Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter, The Empty Grave

"He has risen, He is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him." St. Mark, 16:6.

There was a salesman by the name of Frank Headland, who had an unusual hobby. For over fifteen years his sideline had been finding out where the great men and women of the world are buried. One might think that is an easy task, but you will be surprised at the amount of time and effort he had to spend in locating the graves of the famous and the near famous.

He started his hobby back in 1932, when he came upon an editorial in a newspaper which lamented that the grave of a famous citizen of Ohio, a former Supreme Court justice, could not be located. The dead man's friends wanted to erect a memorial to him. Headland finally found the site of the grave in some old records. He decided to continue searching out the secrets of other graves, when he realized that there were dozens of directories tell­ing where famous folk lived when alive, but no list of their last resting places. In this way was born his unusual book with the title Where's Who. Kings, governors and presidents are listed with the site of their burial place.

But the most famous name, the greatest name in all history is not on his list, for the simple reason that the most outstanding Person in history did not stay buried, and there is no record or even suggestion that His body is buried anywhere on this earth.

Where's Who cannot tell us where Christ is buried today, for the simple reason that He is not buried. Yes, Mr. Headland could tell us where Christ was buried 2000 years ago - for three days - but the risen body of Christ is now in heaven. The angel still stands by the grave of Christ and still declares:
"He has risen, He is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him."
That is the glorious fact which we celebrate this Easter morning. That
is the truth which makes us happy today. But how do we know that Christ rose from the grave? How do we know that there was a first Easter, which gives all the meaning to this Easter of 2008? The primary proof for the Resurrection we might put in this way: Jesus Christ is truly risen from the grave, if the Apostles were not deceived or mistaken, and if they did not deliberately deceive or mislead.

1. The Apostles were not deceived.

A. The resurrection of Christ from the grave is something that comes under human observation. In other words, the Apostles could see that the stone was rolled away, and that the grave was empty. They had heard of the statement of God's messenger that He was not there, that He had risen. They could also hear the silly excuse of the sol­diers that Christ's friends had stolen His body while the guards were asleep.

B. During forty days, at various times, to various individuals and groups, Christ appeared, talked, and even shared food with them.

C. They definitely did not want to be deceived because they refused belief. Think of St. Thomas, the Apostle, refusing to believe unless he would put his finger into the wounds of the risen Christ.

D. But when they were finally convinced, the Apostles went forth into the whole world to preach the resurrection of Christ, in the face of ridicule, torture and even death. All but one laid down their lives for this truth.

2. The Apostles did not deceive.

A. Christ's followers, especially the faithful eleven of His chosen twelve, had no reason to deceive or mislead others with regard to the Lord's rising from the grave. On the. contrary, they had every rea­son not to deceive.

i. God would punish their lie and deception.
ii. Men would persecute and punish them for their deception.

B. Furthermore, the Apostles had no way or means of deceiving.

i. Of themselves they were timid, uneducated, men without influ­ence. How could they convince the world of such a lie?

ii They knew the world would never believe such a statement, if it were not true.

iii. Nevertheless, a great part of the world has accepted the fact of the resurrection. Accepting that fact and that truth has made the world better, and has made the world sure that Christ, who taught such a high way of life, was really God.

3. Added to these reasons are many others:
the prophecies carried out; the testimony of the angels, especially of the angel at the tomb; the Jewish council giving bribes to the guards to tell a lie; the appearances of our Lord to others beside the Apostles; the constant belief and teaching of Christ's Church; the firm faith of the Apostles and martyrs in dying for this truth; the conversion of the world because of this belief; yes, and the unshaking faith of entire Christendom today, including ourselves, who believe without doubt that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by His own power, rose from the grave on the third day after He was put to death.

That is why on this Easter day we wish you all a Happy Easter. Mother Church decks out her altar with fragrant flowers; she puts on her brightest vestments; she sings her most joyous songs; she greets your shining faces and your shining souls with the words of the angel:

"He has risen, he is not here."

Yes, if Frank Headland had compiled a book with the location of the graves of all who ever died, he would have to leave out the name of Jesus. But for that very reason, for the reason that Christ rose from the grave, the graves of all others become places of hope rather than despair. Because Jesus rose, we will rise.

Because the grave of Jesus is empty, all the graves of all time will one day be empty. That is part of the joy; the blessed joy and hope, we wish all of you this morning. Amen.
Adapted from Lent and the Capital Sins
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1952)

Just for Today, March 23

Let all teachers hold their peace; let all creatures be silent in Thy sight; speak Thou alone to me.

-Bk. I, ch. iii

The only book that is any help to me now is the Gospel, and in it I find all that I need. I hear Our Lord telling me the one thing I have to do: Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and this brings the peace that He has promised: and you shall find rest to your souls (Matt. xi, 29).

-Novissima Verba.
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - March 23

When we remember or hear that the enemies of the Church burn and destroy God's temples, we should grieve therefor; but we should also rejoice much when we see new ones built, and we should co-operate in their erection as much as we pos­sibly can.

-St. Teresa
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Christ's Resurrection and Ascension


Christ's Resurrection is the foundation of the Christian religion.[2] This is admitted by unbelievers and believers alike; hence the varied at­tacks of the one and the countless defenses of the other.

No one was present at the event, nor do the Evangelists or St. Paul claim that there was; they preserve a silence regard­ing it that "does honor to their veracity."[3] But the circwn­stances of His Resurrection were of such a nature, and so many people saw Him alive after His death, that no doubt whatsoever exists regarding the reality of the crowning and fundamental miracle of His life. We have seen how theft of the body was rendered impossible by the sealing of the tomb and the presence of the guards. Other features connected with the tomb which prove the reality of the Resurrection will be dealt with later.

One fact must be kept in mind: that neither the Apostles nor the holy women who first saw the Risen Christ expected the Resurrection. St. John, standing in the empty tomb on the very morning on which Christ arose, confesses to his own and the other Apostles' misunderstanding of the Scriptures, and of Christ's own repeated prophecies, regarding the necessity of the Resurrection. He says: "For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead."[4]

In the minds of the Apostles first, and later of the Jews in general, Christ's Resurrection was not the fruit gathered from a long cultivation of the divine promises in the Scriptures, but rather the key that actually explained those prophecies. The Jews expected a Messias. The greater number of them thought He would deliver them from political bondage. But none of them believed He would rise from the dead. (Mary His Mother is excepted, of course.)

In other words, the Resurrection had to happen before the Jews could detect its long and varied prediction in their Books. To be grasped it had to be read in the bright light of its own reality.

The four Evangelists record the Resurrection and its prin­cipal points; each then presents its details in his own individual style. St. Matthew reports the impression that the sight of the angels, the earthquake and the empty tomb produced on the guards and on those who came first to the sepulchre on the morning following the Sabbath. He relates Jesus' appearance to the holy women in Jerusalem and to His Apostles in Galilee. St. Mark, the lover of action, sketches the situations that arose around the empty tomb: Mary Magdalen and Mary, the mother of James the Less, standing in the first rays of sunlight discuss­ing the problem of rolling the stone from its door; their aston­ishment on discovering the Sacred Body gone, and an angel within the tomb, and their precipitate flight to tell the news to the Apostles.[5]

St. Luke, through a series of vivid crises, describes the appearance to the holy women of two angels "in shining ap­parel"; the angels' command to the women to go to the Apos­tles and report the Resurrection of the Master; the Apostles' incredulity of the story, that reminded them of "idle tales"; how two of Christ's own disciples mistook Him for a stranger in the city who had not even heard of the Crucifixion; the "Stranger's" marvelous summary to them of the Messianic prophecies; and the sudden denouement wherein the two dis­ciples recognized Jesus by the manner in which He broke the bread for them at supper.[6]

St. John's account is a succession of vignettes wherein we see Peter and John in the tomb examining with awe the care­fully folded bandages and shroud; Mary Magdalen sinking to the ground at Jesus' feet on His utterance of her name; Jesus standing among His disciples in the Cenacle; His second ap­pearance there and discussion with Thomas; His presence among them on the morning shore of the Sea of Galilee, and His commission to Peter to feed His sheep.[7] St. Paul also enu­merates Jesus' appearances.

