Holy Week and Easter

Sunday, April 13, Passion (Palm) Sunday

They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks across its back, and he sat on it. (Mark 11:7)

Reflection

..His coming is a revelation, a radical, total revelation of God's holiness."Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory...". Precisely this Week which humanly speaking is filled to the brim with suffering, humiliation, despoliation, in a word, with the kenosis of God this Week contains the revelation of God's holiness, the culmination of world history. "Holy, Holy, Holy.... Hosanna in the highest"....
To embrace the Cross on this day, to pass it from hand to hand, is a very eloquent gesture. It is like saying: Lord, we do not want to stay with you only at the time of the "Hosannas", but with your help we want to accompany you on the way of the Cross as did Mary, your mother and ours, and the Apostle John. Yes, O Lord, because "You have the words of eternal life" (Jn 6:68), and we have believed that precisely your Cross is the word of life, of eternal life!

Lenten Fact

According to the account of a fifth-century Spanish pilgrim to the Holy Land, Passion Sunday Mass was celebrated in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. After this the people were invited to meet again in the afternoon at the Mount of Olives, in the Church of Eleona (the grotto of the Our Father). They then proceeded to the Church of the Ascension for a service consisting of hymns and antiphons, readings and prayers, where at five o'clock in the afternoon the Gospel of the palms was read and the procession set out for the city. The people responded to the antiphons with the acclamation, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord," as we say even today.

Lenten Action

A diet of amoral and immoral programs can and will corrupt your values. Do you control the media you watch and listen to?

Prayer

Lord, you have satisfied our hunger with this eucharistic food. The death of your Son gives us hope and strengthens our faith. May his resurrection give us perseverance and lead us to salvation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

April 14 - April 19

Monday, April 14

Then she dried his feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the ointment's fragrance. (John 12:3)

Reflection

Adoration

Jesus, my God, I adore You, here present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, where You wait day and night to be our comfort while we await Your unveiled presence in heaven. Jesus, my God, I adore You in all places where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved and where sins are committed against this Sacrament of Love. Jesus, my God, I adore You for all time, past, present and future, for every soul that ever was, is or shall be created. Jesus, my God, who for us has endured hunger and cold, labor and fatigue, I adore You. Jesus, my God, who for my sake has deigned to subject Yourself to the humiliation of temptation, to the perfidy and defection of friends, to the scorn of Your enemies, I adore You. Jesus, my God, who for us has endured the buffeting of Your passion, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, the heavy weight of the cross, I adore You.

Jesus, my God, who, for my salvation and that of all mankind, was cruelly nailed to the cross and hung there for three long hours in bitter agony, I adore You. Jesus, My God, who for love of us did institute this Blessed Sacrament and offer Yourself daily for the sins of men, I adore You. Jesus, my God, who in Holy Communion became the food of my soul, I adore You. Jesus, for You I live. Jesus, for You I die. Jesus, I am Yours in life and death. Amen.

Lenten Fact

Hunting was for many ages considered as forbidden during Lent: the spirit of the holy season was too sacred to admit such exciting and noisy sport.

Lenten Action

Let go of a long standing grudge. Practice real forgiveness after the example of Jesus.

Prayer

God of mercy, be close to your people. Watch over us who receive this sacrament of salvation, and keep us in your love. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, April 15

"I tell you solemnly, one of you will betray me!" (John 13:21)

Reflection

A Simple Gesture

Mark was walking home from school one day when he noticed the boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of the books he was carrying, along with two sweaters, a baseball bat, a glove and a small tape recorder.
Mark knelt down and helped the boy pick up the scattered articles. Since they were going the same way, he helped to carry part of the burden. Asthey walked Mark discovered the boy's name was Bill, that he loved video games, baseball and history, and that he was having lots of trouble with his other subjects and that he had just broken up with his girlfriend.

They arrived at Bill's home first and Mark was invited in for a Coke and to watch some television. The afternoon passed pleasantly with a few laughs and some shared small talk, then Mark went home. They continued to see each other around school, had lunch together once or twice, then both graduated from junior high school. They ended up in the same high school where they had brief contacts over the years.
Finally the long-awaited senior year came and three weeks before graduation, Bill asked Mark if they could talk. Bill reminded him of the day years ago when they had first met.

"Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things home that day?" asked Bill. "You see, I cleaned out my locker because I didn't want to leave a mess for anyone else. I had stored away some of my mothers sleeping pills and I was going home to commit suicide. But after we spent some time together talking and laughing, I relized that if I had killed myself, I would have missed that time and so many others that might follow. So you see, Mark, when you picked up those books that day, you did a lot more, you saved my life."

Every little hello, every little smile, every helping hand saves a hurting heart. Pass it on.

Lenten Fact

After Constantine legalized Christianity in the year 312, the pathway of our Lord's passion was marked with its important stations. St. Jerome (342- 420), living in Bethlehem during the later part of his life, attested to the crowds of pilgrims from various countries who visited those holy places and followed the Way of the Cross.

Lenten Action

Call a relative with who you have been out of contact with. Smile at everyone you meet today.

