The Ascension

This week the readings come from the beginning of Acts 1: 1-11, Psalm 47, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 1:17-23 or Letter to the Hebrews 9:24-28, 10:19-23; and Luke’s Gospel 24:46-53.

We’ve got options but the main deal this week is the Ascension. If you forget that’s what’s being celebrated this week it’s when Jesus ascends into heaven. We get a double dose of Luke this week, with Acts and the gospel reading. The message of the two men dressed in white is something we need to remember and live by. The men in white ask “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?” Sure we can remember Jesus but he will be coming back someday but we don’t know when. All too often we live our lives looking up at the sky reacting to events out of our control or just shut down when things aren’t going our way, these angels are reminders to us to not be stuck in our head but to focus on the world around us and what we can do in it so as to make it a better place for Jesus to return to.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

This week the readings come from Acts 14:21-27, Psalm 145, Revelation 21:1-5a, and John’s Gospel 13:31-33a, 34-35.

The big focus this week is what Jesus says in the Gospel, where he issues a New Commandment. It isn’t that ground breaking it is to love one another, as in the Golden rule.  “Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another.”  It’s a simple idea but so hard in practice since this is talking about everyone and there are some people that we hate in the world. However, Jesus is here telling us to love one another. If we just followed this advice just imagine what the world would be like.  Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that the foundation of the world is love and in a homily that “Love is the only force capable of changing the heart of the human person and of all humanity, by making fruitful the relations between men and women, between rich and poor, between cultures and civilizations.” Let us go out and try to live this “New Commandment” loving one another as the Lord has loved us.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

This week the readings come from Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100; Revelation 7:9, 14b-17; and John’s Gospel 10:27-30.

This week we hear about the Good Shepherd it is sort of a continuation of Paul and Jesus “Feed my sheep” from last week although it come from earlier in the Gospel. Sure the metaphor is rough today as not many of us know shepherd but they were rough around the edges and as Pope Francis has said they would smell of their sheep. Being like the Good Shepherd is a goal that we should all be willing to attain. We need to go out into the world and work with others for the betterment of the world. Priests and Bishops need to listen to the words of Pope Francis and take on the character of the people that they serve.

Third Sunday of Easter

This week before getting to the readings Pope Francis released his second Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) I will be following His Holiness advice and taking my time to read through the whole thing and will offer some comment about it soon.

The readings the week come from Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; and John’s Gospel 21:1-19.

It seems to me that the common thread of the readings this week is vocation.  This is clearly seen in the Gospel where we have the part where Jesus asks Peter “Do you love me?” Peter replies “Yes, Lord you know I do” Jesus answers back “Feed my sheep” and asks Peter again “Do you Love me?” Peter answers the same Jesus replies “Tend my sheep” then asks Peter a third time “Do you Love me?”. Peter is livid at begin asked a third time and says “Lord you know everything, you know that I love you” Jesus replies “Feed my sheep” then this reading end with Jesus telling Peter to “Follow me.” This is an experience that we all have when we go to Mass we encounter Christ and he asks us “Do you love me?” and tells us to Follow Him. Let us go out to feed and tend the sheep out in the world and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Divine Mercy Sunday

This week the readings come from Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118; Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; and John’s Gospel 20:19-31.

In case you missed it this is the Second Sunday in Easter or more commonly known as Divine Mercy Sunday, your church might be praying the Chaplet today at 3pm, they are go and pray it. Today the readings focus on Faith with the story of Doubting Thomas in the Gospel. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have still believed.” This gospel reading is the only one across all three years of the cycle. If you look at the Divine Mercy image you understand it right away, as in the image Jesus is blessing us with his left hand pointing toward his chest with red and pale (white) rays coming from his heart. Just like at the Crucifixion blood and water flow from Jesus, below the image is usually the phrase “Jesus, I Trust in You.”  We need to put our trust in Jesus, we don’t get to be like Thomas and ask to see his hand and feet and side to prove that it is actually Jesus but we will know it is him through love.

Easter Thursday, Divine Mercy Novena Day 7

Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.”

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

This should be all individuals especially this year as we celebrate the Year of Mercy. We are constantly focusing on the suffering, death and resurrection of the Lord that mercy should become second nature for us all. On Easter, Pope Francis in his Urbi et Orbi said that “Before the spiritual and moral abysses of mankind, before the chasms that open up in hearts and provoke hatred and death, only an infinite mercy can bring us salvation. Only God can fill those chasms with his love, prevent us from falling into them and help us to continue our journey together towards the land of freedom and life.” We all need mercy in our lives and should be willing to show mercy to others and the same is true with love.

Easter Sunday, Divine Mercy Novena Day 3

“Today bring to Me all Devout and Faithful Souls, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness.”

Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.

On this Blessed Easter day we focus on all faithful souls living and dead as humankind is linked with the life of Christ. Let us try in these next fifty days to be different from the bitterness that the world has become all around us and in doing so inspire the world to become a better place.

