Lent

The Ultimate Lenten Exercise

How much does God love us?  What is the Father's most precious possession?  His Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Whom He gave to us.  Whom He sacrificed for us.  In a most terrible way.  Not only that.  He keeps sacrificing Him....until the end of time....in the Holy Eucharist.  Christ literally is held within people's hands.  You may or may not agree with Communion in the hand, but the fact is, the Church allows it.....so He allows it.  Complete vulnerability.  His Body, Soul and Divinity.  Its difficult to even comprehend.

So the point is...what is your most precious possession?  Think about it.  Meditate on it.  It may not take you long.....or it may take a few minutes.  Would you be willing to offer this to God?  Would you be willing to appropriately reciprocate His love?  This is the ultimate Lenten exercise, the real proof of your love for God.  Better than giving up some worldly pleasure.  Better than any prayer or devotion.  Better than spending all day on Good Friday in church. 

Will you give Him your most precious, prized possession?

And it doesn't mean He will even ask for it.  That's not the point.  Would you give it if He asked for it?  Can you do this?

March is dedicated to Saint Joseph and....it's Lent!

Saint Joseph's feast is March 19th (and the 20th this year) and this month is also dedicated to him.  How can we honor Saint Joseph this month?  You can say the short prayer on our Home page and perhaps memorize it....and share it with others!  Of course there are many other wonderful prayers and devotions to Saint Joseph.  Also, if you don't have a statue of him in your home, now might be the time to get one.

Lent has commenced, the beautiful yearly time of spiritual renewal that we all need-how wise is Mother Church!  The photo above is the window in my dining room....my husband made fun of me last weekend when I decorated the window-he said, "Some people, they're always putting the Lent decorations up early!"  I don't know what's funnier, the fact that I put them up early or the fact that I put up Lent decorations.  So, I know you all know about no meat on Fridays, but do you know that traditionally, meat was eaten only at one meal each day of Lent (except Sundays)?  I have never successfully kept to that before, but I am going to try this year....the real issue is forgetting, so I have marked my calendar to remind myself and am hoping for the best.  Dear Lord, guide us in observing a holy Lent, which is pleasing to Thee and may we be that much closer to Heaven at the celebration of Thy glorious Resurrection!

And...we have the Ember Days of Lent as well.  This is a time of prayer and penance for the coming season of Spring (we can pray for Saint Isidore's intercession, whose feast is the 22nd), a Christianized version of pagan customs.  On these days, I love to read the masses in the traditional missal.  It is sad the Ember Days have largely been lost-this is what I mean when I say it is time to create new traditions-be creative with it!

What else is going on this month?  We have three Doctors of the Church, three people involved in Christ's Crucifixion and death, several Marian feasts and Saint Patrick's Day.  Saint Gabriel's feast is appropriately, the day before the Annunciation.  It is also interesting to note that the Annunciation and the feast of Saint Dismas fall on the same day, giving us a perspective from Our Lord's conception to his death.  And let us not forget to retire from our penance and be joyful on Laetare Sunday....remembering that its really all about the Resurrection and an eternity in Heaven!

3/1-Ash Wednesday-Fast and abstinence

3/3-Saint Katharine Drexel, 1955

3/6-Saints Felicitas & Perpetua, Martyrs, 203

3/7-Saints Felicitas & Perpetua (new)/Saint Thomas Aquinas,"The Angelic Doctor," Doctor of the Church, 1274

3/8-Ember Wednesday in Lent

3/10-Ember Friday in Lent

3/11-Ember Saturday in Lent

3/12-Saint Gregory the Great, Pope, Doctor of the Church, 604/Saint Theophanes the Chronicler, 817

3/15-Saint Longinus, Pierced the Heart of Our Lord

3/17-Saint Joseph of Arimathea, Provided the Tomb for Christ/Saint Patrick, Patron of Ireland, 461

3/18-Our Lady of Mercy/Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Doctor of the Church, 386

3/19-Saint Joseph

3/20-Saint Joseph (new, transferred)

3/22-Saint Isidore the Farmer, 1130

3/23-Our Lady of Victories

3/24-Saint Gabriel the Archangel

3/25-The Annunciation of Our Lord/Saint Dismas, "The Good Thief"

3/26-Laetare Sunday

(this blog provides new and traditional feasts)

The Sorrowful Mysteries....In Closing

THE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES:  A THESIS

Holy Church, through Saint Dominic, has handed the Rosary down to us as a spiritual aid.  The Sorrowful Mysteries take us through the Story of Our Lord's Passion and Death.  It is difficult to contemplate these things, but as Father Benedict Groeschel once said in a Good Friday sermon, "Never think about death without thinking about the Resurrection."  The whole purpose of the Rosary meditations which accompany each set of ten "Hail Marys," is to help us toward our own Resurrection.