A brief account of Christ's various apparitions follows in their "likely arrangement." [9]

CHRIST APPEARS AT THE SEPULCHRE. The first appearance of Christ took place on the morning after the Sabbath, in the garden near the tomb. The four Evangelists stress the fact that it was just at sunrise that the holy women went to the sepulchre to finish the anointing of Christ's body - a labor of love that the Sabbath had interrupted.[10]

Mary Magdalen and Mary, the aunt of Jesus, had remained watching by the tomb so long on Friday evening that they had no opportunity to buy their part of the embalming spices till after sunset on Saturday. But when the Sabbath rest was ended they procured what they needed and got everything ready for an early morning start to the sepulchre. It was still dark when they set out, but by the time they reached the garden the sun had risen.

Some time in the shadowed dawn an earthquake shook the neighborhood, and an angel with countenance of lightning and raiment of snow descended into the garden, striking terror into the hearts of the soldiers on watch at the tomb. They fell prostrate and remained for a time on the ground as men dead. The heavenly visitor rolled back the stone from the door of the sepulchre and mounted guard on it. [11]

Salome, Joanna and other holy women were also on their way to the tomb at daybreak, but the two Marys who had been the last to leave were the first to arrive. St. Mark presents them discussing how the sepulchre should be opened. Great was their surprise, therefore, when they saw the stone rolled back and one whom they took to be "a young man" watching over the empty tomb. Mary Magdalen impulsively concluded that His enemies had stolen Christ's body. She at once turned and hurried back to Peter and John, and at her anguished words, "They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid Him,"[12] the Apostles set out in haste for the tomb.

Meanwhile the second group of women also discovered the angelic sentinel at the empty sepulchre. Cautiously entering, they beheld another angel sitting on the right side, garbed like the first in gleaming white.[13] "Be not affrighted," he said. "You seek Jesus of Nazareth Who was crucified. He is risen, He is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee; there you shall see Him, as He told you."[14]

By this time Peter and John, running in their excitement, were well on their way to the tomb. The younger John, out­distancing Peter, arrived first; he did not enter, however, but looked in and noted "the linen clothes lying."[15] When Peter arrived, he entered without hesitation and also saw "the linen clothes lying. And the napkin that had been about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but apart, wrapped up into one place."[16] Following Peter into the sepulchre, John examined the linens, "saw and believed." Up till that moment he had not grasped the necessity of the Resurrection.[17]

The order displayed by the folded linen showed that the tomb had not been robbed. Peter and John returned to the city, probably to John's house to consult the Blessed Virgin on what had happened. No one yet had seen Jesus - save perhaps His Mother, as tradition holds.

The group of holy women who had entered the tomb and heard the angel's words lingered in the garden for a while in "fear and great joy."[18] When they finally departed to acquaint the Apostles with their discovery, the garden was left empty for a few moments, save for the angels, both of whom were now in the tomb, "one at the head, and one at the feet." Soon Mary Magdalen returned, having followed Peter and John, though necessarily at a slower pace. Her heart heavy at the supposed loss, she stood weeping for a few moments at the open door before stooping down to look inside. At last, how­ever, she beheld the two angels mounting guard over Christ's funeral slab, as for centuries the two golden cherubim had kept watch over the cover of the Ark, facing one another at each end of the Kapporeth, God's "resting place" among His peo­ple.[19] The angels asked Mary: "Woman, why weepest thou?" "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him," [20] she replied.

And turning away from the tomb without waiting for an answer, she wandered disconsolately forth into the garden. A Man approached Whom, without particularly noting Him, she supposed to be the gardener. He too asked her: "Woman, why weepest thou?" and added: "Whom seekest thou?"

"Sir," she replied, absorbed in her grief, "if thou hast taken Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away."[21]

Then He Whom she had mistaken for the gardener spoke again - just one word: "Mary." A wave of ecstasy swept through her being. "Rabboni," she whispered, and sank to kiss His feet.

"Do not touch Me," He said, "for I am not yet ascended to My Father. But go to My brethren, and say to them: I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and your God."[22]

Mary obeyed, and went and told the Apostles,23 but they were too desolate to believe her. [24]

That was Jesus' first recorded appearance after His Resur­rection, though many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have always taught that He first showed Himself to His Mother. His second appearance followed closely on His first; it was to the holy women on their way to fulfil the angel's command: "Go, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee." They immediately prostrated themselves, and He al­lowed them to kiss His feet, although He had just denied Mary the same privilege; for their affection was not of that detaining, possessive type that Mary's heart held for Him. Jesus calmed the fears of these devoted women and repeated to them the command which the angel had given them: "Go, tell My brethren that they go into Galilee; there they shall see Me." [25]

The Resurrection of Jesus had a very natural effect on the soldiers who had been set to watch the tomb. They had failed in their duty: by daylight the tomb stood open and empty. Court-martial faced them. Recovering from the shock which they had suffered from the earthquake, the angel's appearance and the sight of the empty tomb, they decided to report the whole supernatural occurrence to the chief priests. Utter dis­may filled the latters' souls. Jesus was not only gone from the tomb, but gone evidently of His own strength. They imme­diately convoked the Sanhedrin to deliberate on how to meet this new situation. Jesus had thwarted them to the end. They had killed Him and buried Him, but He had supernaturally broken these bonds; He was at large again. If this report reached the people, universal belief in His Divine Messiaship would instantaneously follow.

The Sanhedrin determined on a plan worthy of their char­acter and practice. "They being assembled together with the ancients, taking counsel, gave a great sum of money to the soldiers, saying: Say you, His disciples came by night, and
stole Him away when we were asleep. And if the governor shall hear of this, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they, taking the money, did as they were taught: and their word was spread abroad among the Jews even unto this day."[26]

And that was the best argument that men steeped in guile could concoct against the reality of Christ's Resurrection on the morning that it took place. It has been repeated in countless forms since; but St. Augustine spiked it for all time with his well-known argument: "If the soldiers were asleep, what could they have seen? If they saw nothing, what is the value of their testimony?"[27]


Christ appeared three times to His followers in or near Jerusalem: first to two of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, and twice in the Cenacle.

ON THE WAY TO EMMAUS.[28] The site of Emmaus cannot today be determined with certainty, but Meistermann[29] and Fillion[30] locate it in the present Qoubeibeh, a village about seven miles northwest of Jerusalem. The road leading to it from the Holy City runs at one place through the narrow valley of Sorec, and fords a stream; beyond this, on the southern slope of the mountain, near the village of Beit Hanina, is the spot where, tradition says, Jesus joined His two disciples on their way to Emmaus. One of these was named Cleophas,[31] the other's name is unknown. It was afternoon on the day of His Resurrection.

Christ overtook the two and fell in step with them. They did not recognize Him, and accepting Him as an ordinary way­farer, they resumed their discourse concerning His suffering and death. Their sorrow was manifest, and Jesus presently asked them: "What are these discourses that you hold one with another as you walk, and are sad?"[32]

They could scarcely believe that anyone in or near Jeru­salem had not heard of the Crucifixion. Cleophas, therefore, asked in surprise: "Art Thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things that have been done there in these days?"

"What things?" Jesus inquired. And both disciples an­swered: "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, Who was a Prophet, mighty in work and word before God and ail the people; and how our chief priests and princes delivered Him to be con­demned to death, and crucified Him. But we hoped that it was He that should have redeemed Israel: and now besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done.

"Yea," they continued in puzzled accents, "and certain women also of our company affrighted us, who before it was light were at the sepulchre, and not finding His body, came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, who say that He is alive. And some of our people went to the sepulchre, and found it so as the women had said, but Him they found not."[33]

Without revealing His identity, their Companion then began to trace for the disciples in their own story the features of the Messias as Moses and the prophets had sketched them. Line by line He pointed out that the Christ, and only the Christ, the true Messias, could have suffered and died exactly as they had told Him that Jesus of Nazareth had done. If they had really understood the Scriptures, instead of being surprised and disappointed at His Crucifixion they would have expected it. To support that interpretation He asked them: "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into His glory?"[34]

The hearts of the disciples were aglow as He thus ex­pounded the Scriptures to them, but as yet the light of recog­nition had not flashed on their minds. By this time the three had reached Emmaus. It was "toward evening" and the day was "far spent." Jesus made as if to part with them and con­tinue His journey, but they "constrained" Him to remain with them, at least to dine with them. "And it came to pass, whilst He was at table with them, He took bread, and blessed, and broke, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him: and He vanished out of their sight."[35]

So happy were the two disciples to know that Jesus was risen from the dead that, despite the fact that the day was over, they arose and traversed again the seven miles to the Holy City, to tell the glad news to the Apostles.

CHRIST APPEARS IN THE CENACLE.[36] As we should expect, Christ's first appearance to His Apostles was attended with such circumstances as absolutely abolished all doubt of His Resur­rection in their minds; for this was His official appearance to His Church.

