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The Blessed Season of Easter - Fifty Days of Reflections
Six Minute Reflections for Easter ^ | 2004 | Various

Posted on 04/19/2004 8:33:36 PM PDT by Salvation

Even though I have been offline, you have been in my thoughts and prayers.

I am typing the following reflections, so please bear with me. (Some I am retyping, because this new system is not letting the A drive function properly.)

The first post for each day is different. Topics include the Easter Season, personalities, traditions, customs or the saint whose feast is celebrated on that particular day.

The second post for each day is an excerpt from the Gospel passage for that day during the weekday Mass. Additional reflections are offered on Sundays.

I hope you enjoy these six minute daily reflections during the Season of Easter as much as I am.


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Please add your comments after each day's thoughts and Gospel reflection.

Also, please do "Spend some time with the Risen Lord!"

1 posted on 04/19/2004 8:33:37 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: Salvation
April 12, 2004, Monday, First Week of Easter

Mary Magdalene

Apart from Mary Magdalene’s presence at the cross and at the tomb, there is only one other reference to her in the entire New Testament. She is included among the women disciples who traveled with Jesus.

“Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities. Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna…Susanna, and many others…” (Lk 8:1-3)

* * *

As often happens with those about whom little is known, legends grew up about Mary Magdalene. One says that after Jesus’ ascension, she was miraculously transported to France in an oarless boat.

Another legend is that she went with the Mother of Jesus to Ephesus, and died there. Still another legend has her going to Rome.

Mary Magdalene is an important figure in the recent book -- The Da Vinci Code. This novel, which does not claim to be historical, draws upon legends and mixes fact and fable to create a fascinating story. Scholars are careful to point out that the plot is thread together by means of much historical and theological fiction.

2 posted on 04/19/2004 8:45:19 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
April 12, 2004, Monday, First Week of Easter

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary…ran to announce the news to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”(Mt. 28:8-15)

These two women are sent by Jesus to tell the good news to the other disciples.

If Jesus wants to meet the disciples in Galilee, why doesn’t he go and tell them himself? Because the Risen Christ acts through others. His appearances were not favors to selected individuals. He manifested himself in order to send the newborn Church on its mission. In today’s passage, we see him send Mary Magdalene and the other Mary on a mission -- passing on the good news…and a sense of forgiveness.

Notice that Jesus refers to the other disciples as “my brothers.” He had done this during his ministry, but that was before they had failed miserably and abandoned him in Gethsemane. But the Lord came for sinners. He mercifully restores them to full discipleship by referring to them again as “my brothers.” They are forgiven.

There are two traits we must never lose. But along the way there have been times when one or the other is weaker or stronger.

Which is most needed in our time? In my life?

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

3 posted on 04/19/2004 8:53:42 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 13, 2004, Tuesday, First Week of Easter

'The Lilies of the Field’

William E. Barrett (1900-1986) was an advertising man who left his full-time job to become a free-lance writer. Over his career, he wrote many novels and short stories, most of which had a Catholic theme.

Several of his books became movies, including The Left Hand of God starring Humphrey Bogart as an escaped convict who disguised himself as a priest.

Another of Barrett’s books, The Lilies of the Field, was made into a movie in 1963. It starred Sidney Poitier as Homer Smith, and itinerant handyman who ended up working at a convent.

On this date 40 years ago, Sidney Poitier became the first African-American actor to win an Academy Award – for his role in The Lilies of the Field

* * *

The Lilies of the Field introduced the song “Amen,” which not only became a top 10 hit, but also is sometimes used at liturgies.

* * *

I grew up as a Catholic…I think every writer uses their life experiences in their writing. I wasn’t preaching to anyone. I was just writing what I knew best.” ~William E. Barrett

4 posted on 04/19/2004 9:23:39 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 13, 2004, Tuesday, First Week of Easter

The two angels at the tomb said to Mary Magdalene, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord…” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”…She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him.”(Jn. 20:11-18)

Mary Magdalene had only one thing in mind – to find the body of Jesus, which she thought had been stolen. So she disregards the question Jesus asks and gets right to the matter at hand: Are you the one who moved Jesus’ body…….. and will you help get it back?

She doesn’t realize that she is saying this to the Risen Lord himself.

How can someone who believes in Jesus, meet Jesus and not know it’s Jesus?

Well, he wasn’t what she had expected. His risen body was transformed.

I wonder if there are times when the Lord is present to me in a special way and I miss it because it’s not what I expected.

Like right now?

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

5 posted on 04/19/2004 9:25:33 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 14, 2004, Wednesday, First Week of Easter

Emmaus

Some of the sites mentioned in the Gospels are difficult to locate today. For one thing, their names changed over time. Also there was not, in the early centuries, the same interest in pilgrimages that later developed.

Cana is an example of this – two different villages claim to be the site where Jesus changed the water into wine.

Emmaus is another example. There is no known village that was called Emmaus at the time of Christ, and still is called that today. Luke indicates that the village was “seven miles from Jerusalem” – but unfortunately he doesn’t say in which direction.

There are three villages today that claim to be the site.

* * *

It is a custom in some places to take an “Emmaus Walk” in the days following Easter.

The idea is to go out for a walk and greet and speak with anyone along the way, recognizing that it was by such a greeting that the two disciples on the road to Emmaus met the Risen Christ.

