We begin once again looking at the decades of the Rosary and before we move on to the Sorrowful ones during Lent. We look at the newest one, given to up by Pope John Paul II. A couple of weeks ago we hear that John was baptizing in the Jordan and crowds were coming to be baptized. Jesus himself comes and after the water was poured over his head there was a dove and a voice syaing “This is my beloved son, listen to him”. When we were baptized whenever that was we shared in this event, God is pleased with us, for many though we were baptized as infants and have no idea what all happened.Let us all go out into the world showing the Holy Spirit to the world so that it can help transform the world to a better place. With so much negativity around the world let us take the high road and show that we are the children of God who he is pleased with.
This week the readings are found in the first book of Kings 17: 17-24, Psalm 30, Paul’s letter to the Galatians 1:11-19, and Luke’s Gospel 7:11-17.
This week we hear of three resurrections, two physical, Elijah and Jesus raising sons for their mothers and one spiritual, Paul’s conversion. I am sure that most of us can’t relate to dying and being reborn in a physical sense but we can understand what Paul went through. As this is something that happens to us all as we celebrate the sacraments, the Lord comes into our lives. For many we treat this as a thing to keep to ourselves and cherish it but we are called to go out into the world and share the presence of the Lord. Since by our baptism we are called to be prophets to the nations. This also is a call for us to learn more about the world around us and how to relate it to the message of the Lord.
This week the readings are from the prophet Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-1, Psalm 104, Paul’s letter to Titus 2:11-14; 3:2-7, and Luke’s Gospel 3:16-16,21-22. There is also a chance for all readings but the Gospel to come from Year A of the Cycle Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7, Psalm 29, and Acts 10:34-38.
At our Baptism we are given the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit. The gifts are awe and wonder, wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, and piety. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa says that the seven gifts correspond with the seven Virtues. The fruit of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity. These are what Paul tells the Galatians are all attributes to living a Christian life. It would be wonderful if we remembered all of these, sure we are told to memorize them when we get Confirmed but many of us forget what they are by the time we are anointed. Yet we should strive to live out the fruit and gifts of the Spirit in our lives.
We need to remember that the Holy Spirit is living in the world today and our heavenly father says the same words as he did at the Baptism of the Lord as he does at our own baptisms. “You are my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” This is some earth shattering realization that someone out there is pleased with you just as you are. It’s like Fred Rogers said “I like you just the way you are.” This is how we need to go out into the world and share this message “I like you just the way you are.”
The fruit of this mystery is Openness to the Holy Spirit.
This is the first of the Luminous mysteries and reminds us about the Holy Spirit. All to often we forget that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit for us. Sure we are reminded about this at Pentecost but we should always be reminded that the Spirit is here and in our lives. We are in the age of the Spirit and should be willing for the Spirit to help direct all of our decisions, like the cardinals do at a Papal Concave. I hope that in the new year we can all be willing to share our lives with the Holy Spirit. At our Baptism and Confirmation we are anointed with the Holy Chrism which is a physical sign of the Spirit in our lives. Let’s recall the gifts and fruits of the Spirit as well and try to live these in the world. This weekend there will be some more about the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
The fruit of this mystery is True Wisdom and True Conversion, Piety.
When you hear these fruits you think there will be some sort of knowledge that it is talking about, but it is more like the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Sure when we were confirmed we learned the seven gifts and have most likely forgotten half or maybe even all of them. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe) these are the gift that the Spirit have been given to us at Baptism and are strengthened at Confirmation. Piety is one of these fruits and it’s sort of like humility and piousness rolled into one thing. I hope that we can all learn some more about the fruits of the spirit and try to live our lives according to them in this upcoming year.
This is the first story after the Nativity in most of the Gospels. Jesus goes to the Jordan where John is baptizing and asks to be baptized. John then says to Jesus “It is I who should be asking to be baptized by you”. Nevertheless, John baptizes Jesus and from the heavens comes a voice “This is (You are) my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased” along with a dove. This is same event happens at our baptism we become the Sons and Daughters of our heavenly father, and he is pleased with us. I hope that this is something that we keep in mind during our lifetimes as we often forget that we are that beloved child of the heavenly father and that he is pleased with you and me.
