Saturday, April 22, 2006

1st Sunday after Easter - Prudence

"He showed them his hands and his side." St. John, 20:20.

Our streamliner was standing outside the Union Station at Kansas City, waiting to get in. Across several tracks I watched a freight train slowly pulling out of the yards. On the top of a boxcar was a brakeman walking along toward the back of the train. Suddenly I noticed him crouch down, step quickly over to the end of the car, and climb a few rungs down the side. It looked as if there was something wrong, but gazing more closely I noticed hanging over the tracks a sort of skein of small ropes stretched in such a way that at least one of them will harmlessly strike any trainman who may happen to be standing or walking on the top of a moving freight car. And sure enough, a short distance away there was an overpass or over­head bridge.

One could figure that the distance between the lower part of the bridge and the top of the cars was great enough to allow a man sitting on the roof to pass under safely. But there was not enough room for a man stand­ing or walking. On each side of such a bridge you will find these small ropes hanging over the tracks some yards away to warn trainmen that they can't clear it standing up.

Nevertheless, though trainmen know that they can clear it sitting down, I have never seen a railroader ride under a bridge of that kind sitting on top of a car. They always climb down the end of the car or down the side. They want to play safe, absolutely safe. They want to take no chances. They want to be on the safe and prudent side.

Such prudence is a part of daily life. It is a most important part of spiritual life. Prudence is the first of the four cardinal virtues, the four virtues on which hinge and hang all the others. Prudence is so helpful and so necessary that we might spend some time thinking about it.

Prudence is that virtue or power of the mind which sees how to act and when to act in order to do the will of God. Prudence tells us what, in a particular case, is the better way to act according to the wish of God. It is necessary even in material matters, like starting a business or guiding a ship. The trainman I saw atop the cars hurrying to a safe spot was exercising prudence.

1. Prudence does two things:
A. It sees clearly what is right and what is wrong in a given case. It sees, for example, that a certain movie is an occasion of sin, that coming late to Mass is a scandal and discourtesy to others. Too many fail in prudence by trying to reason themselves into thinking that something is not sinful, or that it is only venially sinful. They hear us declare, on the word of God and God's Church, that certain things are mortal sins. But they do not have the prudence, the mental power to accept and admit that certain things are right and certain things wrong.

B. The second task of prudence is to find the best means to accomplish the good and avoid the evil. Let me illustrate: You may be one of those half-hearted Catholics who comes late to Mass more often than he does on time. Do something to avoid such impolite tardi­ness. Have someone call you. Set your alarm ten minutes earlier. Again: you know that a certain person is an occasion of sin to you. Avoid that person, or be prepared for the occasion.

2. Prudence uses a lot of helper virtues:
A. Good counsel tells us to ask for and use the advice of our priests, parents, teachers, and authorities.

B. Common sense, which is so very uncommon, is the power and practice of judging as directly and accurately as possible.

C. Foresight is the ability to see possible difficulties, opportunities, needs, and means.

D. Impartiality is a sort of holy indifference to the consequences.

E. Caution is the practice of noticing and avoiding obstacles and hin­drances to right action.

3. Sins against prudence fall into two classes:
A. Those which result from insufficient prudence-­
i. Acting impulsively and without thinking.
ii. Choosing means or helps without sufficient thought.
iii. Inconstancy, that is, changing our decision or plan with little or no reason.
iv. Laziness or negligence which means that we do not exert our­selves to carry out the plan after we have made it.
B. Sins which result from too much so-called prudence:
i. What is often called prudence of the flesh, namely being too much concerned with temporal goods, with honors, comforts, and the respect of others.
ii. Cunning, either in words or actions; using wrong methods to obtain a good purpose.
iii. Worrying about the things of this world.
iv. Worrying about the future to such an extent that you distrust the care of God.

In a certain sense, the doubting disciple of whom we read today had too much prudence, prudence of the wrong kind. St. Thomas would not believe, apparently, the promise of Christ that He would arise; he would not be­lieve the other Apostles when they said they had seen the Lord. He was reserving judgment imprudently and needlessly.

Anyone can see how important prudence is in spiritual life. It means taking the safer course. The trainman of my story took the safer course. He might have been safe sitting on top of the boxcar, as it went under the bridge. He took no chances. He got off the top to be absolutely safe.

May we use the same prudence in working for heaven. May God give us the help to see clearly what is right and what is wrong, and then may He give us the means to do what He wants. As the Psalmist sang: "Show, O Lord, Thy ways to me and teach me Thy paths." Ps. 24:4.
Adapted from Prayers, Precepts and Virtues
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1949)

Pope Reminds Jesuits of Vow of Obedience

Pope Benedict XVI reminded members of the Jesuit religious order Saturday of their vow of obedience to the pontiff and said their main job was to interact with modern culture.

Benedict made the comments following a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in honor of the Jesuits, who are marking several anniversaries surrounding the founder of the order, St. Ignatius Loyola, and other prominent members.

Gospel for Saturday within the Octave of Easter

From: Mark 16:9-15

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene and to Two Disciples

[9] Now when He (Jesus) rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast our seven demons. [10] She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. [11] But when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

[12] After this He appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. [13]And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

Jesus Appears to the Eleven. The Apostles' Mission

[14] Afterwards He appeared to the Eleven themselves as they sat at table; and He upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw Him after He had risen. [15] And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation."


11-14. When reporting these first appearances of the risen Jesus, St. Mark stresses the disciples' disbelief and their reluctance to accept the fact of the Resurrection, even though Jesus foretold it (cf. Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34). This resistance shown by the Apostles is a further guarantee of the truth of Jesus' resurrection; they were to be direct, specially-appointed witnesses to the risen Christ, yet they were reluctant to accept this role. They had personal, direct proof of the truth of the Resurrection.

However, our Lord will say: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe" (John 20:29). In the Apostles' case, they needed, in addition to faith in the risen Christ, clear evidence of His resurrection, for they were to be the eye-witnesses, key witnesses who would proclaim it as an irrefutable fact. In this connection [Pope] St. Gregory the Great comments: "The reason why the disciples were slow to believe in the Resurrection was not so much due to their weakness as to our future firmness in the faith; what other purposes does this have (the very Resurrection being demonstrated by many arguments to those who were in doubt) than that our faith should be strengthened by their doubt?" ("In Evangelia Homilae", 16).

12. Our Lord's appearance to these two disciples is reported more fully by St. Luke (cf. 24:13-35).

15. This verse contains what is called the "universal apostolic mandate" (paralleled by Matthew 28:19-20 and Luke 24:46-48). This is an imperative command from Christ to His Apostles to preach the Gospel to the whole world. This same apostolic mission applies, especially to the Apostles' successors, the bishops in communion with Peter's successor, the Pope.

But this mission extends further: the whole "Church was founded to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth for the glory of God the Father, to make all men partakers in redemption and salvation....Every activity of the Mystical Body with this in view goes by the name of `apostolate'; the Church exercises it through all its members, though in various ways. In fact, the Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well. In the organism of a living body no member plays a purely passive part, sharing in the life of the body it shares at the same time in its activity. The same is true for the body of Christ, the Church: `the whole body achieves full growth in dependence on the full functioning of each part' (Ephesians 4:16). Between the members of this body there exists, further, such a unity and solidarity (cf. Ephesians 4:16) that a member who does not work at the growth of the body to the extent of his possibilities must be considered useless both to the Church and to himself.

"In the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission. To the apostles and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing in His name and by His power. But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical and kingly office of Christ; they have therefore, in the Church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole people of God" (Vatican II, "Apostolicam Actuositatem", 2).

It is true that God acts directly on each person's soul through grace, but it must also be said that it is Christ's will (expressed here and elsewhere) that men should be an instrument or vehicle of salvation for others.