When the two disciples from Emmaus joined the Apostles in the barricaded Cenacle with the report that they had seen the Risen Christ, the Apostles themselves had fresh news about Jesus. They greeted the travelers with the words: "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon."

The two disciples then began to tell their own experience; but even as they were reciting the events of the afternoon and evening, Jesus suddenly stood in the midst of the gathering and said: "Peace be to you. It is I, fear not." Yet they did fear. For despite all the reports of His Resurrection that they had heard that day, when He actually stood before them bewilder­ment and doubt seized their hearts. He read their concern and hesitation. "Why are you troubled," He asked, "and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? See My hands and feet, that it is I Myself; handle, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see Me to have."[37]

Joy began to fill their hearts; but even as their gladness increased so did their incredulity. It was too good to be true. Jesus, then, to set all doubt finally at rest, asked them, "Have you anything to eat?" They gave Him a piece of broiled fish and a honeycomb - all that they had left from their evening meal. He ate some of this and returned the rest to them.

Thus only gradually did He overcome the Apostles' stub­born unbelief in the reality of His Resurrection. But their doubt called forth the clearest proof of the fact. Instead of being gullible they were skeptical; instead of being credulous they were cynical. The message given to the holy women by the angel in the tomb they regarded as an "idle tale." The very assertion of Jesus Himself they did not believe without proof.

When the Apostles at last accepted His Resurrection, the foundation of their faith and ours, our Lord bestowed on them the power to forgive sins, in direct continuation of that power which He Himself had exercised according to the Will of the Father. Repeating the phrase, "Peace be to you," He added: "As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you"; and breathing on them: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained."[38]

It happened that Thomas was not present at this first ap­pearance of Christ to His Apostles; and when he rejoined them he absolutely refused to believe them. For eight days he had only one answer to all their repeated protestations that they had seen the Risen Christ. It was this: "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."[39]

No skeptic has ever demanded clearer proof; and Jesus complied with His Apostle's terms. "After eight days, again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. Then He saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see My hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into My side; and be not faithless but believing."

Thomas was convinced. He confessed: "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus quickly made Thomas realize how poor and un­pleasing incredulity is in the eyes of God. "Because thou hast seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed," He said. "Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed."[40]

CHRIST APPEARS IN GALILEE.[41] As soon as it was con­venient for them to leave Jerusalem after the Paschal octave, the Apostles obeyed their Master's command[42] and set out for Galilee, their native province. Jesus had promised to meet them there.[43] St. John relates the circumstances of the appearance.

As Fouard remarks,[44] Judas' desertion had left the Apos­tles without funds, and till such time as Christ would appear to them they sought a livelihood at their old trades. Peter, therefore, one evening in the vicinity of Lake Genesareth, said to his companions: "I go afishing." Six of them, Thomas, Nathanael, James the Greater, John and two unnamed Apostles, probably Andrew and Philip, joined him. They trawled the whole night through in Peter's boat, but, as on a former occa­sion,[45] they caught nothing.

At early dawn they were about three hundred feet from the shore when an apparent stranger, whom they had not noticed, called to them in tones of familiarity from the beach. "Children," He asked, "have you any meat?" - that is, have you caught anything? Stopping the boat, they looked steadfastly at Him in an attempt to discover Who it could be that addressed them so affably, and answered "No." The Stranger then called again: "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find." They did so, and took such a haul of fish that they could not lift the net into the boat.

There was something familiar about that command and its results. John was the first to understand. "It is the Lord," he said to Peter, who, in turn, pulling on once more the outer tunic which he had taken off, the better to work the nets, jumped overboard and swam ashore. The others beached the boat and got out. To their surprise they saw a fire burning brightly in the dawn, with a fish and some bread on it. Jesus, Whom they all now recognized, said to them: "Bring hither of the fishes which you have now caught." Peter, again the first to act, went and drew the net onto the beach. One hundred and fifty-three fish were in it. Without putting on the fire any of the newly­caught fish, Jesus said to them: "Come and dine." They did so; but so awed were they by His presence that, "none of them durst ask Him: Who art Thou? knowing that it was the Lord." He then distributed to them the bread and fish.

Following the first miraculous draught of fishes, more than a year before, Jesus had promised to make Simon a fisher of men: "From henceforth thou shalt catch men."[46] He now ful­fils that promise: He confirms him in the Primacy of the Church, and makes him His Vicar on earth.

"Simon, son of John," He asks, "lovest thou Me more than these?"

Jesus, as we see, momentarily takes from Simon the name Peter that He had given him; for his constancy to the Master at His trial had been anything but rocklike.

Besides, Jesus makes a comparison, by the words "more than these," between Peter and the other Apostles, the very comparison that Peter himself had implied when he boasted in the shadows of Geth­semani: "Although all shall be scandalized in Thee, I will never be scandalized."[47] In remembrance of that presumption Peter hung his head in front of all, and humbly answered Jesus' question: "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee." Jesus then said to him: "Feed My lambs."

Since Peter's denial had been threefold, Christ demands from him two more professions of love, and adds an increased jurisdiction to His Vicar after each protestation. "Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me?" He asked again; and Peter repeated: "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee." Christ said once more: "Feed My lambs." Then came the selfsame question a third time: "Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me?" And St. John tells us: "Peter was grieved, because He had said to him the third time: Lovest thou Me? And he said to Him: Lord, Thou knowest all things: Thou knowest that I love Thee."

Peter's profession was complete, and following it, Jesus' commission of authority to him was conclusive: "Feed My sheep." Thenceforth he and his successors were the Supreme Pastors of the Church.

Christ in figurative language then foretold to Peter his own crucifixion. "When thou wast younger," He said, "thou didst gird thyself, and didst walk where thou wouldst. But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and an­other shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldst not."

John expressly states that this girding and stretching forth of hands and leading away refer to Peter's crucifixion. He says: "And this He said, signifying by what death he should glorify God."[48]

At this point Jesus called Peter aside, and said: "Follow Me." As they departed, John came after them, and Peter ob­serving this, asked Christ: "Lord, what shall this man do?" And the Master said in firm tones: "So I will have him to re­main till I come, what is it to thee? Follow thou Me."

The words "till I come" gave rise to many conjectures con­cerning John among the first Christians. The common one was that John would not die. He did indeed survive martyrdom; but the promise probably refers to Christ's coming in mystical power at the destruction of Jerusalem.[49]

St. Matthew relates the second and final recorded appear­ance of Jesus in Galilee.[50] Others besides the Apostles were there, as may be deduced from the fact that "some doubted." Commentators suggest that this is the same apparition to which St. Paul refers, and at which he places more than five hundred brethren.[51]

Appearing suddenly to His Apostles and disciples on a nameless mountain, Jesus spoke to them and removed all doubt of His Resurrection from those who had not yet seen Him. It was at the conclusion of this final apparition that He sent out His Apostles as His representatives to the whole world. Claim­ing first the power to do so, He says: "All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth. Going, therefore, teach ye all na­tions; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."[52]

Armed with that power, that formula and that promise, the Apostles, after His Ascension, went out as He had com­manded. And their power extended not only to men, but to all creatures, as St. Mark says: to inanimate nature, to deadly rep­tiles and poisons, to the devils, to disease, and even to the hu­man faculty of speech: "Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be con­demned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In My name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; arid if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover."[53]

CHRIST'S ASCENSION.[54] Christ's Ascension took place on Mt. Olivet forty days after His Resurrection. The Apostles had left Galilee and gone to Jerusalem, perhaps to attend the Feast of Pentecost, or more probably because Christ had directed them to go there. St. Luke, in the final verses of his Gospel, and at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, gives us the account of the Ascension.

Our Lord joined His Apostles in Jerusalem, probably in the Cenacle, and gave them His final instructions. He first re­minded them, however, that everything prophesied regarding Him had to happen literally. Time and again He had stressed that truth to them during His life. He now repeats it: "These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled; which are written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets and in the Psalms, concerning Me." The Evangelist then tells us: "Then He opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures."[55]

The Law, the Prophets and the Psalms are the three di­visions of the Bible. By opening the understanding of His Apostles, Christ enabled them to interpret the Holy Scriptures correctly. "The Holy Ghost soon afterward completed this gift, by virtue of which the first preachers of the Gospel were able to discover in the Jewish Bible the details that referred to their Divine Master. And this gift was subsequently trans­mitted to the Church, which became the infallible depository of the true sense of the Sacred Books." [56]

Referring again to the necessity of His Passion, Death and Resurrection in the plan of Redemption, Jesus continued: "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day. And that penance and the remission of sins should be preached in His name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are wit­nesses of these things. And I send the promise of My Father upon you: but stay you in the city till you be endued with power from on high." [57]

The "promise of the Father" is the Holy Ghost, Who will come to them before they leave the city. Then they are to begin preaching "penance and the remission of sins," first in Jeru­salem to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles throughout the world. They are to preach in His name. Those instructions are most definite, and the Apostles carried them out to the letter.