This week the readings have the same feel as last week with the general theme of ministry. We begin with the Prophet Amos, one of the lesser prophets, we pick up right after Amos had just been giving some prophecy importantly that the king Jeroboam would die by the sword and Israel would be exiled. We begin with Amos being rebuked and sent away from Bethel (Northern Israel) for being a prophet by Amaziah who says that he should go to Judah (Southern Israel) and prophesy since that is how he earns his bread. Amos however says that he was a simple shepherd and dresser of sycamores but the Lord came to him and said “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” The Lord calls people from various places in life to service. In the epistle we hear from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, although the extent of the reading is simple Paul’s welcome and thanksgiving. In this Paul goes into depth about how we are all children of our Father in heaven for in love we are adopted through Jesus. It’s a pretty little picture since he has chose us before the foundation of the world. Turning to the Gospel we hear Mark tell of Jesus sending the twelve out two by two into the world taking nothing but a walking stick and sandals. They were sent out to preach, drive out spirits, and heal the sick. Once again we have a call for mission go out into the world taking nothing with us since the Lord will provide for all that we need. It doesn’t matter where we begin but this message is meant for us as well we should be bringing the Word out into the world and trying to make it a better place for all of our brothers and sisters that we share it with. The Lord doesn’t care what we are Amos was a tree dresser and he became a prophet we are all called at our baptism to be prophet, priest and king but for many of us we forget this over the time since we were baptized.
This week we have an interesting selection of readings, we have the end of the Conversion of Saul to Paul along with the True Vine which is a part of the Farewell discourse in John’s Gospel. These are the big readings this week. We begin in Acts where we meet up with Saul who was just a couple verses earlier persecuting the Jesus Sect and wanting to destroy them. Saul has arrived in Jerusalem and want to join the disciples, however they are all cautious of this, fearing that Saul would join and then destroy it from the inside. So Barnabas takes him to the apostles and Saul tells them that he has seen the Lord and had spoken out boldly of the name of Jesus in Damascus. So Saul joins the church and it is at peace and grew in numbers. The thing we have to keep in our mind about this reading is that Paul didn’t just walk up and get accepted he needed a sponsor who would vouch for him. That man was Barnabas. All of us also have sponsors in our lives from our Godparents and Confirmation sponsor, these people are there to vouch for us and help guide us in our faith. Our parents are also there to help guide us in faith I hope that we can listen to these individuals and take their advice.
In the epistle this week we are once again in John’s first letter. The first line in of utmost importance “let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”All to often in the world today we corrupt the meaning of love into the ambivalent liking of things “I love pizza or coffee” and John is talking about this. In Greek the word used for love here is Agape (God to man/man to God, charity). The reading goes on to say that the Lord knows everything so saying that you love the Lord is really meaningless in the long run. Instead we need to act on this love by following the commandments and following in the steps of Jesus.
Finally we arrive at the Gospel of John where we hear from the Farewell Discourse. Jesus tells us “I am the true vine and my father is the vine grower…and you are the branches” It is all a close relationship between the three. We must live in Christ and let Christ live in us. We should always remember that we are never alone in our journey to the Lord and we have the Saints, friends and family as examples for us. One of the easiest thing that we can do is to love someone as Victor Hugo wrote “To love another person is to see the face of God” and how do we show our love for one another we do things like the works of mercy.
The past couple of years I’ve focused on the Sunday readings on Saturday at the Vigil Mass there is a whole other set of readings which are read, and it is whole lot more readings as well. This is typically the longest service of the year, so please bear with this summation of the reading and everything else that goes on at the Mass. The service begins in complete darkness, inside the church, often times this starts outside with the blessing of the fire and blessing of the Pascal Candle. The Pascal Candle is then lit from the fire and brought into the church while the fire is passed on from person to person until the church is fully illuminated by candlelight. Then comes the Exsultet which can be sung or read and after this part typically all the candles are blown out. At this point we finally reach the readings, at the Easter Vigil there are typically nine reading seven from the old testament and two from the new testament. The readings cover all of Salvation History beginning with Creation and going to the Resurrection.
The first reading comes from the beginning of the Bible and is the complete story of the creation of the world and everything in it (light, land\seas, plants, animals) and it all culminates with the creation of man and woman and the first commandment in the Bible “Be fruitful and multiply.” Next there is a Psalm as there is one after all the old testament readings followed by a prayer. We then arrive at the second reading still in Genesis but we hear about Abraham and the binding of Issac or that time Abraham almost killed Issac. This is the Lord testing Abraham and it prefigures the figure of Christ and how he would be sacrificed. Then comes a Psalm and prayer again followed by a jump forward in time in the reading we make it to the Book of Exodus where we actually hear about the exodus and how the Jewish people escaped from Egypt. This is followed by the Psalm and prayer then we once again skip forward in time and we hear from the prophet Isaiah. We actually hear from Isaiah twice the first time he speak of the love of the Lord for us being like that of a husband or wife and will always be there willing to forgive us no matter what we do. In the second reading from Isaiah we hear from a popular part of the book where the Lord offers an invitation to all, Come to the water eat and drink, then says that we should seek the Lord while he may be found. These are both followed by a psalm and prayer combo as well. The next reading comes from a book that I don’t think we hear from that often in the church Baruch, he was the scribe of Jeremiah and he chides the people for not walking in the way of the Lord, basically we are asked to reaffirm our commitment that we made/had made for us at Baptism and last year at Easter. Then comes the psalm and prayer. This is followed by a reading from Ezekiel where the same basic theme is hit upon the Lord is willing to forgive us all only if we repent and we should try to make a better effort in doing so, otherwise we might be scattered amongst the nations. After the psalm and prayer we are done with the old testament and the altar candles are finally lit and all the lights in the church are turned on while we sing the Gloria.