Vatican II also teaches this: "On all Christians, accordingly, rests the noble obligation of working to bring all men throughout the whole world to hear and accept the divine message of salvation" ("ibid.", 3).
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, April 21, 2006

Cardinal McCarrick Says Retirement Appears Near

McCarrick said yesterday that "the life issues are primary." But he said he worries about a "loss of civility" in politics and rising stridency among religious leaders in telling politicians, and even voters, how they must act, not just on broad moral issues but on particular legislation or in particular races.

"I'm afraid there are a lot more people in the church who think that things are black and white," he said. "No one can really read another person's conscience. . . . I hope it is not cowardice, I hope it is prudence -- we must always give people the benefit of the doubt."
Sorry, your Emminence, but let's call it what it truly is...Cowardice! Fear of engaging in one obligations. Those who openly and publicly advocate abortion or other intrinsic evils have manifested their consciences...Where is the prudence in allowing those who openly reject the natural moral law and the teachings of the Church to receive Holy Communion as if their statements and actions did not exist? Where is the prudence in allowing sacrilege and scandal to continue unabated? Prudence? From the CCC #1806:
Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it;...Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle...It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation...
Where's the confusion?

Life doesn't start at conception, but after says Cardinal Martini in dialogue with bio-ethicist

Catholic Laity Show Signs of Open Dispute With Bishops Who Support or Are Soft on Homosexual Clergy

No Sanctions by Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis Against Priests for "Consensual" Sex?

Gospel for Friday within the Octave of Easter

From: John 21:1-14

The Miraculous Draught of Fish

[1] After this Jesus revealed Himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and He revealed Himself in this way. [2] Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. [3] Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing.

[4] Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. [5] Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any fish?" They answered Him, "No." [6] He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. [7] That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. [8] But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

[9] When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. [10] Jesus said to them, "Bring some fish that you have just caught." [11] So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. [12] Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. [13] Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. [14] This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.


1-3. There are some very significant things in this account: we find the disciples "by the Sea of Tiberias", which means they have done whatthe risen Christ had told them to do (cf. Matthew 28:7); they are together, which shows that there is a close fraternity among them; Peter takes the initiative, which in a way shows his authority; and they have gone back to their old jobs as fishermen, probably waiting for our Lord to give them new instructions.

This episode is reminiscent of the first miraculous draught of fish (cf. Luke 5:1-11), where our Lord promised Peter He would make him a fisher of men; now He is going to confirm his mission as visible head of the Church.

4-8. The risen Jesus goes in search of His disciples, to encourage them and tell them more about the great mission He has entrusted to them. This account describes a very moving scene, our Lord together with His own: "He passes by, close to His Apostles, close to those souls who have given themselves to Him, and they do not realize He is there. How often Christ is not only near us, but in us; yet we still live in such a human way!... They, the disciples, recall what they have heard so often from their Master's lips: fisher of men, apostles. And they realize that all things are possible, because it is He who is directing their fishing.

"Whereupon `the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord!' Love, love is farsighted. Love is the first to appreciate kindness. The adolescent Apostle, who felt a deep and firm affection for Jesus, because he loved Christ with all the purity and tenderness of a heart that had never been corrupted, exclaimed: `It is the Lord!'"

"`When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes and sprang into the sea.' Peter personifies faith. Full of marvelous daring, he leaps into the sea. With a love like John's and a faith like Peter's, what is there that can stop us?" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 265-266).

9-14. We can sense here the deep impression this appearance of the risen Jesus must have made on the Apostles, and how sweet a memory St. John kept of it. After His resurrection Jesus showed the same tenderness as characterized His public ministry. He makes use of natural things--the fire, the fish, etc.--to show that He really is there, and He maintains the familiar tone typical of when He lived with the disciples.

The Fathers and Doctors of the Church have often dwelt on the mystical meaning of this episode: the boat is the Church, whose unity is symbolized by the net which is not torn; the sea is the world, Peter in the boat stands for supreme authority of the Church, and the number of fish signifies the number of the elect (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, "Commentary on St. John, in loc.").

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.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mental Prayer for Easter Friday - My Resurrection

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God.

Grace I Ask: The grace to keep the Resurrection before my eyes - the pledge of my eternal reward.

The Idea: Christianity is not an easy way out; no one ever claimed that. We carry the cross of Christ through life, and that means work and sacrifice. But the most important thing is this: it's worth the trouble. Christ's resurrection is the pledge of our reward - a reward which will surpass our wildest imagination. And that for eternity, if only we are loyal for a few short years here on earth.

My Personal Application: What do I do when the cost of following Christ seems too high? I Do I turn my attention to the reward He promises to find encouragement? What do I want to get out of life? Do I consider anything worth more than the reward promised by Christ? Have I ever stopped to think what eternal, perfect happiness with Him means ?

I Speak to Christ: O risen Christ, when the wealth and honors of this world draw me away from Your company, turn my thoughts to the reward which You have prepared for those who love You. When I am tempted and discouraged, stand before me in the glory of Easter morning as a pledge and a challenge to take up my cross and follow You.

Thought for Today: "Your labor in the Lord's service cannot be spent in vain."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

From the USCCB's Catholic News Service:

Blogs pose dangers to students, Catholic legal expert says
ATLANTA (CNS) -- Blogging poses grave safety and legal issues, said Sister Mary Angela Shaughnessy, a Sister of Charity of Nazareth, Ky., who is executive director of the Education Law Institute in Louisville, Ky.
. . .
Despite teens' seeming ignorance of the dangers of blogs, "parents know even less about computers than their kids do," she added. School officials can get their students to remove any school logo from a blog, since it is an unauthorized use of a copyrighted symbol, but a blog, like much else in cyberspace, is "archived forever and you can't cut it off," Sister Mary Angela said.
More here

Boston Archdiocese is $46 million in the red

Gospel for Thursday Within the Octave of Easter

From: Luke 24:35-48

[35] Then they (the disciples) told what had happened on the road, and
how He (Jesus) was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Jesus Appears To The Eleven And Their Companions

[36] As they were saying this, Jesus Himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!" [37] But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. [38] And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? [39] See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." [40] And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. [41] And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" [42] They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, [43] and He took it and ate before them.

Jesus' Last Instructions And Leave-Taking

[44] Then He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." [45] Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [46] and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, [47] and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. [48] You are witnesses of these things."


36-43. This appearance of the risen Jesus is reported by St. Luke and St. John (cf. John 20:19-23). St. John reports the institution of the sacrament of Penance, whereas St. Luke puts the stress on the disciples' difficulty in accepting the miracle of the Resurrection, despite the angels' testimony to the women (cf. Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:4-11) and despite the witness of those who had already seen the risen Lord (cf. Matthew 28:9-10; Mark 16:9-13; Luke 24:13ff; John 20:11-18).

Jesus appears all of a sudden, when the doors are closed (cf. John 20:19), which explains their surprised reaction. St. Ambrose comments that "He penetrated their closed retreat not because His nature was incorporeal, but because He had the quality of a resurrected body" ("Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc".). "Subtility", which is one of the qualities of a glorified body, means that "the body is totally subject to the soul and ever ready to obey its wishes" ("St. Pius V Catechism", I, 12, 13), with the result that it can pass through material obstacles without any difficulty.

This scene showing Christ's condescension to confirm for them the truth of His resurrection has a charm all of its own.

41-43. Although His risen body is incapable of suffering, and therefore has no need of food to nourish it, our Lord confirms His disciples' faith in His resurrection by giving them these two proofs--inviting them to touch Him and eating in their presence. "For myself, I know and believe that our Lord was in the flesh even after the Resurrection. And when He came to Peter and his companions, He said to them, `Here, feel Me and see that I am not a bodiless ghost.' They touched Him and believed, and were convinced that He was flesh and spirit [...]. Moreover, after the Resurrection, He ate and drank with them like a man of flesh and blood, though spiritually one with the Father" (St. Ignatius of Antioch, "Letter to the Christians at Smyrna", III, 1-3).