Jesus then left the Cenacle and started out for the Mount of Olives, followed by His Apostles and disciples, some holy women, and probably His Mother.

It was practically impossible for the Jewish mind to grasp the fact that the Messias was not to be a political deliverer; and so now, as countless times before, they asked Him: "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"[58]

He answered them by pointing out once more the nature of the kingdom which they were to establish throughout Pales­tine and the whole world. He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or moments, which the Father hath put in His own power. But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth."[59]

By this time Jesus had reached the Mount of Olives. He stopped at a spot about two-thirds of a mile from the Holy City.[60] After giving His Apostles and friends a parting bless­ing, He began to ascend into heaven, and soon He was lost to view.

Even after Christ was gone from their sight, the Apostles and the rest continued to gaze after Him, lost in the wondrous sight. But the sudden appearance of two angels among them brought all back to earth. "Ye men of Galilee," the heavenly visitors asked, "why stand you looking up to heaven?"[61] There was a touch of Christ's practical outlook in that question.

The Apostles went back to the Cenacle, to pray and await the coming of the Holy Ghost.

1. Mt. 28:1-15; Mk. 16:1-11; Lk. 24:1-12; Jn. 20:1-18.
2. 1 Cor. 15:14-17.
3. Fillion, op. cit., III, p. 567. 4. Jn. 20:9.
5. Mk. 16:1-8.
6. Lk. 24: 1-30.
7. Jn. 20, 21:1-17.
8. 1 Cor. 15:3-8.
9. Fillion, op. cit., III, p. 569.
10. Mt. 28:1; Mk. 16:1, 2; Lk. 24:1; Jn. 20:1.
11. Mt. 28:2-4.
12. Jn. 20:2.
13. Mt. 28:5; Mk. 16:5; Lk. 24:4. 14. Mk. 16:6, 7; Mt. 28:5-7; Lk. 24:5-7.
15. Jn. 20:5.
16. Jn. 20:6, 7.
17. Jn. 20:8, 9.
18. Mt. 28:8; Mk. 16:8.
19. Ex. 25: 18-20.
20. Jn. 20:13.
21. Jn. 20:15.
22. Jn. 20:17. 23. Jn. 20:18.
24. Mk. 16:10, 11.
25. Mt. 28:10.
26. Mt. 28:12-15.
27. Exposit., Ps. 63:7.
28. Mk. 16:12, 13; Lk. 24:13-33. 29. Meistermann, Op. cit., p. 298 f. 30. Fillion, Op. cit., III, p. 581. 31. Lk. 24:18.
32. Lk. 24:17.
33. Lk. 24:18-24.
34. Lk. 24:26.
35. Lk. 24:28-32.
36. Mk. 16:14; Lk. 24:36-43; Jn.20: 19-23.
37. Lk. 24:38-40; Jn. 20:19, 20.
38. Jn. 20:22, 23.
39. Jn. 20:25.
40. Jn. 20:26-29.
41. Mt. 28:16-20; Jn. 21:1-24.
42. Mt. 28:7; Mk. 16:7.
43. Mt. 26:32; Mk. 14:28.
44. Fouard, op. cit., II, p. 367. 45. Lk. 5:5.
46. Lk. 5:10.
47. Mt. 26:33.
48. Jn. 21:15-19.
49. Fouard, op. cit., II, p.3 72, n. 1.
50. Mt. 28:16-20.
51. 1 Cor. 15:6.
52. Mt. 28:18-20.
53. Mk. 16:15-18.
54. Mk. 16:19, 20; Lk. 24:50-53; Acts 1:3-12.
55. Lk. 24:44, 45.
56. Fillion, op. cit., III, p. 604.
57. Lk. 24:46-49.
58. Acts 1:6.
59. Acts 1:7, 8.
60. Acts 1:12.
61. Acts 1:10, 11.

From The Life of Christ
by Isidore O'Brien, OFM (© 1937)

Meditation for Easter, the Resurrection

Easter, the solemnity of solemnities, the day of Alleluias, of per­fect joy - let us forget all our fears.

Fear of Difficulties.
They said one to another: Who shall roll back the stone for us? - and looking they saw the stone rolled back.... How many times have I made mountains out of nothing or exaggerated the importance of an obstacle?...Trust in Our Lord! When I shall near my goal the stone will be rolled back. Invincible courage. Alleluia!

Fear of Combat.
Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando. Death and life are engaged in conflict. It is true, but what is the outcome? The author of life seems for a moment to have lost, but see, He now lives and reigns forever. Invincible cour­age! Alleluia!

Fear of Failure.
Sometimes I wonder if all my efforts are of any avail. Is God glorified by them? Do souls profit by them? Shall I ever actually meet Jesus?... Don't harbor such doubts. Listen rather to the consoling words, He is risen and goes before you. Christ has gone before me; I have only to follow. I shall meet Him in Galilee. Then I will follow generously with the rest of the caravan. There, at the end, the Master awaits me.

"And while I try to remember how You used to look, here You are before me as I have never seen You before!

"How beautiful, how great You are, O my Good Master! Alleluia!"
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

April 15-Serra Club Banquet for Priests

The Serra Club of the St Charles Deanery will host its Fifth Annual Dinner Banquet on Tuesday, April 15.

6:00 pm Registration, 7:00 pm Dinner at The Columns Banquet Center

Reservations required: Tickets $35 each

Fr Michael Butler, St Louis Archdiocsan Vocations Director is the speaker for the event.

For reservations call Mary Henze or Allene Wernle 636-561-3449.

March 30-Feast of Divine Mercy

The Feast of Divine Mercy will be celebrated at Sts. Joachim and Ann Parish, St. Charles, Sunday, March 30.

Eucharistic Adoration and Confessions will begin at 2:30 pm. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy will be sung at 3:00 pm followed by the Holy Rosary.

Celebration of the Holy Eucharist will begin at 4:00 pm. Father Timothy Elliott is the main celebrant and preacher.

There will be priests available to hear confessions. To avoid a lengthy wait in line, perhaps missing some of the celebration, it is preferable to go to Confession prior to that day.

If you have participated in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent, that is sufficient to receive the Graces promised for Divine Mercy Sunday. It is also recommended that you celebrate the Novena of Chaplets of Divine Mercy beginning on Good Friday, as a preparation for the Great Feast of Mercy.

For information, please contact Alice Sinak, 636-300-4465.

Gospel for Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter

From: Matthew 28:1-10

Jesus Appears To The Women

[1] Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre. [2] And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from Heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. [3] His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. [4] And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. [5] But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. [6] He is not here; for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. [7] Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. Lo, I have told you." [8] So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell His disciples. [9] And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Hail!" And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him. [10] Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee; and there they will see Me."


1-15. The resurrection of Jesus, which happened in the early hours of the Sunday morning, is a fact which all the evangelist state clearly and unequivocally. Some holy women discover to their surprise that the tomb is open. On entering the hall (cf. Mark 16:5-6), they see an angel who says to them, "He is not here; for He has risen, as He said." The guards who were on duty when the angel rolled back the stone go to the city and report what has happened to the chief priests. These, because of the urgency of the matter, decide to bribe the guards; they give them a considerable sum of money on condition that they spread the word that His disciples came at night and stole the body of Jesus when they were asleep. "Wretched craftiness," says St. Augustine, "do you give us witnesses who were asleep? It is you who are really asleep if this is the only kind of explanation you have to offer!" ("Ennarationes in Psalmos", 63, 15). The Apostles, who a couple of days before fled in fear, will, now that they have seen Him and have eaten and drunk with Him, become tireless preachers of this great event: "This Jesus, they will say, "God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses" (Acts 2:32).

Just as He foretold He would go up to Jerusalem and be delivered to the leaders of the Jews and put to death, He also prophesied that He would rise from the dead (Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34). By His resurrection He completes the sign He promised to give unbelievers to show His divinity (Matthew 12:40).

