Showing posts with label Easter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Easter. Show all posts

21 Apr 2017

'My Lord and my God!' Sunday Reflections, Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy), Year A


Year A
The Apostle St Thomas, El Greco 

Readings (New American Bible) 
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)
Gospel John 20:19-31(NRSV, Catholic Ed.)

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’


John 20:19-31 from The Gospel of John
We can read the words of Jesus to Thomas as a gentle rebuke that has led to the nickname he may carry for all eternity: 'Doubting Thomas'. But I prefer to see him as the one who understood that the Risen Lord must carry the scars of his crucifixion and who made the most explicit act of faith in the whole of Sacred Scripture: My Lord and my God!

The First Reading today (Ats 2:42-47) opens with the words They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 'The breaking of the bread' is an expression used for the celebration of the Eucharist. We can see in this sentence the essence of the Mass as we celebrate it today: listening to God's word, praying and sharing in the Sacrifice of Jesus and sharing his Body and Blood.

Some commentators say that the failure of Thomas was not to listen to God's word as related by his companions. Maybe he did fail here but did the others have the same awareness as Thomas had that the Risen Lord must carry his scars for all eternity?

In Evangelii Gaudium No 7 Pope Francis writes: I never tire of repeating those words of Benedict XVI which take us to the very heart of the Gospel: 'Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction'.

Thomas had been a companion of Jesus for two to three years but what he experienced in today's gospel was precisely what Pope Benedict describes as the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.
Servant of God, Fr Emil Joseph Kapaun (20 April 1916 - 23 May 1951) celebrating Mass with American soldiers during the Korean War [Wikipedia]

Full post here.

17 Apr 2017

That Time the Nice Boy Swore at Me


Or ... Teaching the Faith Sometimes Means Carrying a Cross

Teaching the faith can be a challenge. The Confirmation retreat was nearly over, so we settled back in the main hall after a few hours in the church to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and spend time in Eucharistic Adoration. Though I’ve presented to teenagers for years, it never gets any easier. Corralling them for 8 hours, most against their own will, usually creates a less than friendly atmosphere. This particular group, despite my attempts to provide engaging activities and quick witted presentations, was very difficult to reach.

It was a huge relief to glance at the clock and realize there were fewer than two hours left.“You got this,” I murmured to myself, and grabbed the microphone to begin my last presentation. I barely completed the sign of the cross, when suddenly a young man dressed in a suit stood up.

“Excuse me,” I politely addressed him, “break is over and we are clearly about to pray. We are almost finished; we just have one more subject to cover.” What happened next, even as I type it, still astounds me. “Who,” he began, “do you expletive think you are. This has been complete bull-expletive you have been shoveling at us all day.” Perhaps he saw an opportunity to pounce, since the room had emptied of all adults except me. Before I could answer, he continued with more sentence enhancers and crazy accusations. He had clearly come with preconceived and very misguided notions of Catholicism. My presentations always focus on living the faith in our everyday life and I purposely steer clear of controversial subjects – because I am fully aware that Apologetics are my Achilles heel. This young man perhaps sensed that as well.

The part of my brain that was presently retrieving all of my training in youth ministry and facilitating retreats was screaming “halt, do not fall into this trap, cease all arguments now”! How I wish my brain had won. Instead .... read more 

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras

16 Apr 2017

The Eighth Day: Two Millennia and Counting

Easter is when we celebrate "the crowning truth of our faith in Christ" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 638)

It's among the top major events so far. Depending on how you count them, there have been only three to six: the creation of this universe; humanity's creation and fall; and our Lord's arrival, execution, and resurrection.

There's another big one coming, eventually, and I'll get back to that.

The idea that the Son of God was human and divine has seemed insufficiently 'spiritual' to some folks for two millennia now. But like John 1:14 says,1 "...the Word became flesh...."

The crucifixion, and what happened later, wouldn't mean much otherwise....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

14 Apr 2017

Grief and Gratitude on Good Friday

Great griefs are like great joys: they bend time. My sister died twenty years ago. Sometimes it seems so long ago that mercifully, I can barely remember the details. Other times, those details rush back at me so sharply I have to steel myself for impact.

Suicide does that.

I can smile now at the memory of my sister. I felt disloyal the first time I did that, as though permanent grief could be the only fitting monument to her memory. Time, mercy, and God’s grace have done their work, bit by bit.

For the first time since her death, I am writing about her and about losing her. This is an anniversary, and the time is right. For years, I thought she had taken Easter away with her and left nothing behind but wreckage. Gradually I found that she left me other things: a greater appreciation for the gift of my family, and how to live with gratitude despite wounds that are bone-deep. Those aren’t compensations. They don’t cancel out anything. They are gifts nonetheless.