44-49. St. Matthew stresses that the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in Christ, because His immediate audience were Jews, who would accept this as proof that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah. St. Luke does not usually argue along these lines because He is writing for Gentiles; however, in this epilogue he does report, in a summarized way, Christ's statement to the effect that everything foretold about Him had come true. By doing so He shows the unity of Old and New Testaments and that Jesus is truly the Messiah.

46. From St. Luke's account we have seen how slow the Apostles were to grasp Jesus' prophecy of His death and resurrection (cf. 9:45; 18:34). Now that the prophecy is fulfilled Jesus reminds them that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead (cf. Acts 2:1-4).

The Cross is a mystery, in our own life as well as in Christ's: "Jesus suffers to carry out the will of the Father. And you, who also want to carry out the most holy Will of God, following the steps of the Master, can you complain if you meet suffering on your way?" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 213).

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, April 19, 2006

Online Video Demonstrates Partial Birth Abortion Technique

PENSACOLA, Florida, April 19, 2006 ( - A free video demonstration of a partial birth abortion has been posted online by a pro-life doctor and R.A.G.E. Media.

The short clip uses dramatization to show the viewer the basic technique involved in a partial birth abortion. A chair, a sheet, a baby doll and the actual instruments of an abortionist are used in the demonstration—the simplicity of the props enhances the absolute horror of the procedure, even though there is no blood or disturbing images...
Well worth seeing!

Mental Prayer for Easter Thursday-Christ's Triumphant Army

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God.

Grace I Ask: To appreciate my post with the army that can never lose!

The Idea: The armies of Hannibal died in the mountains of Italy. Napoleon led a great army into Russia, and the deadly snow covered their dead bodies. The vast war machine built by Hitler was crushed and died in defeat. These men were leaders whose people, whose armies trusted them, but who led them to defeat.

There was another great leader. His enemies murdered Him. But death couldn't stop this leader. Christ has never been conquered! His army, still fighting, can never lose. The men and women of His ranks live and die courageously, assured of victory.

My Personal Application: I want to win. I wish to do something important with my life, not to waste it on a cause that may lose. At my death, I want to know I have fought the good fight and have won. There is only one army which can promise that: Christ's army of men and women fighting for Him.

I Speak to Christ: Thank you for letting me belong to your army. I'm not quite sure of my vocation yet; but your troops - composed of Catholic lay men and women, nuns, priests, and brothers - have a place for me. As a Catholic I already am a member. Having been confirmed, I have promised to fight in a special place in your army.

Thought for Today: "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Notre Dame OKs Homosexual Film Festivals

Pray for Notre Dame

The mission of a Catholic University includes counseling students away from sin, providing them with insights to the necessity and beauty of the virtue of chastity that some may have never known. Conditions favorable to the practice of virtue are essential. As Blessed Jacinta warned: "The sins which lead most souls to hell are sins of the flesh.”

That is why TFP Student Action is launching Pray for Notre Dame. Thousands of faithful Catholic students and parents are pledging prayers for the complete restoration of Catholic higher education at the University of Notre Dame.

One Year Ago..Cardinal Ratzinger Chosen Pope

Apr. 19 ( - On April 19, 2005, at 5:50 in the afternoon, white smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, signaling that the conclave that had begun the previous day had reached a quick resolution, electing the 265th Pope. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who had entered the conclave as the dean of the College of Cardinals, was soon introduced to the world as Pope Benedict XVI.

Gospel for Wednesday within the Octave of Easter

From: Luke 24:13-35

The Road To Emmaus

[13] That very day two of them (disciples) were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, [14] and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. [15] While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. [16] But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. [17] And He said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. [18] Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered Him, "Are You the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" [19] And He said to them, "What things?" And they said to Him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, [20] and how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. [21] But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. [22] Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning [23] and did not find His body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive. [24] Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see." [25] And He said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?" [27] And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

[28] So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, [29] but they constrained Him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So He went in to stay with them. [30] When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. [31] And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished out of their sight. [32] They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?" [33] And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the Eleven gathered together and those who were with them, [34] who said, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" [35] Then they told what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.


13-35. In the course of their conversation with Jesus, the disciples' mood changes from sadness to joy; they begin to hope again, and feel the need to share their joy ith others, thus becoming heralds and witnesses of the risen Christ.

This is an episode exclusive to St. Luke, who describes it in a masterly way. It shows our Lord's zeal for souls. "As He is walking along, Christ meets two men who have nearly lost all hope. They are beginning to feel that life has no meaning for them. Christ understands their sorrow; He sees into their heart and communicates to them some of the life He carries within Himself."

"When they draw near the village, He makes as if to go on, but the two disciples stop Him and practically force Him to stay with them. They recognize Him later when He breaks the bread. The Lord, they exclaimed, has been with us! `And they said to each other: "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?"' (Luke 24:32). Every Christian should make Christ present among men. He ought to act in such a way that those who know Him sense `the aroma of Christ' (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:15). Men should be able to recognize the Master in His disciples" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 105).

13-27. Jesus' conversation with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus gives us a very good idea of the disillusionment felt by His disciples after His apparent total failure. Cleopas' words summarize Christ's life and mission (verse 19), His passion and death (verse 20), the despair felt by His disciples (verse 21), and the events of that Sunday morning (verse 22).

Earlier, Jesus had said to the Jews: "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to Me" (John 5:39). In saying this He indicated the best way for us to get to know Him. Pope Paul VI points out that today also frequent reading of and devotion to Holy Scripture is a clear inspiration of the Holy Spirit: "The progress made in biblical studies, the increasing dissemination of the Sacred Scriptures, and above all the example of tradition and the interior action of the Holy Spirit are tending to cause the modern Christian to use the Bible ever increasingly as the basic prayerbook and to draw from it genuine inspiration and unsurpassable examples" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Marialis Cultus", 30).

Because the disciples are so downhearted, Jesus patiently opens for them the meaning of all the Scriptural passages concerning the Messiah. "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?": with these words He disabuses them of the notion of an earthly and political Messiah and shows them that Christ's mission is a supernatural one--to save all mankind.

Sacred Scripture contained the prophecy that God would bring about salvation through the redemptive passion and death of the Messiah. The Cross does not mean failure: it is the route chosen by God for Christ to achieve definitive victory over sin and death (cf. 1 Corinthians1:23-24). Many of our Lord's contemporaries failed to understand His supernatural mission because they misinterpreted the Old Testament texts. No one knew the meaning of Sacred Scripture like Jesus. And, after Him, only the Church has the mission and responsibility of conserving Scripture and interpreting it correctly: "All that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 12).

28-35. The Master's presence and words restore the disciples' spirits and give them new and lasting hope. "There were two disciples on their way to Emmaus. They were walking along at a normal pace, like so many other travelers on that road. And there, without any fuss, Jesus appears to them, and walks with them, His conversation helping to alleviate their tiredness. I can well imagine the scene, just as dusk is falling. A gentle breeze is blowing. All around are fields ripe with wheat, and venerable olive trees, their branches shimmering in the soft glowing light.

"Jesus joins them as they go along their way. Lord, how great you are, in everything! But You move me even more when You come down to our level, to follow us and to seek us in the hustle and bustle of each day. Lord, grant us a childlike spirit, pure eyes and a clear mind so that we may recognize You when You come without any outward sign of Your glory.

"The journey ends when they reach the village. The two disciples who, without realizing it, have been deeply stirred by the words and love shown by God made man, are sorry to see Him leaving. For Jesus `appeared to be going further' (Luke 24:28). This Lord of ours never forces Himself on us. He wants us to turn to Him freely, when we begin to grasp the purity of His Love which He has placed in our souls. We have to hold Him back (`they constrained Him') and beg Him: `Stay with us, for it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent' (Luke 24:29).

"That's just like us--always short on daring, perhaps because we are insincere, or because we feel embarrassed. Deep down, what we are really thinking is: `Stay with us, because our souls are shrouded in darkness and You alone are the light. You alone can satisfy this longing that consumes us.' For `we know full well which among all things fair and honorable is the best--to possess God for ever' (St. Gregory Nazianzen, "Epistulae", 212).