The resurrection of Christ is one of the basic dogmas of the Catholic faith. In fact, St. Paul says, "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:14); and, to prove his assertion that Christ rose, he tells us "that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me" (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). The creed states that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day ("Nicene Creed"), by His own power (Ninth Council of Toledo, "De Redemptione Creed"), by a true resurrection of the flesh ("Creed" of St. Leo IX), reuniting His soul with His body (Innocent III, "Eius Exemplo"), and that this fact of the resurrection is historically proven and provable ("Lamentabili", 36).

"By the word `resurrection' we are not merely to understand that Christ was raised from the dead...but that He rose by His own power and virtue, a singular prerogative peculiar to Him alone. Our Lord confirmed this by the divine testimony of His own mouth when He said: `I lay down My life, that I may take it again....I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again' (John 10:17-18). To the Jews He also said, in corroboration of His doctrine" `Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up' (John 2:19-20) [...]. We sometimes, it is true, read in Scripture that He was raised by the Father (cf. Acts 2:24; Romans 8:11); but this refers to Him as man, just as those passages on the other hand, which say that He rose by His own power, related to Him as God" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 6, 8).

Christ's resurrection was not a return to His previous earthly existence; it was a "glorious" resurrection, that is to say, attaining the full development of human life--immortal, freed from all limitations of space and time. As a result of the resurrection, Christ's body now shares in the glory which His soul had from the beginning. Here lies the unique nature of the historical fact of the resurrection. He could not be seen by anyone but only by those to whom He granted that grace, to enable them to be witnesses of this resurrection, and to enable others to believe in Him by accepting the testimony of the seers.

Christ's resurrection was something necessary for the completion of the work of our Redemption. For, Jesus Christ through His death freed us from sins; but by His resurrection He restored us all that we had lost through sin and, moreover, opened for us the gates of eternal life (cf. Romans 4:25). Also, the fact that He rose from the dead by His own power is a definitive proof that He is the Son of God, and therefore His resurrection fully confirms our faith in His divinity.

The resurrection of Christ, as has been pointed out, is the most sublime truth of our faith. That is why St. Augustine exclaims: "It is no great thing to believe that Christ died; for this is something that is also believed by pagans and Jews and by all the wicked: everyone believes that He died. The Christians' faith is in Christ's resurrection; that is what we hold to be a great thing--to believe that He rose" ("Enarrationes in Psalmos", 120).

The mystery of the Redemption wrought by Christ, which embraces His death and resurrection, is applied to every man and woman through Baptism and the other sacraments, by means of which the believer is as it were immersed in Christ and in His death, that is to say, in a mystical way he becomes part of Christ, he dies and rises with Christ: "We were buried therefore with Him by baptism unto death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

An ardent desire to seek the things of God and an interior taste for the things that are above (cf. Colossians 3:1-3) are signs of our resurrection with Christ.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Just for Today, March 22

Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was not one hour of His life without suffering: Thus it behoved, saith He, Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day (Luke xxiv, 46).

Drink of the chalice of thy Lord lovingly, if thou desirest to be His friend, and to have part with,Him.

-Bk. II, ch. xii.

In the Sunday Gospel were these consoling words: Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom (Luke xii, 32). My heart was filled with complete confidence, and I felt sure that the king­dom of Carmel would soon be mine. But I forgot those other words of Our Lord: I dispose to you, as my Father hath disposed to me, a kingdom (Luke xxii, 29) - that is to say, I have prepared crosses and trials for you, that you may be worthy to possess My kingdom. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory (ibid. xxiv, 26)? If you would sit at His right hand, you must drink of the chalice that He drank.

-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - March 22

He who suffers in patience, suffers less and saves his soul. He who suffers impatiently, suffers more and loses his soul.

-St. Alphonsus
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for March 22, The Beautiful Face of Christ

Facies tua decora, "Thy face is comely" (Canticle of Canticles 2:14). I have seen pictures of Christ reproduced from the im­print of His Face on the Holy Shroud. What majesty! What calm! Amidst the executioner's most savage brutalities; amidst excruciating sufferings; despite the spittle, the thorns, the sweat, the blood, how wonderfully serene is the face of the Savior.

I will contemplate it earnestly and at length. The Church urges me to ask God the Father not to forget to look upon the Face of His Christ that He may have mercy on us. Oh, yes, if I could not cover my mediocrity with the image of the noble generosity of Jesus, my divine Big Brother, of Jesus who has deigned to make my life a continuation of His own, how could I find grace before the Father?

This sublime invitation, Respice in faciem Christi tui, was not addressed to the Father alone, it was addressed to me. "O my child," it says, "look, especially in the time of sorrow when it is most fitting to meditate on the Passion, look upon the loved face of your Savior!"

In a well-known painting, we see Veronica showing to Mary the veil which Christ had used to wipe His adorable Face on the way to Calvary; on this blessed veil the features of Christ shine forth resplendent. Magdalen falls on her knees when she sees it. How well I understand her emotion!

"O Veronica, show me the Face of Jesus! O thou privileged soul, teach me what I must do that the image of my Savior may appear on the veil humbly woven from my generous deeds. And you, Magdalen, teach me the dispositions becoming to me, a poor child, before the image of my adored Jesus."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Good Friday of the Lord's Passion

This is the Commentary ONLY
The Gospel for Good Friday is from: St John 18:1-19:42


1. The previous chapter, dealing as it did with the glory of the Son of God (cf. Jn 17:1, 4, 10,22,24), is a magnificent prologue to our Lord's passion and death, which St John presents as part of Christ's glorification: he emphasizes that Jesus freely accepted his death (14:31) and freely allowed himself to be arrested (18:4, 11). The Gospel shows our Lord's superiority over his judges (18:20-2 1) and accusers (19:8, 12); and his majestic serenity in the face of physical pain, which makes one more aware of the Redemption, the triumph of the Cross, than of Jesus' actual sufferings....

Continued here

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday-Lessons from Christ's Death

"And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit." St. John, 19:30.

The Cross of the Legion of Honor, one of the highest decorations of the French government, was given, after death, to a French nun by the name of Mother Mary Elizabeth of the Eucharist, wno was Superior of the Convent of Our Lady of Mercy at Lyon.

She had been deported into Germany, to the concentration camp at Ravensbruck, when the German Gestapo, during the occupation of France, discovered in the basement of her convent, guns belonging to the under­ground. During the dreadful days in the concentration camp her encour­agement, her cheerfulness, and her fearless example kept many another prisoner from despair and even suicide.

The day came when the camp officials selected a group of women to be put to death in the gas chamber of the prison. Among those to whom this cruel lot fell was the mother of several children. It was then our heroine, Mother Elizabeth, stepped forward and volunteered to take the place of the anguished mother. Her offer was accepted, and on Good Friday of 1945, at the, age of 56, the heroic French nun marched calmly to death in the chamber. For this deed of heroism and charity her government later decorated her with highest honors.

That Good Friday of 1945 reminds us of the Good Friday of the year 33. It was then that the greatest Hero of all history, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, went willingly to death for every single one of us. On this Good Friday we recall His death. We gather in grief to give Him the honor of our gratitude and love. We gather to gaze with loving thought upon His tortured body, writhing on the cross. We watch with Him as He breathes His last. We adore Him as He hangs there. We thank Him. We beg His pardon for our sins which nailed Him there. And then we beg our Lord to teach us the lessons of His death.

Surely, that French mother for whom the heroic nun gave her own life, never forgot the love of the one who died for her. Neither must we ever forget the love of Him who died for us. No doubt, too, on every Good Friday, the anniversary of the day when that Sister gave her life that another might live, the one who was saved would think of that sacrifice. So, too, on this anniversary of the day when Christ died for me, I will think of Him with loving gratitude. As I look at my Lord bowing His head and giving up His spirit, four thoughts come to mind:

He died; I will not fear death. He died for me; I will die for Him. He died in pain; I will accept pain. He died for my sins; I will never sin again.

1. The death of Christ takes away most of the fear of death. Why should I fear death, since­ -
"He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross?" Philippians, 2:8.

A. Originally death was not the destiny of man. It came as a punish­ment of the first sin.

"By the envy of the devil, death came into the world." Wisdom, 2:24.

Even our Lord, as Man, experienced a horror and fear of death. Little wonder that mere men would fear the end of this life.

B. But that dread of death Jesus took away by dying Himself. He came into the world not only to redeem us, not only to die for us, but to show us by His death how we are to die, to take the sting out of death, to give us courage in the face of it.

