Making Holy Week Holy–Preparing Your Heart

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?

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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.”

 

 

 

Making Holy Week Holy-Preparing your Mind

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 :

http://www.stmatthewscathedral.org/Lenten_Schedule.pdf.

or at Dominican House of Studies in North East. You can get a taste of the service by viewing the video below. Let us know what you think!

Soul-Wow Now!

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

The Many Faces and Titles of Christ

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.

40 Reasons for Coming Home – Reason # 32 – 100 % Performance Record

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!”

The Wisdom of the Cross

It  is Holy Week and we ponder the many gifts we have received from the Cross that Christ carried for us. The Cross was terrible and difficult but the gain was enormous. So too for the crosses we carry. Think of one thing in your life that you truly value and ponder the sacrifices that were neecessary so that you could enjoy it. Maybe it is your children; think of all the scarifices you made so that they could come to where they are today. Maybe it is your career, think of all the years of college and training that went into this blessing. Whatever it is, nothing of value comes without the cross. Where would you be today without your crosses?

This is the wisdom of the cross. Difficult and painful though it may be it always brings blessings if we carry it with faith. The following video is a little “homespun” but it illustrates well the wisdom of the cross.

40 Reasons for Coming Home – Reason # 31 – The Church is Catholic

Reason # 31 – The Church is Catholic– The word “catholic” means “universal.” One of the most remarkable things I experience about being a Catholic and a priest is this universality of the Church. I experience it in two ways.

First, the Catholic Church is everywhere. On every Continent, in every country, in most towns and even rather small communities. Mass is conducted in most of the languages that exist on this planet and displays an enormous cultural diversity as well. There are over 1 Billion Roman Catholics on this planet.

Secondly, the Catholic Church is not only every place it is in every Christian time. We go back officially 2000 years right to Jesus himself. There has never been a time since Christ when we did not exist. Every now and then you may hear complaints that the Catholic Church doesn’t change and update fast enough. Well, generally for this I am grateful. It is true, one might wish that we could learn to use certain technological things of modernity like the Internet more quickly. But, as a rule, we hold an ancient wisdom that “remembers long.” So, even as we gain strength from our cultural diversity, we also gain stability by our ancient roots.

So the Church is “catholic.” That is to say, we include every people, nation and time. Why does this mean you should come home? Well, in a word, “enrichment.” It is enriching to be part of something bigger than just me, my neighborhood, my country, or my time. I benefit from the rich experience of over one billion currently living and many more billions who have gone before. And the enrichment has more to it than just how we dress or speak. It has to do with wisdom, knowledge, experience, and prayers that are multiplied not just by people currently living but even of those who are now beyond the veil. (I’ll say more of that in a future post). Imagine the effects of these prayers and this collective wisdom.

Come home to a rich feast, spanning the globe, stretching across time. Even just here in the Archdiocese Mass is celebrated in almost a dozen languages and liturgies encorporate a rich diveristy of things ancient and new. Haven’t found what you’re looking for? Search a little more among the Catholic Parishes and communities. You’re bound to find what you’re looking for in the “universal” Catholic Church.

Here’s a little video sampling of the universality of the Church. Our gracious host, from Eastern Europe(?), quickly ushers us around the planet to ponder what the Church and Catholics are  experiencing in those locales.

40 Reasons For Coming Home – Reason # 30 – You Really Want to

Reason # 30 – You really want to. – Many Centuries ago St. Augustine wrote this classic line in his Confessions: Our hearts were made for Thee O Lord and they are restless until they rest in Thee. We have talked before in this blog about our desire and that, if we are honest, we will see they are infinite. But a finite and limited world cannot give infinite, unlimited desire.

All the things we think we want are really just symbols pointing to a greater desire: God. Deep down you know he exists and it calling you. Somewhere, in the depths of your soul he is calling to you and your soul is calling for him, yearning for him. God has written his Name in our hearts and our hearts seek his face.

Come home to the Lord. Let him minister to you in Word and Sacrament. Let Him, who alone can satisfy, begin to satisfy your hunger and your thirst. Come home. You know you  want to. All your other desires are really about this one desire, to be with God.

Enjoy this beautiful video and music of Psalm 42 which says it better than I ever could.