"And Jesus stays. Our eyes are opened, as were those of Cleopas and his companion, when Christ breaks the bread; and, though He vanishes once more from sight, we too will find strength to start out once more--though night is falling--to tell the others about Him, because so much joy cannot be kept in one heart alone.

"The road to Emmaus--our God has filled this name with sweetness. Now the entire world has become an Emmaus, for the Lord has opened up all the divine paths of the earth" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 313f).

32. If you were an apostle, these words of the disciples of Emmaus should rise spontaneously to the lips of your professional companions when they meet you along the way of their lives" ("The Way", 917).

33-35. The disciples now feel the need to return to Jerusalem immediately; there they find the Apostles and some other disciples gathered together with Peter, to whom Jesus has appeared.

In sacred history, Jerusalem was the place where God chose to be praised in a very special way and where the prophets carried out their main ministry. God willed that Christ should suffer, die and rise again in Jerusalem, and from there the Kingdom of God begins to spread (cf. Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). In the New Testament the Church of Christ is described as "the Jerusalem above" (Galatians 4:26), "the Heavenly Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:22) and the "new Jerusalem" (Revelation 21:2).

The Church began in the Holy City. Later on, St. Peter, not without a special intervention of Providence, moved to Rome, thereby making that city the center of the Church. Just as Peter strengthened these first disciples in the faith, so too Christians of all generations have recourse to the See of Peter to strengthen their faith and thereby build up the unity of the Church: "Take away the Pope and the Catholic Church would no longer be catholic. Moreover, without the supreme, effective and authoritative pastoral office of Peter the unity of Christ's Church would collapse. It would be vain to look for other principles of unity in place of the true one established by Christ Himself [...]. We would add that this cardinal principle of holy Church is not a supremacy of spiritual pride and a desire to dominate mankind, but a primacy of service, ministration and love. It is no vapid rhetoric which confers on Christ's vicar the title: `Servant of the servants of God'" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Ecclesiam Suam", 83).
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, April 18, 2006

Mental Prayer for Easter Wednesday-Apparition to St. Thomas

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God.

Grace I Ask: Lord, help me to have a firm faith and a lively hope in your promises.

Mental Picture (cf. John 20: 24-29) : It is a week since Jesus rose from the dead. His disciples are gathered together. Thomas alone has not seen Jesus. This Apostle refuses to believe "unless I see in His hands the print of the nails and put my hand into His side." Suddenly Jesus is present. "Thomas, see my hands and feet; bring your hand here and touch... be not faithless, but believe!" Great faith now burns in Thomas' soul; from dead ashes his hope springs up. "My Lord and my God."

My Personal Application: Willingly has Jesus sub­mitted to Thomas' test; He has shown His hands and His side. Then He speaks for our benefit: "Blessed are they that have not seen, but have believed!" And it is especially to Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament that we must express this belief. When He comes upon the altar, faith prompts us to answer: "My Lord and my God!" Yet Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament should fire our hope too, for He is the risen Jesus, the victorious Lord, the King of glory without end, and it is He who says to us : "Fear not; I have overcome the world."

I Speak to Christ: My risen Lord, by faith I know that in the Host which I see with my eyes You are present, and present as my Savior now risen and glorious. When You come to me in Communion, You are telling me that I too will one day rise with You and reign gloriously in heaven with You. So teach me to put all my hope and trust in You.

Thought for Today: "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus; He has risen even as He said."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Time: Opening Up Opus Dei

A Photo Essay by Time photographer Erika Larsen...

500th anniversary of St. Peter's basilica

Vatican, Apr. 18 ( - St. Peter's basilica, the largest and most important church in the Catholic world, marks its 500th anniversary today: April 18.

Despite it is the center of liturgical life at the Vatican, St. Peter's is not a cathedral; the cathedral of the Rome diocese is the basilica of St. John Lateran. But St. Peter's holds pre-eminent place because it is built on the tomb of St. Peter, at the site where the first Pontiff's martyrdom.
More at Catholic World News.

Future Church & NPR Distort Women's Role in Early Church

April 16, 2006 · Inscriptions and images found on tombstones, frescoes and mosaics throughout the Mediterranean show that women held respected roles in the early Christian church that were identical to those held by men. They were apostles, priests, deacons and bishops.

But the Vatican's official view of church history presents women in a different light. Recently, a group of 31 American Catholic women, organized by the group FutureChurch, visited Rome to inspect the archeological evidence of female leadership. (emphasis added)
More here. A 5-6 minute audio clip is there also.

"Sister" Christine Schenk and others, are relentless in their efforts to "revise" or remake history according to their desires for power. Unsatisfied with the Church and God's plan, they continue to poison the minds of others with their "scholarly" archeological "findings" which are nothing more than wild-eyed dreams.

Future Church and those who support are, of course, listed among the notarious dissenting organizations at Our Lady's Warriors.

Benedict XVI, One Year Later: What’s New

One of the innovations introduced by pope Joseph Ratzinger is special: listening to questions in public and replying to all of them, off the cuff. He has done this with young people, priests, children
by Sandro Magister

Mental Prayer for Easter Tuesday-Apparition to Mary Magdalene

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God.

Grace I Ask: May I show my true friendship for Christ by rejoicing with Him in His great victory and joy.

Mental Picture (cf. John 20:11-17): A young lady distracted with grief wanders through a cemetery garden... it is Mary Magdalene. Her sorrow leads her again to the cold opening of the empty tomb. "They have taken away my Lord." Suddenly there is a stranger near her; she supposes he's the gardener. But He says, "Mary." She looks up and recognizes the living Jesus! In complete joy she falls at His feet; "Master!"

My Personal Application: Today, truly Christ is alive; He is victorious; He is the conqueror of sorrow and death; He is filled with joy. Can I find it in my heart to rejoice and be glad with Him? Can I forget my own little sorrows and sufferings enough to rejoice just because He is joyful, because He has won His great victory?

I Speak to Christ: My joyful Savior, Mary Magda­lene showed that she really loved you, because she could forget her own sorrows when she saw that you were risen in victory. She could be glad just because you were joyful. Teach me to have such love; make me often think: "Christ has overcome the world; Christ is gloriously risen." May the thought of your victory help me forget my own troubles and rejoice with you.

Thought for Today: "Rejoice, I have overcome the world.'
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Gospel for Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

From: John 20:11-18

The Appearance To Mary Magdalene

[11] But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; [12] and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. [13] They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." [14] Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. [15] Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing Him to be gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." [16] Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). [17] Jesus said to her, "Do not hold Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God." [18] Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that He had said these things to her.


11-18. Mary's affection and sensitivity lead her to be concerned about what has become of the dead body of Jesus. This woman out of whom seven demons were cast (cf. Luke 8:2) stayed faithful during His passion and even now her love is still ardent: our Lord has freed her from the Evil One and she responded to that grace humbly and generously.

After consoling Mary Magdalene, Jesus gives her a message for the Apostles, whom He tenderly calls His "brethren". This message implies that He and they have the same Father, though each in an essentially different way: "I am ascending to My Father"--My own Father by nature--"and to your Father"--for He is your Father through the adoption I have won for you and by My death. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, shows His great mercy and understanding by gathering together all His disciples who had abandoned Him during His passion and were now in hiding for fear of the Jews (John 20:19).

Mary Magdalene's perseverance teaches us that anyone who sincerely keeps searching for Jesus Christ will eventually find Him. Jesus' gesture in calling His disciples His "brethren" despite their having run away should fill us with love in the midst of our own infidelities.

15. From Jesus' dialogue with Mary Magdalene, we can see the frame of mind all His disciples must have been in: they were not expecting the resurrection.

17. "Do not hold Me": the use of the negative imperative in the Greek, reflected in the New Vulgate ("noli me tenere") indicates that our Lord is telling Mary to release her hold of Him, to let Him go, since she will have another chance to see Him before His ascension into Heaven.
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.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mental Prayer for Easter Monday - Christ Comes to Mary

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God.