Stepping away and looking at the Sorrowful Mysteries as a whole, a picture begins to emerge.  It is the picture of each human being walking along his own life's path to his final destination.  The Agony in the Garden represents the MIND.  The Scourging at the Pillar, the FLESH.  The Crowning with Thorns, the IDENTITY, or the soul.  These three components comprise God's greatest creation, the one made in His own image and likeness, the Human Being. The Carrying of the Cross is the life JOURNEY....and the Crucifixion is the END.  Within the Passion of Our Lord lies an imprint of every human life for which He goes to His death.

The Sorrowful Mysteries tell the triumphant Story of the Messiah's Love for humanity and the Father's willingness to give His Only Son for our Redemption.  It is a Story which brings tears to our eyes for this great Love which it gives testimony to.  In return, we are called not merely to a humanist virtue, but to the heroism of Sainthood and Life Everlasting.

Good Friday: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery....

The Crucifixion of Our Lord

The Carrying of the Cross was a journey-the Crucifixion at Golgotha, its destination.   In fact, the Crucifixion was the destination of Christ's entire life on earth.  From His very Incarnation, this was the plan.  We may have difficulty understanding why it had to be this way, but we must believe, since His way is always perfect, it was the perfect way.  Looking at the Crucifixion forces us all to ask:  "What is my own destination and how is each day I live bringing me closer to it?"

Our Lord ascended to Heaven so that we could follow Him there-this is the end for which we were created.  Jesus said of His Apostles, "They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world."  We must be in the world, not of the world.  Set a course to Heaven and do not deviate from it.  The only thing that can derail us is sin, a word our "enlightened" times has forgotten.

What was the meaning of Christ's cruel impalement to the Cross?  It shows us we must let go of all the things we wish to possess which are unhealthy to our souls, which turn us away from our path to Heaven.  Our Blessed Lord could not possibly have been more helpless upon the Holy Cross.  He could not move and could hardly speak.  He arms were outstretched to all the universe, imploring us to come to Him and yet unable to grasp at anything.  We too, must open our hands when we are tempted to reach for, and take hold of sin.  We must take Christ's example of yielding.  In all things, He walks before us.  From the Cross, Jesus shows us the very key to the Kingdom of Heaven.

But how are we to resist temptation?  The sacraments of the Church Christ founded are the tools which have been given to us.  He said, "I will not leave you orphans."  The same body which was crucified, comes to us in Holy Communion-to help us stretch out our arms and let go.  This Body could not give us life until it tasted death.  We cannot receive that life until we taste the death of our sins.  The more our own will shrinks, the more beautiful we become.  The greater He becomes within us, the greater we become.

Our Lord never left His course toward the Holy Cross.  We must never leave our course toward the Kingdom of Heaven.  It will twist and turn and there will be traps to ensnare us.  But if we continue to flee to the Holy Cross and the Victim upon it-we will one day hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant...enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."  Dear Jesus, whose death on the Cross has won my Redemption, show me in my moments of temptation, Thy holy arms unable to embrace and Thy sacred hands unable to grasp.  Amen.

 

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery....

The Carrying of the Cross

The unique aspect of the Carrying of the Cross, among the Sorrowful Mysteries, is the fact that it is a journey.  In western culture today, we seem always to be rushing from one destination to another.  The destination is important, but often we forget the importance of the journey itself.  So what do we learn on this Journey of Journeys, a microcosm of every human being’s life path, in addition to the grand historical path of all humanity, the Via Dolorosa?

Like any journey, this one involves a series of events.  Holy Scripture confirms for us that Christ carries His own Cross.  Tradition tells us He falls three times under its weight.  Scripture tells us He becomes so weak, Simon of Cyrene must take up the Cross.  Our Lord speaks to some sorrowful women and Saint Veronica wipes His Holy Face, a miraculous image resulting.  So here we have four basic events:  the Taking Up of the Cross, the Fallings, the Giving Up of the Cross and the Message.  All sealed with a miracle.

Tremendously weak after the brutal Scourging, Jesus takes the Cross upon His shoulders and begins to walk the Way of Sorrow.  The One who is sinless takes on the burden of all humanity's sins, soon to be expiated on this very Cross He carries, when He arrives at the destination.  This is an example of courage for us, when we feel terribly burdened by life's difficulties.  We know He walks before us always.  It is not so remarkable that He falls three times under this heavy piece of wood.  What is remarkable, is that He gets back up two times to continue carrying it.  But the third time, He is all out of strength.  The Almighty God makes Himself weak so that we can be strong.  Another example and profound encouragement for His children.  When we fall, when we break-whether through suffering or temptation, all is not lost.  There is always hope for those who trust in God.  He will give us the strength to go on.  And just as Simon was provided to take the Holy Cross from His hands, He too, will take our own crosses from us when the time comes.  We are asked only to trust.