Pentecost

This week is the birthday of the Church, as it is the first time that people other than the apostles joined the group, so we should all have some cake and ice cream this weekend. The readings this week may be the readings used in “year A” but there are some derivations with this in the epistle and the gospel, I will be reflecting on these different readings.

The first reading is the same every year, the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit from Acts. When Pentecost came, fifty days after Passover, they were all gathered in one place together and a strong wind (a breath of God) came into the room and tongues of fire came to rest on them. They were able to speak in different languages or the crowds of people from all over the place were able to hear what the apostles were saying in their own language. The Bible doesn’t offer a good explanation as to what happened or how close the languages were to each other it’s one of the mysteries that I would like to try and figure out. This is one of the things that you can say points toward having Mass being said in the vernacular.

Turning to the second reading we open up to Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It is a portion of the “flesh\spirit” or “sarx/pneuma” debate that Paul has going on in the Galatians. Paul calls us to live by the spirit and we should abhor the flesh. Although the works of the flesh sound so fun; orgies, drunken bouts, sorcery and acts of selfishness to name a few. Paul gives us a list of the fruits of the Spirit. Those things you memorize to be confirmed and then promptly forget. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control are the ones listed in the reading, the Catholic Church adds modesty and chastity to this list as well. Which ever list we decide to follow it would be a better world if more people were living in the fruits of the Spirit instead of the flesh. Perhaps it is time that we started glamorizing the fruits as much as we do the works of the flesh. This reading is followed by a sequence (Come Holy Spirit) this is a poem set to music. This is the second sequence in the liturgical year. We have one more on Corpus Christi.

After this musical interlude we hear from the Gospel of John. This reading comes before the Crucifixion, Jesus tells his disciples that he will send an Advocate, for he has much more to tell them but they cannot hear it now. Jesus continues saying that when the spirit does comes it will guide them to all truth. This sounds nice and it would be a good reminder that this same Spirit is with us today although we hardly recognize it. I hope that this week we can all try to live in the fruits and recognize the Spirit in the world around us.

The Resurrection

So, I didn’t have time to watch AD earlier so expect that post to be later in the week Thursday maybe, the episode focuses on Pentecost. Instead here is a reflection on the first Glorious Mystery.

The fruit of this mystery is faith. It seem whenever I pray this decade it is always for those in faith formation programs or after Easter those who joined the church at the vigil that their faith doesn’t waver and that they can inspire other to rekindle their faith lives. Since it seems that those who convert or join the faith later on in life they seem to have the whole “Hey, look at me I’m Catholic” thing going on. Many have become apologists or what not like GK Chesterton or Scott Hahn.  The Christian church started as a group of converts so perhaps it is best that converts make such a big deal about their “new” faith. While many cradle Catholics just live their lives like normal and that’s it not rocking any boats about our faith lives. So perhaps I need to change who I pray this decade for to those who are struggling with their faith or have abandoned their faith.

Third Sunday of Easter

The theme of the readings this week is understanding and knowledge. We start as with every week in Easter in the Acts of the Apostles where we explore the beginnings of the Church. It is an interesting reading this week as Peter is preaching to the Jewish people and says “The Lord glorified Jesus whom you denied and let a murderer go free” then he adds, “but it’s okay since you didn’t know. However you should repent and convert for your sins to be forgiven.” The key point in this whole thing is that ignorance isn’t an excuse we need to be informed about our faith and the world around us. Pick up a newspaper or go visit one online and read about what is happening in the world, and not just hear some newscasters opinion of the story.

We continue in the first letter of John same as last week but we have moved up in the book to the second chapter in which he writes “I am writing this so that you may not commit sin.” Since we have Jesus in heaven acting as an advocate for us with the father. Then the reading turn on itself saying “Those who say ‘I know Jesus’ but don’t follow the commandment is a liar.” Yet those who keep their word the love of God is perfected in him. Aldous Huxley eloquently put it in his book The Perennial Philosophy, “We can only love what we know, and we can never know completely what we do not love. Love is a mode of knowledge…” It boils down to love you may know the Bible and Catechism inside and out and quote the Saints six ways from Sunday but if you don’t love you really are a Christian.

Turning to the Gospel we have the continuation of the Road to Emmaus story the two disciples when back to Jerusalem and were telling the other disciples about what had happened to them at dinner when Jesus appears again to all of them. The disciples were terrified and scared that they might be seeing a ghost. So Jesus reassures them saying “See, I’ve got flesh and bones” and then eats some fish in front of the disciples to prove he is real. After Jesus proves that he is real he opens their minds to understand the Scriptures. This is something that I try to do by reading through and giving the broad strokes of the readings to you all. If you don’t read the readings for mass on Sunday before going I would suggest taking a chance on it, I find it help me focus on the reading instead of reading along in the missal. This reading also seems to be pushing for more us all to try and get into the Bible and read it in group as part of a Bible study or by ourselves.