Grace I Ask: Lord, that I may try to find my happiness by pleasing you in all I do.

Mental Picture: Early morning... the first Easter... Jerusalem lies quiet... Mary prays in her small room... hoping, waiting for Him. Suddenly, a ray of light... not the morning sun... but her Son... the light from His glorified body fills the room... dazzling... warming. Mary once again holds her divine Son close to her. No words are needed... never was there greater love... never was there greater happiness on this earth. The sorrows, the pains, the death on the cross... seem nothing in comparison with the glory of this meeting... the risen Savior and His beloved Mother.

My Personal Application: God made me to be happy. With His grace I will someday be in heaven - to be happy forever with Him, with the Glorified Christ, with His Mother and all the saints. Mary shows me the way. She lived her life with Him. She worked with Him, suffered with Him, and now He is her reward.

I Speak to Christ and Mary: O my Risen Savior and my holy Mother in heaven, you were so happy on that first Easter. All of your great sufferings seemed small then. Please help me share in your glory by doing your will as perfectly as I can. Let all my happiness come from being close to you.

Thought for Today: "I arose and am still with thee."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Cardinal Mahony Must Turn Over Files

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony must turn over to L.A. prosecutors the personnel files of two priests accused of molestation after the U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear his request to keep them private.

Though the ruling only affects the files of two priests, it likely opens the door to the release of hundreds of confidential Catholic church files sought by more than 500 people who say they were molested by priests with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Dr Ed Peters: Canonical defection just got harder to prove

The Pontifical Commission for Legislative Texts has just issued a "Notification" that makes it more difficult to conclude that a given person has "defected by a formal act" from the Catholic Church. The Notification raises some thorny questions for canonists which need to be, and will be, addressed elsewhere; here, I only point to a strength in the Notification that rank-and-file Catholics are likely to overlook.

Urbi et Orbi Message of Pope Benedict XVI: Christus resurrexit!

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Christus resurrexit!- Christ is risen!

During last night’s great Vigil we relived the decisive and ever-present event of the Resurrection, the central mystery of the Christian faith. Innumerable Paschal candles were lit in churches, to symbolize the light of Christ which has enlightened and continues to enlighten humanity, conquering the darkness of sin and death for ever. And today there re-echo powerfully the words which dumbfounded the women on the morning of the first day after the Sabbath, when they came to the tomb where Christ’s body, taken down in haste from the Cross, had been laid. Sad and disconsolate over the loss of their Master, they found the great stone rolled away, and when they entered they saw that his body was no longer there. As they stood there, uncertain and bewildered, two men in dazzling apparel surprised them, saying: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, he is risen” (Lk 24:5-6). “Non est hic, sed resurrexit” (Lk 24:6). Ever since that morning, these words have not ceased to resound throughout the universe as a proclamation of joy which spans the centuries unchanged and, at the same time, charged with infinite and ever new resonances.

“He is not here . . . he is risen.”

A Sordid Tale of Murder and Cover-ups

Priest to be tried in nun's 1980 slaying

This story, which has been discussed at various times in the past, is in the news again as today, the Rev. Gerald Robinson, 68, goes on trial for murder in the case of the death in 1980 of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl who was found strangled and stabbed in a hospital chapel.

Robinson was the Roman Catholic chaplain at Mercy Hospital and a popular priest in this blue-collar city of about 300,000, where a quarter of the residents are Catholic. He was especially well-liked in Polish neighborhoods because he delivered some sermons and heard confessions in Polish.

Sister Margaret Ann, 71, was the caretaker of the hospital chapel. She was stabbed 30 times.

Robinson was an early suspect because he had been near the chapel at the time of the killing. Police questioned him for hours and found in his room a sword-shaped letter opener that prosecutors now believe was the murder weapon.

But Robinson was not arrested until two years ago...Investigators reopened the murder case in December 2003 after prosecutors got a letter about a woman's claims that she had been molested by priests for years as a child. Among the names she mentioned was Robinson's.
Prayers for all involved in this case are needed. If it be God's will, the truth will be known and justice will be served...

Link to article here...

I'm Back.....

...After a self-imposed Lenten hiatus which was impossible without the grace of God.

I hope all had a fruitful and productive Lent and a Happoy and Joyful Easter celebrating by profoundly thanking our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, for His Loving Sacrifice of Himself for our salvation.

Gospel for Monday within the Octave of Easter

From: Matthew 28:8-15

Jesus Appears To The Women

[8] So they (Mary Magdalene and the other Mary) 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."

The Soldiers Are Bribed

[11] While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. [12] And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers [13] and said, "Tell people, `His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.' [14] And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." [15] So they took the money and did as they were directed; and this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.


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.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Alter Christus - Trust in God

Among the many graces of Eastertide, to which we can look forward in a special manner, is a growth of our trust in God. We shall live in the company of our risen Saviour and hear the repeated message of hope He brings us in all His apparitions: "Pax vobis...", "Nolite timere...", "Ecce vobiscum sum omnibus diebus...". - In the power of His triumph and in the tenderness of His love we shall find a sure guarantee of His ever-abiding help and protection. May the virtue of Hope in us deepen into an habitual and unshakable confidence and trust in God, which will expel from our life all pusillanimity born of fear and fill us with the energizing strength that comes from assured power and victory.


How much, perhaps, we need that growth in confidence, if we are to live our life fully! Is many a spiritual life not paralysed or stunted by fear and distrust? We give up fighting against our defects and habitual faults, because we get discouraged at the difficulties of the struggle. Discourage­ment may even make us fall into grievous sins, because we are afraid of not having the power to resist the allurement of evil and the onslaught of temptation. And certainly this sense of fear and distrust often blocks the way to a life of higher perfection: we hear the call and feel drawn to the ideal of closer union with God and of more beroic virtue; but we dare not set out on that path because we distrust our courage and strength; or, if we set out at all, we soon desist because we get discouraged at the repeated failures that necessarily accompany first efforts. . .

In the sacred ministry, too, what havoc does not the lack of confidence often play! We are afraid of so many things; held back by fear, we leave so much undone! We are afraid of upholding true, undiluted Christian ideals before our people, and of urging them to the more perfect life and to apostolic action. We hesitate to approach sinners and to speak boldly to them of conversion. We are timorous of preach­ing Christ to those outside the fold, and despair of success in the work of evangelization. When opportunities of new works present themselves, we take shelter behind Our Lord's recommendation to sit down and calculate the cost before building a tower, and we forget all about His other em­phatic pronouncement that if we have faith like a grain of mustard seed we shall move mountains. . .

* Let us examine whether we do not allow a sense of fear and distrust to paralyse our efforts in our spiritual life and in our ministry.

Which are the particular occasions when we too would have deserved Our Lord's reproach: "Modicae fidei, quare dubitasti"?


Confidence assures success, even in human enterprises, as it gives courage and energy. Much more so in spiritual matters, where the grounds for confidence exclude deception.

If we were intimately persuaded that we can be saints, we should soon be far advanced on the road to holiness... "What is a saint?" wrote Mgr d'Hulst; "It is a man who trusts in the promises of God, in the power of His grace, ­who says with St Paul 'Scio cui credidi', - who with St Peter walks on the waters, - who does not stop to con­sider how he will be able to follow Christ, but boldly sets out, leaving it to Him to supply the means. . ."

And as to the sacred ministry, what courage and strength would not come to us if we trusted not in our power but in God's, persuaded that He is ever at our side, ready to help us in whatever we do for His greater glory. Thus are ex­plained the marvellous achievements of so many great servants of God. They lived St Paul's motto: "Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat." An attitude of mind admirably embodied in the quaint saying of St Teresa: "Teresa and 3 ducats is nothing; but God, Teresa and 3 ducats is everything."