C. It is normal and natural for man to fear death, but it is not normal to let that fear run to excess, especially for us who stand here beneath the cross today and watch our Lord passing away.

You may have heard the ancient legend of the three trees that stood in a dense forest. They often wondered what would become of them when the woodsman cut them down. One day they decided to pray for what they wished to be when they were turned into lumber.

The first tree asked to become part of a beautiful palace, where kings and queens might dwell, where the great would come to gaze with amazement.

The second tree asked to become part of a great ship that would sail the seven seas, and travel around the world.

The third tree preferred to stay in the forest where he might grow into the tallest of all, and forever point like a finger to God.

Sometime later came a woodsman with saw and axe, and down went the first tree. But instead of being made into a beautiful pal­ace, it was made part of a common stable. Yet, in that stable a Virgin Mother and her just husband took shelter on a certain night when a beautiful Baby was born. Ever since, kings and peasants, the great and the small, have honored that simple stable, and have echoed the song of the angels that night:
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will."

After thirty more years the second tree was chopped down, and its lumber was made, not into a mighty ship, but into a small boat that was launched on the Sea of Galilee. From that boat a tall, mag­nificent Man spoke to the multitudes on the snore, spoke a message that has sailed the seven seas, and reached all the shores of the world.

A few years later the third tree was felled. Its lumber was hewn into a cross, on which the Baby of our stable, who was later the Man in the boat, was devilishly nailed to die the most cruel death that beastly men could devise. The wood of that tree stands not in one woods, it stands on all the hills of the world - pointing upward, pointing to God and God's heaven.

In this way the prayers of all three trees were answered in a more glorious way than they had ever dreamed. Before that third tree we stand today - the tree of the cross, as it points to heaven, as it takes away the sting of death, and assures us of a happier home above.

2. Jesus not only died, He died for us. Who, then, will refuse to die for Him?

A. Millions - the martyrs - died for Christ because He had died for them. We may not be called upon to give our lives as the mar­tyrs did.

B. Nevertheless, if we are called upon to die the slow death of duty, we will gladly yield up our spirit for Him. Sometimes it would seem better to suffer the momentary agony of martyrdom, rather than the daily death of humdrum, drab, and wearisome duty. Die to self every day, as He died for you.

C. In any case we shall all have to die some time. Why not do so will­ingly, courageously? One of the best sacrifices, and at the same time one of the best prayers we can offer the Almighty is to accept death wherever, whenever, and however God decides. You might offer such a prayer to Christ on the cross, especially on Good Friday.

D. You might even ask for the spirit of the saints, those special heroes and heroines of God, who found the source of their spirit of sacri­fice at the foot of the cross. One often wonders how they did it - how they denied themselves even many of the lawful pleasures of life, how they labored day and night for the glory of God, how they eagerly and joyfully accepted suffering and humiliation, oppo­sition and defeat, and the darkness and discouragement that come frequently to those who serve the Lord. All this they learned at the foot of the cross. They reasoned: Christ died for me; I will die for Him.

3. Jesus not only died, and died for us; He died in extremest pain. Look closely at that cross today. Look at it as Jesus takes up the cruel wood to carry it to Calvary. Look at Him bend and fall beneath its weight. Watch Him as He greets His grief-stricken Mother. Reach out with your hands to Help Him as did Simon of Cyrene. With Veronica hurry to wipe away the blood and spittle from His sacred face, so that His countenance may be painted not merely upon a napkin, but upon your very heart. See Him fall again and again. Join the weeping women as they sympathize with His sufferings. Look, the soldiers tear His clothes from His sacred Body, fling Him upon the hard wood, and then, horror of horrors, drive nails through His hands and feet. Up, up they raise the cross and drop it roughly into the hole prepared for it.

There He hangs, His Body one mass of wounds from head to foot. What a cruel crown He wears, with its long sharp thorns piercing His temples. The weight of His Body drags down upon His riven hands and feet. The wounds grow wider and wider. Every nerve and muscle and bone is tor­tured beyond human endurance. How true the words of the prophet:

"Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted." Isaias, 53:4.

Added to His other tortures is a consuming, burning thirst. This is made greater by His cruel tormentors, who give Him vinegar and gall to drink. Blood and tears almost blind His eyes. But through that blood He beholds His Mother and He tells us to behold her. Broken-hearted she stands there with a few faithful followers. Yes, He is even abandoned by His friends. Instead, a crowd of enemies call out revilings and blasphemies, wounding His heart even more cruelly than His Body. And all this lasted for three long hours, three dark and bitter hours, three red and cruel hours, until the heart that was filled with love for men, burst with that love. Then, bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

A. Of all who have suffered, none have suffered more than Jesus - in mind and in body. We have read the stories of the martyrs - how they were thrown to lions, how their bodies were soaked in oil and were burned to light up the Roman nights, how they were tied to the tails of wild horses, to the wheels of chariots, how they were burned and maimed and stabbed and crushed and pierced with pointed sticks, how they were even nailed, like their Master, to cruel crosses. Yet, all their sufferings were small compared to His. And those witnesses willingly bore those tortures for the sake of Him who had suffered for them.

B. Since the fall of Adam and Eve it is the lot of all men to suffer. No one escapes. Read your daily paper with thought, and you find peo­ple of all classes and races, of all professions and trades, of all social levels and of all walks of life - all of them suffering either in mind or body or in both, at some time or other. Visit the rooms of our hospitals, and you will find all ages and all colors and creeds, even Christian Scientists, who maintain that there is no such thing as pain.

C. But the greatest variety you will find in the way people suffer. Many complain. Others groan and sigh. Still others deny that there is an All-good God. Some will demand every possible kind of pain-killer, while others, like the promoters of euthanasia - so-called mercy-killing, will bring on death to end the sufferings of a patient in pain.

How far they have wandered from the cross of Calvary. How ignorant they are of the lessons our Lord taught on Good Friday. How miserable must suffering be for those who have not studied in the school of the Savior. How blind they are to the meaning and value of pain.

The story is told of a father whose eight-year old son was run down by a hit-and-run driver. The little body was mangled and maimed into a mass of flesh and blood. The child died in torture and pain. Grief-stricken, the father rushed from the death-room of the hospital to the rectory of his pastor. There he shouted in bitter defiance:

"You and your God! How could He let my little boy die like that, if He is so merciful? Where was this merciful God of yours when my son was run over?"

Gently and sympathetically the pastor answered:
"He was right where He was when His own Son was killed."

Indeed, only in the light of the death of Christ can we under­stand all other death. Only in the light of Christ's sufferings can we understand all other suffering. Only beneath the cross, can we comprehend the crosses that come to all of us. Only in the spirit of our Savior can we bear those crosses.

D. Suffering can even become a blessing. Every priest who has the privilege of dealing with souls can tell of people who first began to think of their salvation, who first became serious about the saving of their souls, when some affliction struck them. Lying on their backs in a hospital, with their eyes toward heaven, many a soul has for the first time thought seriously about his salvation. Death and sickness and set-backs of all kinds have opened the eyes of many to the real meaning of life, the real purpose of their existence. Death has even reconciled those who had lost their love.

Years ago in one of the cities of the west a husband and wife became estranged and finally separated. The divorce decree gave cus­tody of their only child to the mother. The husband left to live in a distant city. Not long afterwards their little son died. It was only after the funeral that the father heard of it. He took time from his business to make a trip back home. As soon as he arrived he hur­ried out to the cemetery, to the grave of their little boy. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he stood by the little mound of earth. Suddenly he heard a step behind him. He turned. There was his estranged wife. At first they both were tempted to turn away, but the chain of their love was in that grave. Instead of turning away, they clasped hands and embraced over the grave of their son. They were reconciled, never to separate again.

Nothing less than death could have reconciled those two. It was a bitter remedy for their selfishness and lack of understanding, but it worked. So, nothing less than the death of Christ could reconcile us poor, sinful human beings to our heavenly Father. Only in the light of Christ's sufferings and death can we understand the suffer­ing and death in the world. It has a purpose, a purpose that is often hidden from our eyes, yet a purpose that is dear to the heart of our heavenly Father.

E. Without suffering it is impossible to be a disciple and follower of Christ. Either we accept the pain that comes to us, or we do some penance of our own choosing, or we perform the official penances­ - like fasting and abstinence - of Mother Church. Christ Himself has told us:

"If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For he who would save his life will lose it; but he who loses his life for my sake will save it." St. Luke, 9:23-24.

What a great difference there often is between our promises of penance and our performance. What a difference between our pro­fession of love for Christ, and the carrying out of our love in action.