6 posted on 04/20/2004 4:51:12 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 14, 2004, Wednesday, First Week of Easter

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus gave the impression that he was going on further. But they urged him, “Stay with us…the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them…While he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that, their eyes were opened and they recognized him.(Lk 24:13-35)

Today’s Gospel is the familiar Emmaus story.

Remember…these two disciples are disciples of Jesus. They walk with him for seven miles, and they don’t realize who he is.

Luke, writing some 50 years after the event, is teaching his community (and us) something crucial. Things aren’t always what they seem. We may think the Lord is absent, but in fact he is present. Truly present. It’s a real presence, not just a memory.

Luke is also teaching us that one of the most powerful experiences of the Risen Lord is the Eucharist. That is where Jesus is specially present – in his words and in the breaking of the bread.

Note that the disciples didn’t recognize him in his words (while they were on the way).

I need to think about that. Because that’s what I’m doing right now – reflecting on the Scriptures.

Could it be that the Risen Lord has been with me these past few minutes, and I haven’t realized it?

Could be.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

7 posted on 04/20/2004 4:53:35 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 15, 2004, Thursday, First Week of Easter

Belief in the Resurrection

It is not recorded that anyone actually witnessed the Resurrection. No one – not Mary Magdalene, or Peter, or the Beloved Disciple – saw Jesus emerge from the tomb. (There are some apocryphal accounts, but the Church has never accepted these as part of the Scriptures.)

Some of the disciples saw the empty tomb on Easter morning, but this is not in itself compelling evidence of the Resurrection. (Mary Magdalene’s thought was that someone had taken the body of Jesus.)

What is compelling is that after the Resurrection, the Risen Christ appears to the disciples.

But is this compelling evidence? Did they really see him, or was it some kind of mystical experience?

While nothing forces us to believe that their experience of the Risen Christ was real, there is much that warrants belief in this. Most of all, it is the change that took place in these first witnesses. Before their experience of the Risen Christ they were skeptical. But afterwards, there was a radical change that lasted for the rest of their lives. For some of them, it would be at the price of their lives.

The Gospel descriptions of these encounters indicate a happening far different from a dream, an ecstatic episode or merely a subjective experience. It is reasonable to say that the change that took place in these witnesses is only understandable in the light of an actual experience.

To believe in the Resurrection ultimately requires an act of faith. But the accounts of these early witnesses provide very strong support for that act of faith.

8 posted on 04/20/2004 5:12:07 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 15, 2004, Thursday, First Week of Easter

Jesus stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled…and thought they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?...Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”(Lk 24:35-48)

Jesus shows them his hands and his feet. Were there still traces of the nail marks on his risen body? John, in his Gospel, is quite clear on this – Jesus invites the “doubting Thomas” to touch his wounds.

We all have wounds – from broken relationships, injuries, setbacks, crime, tragedies. Perhaps some wounds were the result of our own mistakes. Some may still be bleeding.

We live with these wounds. They may have healed, but the scars are still there. They are part of our lives. They stay part of us even after death.

But after death, they’re transformed. No longer the dark side of our life, they shine.

This transformation begins this side of death when, especially at Eucharist, I join my wounds to the Lord’s suffering and death. Like a musician who uses dissonance to produce a beautiful song, the Lord uses the dissonance of my wounds to create something beautiful within me.

Take some time with the Lord and compare wounds.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

9 posted on 04/20/2004 5:15:29 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; nickcarraway; SMEDLEYBUTLER; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; attagirl; ...
ReflectionPing!

Please notify via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Reflection Ping List.

PS. I am rebuilding my ping list after a computer crash, so if you did not get a ping and you previously had contacted me, please send me another FReepmail.

Thanks in advance for your understanding.

Salvation

10 posted on 04/20/2004 5:18:44 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation; NYer
Thanks for your reflections, Salvation.

And, to NYer, for the daily readings. Inspirational, indeed.

11 posted on 04/20/2004 5:20:20 PM PDT by sinkspur (Adopt a dog or a cat from an animal shelter! It will save one life, and may save two.)
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To: sinkspur
As you can see, I am trying to catch up.

But thanks for your kind words. Now to do some more typing.
12 posted on 04/20/2004 5:33:58 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: sinkspur
April 16, 2004, Friday, First Week of Easter

Holy Communion

This is the time of year when many second-graders receive their “First Communion.” But it was not always so.

Until about the 13th century, children were admitted to Communion from infancy. At baptism, infants were confirmed, and then given the Eucharist. – usually a small amount of the consecrated wine. (The Eastern Rites have continued this practice down to the present day.)

Over the centuries, as disputes arose over the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, there developed a trend toward requiring that children not receive the Eucharist until they had some instruction in the real presence.

In 1215, because Catholics by then received the Eucharist very infrequently, the Lateran Council decreed that all persons who had reached “the age of discretion” receive the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist at least once a year. (This came to be known as “the Easter duty.”)

When applied to children, this meant that first Communion was now delayed until they reached the age when they could have an understanding not only of the Eucharist, but of sin and forgiveness. This delayed First Communion until the age of 10, 12, or even 14.

Seven centuries later, in 1910 (less than 100 years ago), Pope Pius X decreed that children should be admitted to First Communion as soon as they could distinguish between the Bread of the Eucharist and ordinary bread. Thus, First Communion was given at about the age of seven.