* Is our attitude in life one of manly and steady courage, never hesitating to carry on bravely where the interests of God and of souls are at stake, never dismayed by difficulties and obstacles?

Do we find our strength in the assurance of God's help? We owe it to Him not to put limits to our confidence!

Do we pray, in all humility, for a growth in that confidence? "Credo, Domine, adjuva incredulitatem meam."


We are always prone to look at the natural side of things, and very much inclined to rely only on our own power and strength: hence the weakness of our confidence. We must first realize our total dependence on God in our being and action; as long as we secretly rely on ourselves we can have no real trust in God, and God's help would only feed our secret pride. The Saints are so bold because they are so humble. "Deus...sine quo nihil potest mor­talis infirmitas".

Then, try to realize God's attributes of power, mercy and goodness, - the burning love of the Sacred Heart, - the inestimable treasures that have come to us with Redemption: divine grace, holy Church, the Sacraments, - Our Lord's promises of divine assistance especially to His priests, His "ambassadors" and instruments (it is not I who live and work, but Christ lives and works in me), - the protec­tion and intercession of our heavenly Mother, of the Saints and the Angels. . .

* Do we endeavour to ground ourselves and our Christians more and more in these thoughts of faith?

What is, v.g., our reliance on the power of holy Mass and Com­munion? Blessed de la Colombiere found courage for his heroic vow of perfection in the thought: "I will say Holy Mass every morning: Jesus would have but little power if He could not sustain me from day to day." Let a like trust be ours, let us instill it into the laity.

"Dominus lux mea et salus mea: quem timebo?" etc. (Ps. 27).

"In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in aeternum" (first line of Ps. 30 & Ps. 70).
Adapted from Alter Christus, Meditations for Priests by F.X. L'Hoir, S.J. (1958)
Meditation 28.

Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood.

Easter - Christ, Model Superior

"He is risen, he is not here." St. Mark, 16:6.

In English history we read of two holy bishops who came over from France to help fight heresies that were disturbing the peace of the Church in England. While they were working among the British, the pagan Picts and Scots launched an attack on England. The Britons begged the saintly visitors to accompany their army to help fight off their pagan enemies.

It was shortly after Easter when the little band of Christians set forth to stop the invading heathens. At their head was St. Germain, who had once been a brave and skillful military leader. He asked the soldiers to keep the best possible order, and as soon as they saw the enemy to repeat the battle cry he would give them.

No sooner did the Picts and Scots show themselves than the holy bishop shouted at the top of his voice the Easter greeting, "Alleluia" which means "Praise ye Jehovah, or Praise ye the Lord."

Immediately his followers shouted with all their might, "Alleluia, Alleluia." The mountains echoed with the thundering cry. The barbarian invaders were astonished and con­fused. They took to their heels in wild disorder. St. Germain and his tiny army won the day without shedding a drop of blood.

The Alleluia has always been a cry of victory for the followers of Christ. Today, Easter day, it echoes and re-echoes in the ceremonies of the Church. Yesterday, Holy Saturday, the Church already sang Alleluia, Praise ye the Lord. Today we praise the Lord for the thrilling victory our Lord and Savior won over death and sin. We praise the Lord who has risen gloriously from the grave.

But the victory which Christ wins today is the reward of obedience. As the royal singer tells us: "An obedient man shall speak of victory." Psalm 21:28. Last Friday we considered Christ as the perfect Model for those who must obey. Today we would like to think of Him as the perfect Model for those who command. This fits in with our treatment of the Fourth Com­mandment.

Under the heading of superior we include everyone who has any respon­sibility to others, we include God and the leaders of God's Church. We include all fathers and mothers, all teachers and government officials. For all under God, Christ is the perfect Model.

1. A true leader, Jesus never asked His followers to do anything He had not done. He asks us to pray and do penance and help our neighbor. He led the way. During the first Lent in the desert Christ fasted and prayed. He helped the poor. He preached the word.

2. He was thoughtful of those under Him. He provided a meal for the Apostles on the river bank. He fed five thousand hungry listeners. He lifted a fallen woman.

3. During His passion He was considerate of His friends. When the sol­diers seized Him, He asked that they let His followers go their way.

4. He was a forgiving superior. Even though the treachery of Judas brought Jesus to His death, He was ready to forgive up to the very last minute. He took St. Peter back to His heart after his cowardly denial.

5. There is a saying, all too true but too often forgotten, that no one can efficiently or rightfully command unless he has first learned to obey. We saw last Friday how Christ led a life of perfect obedience right up to His last breath, which was obediently offered into the hands of His heavenly Father. Christ was a perfect Superior because He was a perfect Inferior. He was perfect in commanding because He was perfect in obeying.

6. Christ showed the big-hearted spirit of a true leader by not punishing those who were responsible for His sufferings and His death. Even during His passion one whispered word would have destroyed His tormentors. Not one word of condemnation or complaint escaped His divine lips. After His resurrection He could have taken revenge on His assassins. He could have gloated over His victory. But there was nothing of the kind in the Easter story.

7. He provided for His mother in His last painful moments. He felt a deep responsibility toward her who had brought Him into the world, toward the sweet mother who had cared for Him and who had stayed with Him to the bitter end. He told St. John to take care of her.

8. Lastly, Christ was the only leader of men who ever rose from the grave, who ever showed His power so conclusively and so decisively. Glorious, triumphant, powerful, yet kind and considerate, He shows today the extent, the unlimited reach of His power. He proves His superiority, His suprem­acy.

And every human leader and superior will be a success only in so far as he follows the Model Leader and Superior, Christ Himself.

As we sing Alleluia today, as we sing "Praise ye the Lord" we will sing it first of all in praise of the loving Lord who rose from the grave early this morning. We will praise His power, and glory, we will praise His beauty and matchless majesty. We will praise His qualities of leadership. We will praise the Model Superior.

In similar strain, may we be able to praise the Lord for the leaders and superiors in our lives. Praise the Lord for the leader He has given to our Church, Pope Benedict XVI; praise the Lord for our saintly and scholarly bish­ops, especially Archbishop Burke; praise the Lord for our faithful and zealous priests; praise the Lord for all worthy parents; praise the Lord for our statesmen and conscientious public officials; praise the Lord for our teachers and professors. Yes, praise the Lord for all who are worthy of their responsibility to lead and guide others.

When the forces of right can join in this song, when the army of Christ can praise the Lord for good leaders in Church and home and state, then we know that the pagan powers, the forces of evil, will be turned back and the world will be won for the Christ who rose today.

Praise ye the risen Christ. Alleluia. Amen.
Adapted from Talks on the Commandments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1948)

Easter - Eucharistic Victory

"He has risen, he is not here." St. Mark, 16:6.

The Norman king, Hadding, was laying seige to the town of Luni, Italy. After several days the force of the attack seemed to wane. Soon the beseigers stopped completely. The report reached the city that King Hadding was seriously ill. A few days later the heralds announced that he had died. His last request was to be buried in the cathedral of Luni. If that request were granted, a great deal of money would be left to its churches and hospitals. Eager to secure that money, the people of Luni consented.

Norman knights carried the royal coffin through the gates and into the cathedral. As they set the kingly casket down it suddenly flew open and King Hadding, fully armed, jumped out. His nightly pallbearers drew the swords they had hidden in their cloaks and so n took possession of the town.

Today we honor another King who sprang, orth from the tomb to conquer His enemies.

Nearly two thousand years ago, Christ came forth from His burial place by His own power, came forth to prove that He was truly God, came forth to prove that all He said was true, came forth to fulfill every­thing foretold of Him, came forth - and, this is important for lovers of the Blessed Sacrament - Christ came forth to prove the truth of His words: "This is My body; This is My blood."

Easter is a day of many victories. It is the day of Christ's victory over sin and death, His victory over doubt and despair and hate, His victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. Especially it is a victory for Christ in the Eucharist.