I extend my hand to anyone who’s facing a loss, or anniversary of a loss, this Good Friday. I can’t make the pain go away. I can only say that you’re not alone. All I have is compassion, “suffering with,” in whatever way I can manage. The time and mercy and grace I mentioned were not my doing, and I couldn’t rush them.

Read the rest of the post at ellenkolb.com.

29 Apr 2016

'We will come to them and make our home with them.' Sunday Reflections, 6th Sunday of Easter, Year C

The Trinity, El Greco, 1577, Madrid 
Gospel John 14:23-29 (NRSV,Catholic Ed, Can)

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

The late Bishop Bienvenido 'Benny' S. Tudtud of Marawi, Philippines, visited my Dad (below) in Dublin some time in the early 1980s. As it happened, Dad was about to leave for the wedding of a cousin of mine but he was able to entertain his unexpected guest for a while. Later on he told my brother, 'The bishop made me feel at home'. My brother laughed and said to him, 'You were the one supposed to make him feel at home!'

Full post here.

1 Apr 2016

'If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them.' Sunday Reflections, Second Sunday of Easter (or of Divine Mercy)



The Incredulity of St Thomas, Rembrandt, 1634 Pushkin Museum, Moscow [Web Gallery of Art]

Gospel John 20:19-31 (NRSV, Catholic Ed,Can)

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

The Gospel of John (2003) Directed by Philip Saville
Narrator: Christopher Plummer


To embrace, to embrace – we all have to learn to embrace the one in need, as Saint Francis did. There are so many situations in Brazil, and throughout the world, that require attention, care and love, like the fight against chemical dependency. (PopeFrancis, St Francis of the Providence of God Hospital, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 24 July 2103).[Photo: Wikipedia]
Full post here

28 Mar 2016

Living the Triduum on Easter Monday and Beyond


The overriding sentiment which prevails at my house and in my heart each Easter Monday is the same.  It is finished.  The long 40 days of Lenten fasting, prayer and penance are completed.  The late nights of the Triduum liturgies are over.  Crumbs of the traditional Italian Easter bread and a handful of neon colored peeps are all that remain from Easter dinner.

 He is Risen indeed – so why does Easter Monday always get me down?

Read more here...


27 Mar 2016

Christ Has Conquered

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory! The risen Savior shines upon you! Let this place resound with joy, echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

Another Easter


There have been only three to six major events so far, depending on how you count them: the creation of this universe; humanity's creation and fall; and our Lord's arrival, execution, and resurrection.

There's another big one coming, eventually, and I'll get back to that.

Cosmic Scale


I'm a Catholic, so I take Sacred Scripture very seriously,1 including this:
"God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed - the sixth day."
(Genesis 1:31)
We've known that God's creation was big and old, and been impressed, for a long time:
"1 Think! The heavens, even the highest heavens, belong to the LORD, your God, as well as the earth and everything on it."
(Deuteronomy 10:14)

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder's craft."
(Psalms 19:2)

"3 Raise your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth below; Though the heavens grow thin like smoke, the earth wears out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies, My salvation shall remain forever and my justice shall never be dismayed."
(Isaiah 51:6)

"4 Indeed, before you the whole universe is as a grain from a balance, or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth."
(Wisdom 11:22-25)
More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

22 Mar 2016

Have the Last 40 Days Changed You?



Holy Week is here ... Lent 2016 will soon be done

But am I any different than when it all began 40 plus days ago?

Did my Lenten sacrifices - prayers, almsgiving and fasting - transform me? Did they prepare me for the coming Triduum s(Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) services? Most importantly have the readied my heart to rise again with Jesus on Easter -- a new creation in Christ?
Lent and the expectation of the coming of Spring, maybe because I live in a seasonal location, have always co-existed in my heart. Lent starts often in the harshness of winter - cold, long, dark nights. Easter arrives after daylight savings and (usually) the last snow fall. Flowers and trees are budding, maybe even flowering, and there is an emerging from the cocoon like feel to the world.
But have I changed? Has this time of no television, extra prayer and attention to participating in the Sacraments, awoken something in my heart. 

 What will my spiritual practices look like going forward?   Here are 3 Quick Takeaways from #Lent2016 ... READ MORE

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016

Pray with Me, during Holy Week and Easter

Brilliantly simple! A letter from Seattle contains practical wisdom for praying through Holy Week and the Easter Season.


Click over to Praying with Grace to read the letter.

20 Mar 2016

The Messiah We Need

Tiberius was Rome's absentee emperor around the time the Han Dynasty was getting back to business-as-usual, after Wang Mang's brief takeover. I mentioned him before: Wang Mang, I mean. (December 27, 2015)

Meanwhile, Phaedrus was retelling Aesop's Fables in Latin, and Pontius Pīlātus was prefect of the Roman Province of Judea.

That part of the world had been under Roman control since the Battle of Philippi, Armenia wasn't a Roman province yet, but it wasn't the force it had been during Tigranes' reign, and that's another topic.