13 posted on 04/20/2004 5:53:22 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
Welcome back bump.
14 posted on 04/20/2004 9:31:38 PM PDT by fatima (My Granddaughter Karen is Home-WOOHOO We unite with all our troops and send our love-)
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To: fatima
Thanks for your welcome!
15 posted on 04/20/2004 9:53:21 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: fatima
April 16, 2004, Friday, First Week of Easter

When the disciples climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread…Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because the realized it was the Lord. (Jn 21:1-14)

Several details are interesting in this scene.

First, it takes place on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee – the same area where Jesus had miraculously fed the crowd with the loaves and fishes.

Second, at the Last Supper (in Luke’s Gospel), the disciples squabbled about who was the most important. Jesus, using the image of a waiter, said to them: “Who is greater: The one seated at table or the one waiting on him? Yet, I am here among you as the one who serves.”

That’s exactly what he’s doing now. He cooked their breakfast.

This is the Jesus who died, rose from the dead, and ascended to glory. And here he is, like a mother taking care of her children.

Jesus constantly reaches out to me, extends his graced love to me. He wants only to care for me, help me, heal me, forgive me.

There are times when I especially need to be cared for.

By Jesus.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

16 posted on 04/20/2004 9:55:17 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 17, 2004, Saturday, First Week of Easter

The Sobriety of the Gospels

The four Gospels give nine narrative descriptions of the appearances of the Risen Lord. (In some cases, the same appearance is described in more than one Gospel.)

What is remarkable about these accounts is their sobriety. They are not eerie, mysterious, bizarre, sensationalized, as in some of the apocryphal gospels, or as often in accounts of visions.

For example, in Luke’s account, the disciples wonder if they are seeing a ghost. But Jesus doesn’t go in that direction. He shows them his hands and feet, and after that he asks for something to eat.

This contrasts with the accounts in some of the pseudo-gospels, which tend toward the secret and sensational. For example, here is how the apocryphal “Gospel of Peter” (written between 150-200 A.D.) describes the resurrection – replete with a cross that walks, two angels as tall as the sky escorting Jesus, and Jesus even taller.

“The soldiers saw…three men come out of the sepulcher, with the two supporting the other one, and a cross following them, and the heads of the two reaching up to heaven, but that of the one being led out by them going beyond the heavens."

17 posted on 04/20/2004 10:20:52 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 17, 2004, Saturday, First Week of Easter

When Jesus had risen…he appeared first to Mary Magdalene. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping…but they did not believe. After this, he appeared in another form to two of them walking on the road…They returned and told the others. But they did not believe them either. But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart. (Mk 16:9-15)

Mark’s Gospel presents a negative picture of those who would later emerge as leaders in the Christian community – the disciples in general. Peter in particular, and even the relatives of Jesus who early in his ministry set out to seize him because they thought he was “out of his mind” (3:21). Even in today’s passage, the disciples fall short.

Why does Mark present such a negative portrait?

It is thought that Mark wrote his Gospel for the Christians in Rome just after they had experienced a terrible persecution under Nero. Some of them, under torture, gave up their faith and even betrayed other Christians, costing them their lives. After Nero died, some of the “deserters” wanted to rejoin the Christian community, but there were hard feelings. Some even questioned whether a person who disclaimed their baptism could ever be reinstated.

Mark wanted to remind them that the disciples failed too – including Peter. But they were able to emerge from failure to greatness, even giving their lives in martyrdom.

We can all think of our failures. And we can all take heart from Mark – he meant his Gospel for us too.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

18 posted on 04/20/2004 10:23:35 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 18, 2004, Saturday, Second Sunday of Easter

Mystagogia

Mystagogia described the ancient custom of spending the first week of Easter with the newly baptized helping them experience the depths of the truth they had accepted in their baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

Mystagogia described the ancient custom of spending the first week of Easter with the newly baptized helping them experience the depts. Of the truth they had accepted in their baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

Great painters and great musicians can study the principles of art and music, but the beauty they produce doesn’t come from being able to recite principles. Artists have to take these principles inside themselves, and also be taken by them, so that the principles live in ways that no one could put into words.

Well-prepared seven-year-olds who receive First Eucharist have much, much more to learn about what they are receiving. One would hope that the growth would last a lifetime.

The Easter season is a time of “mystagogia” for everyone – new Christians and old Christians.

The God-life given as a gift by Christ has inexhaustible and enjoyable implications.

19 posted on 04/21/2004 12:20:54 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 19, 2004, Monday, Second Week of Easter

Born Again

The passage in the next post is sometimes used as the basis for the question, “Are you a ‘born again’ Christian?” This usually means, “Have you, in your adult life, had a conversion experience in which you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?”

But that’s not exactly what today’s text says.

Jesus tells Nicodemus that a person must be “born from above”. The phrase “from above" in this sentence is a Greek word which can have two meanings: “from above” and “again”.

Nicodemus takes it to mean “again”. He asks, “How can a person once grown old be born again?” The “again” here is a different Greek word than the one on the lips of Jesus. It’s a word that always means “again”.

Jesus corrects Nicodemus by saying explicitly that he means born “from above” – that is, “of the Spirit.” In other words, the question is about baptism. John the Baptist had said that he was giving a baptism of water, whereas the one to come after him would baptize “with the holy Spirit”.