Prayer

All-powerful God, by the suffering and death of your Son, strengthen and protect us in our weakness. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Wednesday, April 16

I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for comforters, and I found none. (Psalm 69:21)

Reflection

PRAY IT AGAIN, SAM

My mom has prayed the daily rosary for as long as I can remember. We used to say it together as a family. At home, she always used a large wooden rosary she had owned for many years.
After we kids had moved away, she started praying with the devoted group of parishioners who said a rosary after each weekday mass. At church, she began using a new set of plastic rosary beads she kept in her purse. An elderly gentleman named Sam led the prayers, and the others faithfully responded.

The count of "Hail Marys" through five mysteries everyday was always accurate except for the third decade. Here, as my mom fingered the last "Hail Mary" bead, Sam would always say one more "Hail Mary" and naturally everyone would give the "Holy Mary" response. "There he goes again," she'd think to herself as he began the "extra" prayer. "Why does he always say eleven 'Ave Marias' in the third decade?"

That pattern continued for several years until one day when my mom left her purse in the car and had to borrow a pair of rosaries from the lady sitting next to her. Lo and behold, this time when my mom fingered the final "Hail Mary" bead of the third decade, Sam dutifully followed with the "Glory Be."

This prompted my mom to do something she otherwise wouldn't have thought of: to check the rosary beads in her purse - that set only contained nine beads in the third decade!

Lenten Fact

A plenary indulgence is granted for those who piously exercise the Way of the Cross, actually moving from station to station where they are legitimately erected and while mediating on the passion and death of our Lord ("Enchiridion of Indulgences," No. 63).

Lenten Action

Today is the day we remember Judas betraying the Lord. Ask the Lord for forgiveness for all your sins.

Prayer

Father, in your plan of salvation your Son Jesus Christ accepted the cross and freed us from the power of the enemy. May we come to share the glory of his resurrection, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Thursday, April 17, Holy Thursday

"But if I washed your feet...then you must wash each other's feet." (John 13:14)

Reflection

In April of 1945 American artillery in the town of Siegburg, Germany, was shelling a nearby village, in which there were about 20 German soldiers. The natives were in constant danger of being hit by bullets from either side. Toward evening of April 12 the people persuaded the German soldiers to cease fire. Next morning the village priest carried a white flag to the American outpost to inform the commander that the German soldiers had gone and the civilian population had no desire to resist further. Instructions were given to fly white flags from all the houses. The question uppermost in the minds of the towns-people was: How will the Americans treat us?
They had heard terrible tales of cruelty on the part of the Russians. How would these conquerors act?
The Americans began a thorough search for weapons and German soldiers. Two soldiers armed with pistols came to a certain three- room home. They stopped short in the living room before a hand- carved family altar. Into the bedroom they went, to find there a beautiful crucifix. The soldiers noticed the cross. They stopped, took off their steel helmets, changed their automatics from right hand to left, and respectfully made the sign of the cross.
As a member of the family related, the members of that household feared no longer. Yes, the sign of the cross is the salute of the true follower of Christ whether he is conqueror or conquered, whether he is German, Chinese, American or Australian. It is the countersign of the Christian. In particular, it is the special salute of the Catholic.

Lenten Fact

Those who are impeded from visiting a church, during the Stations Of The Cross, may gain indulgences by piously reading and meditating on the passion and death of our Lord for one-half hour. The continued importance of the stations in the devotional life of Catholics is attested by both Pope Paul VI, who approved a Gospel-based version of the stations in 1975, and Pope John Paul II, who has also written his own version.

Lenten Action

Imagine what it would feel like, if your loved one was taken to prison without due cause. Imagine how the apostles felt as Jesus was carried away.

Prayer

Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit you anointed your only Son Messiah and Lord of creation; you have given us a share in his consecration to priestly service in your Church. Help us to be faithful witnesses in the world to the salvation Christ won for all mankind. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Friday, April 18, Good Friday

Fast & Abstinence Today
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured. (Isaiah 53:4)

Reflection

(1) It is related in the annals of Clairvaus that St. Bernard asked Our Lord which was His greatest unrecorded suffering and that Our Lord answered, "I had on my shoulder while I bore My cross on the Way of Sorrows a grievous wound which was more painful than the others which is not recorded by men. Honor this wound with devotion, and I will grant thee whatsoever thou dost ask through its virtue and merit, and in return to all who venerate this wound I will remit to them all their venial sins and will no longer remember their mortal sins. "

(2) At the crucifixion, a young soldier, Longinus, thrust a spear into the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Water spilled forth, washing Longinus, and Blood followed, giving Longinus the grace of conversion. Having been touched by the healing contents of Our Lord's Sacred Heart, Longinus became a martyr, giving up his own life for the One he helped crucify. Longinus opened a Door into the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This Door stands open, ready to receive all. We each have many opportunities to cross this threshold, to enter this Door, to be immersed in the Love within. How we respond to that invitation is dependent on how much we love. This Door can be wide, but it is often hard to pass through.