Tigranes, Tiberius, and Wang Mang, were well-known folks in their day;1 at least in their homelands. Two millennia later, not so much.

Pontius Pīlātus is another matter. He's mentioned each year around this time, when something like 2,000,000,000 folks pay at least fleeting attention to a Nazarene's progress from top-of-the-polls celebrity to executed corpse.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

25 Apr 2015

'I know my own and my own know me.' Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday of Easter, Year B

From The Gospel of John (2003) directed by Philip Saville

Today's Gospel, John 10:11-18 [1:19 - 2:30]
Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
Fr Barry Cairns is a Columban priest from New Zealand who was ordained in 1955 and went to Japan in 1956 where he still is. He writes frequently for our various Columban magazines. I met him only once but I know him to be the kind of joyful proclaimer of the Gospel that Pope Francis so often speaks about. 
Full post here.

19 Apr 2015

Jesus Christ is Risen!

Easter Sunday 2015:

Easter Sunday 2015

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
April 5, 2015

Jesus Christ is risen! This means that life takes on a new horizon. Have you ever thought of yourself as immortal? Have you ever considered that you have "forever" to live? The resurrection from the death of Jesus casts a new light on our human existence. No longer are we bound by finite ends. Our life has an all new endless and brilliant horizon, and we come to share in this new resurrected and glorious horizon gifted us by Christ Jesus through our baptism.

In baptism, we are born into the resurrected life of Jesus Christ, a life that knows no end, no boundaries....

More, at A Catholic Citizen in America.

9 Apr 2015

'Unless I see the mark of the nails . . .' Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year B

The Gospel of John (2003) dir. by Philip Saville- John 20:19-31  Today is now known also as 'Sunday of Divine Mercy' and in some English-speaking countries as 'Low Sunday'.

Gospel John 20:19-31
 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”  Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah,the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Apostle St ThomasJusepe Martínez, c.1630 Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest [Web Gallery of Art]
I carry a scar on one of my hips from surgery when I was 17. I can't even remember which hip. But the scar is there, along with a couple of smaller scars from accidents when I was young. I hardly ever think about them. But they are there.

St Thomas's instinct was right: Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe. He knew that if the Lord was truly risen he would carry the scars of his suffering. And he carries them for all eternity. Full post here.

7 Apr 2015

John Paul II: My First Pope Crush

Here he is.
"Karol Wojtyla-splyw" by Unknown [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Yes. That's my beloved JP2. It's OK, you can love him too.

On April 2, the world marked the tenth anniversary of his death. Pope Francis encouraged us to keep up our conversation with the Polish pope, asking him to "intercede for us, for families, for the church so that the light of the Resurrection shines through all of the darkness in our life and fills us with joy and peace.” It makes sense to continue to talk to Pope John Paul II--to pray--just like we did while he was still living among us. Sunday's brilliant celebration of Easter reminds us that Jesus has conquered death. Death is no stumbling block for us; when our friends pass away, we know they live in Jesus Christ.

Read about three other popes and the love of Jesus Christ at Praying with Grace!

5 Apr 2015

Death? Been There, Done That


(From Piero della Francesca, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
('Dead? I was, but now I'm better.' No, our Lord didn't say that: not in so many words.(John 20:26-27))

I haven't died, not yet: and I'm still working on the 'dying to myself' that doesn't mean pretending that I'm garbage — and that's another topic. Topics. (November 27, 2011; March 3, 2009)

Our Lord: That's another matter. About two millennia back, Jesus was tortured, executed, and buried: but I'm getting ahead of the story....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

4 Apr 2015

And They Believed


'Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb.  They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first.  He bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter, following him, also came up, went into the tomb, saw the linen cloths lying on the ground and also the cloth that had been over His head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in.  He saw and he believed.'  (John 20:3-8)



from The Cloistered Heart

21 Mar 2015

The Purgatory Trap

St. Michael the Archangel and the Souls in Purgatory

 The trap of Purgatory is too many souls rely on Purgatory as the destination of their soul after death, and slap God in the face by not trusting in His mercy, and do not seek Heaven.  They use Purgatory as their "backup plan" and as a result lead lukewarm lives, saying to themselves that in an exchange for just doing the "minimum" faith requirement, thinking that when they die they will just have to spend a few years in Purgatory and then eventually end up in Heaven.

Whether we spend time in Purgatory is at God's discretion, not ours.  

The greatest misuse of Purgatory is that many Catholics do not fear God because of Purgatory.

Those that hang their hopes on Purgatory are already among the lukewarm and possibly among those heading to the second death. Jesus will spit those out of His mouth that have failed to make every effort to follow Jesus and heaven, NOT Purgatory.


To READ MORE: CLICK HERE!

Journeying with Jesus

The first time I was to fly alone to Abu Dhabi to speak at a religious conference, I was rather frightened—petrified would be more accur...