20 posted on 04/22/2004 12:13:53 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 19, 2004, Monday, Second Week of Easter

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said, “How can a person once grown old be born again?” Jesus said, “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (Jn 3:1-8)

With all out technology, we have not yet been able fully to control fire, air, earth and water. Fires break out every day. The air can become terribly turbulent – there are tornados, hurricanes. Earthquakes cause great destruction. Water brings floods, drownings.

In today’s Gospel Jesus uses the analogy of the wind – it’s something we can’t see or control. So it is, Jesus says, with the Spirit. We can’t see the Spirit…or fully understand the Spirit…and we certainly can’t control the Spirit.

But to be “born of flesh” rather than the Spirit is to stay within a world that I can control and think only in terms of what I can accomplish on my own.

To do that is to stay within a small world. Even to believe in God is not something I can accomplish. If I believe in God it is because of God’s initiative toward me.

I’ve got to stop confining myself within the limits of my own resources. I need to let God work within me.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

21 posted on 04/22/2004 12:18:06 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 20, 2004, Tuesday, Second Week of Easter

Nicodemus

In John’s Gospel, Nicodemus comes on the scene three times. (The other Gospels never mention him.)

(1) Toward the beginning of John’s Gospel, Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night wanting to learn more about him. (The passages quoted in the next post and other posts this week.)

(2) Later in the Gospel, at a gathering of the chief priest and Pharisees who were speaking against Jesus, Nicodemus speaks up: “Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?”

(3) Toward the end of John’s Gospel, Nicodemus helps Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus. (Nicodemus brought “a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about 100 pounds.”)

Nothing further is known about Nicodemus. (There are legends of course. Some say that he was martyred. “St. Nicodemus” was even given a feast day – August 3rd.)

Nicodemus was also said to be the author of the “Acts of Pilate” (also referred to as the “Gospel of Nicodemus.”) This apocryphal work describes the trial of Jesus and his resurrection. (It was actually written in the fourth century.)

Last week, the first week after Easter, the daily Gospels were passages from all four Gospels describing different appearances of the Risen Lord. Beginning this week, and for the rest of the 50-day Easter Season, all the weekday passages are taken from John.

22 posted on 04/22/2004 12:39:31 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 20, 2004, Tuesday, Second Week of Easter

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.” (Jn 3:7-15

Jesus is not just another prophet and miracle worker. He alone has seen God face to face. Which means that he alone can reveal heavenly things.

John’s Gospel particularly emphasizes this right from the beginning. In his Prologue, John writes:
”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…No one has ever seen God. The only son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.”

Why doesn’t Jesus tell us more about God? What does God look like? What is it like when God speaks? What does heaven look like?

Because this is all beyond every category we know. Its breadth and depth is wider and deeper and more wondrous than the earthly mind can even begin to take in – something like trying to explain to a one year-old what it’s like to have a child. You simply let the child experience your love. You can’t explain it.

So, Jesus says things like, “As the Father loves me, so do I love you.”

And I get a hint of what God is like. Because Jesus is the Son of God, and he loves me.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

23 posted on 04/22/2004 12:41:58 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 21, 2004, Wednesday, Second Week of Easter

The Maryland Colony

On this date in 1649, the Maryland Toleration Act, which provided freedom of worship for all Christians, was passed by the Maryland Assembly.

The previous November, 140 men and women – including three Catholic priests – had boarded two ships, the Ark and the Dove, and sailed from England. They sought a place where they could be freed of the restrictive laws in England, and practice their religion freely.

Maryland was an area in the “new world” that had been chartered to George Calvert, Lord of Baltimore. It was one of the few of the original 13 colonies that was committed to religious tolerance. This made it attractive to Catholics who, in most of the colonies, were not welcomed.

24 posted on 04/22/2004 12:58:25 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 21, 2004, Wednesday, Second Week of Easter

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “The light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For those who do wicked things hate the light and do not come toward the light, so that their works might not be exposed. But those who live the truth come to the light, so that their works may be clearly seen as done in God.” (Jn 3:16-21

Light and darkness. In John’s accounts of the personal encounters of Jesus with different people, the issue revolves around whether the person recognizes Jesus as the true light…or whether the person will prefer darkness.

Nicodemus, who significantly came to Jesus at night, will ultimately choose light. Pilate, on the other hand, will choose darkness.

We’re wary of letting someone look at that place within us that is our “center” – the place where all lies naked – our motives, our loves and hates, our best and our worst. We sometimes protect our center with false fronts, and we tend to shield it from the light. Not only can I shield it from the gaze of others, but from myself too. Do I even allow myself to look honestly at myself?

That would be a good start. Try it for a few minutes. But you don’t have to go it alone. Invite the Lord to go with you, and the two of you talk it over.

He doesn’t come as an inspector. He comes as someone who loves me.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

25 posted on 04/22/2004 1:03:35 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 22, 2004, Thursday, Second Week of Easter

The Gospel of John

The first thing to say about John’s Gospel is that it is very different from the other three Gospels.

In John, Jesus does not often speak in parables and short sayings, but rather in long discourses. John emphasizes the divinity of Jesus who came from God, who will return to God, and along the way reveals God to us. John’s Gospel is sometimes called “the spiritual Gospel.”

John’s Gospel is a story of dramatic personal encounters with Jesus, and they are some of the longest passages in his Gospel. These past days the second part of the posts has been describing the conversation with Nicodemus. Later in the Gospel Jesus has an extended conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. Then, there is the lengthy story of the man born blind who gradually is able to see Jesus through the eyes of faith. In the Passion Narrative, there is a very long encounter between Jesus and Pilate.