It is a victory of Eucharistic faith. Now we believe His promise to give His flesh and blood. Now we believe the sublime sentences of last Thursday night: "This is My body; This is My blood."

It is a victory of Eucharistic hope. Now we can hope to rise with the Lord whom we are receiving today. Now we can hope that He will help us rise from our grave of sin.

It is a victory of Eucharistic love. He died out of love for us. He rose out of love for us. He gave us Himself in the Eucharist out of love for us. How can we ever return such love!

In another very striking way Easter is a Eucharistic victory. This day of the Resurrection marks the triumph of Christ over the world, the flesh and the devil.

Jesus won His war with the world more decisively than King Hadding won his war with the city of Luni. On Easter Christ triumphed over the flesh, the flesh that had longed for food and drink during the forty days of His fast, the flesh that had bled and ached in the Passion, the flesh that had gone down to the tomb of death. Easter was Christ's triumph over the devil, the evil one who tempts to pride and hate and despair.

In so far as ours is a Eucharistic Easter is is also a victory over the world, the flesh and the devil. As we receive our Lord this morning we recall that we have conquered many of the distractions and false joys of the world, especially during Lent. We have given up shows and sweets and pleasures, even innocent pleasures. We have sacrificed many of this world's luxuries, particularly in supporting our church, the home of our Eucharistic Lord.

We have conquered the flesh by cutting down on food and drink, by attending the Holy Sacrifice in the early morning, by avoiding the occasions of sin, and, this very morning, by fasting to receive our Lord.

During Lent we conquered the devil, the prince of pride and laziness and indifference. We overcame laziness by attending Lenten devotions and services. We overcame indifference by learning more about the things of God in our Lenten instructions. We overcame pride by a humble, contrite confession.

Truly this is a Eucharistic victory,for Christ and for all who follow Christ, for you and for me. It will be a continual, year-round, a life-long victory, if, with our Lord we continue to triumph over the world, the flesh and the devil.

As Christ rose from the tomb on that first Easter, so Christ has risen from His tomb in the tabernacle, has gone forth to His friends, goes forth to you and me during Mass, when He will come into our hearts, a victorious, triumphant King, a loving, inspiring, all-powerful King.

May this Easter stir up our faith in the Blessed Sacrament. May it stir up our faith in our Eucharistic Jesus. May it spur on our determination to receive Him as frequently and fervently as possible. Then the victory of Easter will be a monthly, a weekly, even a daily victory. Then this Easter will be happy, happy in itself, and happy in what it promises. That is my wish to you today - Happy Easter!
Adapted from Talks on the Sacraments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne,OFM (© 1947)

Easter - Hope

"There you shall see Him, as he told you." St. Mark, 16:7.

Some years ago a popular English novelist wrote a book called WHEN IT WAS DARK. The story centers about the efforts of a wealthy atheist and unbeliever who tried to discredit and disprove Christianity. He tried to do this by showing that the Resurrection of Jesus never really happened. Certainly he was attacking the very foundation stone of all faith in Christ.

This wealthy unbeliever of the novel hired several archaeologists, that is, men who study the relics and ruins of the past, to fake the discovery of the body of Jesus in the neighborhood of Jerusalem. On the tomb which these scientists fafsely maintained they had discovered, these deceivers carved an inscription declaring that the owner of this tomb had stolen the body of Jesus and had hidden it there.

The novel then goes on to describe the horrible effect of such a dis­covery, if it were true. In powerful passages he shows how the Christian Church would crumble and collapse, how men and women would go back to lust and cruelty and animal ways, and how the flame of hope would die out in every human heart.

In this story, which was pure fiction, we see just one of the scores of attempts to disprove the first Easter. The fact remains, the sound, certain, unassailable fact that Christ really did rise from the grave. There is no fact in history more certain than that. No fact has been the object of fiercer attack from atheists, unbelievers and anti-Christians like the Resur­rection. Sadly, even some who claim to be Catholic do the same. This Easter morning we know that the resurrection of Christ is true, and, knowing it is true, we take hope.

Among the sentiments in our heart today hope stands out strongly. Hope is a supernatural confidence that God will give us salvation and all the means necessary for it. The virtue of hope is a confident expectation that we will gain heaven, and that God will give us the means to gain heaven.

1. In all hope there are two elements:

A. The desire for some valuable good in the future, like getting a cer­tain job or passing an examination.

B. Confidence that future good will be attained. Hope, as you can see, and as St. Paul tells us, will cease in heaven.

2. Consider supernatural, spiritual, religious hope:

A. Its object is a future good, the gaining of heaven. It includes the confident expectation that our sins will be forgiven, that we will triumph over temptation, that we will receive graces and virtues needed for salvation, that our bodies will rise again, and that body and soul will enjoy an eternity with God. Included is the spiritual confidence that God will give us certain temporal helps to this end, like health, good disposition, education.

B. Our hope must be­:

i. Living: it must spur us on to a life that will merit heaven.

ii. Firm: it continues to glow in the face of difficulties.

iii. Accompanied by distrust of self.

iv. Effective: cooperating as far as we can with God's help.

v. Complete: including all phases and times of life.

This is the kind of hope that stirs our hearts this Easter morning. We, too, hope for a resurrection with Christ. Seeing our Lord rise from the grave, we have a firm, living, complete and effective trust that we also will rise.

How can we have such a hope? How can we trust so simply and com­pletely that God will take us to heaven?

3. We have solid reasons for our hope:

A. God knows all things; He knows our temptations and our weakness.

B. God can do all things; He offers us all the helps we need to fulfil our hope.

C. God is boundlessly kind and loving; He'is more willing to help us than we are to ask His help.

D. He has promised us eternal life and the means to it. He expressly promised us eternal salvation. (I John, 2 :25) ; the resurrection of our bodies. (St. John, 5 :28); the forgiveness of sin (St. Luke, 15 :7) ; and temporal goods (St. Matthew, 6 :25-32).

E. But our greatest ground for hope is the truth we celebrate today - ­the glorious, thrilling fact that Christ rose from the grave by His own power.

In the face of that fact, we will never doubt, God's power and goodness; we will never despair; we will never grow feeble in confidence. On the other hand, we will never presume on His goodness by committing sin or by a false, rash confidence. A happy Easter means a hopeful Easter.

As the angel told the followers of Christ at His empty tomb: "Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee; there you shall see him, as he told you."

Yes, there in Galilee; and on the altar, and at the Communion rail, you shall find Him, as He told you.

Indeed, take away the resurrection of Christ as that novelist did in his story WHEN IT WAS DARK and the world will be dark indeed. Then we would have to scratch the word "hope" out of our dictionaries and our literature; we would have to take the thought of hope out of our prayer, should there be any prayer. Then we would have to dim the light of hope in the eye and the spark of hope in the heart. Then, truly, the world would be dark.

But, thanks to the risen Christ, the world is not entirely dark. Today a light, a dazzling, divine light shines through the darkness of the world. Today we underline every word of hope in our literature and our liturgy; today we see the light of hope in the eyes of all Christ's followers; today we feel the flame of hope in our hearts.

May God give you a happy Easter, with all its blessings and graces, but especially an Easter happy with a heartfelt, holy hope that you and I shall one day rise with Him, that you and I shall one day see Him - just as He told us.
Adapted from Prayers, Precepts and Virtues
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1949)

Easter - His Resurrection

"He has risen, he is not here." St. Mark, 16:6

"The third day he rose again from the dead." Creed.

A well-known western business man some years ago got the idea of founding a world religion, a religion for all men of all nations. Seeking help, he asked a prominent Catholic priest for advice.

"Dear Father:

Allow me to introduce myself as one trying to establish a Universal Church. I need to know more about your Catholic faith. What position, for example, would your Church take toward such a Universal Religion? Have you any suggestions?

Very truly yours,"

The priest wrote a brief but pointed answer:
"My dear Sir:

You have undertaken a tremendous task. You flatter me in asking my advice and assistance.