Unwillingness to sacrifice for one we profess to love, proves the love is shallow and weak. How flabby and feeble the love so-called of one who refuses to sacrifice, to suffer for the God-man who died on a cross with nails through His hands, spikes through His feet, a spear through His heart, bitter gall on His lips, and a crown of thorns on His head.

4. Christ not only died in pain for us; He died for our sins. Sin is an offense against an all-good God. Sin is an infinite, unlimited insult. Man, on the contrary, is a finite, limited being. He cannot make amends of him­self for the infinite insult he has offered God by disobeying the Almighty. If we were to put all the penances and sufferings of the saints, all their prayers and fastings and watching, all their tortures and trials and virtues, on the one hand of a scale, they could not outweigh the crime of one sin­gle mortal sin. But, put into that scale the sufferings and death of Christ, and reparation is made to God, because Christ was the God-man, the true Son of the true God.

Look at that tortured Body of Christ and learn the malice of sin. Look at our Lord hanging there and learn how terrible it is to disobey the com­mandments of the Almighty. Look at Him long and lovingly, look at Him thoughtfully, look at Him with sorrow and repentance for all your sins and all the sins of the world. Sin nailed Him to that cross. By avoiding sin we can take Him down. May that be one of our deepest resolves on this Good Friday afternoon.

As we watch our Lord bow His head and breathe His last sigh, we will realize that His death takes away the sting of our death, that He died for us, and we will die for Him; that He died in pain so that we might accept pain for His sake; that He died for our sins that we might resolve to sin no more. Lord, Jesus crucified - have mercy on us. Amen.
Adapted from Lent and the Capital Sins
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1952)

Just for Today, March 21

If thou canst but hold thy peace and suffer, thou shalt see without doubt that the Lord will help thee. He knows the time and manner of delivering thee, and therefore thou must resign thyself to Him.

-Bk. II, ch. ii.

What is the good of defending ourselves and explain­ing when we are misunderstood or misjudged? Let the matter drop, and say nothing. If we would only allow others to judge us as they please; how happy we should be! A blessed silence, what peace you bring to the soul!

-Conseils et Souvenirs
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - March 21

Let all our actions be directed to the end that God may he glorified in all things.

-St. Benedict
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for March 21, Your Crucifix

"Wear your crucifix with reflection," St. Andre-Hubert Fournet, "this other Cure of Ars" as he was so fittingly called, used to say to the Daughters of the Cross.

He meant that your devotion to Jesus of Calvary should be a thoughtful and conscious devotion, whose sublime reality you have discovered and not merely an exterior, mechanical, unreal devotion.

"Wear your crucifix more interiorly than exteriorly." That was but another form of the same pressing injunction. Why display Christ crucified on your breast if the cross is not planted in your heart, if Calvary is not a reality for you, an existing atrocity, something so real that the blood spurting forth under the ham­mers splashes you every minute...and incites you to fervent generosity.

Jesus Himself explained to Angela of Foligno, "I have not loved you in jest; my love for you is no trifling thing."

Here is the account of the entire revelation:

"Holy Thursday I was meditating on the death of the Incarnate Son of God and was trying to rid my mind of every other thought in order that I might be better able to recollect my soul in the Passion and Death of the Son of God. I sought earnestly to know how I would be better able to free my heart of all that filled it, so that I could better con­template the Passion, when suddenly these divine words were heard in my soul, 'I have not loved you in jest.'

"These words were as a stroke of mortal sorrow to me."
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Gospel for Holy Thursday (Evening Mass of the Last Supper)

From: John 13:1-15

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet

[1] Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. [2] And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, [3] Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, [4] rose from supper, laid aside His garments, and girded Himself with a towel. [5] Then He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. [6] He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" [7] Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand." [8] Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in Me." [9] Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" [10] Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not all of you." [11] For He knew who was to betray Him; that was why He said, "You are not all clean."

[12] When He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and resumed His place, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done for you? [13] You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. [14] If then your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done for you."


1. Jewish families sacrificed a lamb on the eve of the Passover, in keeping with God's command at the time of the exodus from Egypt when God liberated them from the slavery of Pharaoh (Exodus 12:3-14; Deuteronomy 16:1-8). This liberation prefigured that which Jesus Christ would bring about--the redemption of men from the slavery of sin by means of His sacrifice on the cross (cf. 1:29). This is why the celebration of the Jewish Passover was the ideal framework for the institution of the new Christian Passover.

Jesus knew everything that was going to happen; He knew His death and resurrection were imminent (cf. 18:4); this is why His words acquire a special tone of intimacy and love towards those whom He is leaving behind in the world. Surrounded by those whom He has chosen and who have believed in Him, He gives them His final teachings and institutes the Eucharist, the source and center of the life of the Church. "He Himself wished to give that encounter such a fullness of meaning, such a richness of memories, such a moving image of words and thoughts, such a newness of acts and precepts, that we can never exhaust our reflection and exploration of it. It was a testamentary supper, infinitely affectionate and immensely sad, and at the same time a mysterious revelation of divine promises, of supreme visions. Death was imminent, with silent omens of betrayal, of abandonment, of immolation; the conversation dies down but Jesus continues to speak in words that are new and beautifully reflective, in almost supreme intimacy, almost hovering between life and death" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Homily on Holy Thursday", 27 March 1975).

What Christ did for His own may be summed up in this sentence: "He loved them to the end." It shows the intensity of His love--which brings Him even to give up His life (cf. John 15:13); but this love does not stop with His death, for Christ lives on and after His resurrection He continues loving us infinitely: "It was not only thus far that He loved us, who always and forever loves us. Far be it from us to imagine that He made death the end of His loving, who did not make death the end of His living" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 55, 2).

2. The Gospel shows us the presence and activity of the devil running right through Jesus' life (cf. Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 22:3; John 8:44; 12:31; etc.). Satan is the enemy (Matthew 13:39), the evil one (1 John 2:13). St. Thomas Aquinas (cf. "Commentary on St. John, in loc.") points out that, in this passage, on the one hand, we clearly see the malice of Judas, who fails to respond to this demonstration of love, and on the other hand great emphasis is laid on the goodness of Christ, which reaches out beyond Judas' malice by washing his feet also and by treating him as a friend right up to the moment when he betrays Him (Luke 22:48).

3-6. Aware that He is the Son of God, Jesus voluntarily humbles Himself to the point of performing a service appropriate to household servants. This passage recalls the Christological hymn in St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians: "Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant..." (Philippians 2:6-7).

Christ had said that He came to the world not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). In this scene He teaches us the same thing, through specific example, thereby exhorting us to serve each other in all humility and simplicity (cf. Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:3). "Once again He preaches by example, by His deeds. In the presence of His disciples, who are arguing out of pride and vanity, Jesus bows down and gladly carries out the task of a servant.[...] This tactfulness of our Lord moves me deeply. He does not say: `If I do this, how much more ought you to do?' He puts Himself at their level, and He lovingly chides those men for their lack of generosity.

"As He did with the first twelve, so also, with us, our Lord can and does whisper in our ear, time and again: `exemplum dedi vobis' (John 13:15), I have given you an example of humility. I have become a slave, so that you too may learn to serve all men with a meek and humble heart" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 103).

Peter understands particularly well how thoroughly our Lord has humbled Himself, and he protests, in the same kind of way as he did on other occasions, that he will not hear of Christ suffering (cf. Matthew 8:32 and par.). St. Augustine comments: "Who would not shrink back in dismay from having his feet washed by the Son of God....You? Me? Words to be pondered on rather than spoken about, lest words fail to express their true meaning" (St. Augustine, "In Ioann. Evang.", 56, 1).

7-14. Our Lord's gesture had a deeper significance than St. Peter was able to grasp at this point; nor could he have suspected that God planned to save men through the sacrificing of Christ (cf. Matthew 16:22 ff). After the Resurrection the Apostles understood the mystery of this service rendered by the Redeemer: by washing their feet, Jesus was stating in a simple and symbolic way that He had not come "to be served but to serve". His service, as He already told them, consists in giving "His life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).

Our Lord tells the Apostles that they are now clean, for they have accepted His words and have followed Him (cf. 15:3)--all but Judas, who plans to betray Him. St. John Chrysostom comments as follows: "You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. That is: You are clean only to that extent. You have already received the Light; you have already got rid of the Jewish error. The Prophet asserted: `Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil from your souls' (Isaiah 1:16).... Therefore, since they had rooted evil from their souls and were following Him with complete sincerity, He declared, in accordance with the Prophet's words: `He who has bathed is clean all over'" (St. John Chrysostom, "Hom. on St. John", 70, 3).