The symbol of John’s Gospel is the eagle, because it soars to such great heights.

26 posted on 04/22/2004 1:22:34 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
April 22, 2004, Thursday, Second Week of Easter

Jesus said: “The one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.”(Jn 3:31-36

That phrase catches one’s eye: “He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.”

Jesus isn’t miserly with his gifts. He’s like a grandmother serving up a Thanksgiving dinner, with enough food for an army.

We see it everywhere in the Gospels. Look at John’s Gospel alone. At Cana, Jesus doesn’t dole out the wine (and good wine at that). He provides over 20 gallons. In the miracle of the loaves, 12 basketfuls are left over. When the disciples can’t catch any fish, he miraculously provides not a pail full, but over 150 fish. And when the woman anointed Jesus at Bethany with costly perfumed oil (over 300 days wages worth), he defends her largesse.

No, Jesus isn’t miserly. Neither is his Father, who gave his only Son. Neither is the Holy Spirit who floods God’s life upon us.

God doesn’t dole out gifts on the basis of quantity or even the quality of the recipient: “He makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”

The Easter Season is one long celebration of God’s goodness. Today’s time with the Lord might well be a time of thank-yous. It’s a beautiful (and sometimes overlooked) way to pray. And so easy.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

27 posted on 04/22/2004 1:25:43 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 23, 2004, Friday, Second Week of Easter

St. Gerard Majella

On this date in 1725, Gerard Majella was born at Muro, Italy (near Naples). When he died 30 years later, he was known as the greatest wonder worker of the 18th century.

Because of his father’s death, Gerard became the family’s breadwinner at the age of 12. He was apprenticed to the local tailor. At the age of 19, he set up his own tailor shop. It was a successful venture, but he had little to show for it since he gave most of his money away.

At 23, Gerard tried to join the Redemptorists as a lay brother. He was turned down because of his health. He persisted, and when he was 24, a priest sent him to the novitiate with the note: “I send you a useless brother.”

He worked hard at his assigned tasks and showed remarkable signs of holiness. It was said of him, “Either he is a fool…or a great saint.” St. Alphonsus Liquori, founder of the Redemptorists, thought he was the latter.

Gerard began to manifest unusual gifts – the reading of souls, bilocation, healings. His holiness drew hundreds of people to him for spiritual help.

His poor health and his many labors eventually caught up with him, and he died just before midnight on October 15, 1755, having foretold the time of his own death.

* * *

Bilocation (seeming to be in two places at the same time) is usually explained not as a physical presence, but as a spiritual phenomenon. The person is bodily present in one place, and represented in the other place in the form of a vision.

28 posted on 04/26/2004 10:49:31 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 23, 2004, Friday, Second Week of Easter

"When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Phillip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”…Phillip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”(Jn 6:1-15

This miracle is told in every Gospel (Mark even tells it twice!) The details vary, but all of the accounts describe the disciples telling Jesus that it is a hopeless situation and there’s nothing they – or he – can do about it.

The problem was that the disciples couldn’t go beyond their own expectations. We know how the story ends, and so we know what a mistake it was for them to confine themselves within such narrow boundaries.

We sometimes confine ourselves within expectations that are too narrow because they depend solely on what we can accomplish on our own. Can I be a better person? Can the hungry of our world be fed? Can we eliminate war? Can racism be overcome? Can women achieve equality? And most of all…can I really do anything to make any of this happen?

The answer is: Yes. Simply put God in the equation.

To shake me out of my limited expectations, I need to hear God say to me, “[Your name], I expect a little more out of you. And I’ll help you do it.”

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

29 posted on 04/26/2004 10:53:35 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 24, 2004, Saturday, Second Week of Easter

Disciples, Apostles, The Twelve

It can be helpful to sort out these three titles: (1) Disciples, (2) The Twelve, (3) Apostles

Disciple: This is from a Greek word that means “one who is taught, a learner, the follower of a master.” In the Gospels the word designates those specifically called by Jesus to follow him, and who actually traveled with him. Some of them were women. It is not known how many disciples there were. Luke, in his Gospel, speaks of Jesus sending 70+ disciples to preach, but it is assumed that there were more than this.

The Twelve: From among the "disciples" Jesus chose a distinct group to become "the Twelve: -- symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel in the new covenant. Their names are listed in three of the Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles, although there are some variations in the lists.

Apostle: This is from a Greek word that means “to send officially” as, for example, an ambassador. The term applies to “The Twelve,” but goes beyond them – apparently designating those specially “sent.” Paul, for example, calls himself an apostle. In his letter to the Romans, he also refers to a woman as an apostle: “Greet Andronicus and Junia…they are prominent among the apostles.” (John, in his Gospel, never uses “Apostle.”

* * *

Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, is the first to extend the term “disciple” to refer to people who became Christians after Christ’s death and resurrection.

30 posted on 04/27/2004 10:18:08 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 24, 2004, Saturday, Second Week of Easter

The disciples of Jesus embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum. It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them, "It is I. Do not be afraid.”(Jn 6:16-21

The Sea of Galilee is about 12 miles long and 7 miles wide and generally quite deep. Sudden changes of weather can create strong winds, and the gorges between the high hills surrounding the area can tunnel the winds onto the sea and create dangerous conditions, especially at night.