Lenten Fact

Jesus of Nazareth underwent Jewish and Roman trials, was flogged, and was sentenced to death by crucifixion. The scourging produced deep stripelike lacerations and appreciable blood loss, and it probably set the stage for hypovolemic shock, as evidenced by the fact that Jesus was too weakened to carry the crossbar (patibulum) to Golgotha. At the site of crucifixion, his wrists were nailed to the patibulum and, after the patibulum was lifted onto the upright post (stipes), his feet were nailed to the stipes. The major pathophysiologic effect of crucifixion was an interference with normal respirations. Accordingly death resulted primarily from hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia. Jesus' death was ensured by the thrust of a soldier's spear into his side. Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicate that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross.

Saturday, April 19, Holy Saturday

"He has been raised up; he is not here." (Mark 16:6)

Reflection

THE CROSS

The cross is the hope of Christians
the cross is the resurrection of the dead
the cross is the way of the lost
the cross is the savior of the lost
the cross is the staff of the lame
the cross is the guide of the blind
the cross is the strength of the weak
the cross is the doctor of the sick
the cross is the aim of the priests
the cross is the hope of the hopeless
the cross is the freedom of the slaves
the cross is the power of the kings
the cross is the water of the seeds
the cross is the consolation of the bondsmen
the cross is the source of those who seek water
the cross is the cloth of the naked.
We thank you, Father, for the cross.

Lenten Fact

On Holy Saturday the Church is, as it were, at the Lord's tomb, meditating on his passion and death, and on his descent into hell, and awaiting his resurrection with prayer and fasting. It is highly recommended that on this day the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer be celebrated with the participation of the people (cf. n. 40). Where this cannot be done, there should be some celebration of the Word of God, or some act of devotion suited to the mystery celebrated this day. The image of Christ crucified or lying in the tomb, or the descent into hell, which mystery Holy Saturday recalls, as also an image of the sorrowful Virgin Mary can be placed in the church for the veneration of the faithful. On this day the Church abstains strictly from the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass. Holy Communion may only be given in the form of Viaticum. The celebration of marriages is forbidden, as also the celebration of other sacraments, except those of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick. The faithful are to be instructed on the special character of Holy Saturday. Festive customs and traditions associated with this day on account of the former practice of anticipating the celebration of Easter on Holy Saturday should be reserved for Easter night and the day that follows.

Prayer

Lord, by the suffering of Christ your Son you have saved us all from the death we inherited from sinful Adam. By the law of nature we have borne the likeness of his manhood. May the sanctifying power of grace help us to put on the likeness of our Lord in heaven, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, April 20, Easter Sunday

Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining. (Sequence of Easter Sunday)

Reflection

On Easter Sunday, the Church is recollected in contemplation of the risen Christ. Thus she relives the primordial experience that lies at the basis of her existence. She feels imbued with the same wonder as Mary Magdalen and the other women who went to Christ's tomb on Easter morning and found it empty. That tomb became the womb of life. Whoever had condemned Jesus, deceived himself that he had buried his cause under an ice-cold tombstone. The disciples themselves gave into the feeling of irreparable failure. We understand their surprise, then, and even their distrust in the news of the empty tomb. But the Risen One did not delay in making himself seen and they yielded to reality. They saw and believed! Two thousand years later, we still sense the unspeakable emotion that overcame them when they heard the Master's greeting: "Peace be with you.'"....
...Christ's Resurrection is the strength, the secret of Christianity. It is not a question of mythology or of mere symbolism, but of a concrete event. It is confirmed by sure and convincing proofs. The acceptance of this truth, although the fruit of the Holy Spirit's grace, rests at the same time on a solid historical base. On the threshold of the third millennium, the new effort of evangelization can begin only from a renewed experience of this Mystery, accepted in faith and witnessed to in life.... Pope John Paul II

Lenten Fact

Mass is to be celebrated on Easter Day with great solemnity. It is appropriate that the penitential rite on this day take the form of a sprinkling with water blessed at the Vigil, during which the antiphon Vidi aquam, or some other song of baptismal character should be sung. The fonts at the entrance to the church should also be filled with the same water. The tradition of celebrating baptismal Vespers on Easter Day with the singing of psalms during the procession to the font should be maintained where it is still in force, and appropriately, restored. The paschal candle has its proper place either by the ambo or by the altar and should be lit at least in all the more solemn liturgical celebrations of the season until Pentecost Sunday, whether at Mass, or at Morning and Evening Prayer. After the Easter season the candle should be kept with honor in the baptistry, so that in the celebration of Baptism the candles of the baptized may be lit from them. In the celebration of funerals, the paschal candle should be place near the coffin to indicate that the death of a Christian is his own passover. The paschal candle should not otherwise be lit nor placed in the sanctuary outside the Easter season.

Prayer

God our Father, creator of all, today is the day of Easter joy. This is the morning on which the Lord appeared ot men who had begun to lose their hope and opened their eyes to what the scriptures foretold: that first he must die, and then he would rise and ascend into his Father's glorious presence. May the risen Lord breathe on our minds and open our eyes that we may know him in the breaking of bread, and follow him in his risen life. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.