15-17. Jesus' whole life was an example of service towards men, fulfilling His Father's will to the point of dying on the Cross. Here our Lord promises us that if we imitate Him, our Teacher, in disinterested service (which always implies sacrifice), we will find true happiness which no one can wrest from us (cf. 16:22; 17:13). "`I have given you an example', He tells His disciples after washing their feet, on the night of the Last Supper. Let us reject from our hearts any pride, any ambition, any desire to dominate; and peace and joy will reign around us and within us, as a consequence of our personal sacrifice" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 94).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Change of Sorts?

The location of the infamous "Women's Led Liturgy" has apparently been moved:

The Catholic Action Network website states:
Women Led-Prayer opportunity for Catholic women to lead prayer


Our next liturgy will be Holy Saturday, March 22nd at 10:00 am at The Center for Theology and Social Analysis(1077 S. Newstead). All women and men are invited to join us....
So St Cronan's will no longer host this monthly event?

Just for Today, March 20

Jesus Christ alone is singularly to be loved. For Him and in Him let both friends and enemies be dear to thee; and for all these must thou pray to Him, that all may know and love Him. ­

-Bk. II, ch. viii.

All that I desire is contained in the following little prayer, which I beg of you to say every day for me:
Most merciful Father, I beseech Thee in the name of Thy beloved Son, of the Virgin Mary and all the Saints, to enkindle my sister's heart with Thy Holy Spirit of Love, that she may by Thy grace draw many souls to love Thee.
If God should soon take me to Himself, please con­tinue to say this prayer, for in Heaven I shall have the same desire that I have upon earth: to love Jesus and
to make Him loved.

For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.

Thoughts and Counsels - March 20

He who forgets himself in the service of God may be assured that God will not forget Him.

-St. Ignatius
From Mary, Help of Christians
Part VI, Thoughts and Counsels of the Saints for Every Day of the Year
Compiled by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer, OFM (© 1909, Benziger Brothers)

Meditation for March 20, Holy Thursday

The Feast of the Eucharist.

The Feast of the Priesthood.

This is my body - the Real Presence.

Take and eat ye all of this - Holy Communion.

Do this in remembrance of me - the Mass and the Institution
of the Priesthood.

Do I appreciate, as I should, the Priest and the Host?

How many priests and hosts the love of the Savior has made possible for me now! Thousands and thousands in the world! Consequently how many Masses a day! How many elevations every second?

At each passing second, four priests repeat at the same time: This is My body. The priesthood! What power there is in it! What rays of light! The Good Master was not content to offer Himself just one day out of the many in the history of the world; He wished to offer Himself every day and even several times during the day.

"Every day is Good Friday," Bossuet cried, thinking of the immolation of Calvary renewed each day on the altar of the Mass. We must say even more: "Every second of the day is a Last Supper and every second is a Good Friday," since at every consecration, Our Lord, between the fingers of the priest, assumes again the dispositions of the complete sacrifice of Calvary - a different set­ting, but the same spirit....

Moreover, what a marvel of extravagance even were there but a single Mass and a single Host in the world! But to be so fre­quent, so often renewed!

I must live each day in the atmosphere of Holy Thursday. Every day is the day of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, every day, even every second of every day!
Adapted from Meditations for Religious
by Father Raoul Plus, S.J. (© 1939, Frederick Pustet Co.)

Bin Laden Blasts Pope, New "Crusade"

DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden threatened the European Union with grave punishment on Wednesday over cartoons of Islam's Prophet Mohammad.

In an audio recording posted on the Internet coinciding with the birthday of Islam's founder, bin Laden said the drawings, considered offensive by Muslims, were part of a "new crusade" in which Pope Benedict was involved.

"Your publications of these drawings -- part of a new crusade in which the Pope of the Vatican had a significant role -- is a confirmation from you that the war continues," said the Saudi-born militant leader, addressing "those who are wise at the European Union".

You are "testing Muslims ... the answer will be what you shall see and not what you hear. May our mothers lose us to death if we did not rise in defense of the messenger of God..."

New Crusade? I admit that I've tried to limit the amount of time going over the news during this Lenten season, but I had no idea that a new Crusade was being called for by the Holy Father.

It makes me wonder, does Islamofacism cause such mental disease as manifested by Bin Laden or does this apparent mental problem of religious fanatics/terrosists like Bin Laden make them susceptible to Islamofacism? Religion of peace - sure.

Cardinal Arinze: True liturgical reform must avoid “wild liturgy"

Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Church’s “liturgist-in-chief,” recently made a speech at an African university in which he criticized liturgical abuses and protested Masses where the recklessly innovative priests act as “Reverend Showman”...

The cardinal discussed sentiments that cause errors in worship, such as regarding everyone as an expert in liturgy, extolling spontaneity and creativity to the detriment of approved rites and prayers, seeking immediate popular applause or enjoyment, and ignoring approved liturgical texts.

He said that liturgical abuses were often due to an ignorance that rejects elements of worship whose deeper meaning is not understood or whose antiquity is not recognized....

The Mass must send Catholics home “full of joy, ready to come back again, ready to live it and to share it.” The cardinal encouraged future priests’ proper formation in liturgy and the ongoing liturgical formation of both clergy and lay people.

Gospel for Wednesday of Holy Week

From: Matthew 26:14-25

Judas Betrays Jesus

[14] Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests [15] and said, "What will you give me if I deliver Him (Jesus) to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. [16] And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray Him.

Preparations for the Last Supper

[17] Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will You have us prepare for You to eat the Passover?" [18] He said, "Go into the city to such a one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.'" [19] And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared for the Passover.

[20] When it was evening, He sat at table with the twelve disciples; [21] and as they were eating, He said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me." [22] And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to Him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?" [23] He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with Me, will betray Me. [24] The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." [25] Judas, who betrayed Him, said, "Is it I, Master?" He said to him, "You have said so."


15. It is disconcerting and sobering to realize that Judas Iscariot actually went as far as to sell the man whom he had believed to be the Messiah and who had called him to be one of the Apostles. Thirty shekels or pieces of silver were the price of a slave (cf. Exodus 21:32), the same value as Judas put on his Master.

17. This unleavened bread, azymes, took the form of loaves which had to be eaten over a seven-day period, in commemoration of the unleavened bread which the Israelites had to take with them in their hurry to leave Egypt (cf. Exodus 12:34). In Jesus' time the Passover supper was celebrated on the first day of the week of the Unleavened Bread.

18. Although the reference is to an unnamed person, probably our Lord gave the person's actual name. In any event, from what other evangelists tell us (Mark 14:13; Luke 22:10), Jesus gave the disciples enough information to enable them to find the house.

22. Although the glorious events of Easter have yet to occur (which will teach the Apostles much more about Jesus), their faith has been steadily fortified and deepened in the course of Jesus' public ministry (cf. John 2:11; 6:68-69) through their contact with Him and the divine grace they have been given (cf. Matthew 16:17). At this point they are quite convinced that our Lord knows their internal attitudes and how they are going to act: each asks in a concerned way whether he will prove to be loyal in the time ahead.

24. Jesus is referring to the fact that He will give Himself up freely to suffering and death. In so doing He would fulfill the Will of God, as proclaimed centuries before (cf. Psalm 41:10; Isaiah 53:7). Although our Lord goes to His death voluntarily, this does not reduce the seriousness of Judas' treachery.

25. This advance indication that Judas is the traitor is not noticed by the other Apostles (cf. John 13:26-29).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Just for Today, March 19

Protect and defend the soul of Thy poor servant amidst so many dangers of this corruptible life, and direct him in the company of Thy grace, through the way of peace to the country of everlasting light. Amen.

-Bk. III, ch. lix.

I had never come into contact with evil, but dreaded the thought of doing so, and I realized that I would come across many disturbing things on my journey. I had not yet learned that all things are clean to the clean (Titus 1:15), that evil is not in material things but in unclean minds. From my childhood my devotion to Our Lady and St Joseph had been one thing, and every day I said the prayer: St Joseph, father and protector of virgins. I therefore placed myself under his protection and felt safe from all danger.

-The Story of a Soul (L'Histoire d'une Âme)
For more information, see this post.
Adapted from Just For Today(©1943 Burns & Oates)
Nihil Obstat: Reginaldus Phillips, S.T.L.,Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: Edwardus Myers, Vic. Cap.