Some would say that Mark and Matthew include this story in their Gospels because they see it as a reassuring lesson for Christians after the resurrection and ascension. The boat represents the Church. The darkness and wind represent evils that threaten it. Jesus, who seems to be absent, comes to them and calms the wind and the waves.

In John’s account, the whole point of the story is simply the unexpected presence of the Lord – there is no “miracle” other than that (no calming of the wind and the waves). His presence is enough.

As individual Christians, and as a Church, we face crises from time to time. Some come from within, and some come from the outside. Both can bring fear and panic.

We need to hear the reassuring words of Jesus: “It is I. Do not be afraid.” Let him speak those words to you now.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

31 posted on 04/27/2004 10:25:39 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 25, 2004, Third Sunday of Easter

The Bread of Life Discourse

The Easter Season weekday readings make particular use of two large sections of John’s Gospel. They are generally referred to as: (1) the Bread of Life Discourse, and (2) the Last Supper Discourse.

* * *

In Christian tradition, the Bread of Life refers both to the Word of God and the Eucharist. This may come as a surprise to some because of the apparent emphasis of the Catholic Church on the Eucharist. However, traditional Catholic theology considers each, in its own way, the “real presence.” The Vatican II document on the Word of God says this:

“The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since from the table of both the Word of God and of the Body of Christ, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the Bread of Life.” (#21)

* * *

In renovating church space, there has been a trend toward the design of the “lectern” as a table rather than the usual speaker’s rostrum. It has a flat top, smaller than the altar but similar in design…thus visually conveying the parallel: The table of the Bread of Life.

32 posted on 04/28/2004 8:34:29 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 25, 2004, Third Sunday of Easter

[On Sundays we’re reading accounts of people being “raised from the dead” in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. They are signs of the Lord’s power over death.]

Raising the Widow’s Only Son

Found only in Luke (7:11-17), this story is well known and needs little re-telling. It takes place just outside a small town called Naim. Jesus and his disciples are just approaching the town when a large funeral procession is coming out, headed toward the cemetery. They’re carrying the only son of a widowed mother.

This is very sad. The widow has just been deprived of her only son. And, her only means of support.

No one approaches Jesus and asks for help. The Gospel simply says that he saw this…and had pity on her. Everything that follows is at the initiative of Jesus. First he goes to the widow and says: “Do not cry.” Then he goes to the bier and tells those carrying it to stop. They do.

Picture the scene. Everyone is standing still. There is hushed silence. Then Jesus says, “Young man, I tell you, arise.”

And he does. The young man sits up and begins to speak. Luke then says, “And Jesus gave him back to his mother.”

One can only guess what went on after that. The sad tears of the widow are now a joyous flood as she throws her arms around her son, and then throws her arms around Jesus, and the townspeople dance around, and….

It’s too good for words. Just picture it and enjoy it.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

33 posted on 04/28/2004 8:37:48 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 26, 2004, Monday, Third Week of Easter

Son of Man

In the years after his death-resurrection-ascension, Christians applied many titles to Jesus – e.g., Messiah, Lord. But during his earthly ministry, what titles did Jesus apply to himself?

The one that appears most frequently seems strange: “Son of Man” – as in the passage in the next post. It is used over 80 times in the Gospels, and only on the lips of Jesus. No one else ever addresses him this way.

But what does it mean?

Unfortunately, no one – neither Jesus, nor any of the New Testament writers – provides an explanation.

In some cases it seems that it could simply mean “a man’s son” – that is, truly human.

However, at times it appears to be related to a passage in the Book of Daniel: “As the visions during the night continued, I saw “One like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.” In this case, it suggests a messiah-like person in whom and through whom God brings salvation.

It is a mysterious phrase that conveys the mortal condition of Jesus…and his special dignity…and his eventual coming in glory.

However mysterious its meaning may be, it is a title Jesus used of himself.

34 posted on 04/29/2004 9:27:06 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 26, 2004, Monday, Third Week of Easter

When the crowd found Jesus across the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “You are looking for me not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (Jn 6:22-29)

[Beginning today, we start reading from what is called the “Bread of Life Discourse” in John. We will continue reading it through the rest of this week.]

After the miracle of the loaves, the crowd saw the disciples get into a boat to head for Capernaum, ad Jesus wasn’t with them. Eventually the people take boats to Capernaum. When they arrive Jesus is already there.

Jesus says that they're looking for him because they enjoyed the bread he gave them. This was food that perishes and was meant to be a sign of a food whose effects never perish – the divine revelation he brings, and the Eucharist. This food is forever.

It’s the old problem, Breaking our necks to get perishables, and overlooking the gifts that last forever.

Connecting with God (prayer), being fed by truths that come down from heaven (the word of God), sharing in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus (the Eucharist).

When my life on earth is coming to an end – and for sure it will – it won’t be fine cuisine that I cherish, but rather the food that lasts forever. Am I eating properly?

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

35 posted on 04/29/2004 9:30:32 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 27, 2004, Tuesday, Third Week of Easter

Ferdinand Magellan

Born in Portugal 12 years before Columbus crossed the Atlantic, Ferdinand Magellan became well educated in astronomy and nautical sciences. As a young man he participated in expeditions to India and Morocco.

Wanting to make a name for himself as a an explorer, Magellan offered his services to Charles I of Spain to find a way to sail westward and arrive in the “far east” and the wealthy prospects of the Spice Islands. Columbus had sailed westward to the great land mass of the “new world.” The question was, could one sail through or around this land mass to get to what is today Indonesia?