When Our Lord addresses the "Daughters of Jerusalem" who are following Him on this Journey, He gives us a glimpse into His very mind as He carries the Cross.  He is thinking not of Himself on His final journey as He goes to His death.  He thinks only of us, only of humanity's final journey at the end of time.  "Weep not over Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say:  Blessed are the barren and the wombs that have not borne and the paps that have not given suck.  Then shall they begin to say to the mountains:  Fall upon us, and to the hills:  Cover us."  This is a message to humanity-a warning, an End Times marker, reiterated by Saint John in Apocalypse.  Is it possible that He was describing our own times?

Every human life is similarly, a journey-some very short, some long, some privileged, some full of suffering.  But in the end, it all evens out-all is fair, all is just.  And upon each and every precious human life for which Christ suffered, lies the imprint of the Carrying of the Cross.  It is our joy, our hope, our consolation.  He did it all for us.  Good Jesus, give me strength when I begin to weary beneath my own crosses, that I may go on to reach that final destination, where Thou Art, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the Glorious Kingdom of Heaven.  Amen.

2 More to Come....

It is a custom to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary each day of Lent.  Even better if you can pray them before the Most Blessed Sacrament or together as a family after dinner.  Wishing you continued Lenten blessings and we have 2 more meditations to come...one this Friday and the last on Good Friday.  After that, we will begin meditations on the Glorious Mysteries!

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelic Doctor, pray for us!  Saints Perpetua & Felicity, great martyrs of Holy Mother Church, pray for us!

Image courtesy http://beads-of-joy-blog.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-sorrowful-mysteries.html

The Third Sorrowful Mystery...

The Crowning with Thorns

The Crowning with Thorns upon Our Lord's sacred head, must be seen as part of a larger Mystery:  the Mockery of the Kingship of Our Lord.  It is one of a three-part costume the Roman soldiers dressed Him in:  the Crown, the Scepter and the Robe.  When we look at this piece of theater, the one Act upon the human stage which emanates like lightning, putting asunder all man’s theatrical fantasy.....what reveals itself to us?

The Romans performed this mockery in response to Christ’s alleged crime, “The King of the Jews.”  What motivated them to play out this obscene insult?  A fatal flaw, a deep chasm, a mortal wounding, took place in the Garden of Eden.  Our Lord's Passion is the culmination of this tragic event.  This mockery represents of every sinner’s response to God, the unwillingness to be subject to Him and give Him due respect as Creator.

One could not honestly look at Christ without seeing His innocence, especially a non-Jew, with no investment in the matter.  We know this was very clear to Pilate, which is why he “washed his hands” of it.  In order to punish so cruelly an innocent man, they had to disguise him-plunging themselves into the sin of committing the evil, whereas the Jews were guilty of ordering it.  It is common practice to dehumanize those you wish to kill.  Broken from the Scourging, blood streaming down His face from the sharp thorns of the Crown, dressed up and derided, they proceeded to carry out the death sentence.

Woven thorns, a reed, a red cloak....the makings of a King.  Why go through so much trouble?  Looking for branches of thorns and weaving them together?  Searching for a large reed and a red garment?  Why were all three components of the kingly garb so necessary?  Because they had to completely convince themselves and this can only be done by over-reaching.  We do the same with the unborn, with sexual immorality, with our quest to be Godlike in playing with every fundamental aspect of nature, whether it be biology, botany or physics.  Going beyond the pale makes it easier to commit the crime.

The Crown, the Scepter, the Robe:  three identifiers of a King.  Here we arrive at the crux of the Mockery, Our Blessed Lord’s Identity itself.  The words upon the Holy Cross were true:  “King of the Jews.”  And King of us all, only Son of the Father, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity.  This is His Identity, Whom the world must deny to commit its countless evils.  But the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith will never deny Him, the King of Kings.  The gates of Hell will not prevail against her.

The world will try to tell us who we are, who it wants us to be.  Our own pride will delude us-we sew our own costumes, make our own crowns.  But it is only in confessing the Kingship of Our Lord and entering into the humility of His Crowning with Thorns, that we can ever know our own true identities....who we were created to be.  O my Jesus, Who asked of Thine Apostles, “Whom do you say that I am?,” I in turn ask this of Thee.  Amen.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery...