Finally the priest says the opening prayer. After this we hear from the letter of Paul to the Romans, where Paul tells us that we who have been baptized in Christ have died with him and just like Jesus we will be raised. For Paul goes on to say Christ has conquered death and we should live in Christ. At this point we finally have a traditional transition as we turn to the Gospel reading, This year we hear from Mark account of the Resurrection. It begins on the morning after the Sabbath the women (Mary Magdalene, Mary, Salome, and the mother of James) are going to the tomb to anoint the body with spices and oils. When they arrived the stone had been rolled away and saw a man who spoke to them saying “Do not be amazed! Jesus who was crucified has been raised and is not here” The man then told them to go tell this to the disciples and Peter that he will be going to Galilee and that is where you will see him as he foretold.
This is the end of the readings we get a homily, hopefully it is short as the next portion of the Mass is the sacrament part. We start with Baptism, the rite happens and then it is time for the renewal of our own baptismal promises and sprinkling. This is followed by Confirmation for those candidates who are receiving this sacrament. There might be some clapping after this as well as after the Baptisms welcoming those into the community. Finally the liturgy of the Eucharist begins and the mass proceeds like normal.
This is also the second day of the Divine Mercy Novena.
The Chrism Mass is one of the most wonderful liturgies of the Church year and it is a shame that most people miss out on it. At the Chrism Mass the Bishop of the diocese prepares and blesses all the oils (Holy Chrism, Oil of Catechumens and Oil of the Sick) which will be used throughout the year in the diocese. Traditionally this event is held on Holy Thursday but many diocese have moved it to earlier in Holy Week so more priests from parishes in the diocese can attend, although I am sure that some smaller diocese, like Rome still have it on Holy Thursday. It is one of the Masses you should go to at least once in your lifetime.
It is just a regular mass that the Bishop presides, so off we go. The Chrism Mass doesn’t change year to year so it’s the same readings like most of the other Triduum events. There are a few changes from your typical mass during Lent the first among them is the Gloria is said and there are a couple of other additions to the liturgy. The first reading comes from the prophet Isaiah and in the reading we hear Isaiah say that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him because he has been anointed. Then he gets into his mission [the Lord] has sent me to bring glad tiding to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to captives and release to prisoners, comfort all who morn and give them oil of gladness in place of mourning. These people will be priests of the Lord. Now this is a reminder to priests of their role in the world but this reading also has meaning for everyone who is baptized, we have all been anointed and therefore it it our job to do the mission as outlines above. All to often we just leave it for the priests and other religious sisters and brothers to do but it is a universal calling to bring glad tidings to the world.
The Psalm even gets into the anointing vibe and also bring forth the bringing the joy “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.” Turning to the second reading we hear from the Book of Revelation, now we side step the whole anointing thing for a reading, but the role of priests is brought up again. We hear the greeting from John of Patmos to the seven churches in Asia minor, although the reading cuts off the first verse. Now the greeting is more of a list about Jesus and it goes on the say that Jesus has “made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father” this also seems to indicate the universal priesthood that the first reading touches on.
As we reach the Gospel we hear from Luke of a time Jesus preached in Nazareth, this is early in the public ministry of Jesus, he had just returned from his time in the desert after his baptism. The reading has been trimmed so it doesn’t tell the whole story but Jesus goes to synagogue and reads from the scroll, he reads from the prophet Isaiah “The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me…” we should remember that reading. when Jesus finishes he rolls the scroll back and says that “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” This is a reminder to priests my St.Joseph’s Sunday Missal says that preaching should come from scripture, not be something that the congregation wants to hear and that the congregation should care more about what is said than who says it. I’ve always been a fan of good preaching but sometime you get really bad preaching like the past Sunday, I heard 6 minutes in which the Gospel was basically summarized and how Jesus was just quoting scripture when he said “My God, My God why have you abandoned me” since he wasn’t abandoned or something.
Next comes the homily from the bishop and after that a renewal of commitment to Priestly Service by all the priests present, this is like how some religious need to renew their vows before they get to final vows or married couple renew their wedding vows, since priests are not it is pretty cool event. At this point there could be the blessing of all the oils or they could take place before the end of the Eucharist prayer (oil of the sick) and after communion (the others).