In September 1519, Magellan led a fleet of five ships carrying 270 men and sailed west. Reaching coast of South America, he said southward looking for a sea passage that would enable them to go westward. On October 21, just south of what is today Argentina, he saw a waterway that looked promising. (It would one day be called the Strait of Magellan.) After five weeks of storms and winding, tortuous sailing, he emerged onto a great expanse of water which seemed so calm that he named it the "peaceful sea” (Pacific Ocean).

Months later, not yet at the Spice Islands, he stopped at the Philippines. There, on this date in 1521, he was killed in a fight with the natives.

It was over a year later when the one remaining ship of this expedition, with only 18 survivors aboard, finally reached home port in Portugal – providing the first practical proof that the world was round

36 posted on 05/14/2004 6:51:18 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 27, 2004, Tuesday, Third Week of Easter

The crowd said to Jesus: What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert…Jesus said to them, “It was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from the heaven and gives life to the world…” "I am the bread of life: whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (Jn 6:30-35)

The “Passover” from Egypt to the Promised Land was the event for the Jewish people. They were led by the great prophet, Moses. In the desert, they received the unfailing gift of the manna, which kept them alive – they called it the "bread of life.” They received the Torah (the “Law” – the first five books of the Bible), which they also referred to as the “bread of life.” Moses, the manna, the Torah – these were their foundations.

Jesus, with full respect for these traditions, is taking the people to a new level. He is giving them the bread of life that truly “comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” – his Word and his own Body and Blood.

There is nothing temporary about this food: “Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Not only does it last forever, but here and now it fulfills my deepest needs.

Really? Are those just words? Or are those my core beliefs?

There is a lot riding on this.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

37 posted on 05/14/2004 6:54:31 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 28, 2004, Wednesday, Third Week of Easter

St. Peter Channel

Born in 1803 in France, Peter was ordained a priest in 1827. Because of his poor health, he was assigned to a parish in the healthiest climate of the Swiss mountains.

But Peter Chanel wanted to be a missionary. When he was 28, he learned of a new missionary order – the Marists – and he decided to join.

The society was entrusted with the evangelization of the Pacific Islands, and Peter was among the first 20 Marists sent there. He and one other priest were assigned to the volcanic island of Futuna, near Figi, where no Christian missionary had ever set foot. Cannibalism was still practiced there, and the island was torn by warring factions.

Chanel learned the native language and customs, and because of his work among the sick and dying, he began to gain the people’s trust.

But the tribal chief gradually felt threatened as more and more of his people put aside their idols for Christianity. When his son was baptized, the chief’s anger toward Chanel increased.

On this date in 1841, the chief sent a band of warriors who entered the hut of Fr. Chanel, and killed him with clubs and knives. But martyrdom brings its own grace, and within a few months the whole island was Christian.

Peter was canonized in 1954. He is the first martyr and patron of the South Seas.

38 posted on 05/14/2004 6:58:34 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 28, 2004, Wednesday, Third Week of Easter

Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst…For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I will raise them on the last day.” (Jn 6:35-40)

The “I am” sayings of Jesus (there are over 30 of them) are one of the characteristics of John’s Gospel. We have an example in today’s passage when Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” When Jesus speaks this way he isn’t talking about who he is like someone pointing to himself and bragging.) Rather he is describing what he does

• “I am the bread of life.

• “I am the light of the world.

• I am the good Shepherd.”

• I am the resurrection and the life.”

• I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

• I am the vine, you are the branches.”

When we recognize that Jesus is talking about his action upon us, these statements come alive with new meaning. He is the “bread of life” – not simply to be a real presence, but to act upon us, bring us health, strength, satisfy our deepest hungers. He is not simply standing there like a phenomenon to be admired. He is bread for me.

Take some time to go over the above statements, and hear him address each one to you personally. When you do that, they have a different ring to them.

Not only does it last forever, but here and now it fulfills my deepest needs.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

39 posted on 05/14/2004 7:08:04 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 29, 2004, Thursday, Third Week of Easter

What was the Manna?

The theme of manna – the “bread from heaven” – plays a major part in Johns Bread of Life Discourse. Manna provided miraculously in the desert for 40 years was considered the greatest miracle that God worked through Moses. The crowd challenges Jesus to work a similar miracle so that they can believe in him. Jesus responds that he is the true bread that comes down from heaven.

It appears that the “manna” was a sweet resinous substance that oozed from some desert trees and shrubs. It was edible, but not normally used as food.

The Israelites were only to gather enough for each day, trusting that God would not fail to provide it for them the following day. On the day before the Sabbath, they were allowed to gather twice as much so tthat they could observe the Sabbath rest and not have to perform the “work” of gathering the manna on the Sabbath.

The Israelites saw the manna as an expression of God’s special care for them. Moses told them to put some manna in an urn and place it in the Ark of the Covenant so that they could show it to later generations. Their descendants would then have evidence of how much God loved them.

* * *

“Manna” can still be found in the Sinai peninsula today.

40 posted on 05/14/2004 7:10:57 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 29, 2004, Thursday, Third Week of Easter

Jesus said to the crowds, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw them, and I will raise them on the last day…Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me…Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died….I am the live bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (Jn 6:44-51)

Listen to these words very carefully…the Father draws us near to Jesus.

Actually, there is no other way to get there. On our own, we cannot connect with the Lord. It is a grace given to us by God.

