Monday, April 20, 2009
You may think this post is late in coming. Its not. I have lots of time. Easter, for Catholics, is so important it is our longest holiday of the year, it has a preparation period of 40 days of reflection and penitence, then one week of commemoration(holy Week), and now we are in the 50 days of Easter, which ends at Pentecost.
During Lent we sing no Alleluias, During Easter we sing them all the time. We just finished yesterday the Octave of Easter, eight days of readings surrounding the events of Easter itself. Yesterday was considered both "Doubting Thomas Sunday" and "Divine Mercy Sunday". The first for the gospel reading that we read on that day, the upper room visits of Jesus, first without poor maligned Thomas, and then with him and his profession of faith.
Divine Mercy Sunday has a number of meanings, but primarily celebrates the Mercy of God in granting us forgiveness for our sins.
So Happy Easter.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The day of silence. Traditionally(no that is not a bad word but a word that indicates we have a rich heritage as Christians), Holy saturday is the day when Our Lord is missing from the earth. The Pauline Revelation tells us that He descended into hell and defeats Satan and takes the keys of death and hell from him on this day.
It is a day of waiting for us. For the disciples it was a day of confusion and dwindling hope.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Good Friday for Catholics is a day of fasting and abstinence. We fast all day and when we do bread our fast we abstain from meat. Throughout lent, which is the time set aside for repentance and examination of our life compared to Christ's, we are setting ourselves aside to seek God and take a good look at our lives and how we may become more like Him.
On Good Friday we are devoted to commemorating Christ suffering for our sakes. If you take the time to do this you do find that your life is changed. The reminder of Jesus suffering for you cannot help but humble you and make you take a good look at your life. We must ask ourselves, am i living a life worthy of such sacrifice?
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday (for the Maundatum Novum, or the New Commandment in English), commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist. On this night, on the first night of passover, Jesus fulfills what he referred to throughout his lengthy discourse in John 6.
In John 6:66 many of His followers left Jesus because they could not accept His teaching that they should eat His flesh and drink his blood. Here at the Last Supper one more of Jesus followers falls away because of this teaching, Judas. Judas cannot accept the suffering, humble Messiah. He looses faith just like the ones at the end of John 6.
The parallels of Jesus giving us His body and blood to eat and drink with that of the Passover story, are rich and closely intertwined with the Institution of the mass. A close study of Jewish practices explains all the parts of the mass juxtaposed over the Last supper that Jesus spends with His disciples, carefully teaching them some of His final life essays in their class on Church building. The final essay being His death and Resurrection.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Sometimes known as Palm Sunday because the Gospel chosen for this Sunday starts with Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem just prior to passover. Historically this is Passion Sunday in which the whole passion narrative is read as the Gospel. It is a longer mass, because all 4 scripture readings are longer and we have some additional special prayers and readings.
The 2000 year history of our faith is rich in symbolism and rituals based in our Jewish roots. Many of the prayers of the Church can easily be seen as Jewish prayers and blessings. The early Church almost immediately had to go underground because of severe persecution throughout the Roman world. So symbols and signs, like the Ichthus, and the Crucifix were identifiers to other Christians. Possessing these symbols could also bring death! However denying them would be unthinkable and many Christians that remain unnamed perished as unnamed martyrs of the Faith!
Let us never be ashamed of the Church or it's practices, many have died to bring them down to us! As Paul Says "I am not ashamed of the cross of Christ". The earliest crosses had the crucified Christ proudly displayed on them, which spoke the gospel message without words! Other symbols of Christ came later, in our history but are still revered for their connection to Jesus, of whom we should never be ashamed to identify ourselves.
As Gamaliel said of the early Church " For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." (Acts 5)