The Scourging at the Pillar

The Scourging of Our Lord was so terrible, it is difficult to contemplate.  But we must, because it is an important part of the Story-His story and humanity’s story.  Of all stories, this is the ONE we must pay attention to.  This is the ONE we may not fall asleep listening to.  The rest of the world may forget.  But we, as recipients of the fruit of His sufferings, those redeemed by His Blood, must never forget.

Pontius Pilate, Roman Procurator of Judea.....man of the world....who would expect him to be so naive?  He thought a brutal scourging would appease the enemies of Our Lord, but even this would not appease them.  Even the broken, battered Man brought before them once again, one last chance, would not change their corrupt hearts.  But we, looking at this same Man, are moved to pity and sorrow, not only for Christ, but for His mother and also His Father in Heaven.  “Why?” we ask, “Why must this have happened?  And what is this story to me?”

The unabashed chastisement of the sacred Body of Our Lord seems to enfold within itself every sin of the flesh ever committed-whether it be sexual sin, over-indulgence or simply the desire for comfort at too high a cost.  This perfectly describes the current state of the western world, deconstructed Christendom-a miserable field of debris, from sparkling, glowing screens to the body parts of unborn babies.  We must all enter into Our Lord’s Scourging because we are all guilty.  Having passed through it, we are made pure again.  In Holy Communion, we receive this same Body, bloodied for our Redemption-this Precious Blood, which soaked the ground of Jerusalem. 
As rainwater hydrates the earth, the Blood of Christ creates a substantial change, which requires something of all who walk upon it.  It is ignored at one’s own peril.  The glory of the Passion of Christ is that we are resurrected with Him.  It is the Story with the happiest ending.

Seductive images which stand in contrast to the image of our Scourged Savior, sacrilegious sacraments of matrimony, all manner of impurity....we must stand up and be a light to the world, reminding all of the sacredness of the body.  O Jesus, cruelly scourged for my sins, give me strength to stand against the tide of this corrupt culture, to rescue those drowning in the onslaught and bring them home to Thee.  Amen.

March: Month Dedicated to Saint Joseph

This March is jam-packed with soul candy (did I really say that?).....great feasts, Holy Week, the Easter Triduum and Easter Week!  By April 1st, which is Easter Friday, a First Friday and the feast of Saint Hugh of Grenoble, may we have grown closer to Our Blessed Lord.

Holy Church dedicates the month of March to our dear Saint Joseph, so good and powerful (see Home Page for prayer).  His feast is March 19th.  May we remember Saint Joseph in our daily prayers this month.  A very interesting thing is the feast of Saint Dismas, the Good Thief, falls on Good Friday this year.  That same day, March 25th, is typically the feast of the Annunciation.  However, this feast has this year, been moved to April 4th.  Keep in mind, traditionally, on all days of Lent, except Sundays, meat is only eaten at one meal.  Here is an overview of the month, including some particular feasts:

3/6-Laetare Sunday

3/7-Saint Thomas Aquinas, The Angelic Doctor

3/13-Passion Sunday (change your clocks!)

3/15-Saint Longinus, Centurion

3/17-Saint Patrick, Patron of Ireland/Saint Joseph of Arimathea

3/18-Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary (trad Friday after Passion Sunday)

3/19-Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church

3/20-Palm Sunday/Saint Photina, Woman at the Well

3/22-Saint Isidore the Farmer, Patron of Farmers (Nomen Christi likes him-we want to see a garden in every parish!)

3/23-Spy Wednesday/Our Lady of Victories

3/24-Holy Thursday/Saint Gabriel the Archangel, Patron of Telecommunications & Diplomats

3/25- +++ Good Friday +++ (fast & abstain)/Saint Dismas, Patron of Criminals

3/26- +++ Holy Saturday +++ (trad no meat)

3/27- +++ Easter Sunday, The Solemnity of Solemnities +++

Happy Leap Day!

If I ever become a saint, through God's great mercy....just my luck, my feast will probably be on Leap Day.  (budumpum!)

It's like....not a real day, right?  Does that mean we can do whatever we want and it doesn't count?  Like....can I eat ice cream all day and not gain weight?  Can I take the train to the city and spend the day at some posh spa?  When my husband sees $2,000 on the credit card statement, all I have to do is say....it was Leap Day, dude....NOT A REAL DAY....DOESN'T COUNT....NEVER HAPPENED!

Or...maybe Leap Day is a portal to an alternate universe?  Someone should do a movie about that.  Any screenwriters reading....I'll let you take that idea and you don't even have to give me credit! 

Okay, I'm quite finished with my dumb Leap Day jokes.  This is why I did not become a comedienne.  Blessings on this Leap Day....and this week is the half-way point of Lent....our celebrant at Mass yesterday reminded us to take this week to recollect ourselves and ask ourselves (as per the trad Gospel), "Am I divided within myself?"  A good Lenten examination.