I can give you one sure-fire suggestion: Have yourself nailed to a cross and hang there until you die. Let them bury you. Three days later, or the next day, if you wish, rise from the grave, by your own power without the help of anyone. Your success will be certain.

Very truly yours,"

That was the way our Lord founded the true Church. The most im­portant event in all history is the one we call to mind today - the resur­rection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave. Without the resurrection we could not be sure that Christ was the Messiah.

Without the resurrection we could not be sure that He was the Son of God. Without the resur­rection, our preaching and our faith would be in vain. Without the resurrection Christ's teachings would be of no more value than those of Mohammed or Confucious. Without the resurrection the business man in our story could found a religion that would improve on religions in the world today.

But we do know that the resurrection took place. The Bible, which is true history, tells us in six different places all about the first Easter. In addition writers outside the Bible, like the historian Josephus, tell us about this important event.

Allow me to review the story.

About three o'clock on the afternoon of Good Friday Jesus Christ passed away after terrible tortures of every kind. As Jesus was already dead when the soldiers came, one of them pierced His side with a lance. Blood aod water £lowed forth, according to St. John, an eyewitness.

Toward evening a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, obtained Pilate's permission to bury the body. Joseph and another disciple prepared the corpse, wrapped it in linen cloths, anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb. They rolled a huge stone before the entrance. The sepulchre was sealed and guards were stationed.

At dawn of the third day came an earthquake, a radiant angel appeared in human form, rolled back the stone and sat upon it. Struck with terror, the soldiers fled to tell what had happened and to receive money for saying that Christ's disciples stole His body.

A few facts stand out clearly. Jesus was truly dead; Jesus was truly alive on Easter Sunday; there was no chance for fraud or trickery.

Whoevver denies that Jesus really died will have to explain away the tearing of the temple veil, the darkness over the earth, the tremors of the ground, the rending of the rocks, the appearance of the dead - the things which accompanied the death of Christ.

The burial of Christ was also certain. It was open and official, with the governor's permission. There was a seal and there were guards. And we can be sure that the enemies of Christ, they who had heard Him predict that He would rise again, they took every precaution against any deceit or trickery.

There are scores of theories and futile attempts to disprove the resur­rection. Not a single one of these so-called explanations does any explain­ing. The simple facts are plain.

And today, today we celebrate the most important fact: The third day He rose again from the dead. The earth quaked at Christ's resurrection, just as it had trembled at His death. Let St. Matthew tell the story:

"An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and drawing near, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment like snow. And for fear of him the guards were terrified, and became like dead men. But the angel spoke and said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen even as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord was laid. And go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen; and behold, he goes before you into Galilee; there you shall see him.'" (St. Matthew, 28:2-7).

Some of the guards reported all this to the chief priests who paid the soldiers hush money, telling them to say: "His disciples came by night and stole him while. we were sleeping." St. Matthew, 29 :13.

Houdini himself could not have carried out such a trick. No, it was a fact, the greatest, the most thrilling fact in all history, the best-attested fact in all the annals of the ages.

That fact, that reality, that truth, "Jesus rose from the grave," makes us happy today. The fact makes us certain the religion He founded is the true one. That fact gives a thrill and a throb to the greeting we give one another today, the greeting I repeat to all of you from my very heart of hearts: Happy Easter!
Adapted from Talks on the Creed
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1946)

Gospel for Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord

From: John 20:1-9

The Empty Tomb

[1] Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. [2] So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." [3 ]Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. [4] They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; [5] and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. [6] Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, [7] and the napkin, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. [8] Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; [9] for as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead.


1-2. All four Gospels report the first testimonies of the holy women and the disciples regarding Christ's glorious resurrection, beginning with the fact of the empty tomb (cf. Matthew 28:1-15; Mark 16:1ff; Luke 24:1-12) and then telling of the various appearances of the risen Jesus.

Mary Magdalene was one of the women who provided for our Lord during His journeys (Luke 8:1-3); along with the Virgin Mary she bravely stayed with Him right up to His final moments (John 19:25), and she saw where His body was laid (Luke 23:55). Now, after the obligatory Sabbath rest, she goes to visit the tomb. The Gospel points out that she went "early, when it was still dark": her love and veneration led her to go without delay, to be with our Lord's body.

4. The Fourth Gospel makes it clear that, although the women, and specifically Mary Magdalene, were the first to reach the tomb, the Apostles were the first to enter it and see the evidence that Christ had risen (the empty tomb, the linen clothes "lying" and the napkin in a place by itself). Bearing witness to this will be an essential factor in the mission which Christ will entrust to them: "You shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem...and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8; cf. Acts 2:32).

John, who reached the tomb first (perhaps because he was the younger), did not go in, out of deference to Peter. This is an indication that Peter was already regarded as leader of the Apostles.

5-7. The words the Evangelist uses to describe what Peter and he saw in the empty tomb convey with vivid realism the impression it made on them, etching on their memory details which at first sight seem irrelevant. The whole scene inside the tomb in some way caused them to intuit that the Lord had risen. Some of the words contained in the account need further explanation, so terse is the translation.

"The linen clothes lying there": the Greek participle translated as "lying there" seems to indicate that the clothes were flattened, deflated, as if they were emptied when the body of Jesus rose and disappeared--as if it had come out of the clothes and bandages without their being unrolled, passing right through them (just as later He entered the Cenacle when the doors were shut). This would explain the clothes being "fallen", "flat" "lying", which is how the Greek literally translates, after Jesus' body--which had filled them--left them. One can readily understand how this would amaze a witness, how unforgettable the scene would be.

"The napkin...rolled up in a place by itself": the first point to note is that the napkin, which had been wrapped round the head, was not on top of the clothes, but placed on one side. The second, even more surprising thing is that, like the clothes, it was still rolled up but, unlike the clothes, it still had a certain volume, like a container, possibly due to the stiffness given it by the ointments: this is what the Greek participle, here translated as "rolled", seems to indicate.

From these details concerning the empty tomb one deduces that Jesus' body must have risen in a heavenly manner, that is, in a way which transcended the laws of nature. It was not only a matter of the body being reanimated as happened, for example, in the case of Lazarus, who had to be unbound before he could walk (cf. John 11:44).

8-10. As Mary Magdalene had told them, the Lord was not in the tomb; but the two Apostles realized that there was no question of any robbery, which was what she thought had happened, because they saw the special way the clothes and napkin were; they know began to understand what the Master had so often told them about His death and resurrection (cf. Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; etc....)

The empty tomb and the other facts were perceptible to the senses; but the resurrection, even though it had effects that could be tested by experience, requires faith if it is to be accepted. Christ's resurrection is a real, historic fact: His body and soul were re-united. But since His was a glorious resurrection unlike Lazarus', far beyond our capacity in this life to understand what happened, and outside the scope of sense experience, a special gift of God is required--the gift of faith--to know and accept as a certainty this fact which, while it is historical, is also supernatural. Therefore, St. Thomas Aquinas can say that "the individual arguments taken alone are not sufficient proof of Christ's resurrection, but taken together, in a cumulative way, they manifest it perfectly. Particularly important in this regard are the spiritual proofs (cf. specially Luke 24:25-27), the angelic testimony (cf. Luke 24:4-7) and Christ's own post-resurrection word confirmed by miracles (cf. John 3:13; Matthew 16:21; 17:22; 20:18)" (St. Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae", III, q. 55, a. 6 ad 1).

In addition to Christ's predictions about His passion, death and resurrection (cf. John 2:19; Matthew 16:21; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:22), the Old Testament also foretells the glorious victory of the Messiah and, in some way, His resurrection (cf. Psalm 16:9; Isaiah 52:13; Hosea 6:2). The Apostles begin to grasp the true meaning of Sacred Scripture after the resurrection, particularly once they receive the Holy Spirit, who fully enlightens their minds to understand the content of the Word of God. It is easy to imagine the surprise and elation they all feel when Peter and John tell them what they have seen in the tomb.
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.