.org. There is another service during Holy Week called the Tenebrae. It is a celebration of Word of God that sets the perfect tone for Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
Tenebrae is a Latin word that means “darkness.” The service is an ancient monastic tradition that uses darkness and light to tell the story of Jesus’ conquering the darkness of sin. The service includes the chanting of Psalms and the music of the Lamentations of Jeremiah as he wept for the children of Jerusalem. It is a gorgeous liturgy. Tenebrae services are scheduled on Wednesday evening at St. Matthew’sCathedral :
Have you been to confession yet? No Lent is complete without the “Soul-Wow” power of this mighty sacrament. Don’t get caught at Easter without it. It’s on sale now at every Catholic parish for the amazing price of $0.00
Here is one of the most extraordinary videos I have seen in a while. I am not sure how it was done but the portraits of Christ “morph” one into another. My only wish would have been that the author/artist might have used images of Christ from many cultures and nations. As it is, all the images here are European. Nevertheless, this remains an amazing work and a very fitting meditation for Holy Week.
Reason # 32 – 100% Performance Record. There are very few certainties in this world about anything but one thing is for sure: The Church will prevail, the Church will be here to infallibly lead us to the end of days. “How arrogant!” you might say. And yet, say it I did. Why? Not because of any human guarantee, but based rather on the firm promise of Jesus himself.
The place is Ceasarea Phillipi and Jesus is speaking to Simon Peter who had just confessed him to be the Christ and the Son of the Living God. Now Jesus speaks and says, You are Peter (Rock), and upon this rock I will build my church,and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt 16:18) The Church will surely be hated, attacked and persecuted but Hell will never prevail, never defeat the Church Jesus founded. Now I want to emphasize that this power of the Church to endure to the end is no human power. It is not based on brilliant or perfect human leaders. It is based solely on Jesus’ promise. So it is not arrogant to make this claim, it is simply biblical and a matter of faith in Jesus.
This prevailing power of the Church can be understood in a couple of ways. First it means that the Church will be here to the end. Count on it since Jesus promised it. This is what is meant by the “indefectability” of Church. Secondly, this promise means that the Church cannot mislead us or teachly falsely in a matter of faith and morals.
In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility…The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms: “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium, above all in an Ecumenical Council. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 889-891)
Now some object to claim. But reason with me for a minute. Jesus promised that the gates of Hell could not prevail against the Church. But if the Church could formally teach error about faith and morals, if the Church could mislead people about what was necessary for their eternal salvation, then it would be a fact that the gates of Hell HAD prevailed. But since Jesus promised it could never happen, then, by God’s grace, the Church is protected from formally teaching falsely on matters of faith and morals. Do you trust Jesus and believe his word? Then the Church is unsinkable and infallible regarding faith and morals.
So why is this a reason to come home? Well, let’s say you have a choice to take one of two airplanes to take to a distant city, lets call it “Heavenly City.” The one plane (Church Airlines) gets there 100% of the time. The other plane (Alsoran Airlines) gets there sometimes, but other times it is in disrepair, or it lands in the wrong city, or at still other times it crashes. OK, which plane are you going to take? Now I am not going to tell you that only Church Airline riders get to Heavenly City. A few people on the other plane do sometimes get there, but its a pretty uncertain ride. At least with Church Airlines the plane is certain to get there: it won’t crash, get lost or fail to take off. So, choose this airline! The world might not get you there, untested spiritualities and the latest trends won’t cut it. Only Jesus and the Catholic Church he founded are up to the job 100% of the time. Now be careful though. You have to stay on the plane for the whole journey. Don’t get off at a connecting city (Sin City) or any such thing. The plane is 100% reliable by Jesus own promise. It’s a pretty good reason to come home and get on board before the door cloese and walkway swings back. There is a mid-flight meal, the Eucharist, and an in-flight movie, the Word of God included in the price of your ticket which is, by the way, free.
Now this video is about the Gospel Train not a plane but the thought is still the same: “Then Get on Board, Children, there’s room for many a more!”