God doesn’t act upon us physically, dragging us to the Scriptures, or to the Eucharist, or to prayer. God acts upon our hearts, loves us as daughters and sons. And because of that, there is a pull in us toward our brother Jesus.

It’s not our own doing. We’re drawn to Jesus. There is a pull, and internal movement toward Christ.

Think of it – a “pull” in me toward Christ, put there by God. Have I sensed it? And when I sense it, in whatever form, do I respond to it?

The only other option is to resist it.

Augustine said it well: “Our hearts were made for you, O God, and they will not rest until they rest in you.”

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

41 posted on 05/14/2004 7:13:50 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 30, 2004, Friday, Third Week of Easter

Take and Eat, Take and Drink

From the beginning of the Church, and continued for 12 centuries, receiving Communion meant receiving both the Bread and the Cup. Not to do so (except for special reasons, such as sickness) was considered an abuse.

By the 13th century, a number of things came into play that would change this traditional practice. One factor was an emphasis on seeing and adoring the Eucharist at Mass, rather than receiving it. Thus, there was more emphasis on the Bread. You could see the Bread, but you couldn’t see the wine because it was in the chalice. (The elevation of the Bread after the consecration was introduced in the 13th century.) Receiving communion became so rare that the Church eventually legislated the requirement of Communion once a year – and “Communion” meant the Bread.

By the 15th century, lay reception of the cup had all but disappeared in the Latin Church. In 1415, the Council of Constance forbade the laity to take the cup – thus making into law what for the first 12 centuries of the Church had been considered an abuse.

The rest of the Church (the Eastern Rites) continued the traditional practice of both the Bread and the Cup.

This became an issue at the time of the Reformation – with many of the separated churches restoring the tradition of the Cup. In the latter part of the 16th century, the Council of Trent took up the question, but made no decision.

The restoration of the Cup in the Latin Rite would thus await the 20th century and the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy.

42 posted on 05/15/2004 11:16:56 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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April 30, 2004, Friday, Third Week of Easter

Jesus said to the crowds, “Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (Jn 6:52-59)

Passages about the relationship between Jesus and the Father can seem complicated at first, but if we take our time with them, we discover very simple truths.

• Jesus is truly a human being. But he is a human being who is also God. He is one with God the Father, from whom God-life flows. The Opening Prayer on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord says: “May we who share his humanity come to share in his divinity.”

Jesus is the bridge to a relationship with God that we could never acquire on our own. (He will later give us a simple image – He is the vine; we are the branches.)

Jesus is not just a helper. He is the mediator, the link between God and human beings. There is no other – no saint, no bishop, no mystic. He alone is the “bread of life.”

What a gift. So simple. So profound.

Too many words can get in the way. Just let it sink in.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

43 posted on 05/15/2004 11:21:33 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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May 1, 2004, Saturday, Third Week of Easter

Kate Smith

Kate Smith, the “songbird of the south,” was born on this date in 1907.

Over her career, she recorded almost 3,000 songs. Her theme song, ”When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain,”sold over 19 million copies. But Kate Smith was best known for her rendition of ”God Bless America.”

Composer Irving Berlin first wrote, ”God Bless America” in 1918 as part of a musical review. The song never made the cut, and he tucked it away.

In 1938, as the world moved closer to war, Berlin rewrote ”God Bless America.” and it was introduced by Kate Smith during her radio broadcast on Armistice Day, November 11, 1938. It became an unofficial national anthem during the war years, and its popularity continues down to the present day.

In 1965, after attending Roman Catholic liturgies for 25 years, Kate Smith became a member of the Catholic Church.

* * *

In her later years, because of her renditions of ”God Bless America.” at Philadelphia Flyers’ hockey games, Kate Smith was regarded as their good luck charm – inspiring them to two successive Stanley Cups (1974-1985)

44 posted on 05/15/2004 11:24:08 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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May 1, 2004, Saturday, Third Week of Easter

Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said, “This is a hard saying; who can accept it?” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:60-69)

“Do you also want to leave?”

Why would Jesus even ask the Twelve a question like that?! He should have been positive, something like: “let the rest leave – I know I can count on you guys.” I need to have the courage to let Jesus ask me the same question: “Do you also want to leave?”

No fair fudging by saying something like, “Lord, I accept you, but I no longer want to be part of this group of disciples. So, I’ll just keep it personal, between me and you.”

No good. At the last Supper Table, Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me.” And the “this” was a meal celebrated with a group, not one person’s private meal with the Lord.

I, too, must face the question Jesus put to his disciples, “Do you also want to leave?”

And then Jesus and I can have a good talk.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

45 posted on 05/15/2004 11:26:51 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
A paragraoh omitted from #45
46 posted on 05/15/2004 11:30:09 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once observed that “frantic orthodoxy” is usually rooted, not in faith, but in doubt. It’s when we’re not sure of something that we try to act double sure.
47 posted on 05/15/2004 11:39:31 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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May 2, 2004, Fourth Sunday of Easter

Devotions

Friday of this week is First Friday – a devotion to the Sacred Heart that developed in the latter part of the 17th century. There is a difference between devotion and liturgy.

The word liturgy applies to those prayers and rituals and seasons that are in the official books of the Church, regulated by the Church and celebrated on behalf of the whole Church. It refers to more than the Mass. The celebration of any of the sacraments is a liturgy. The Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) is another example. The calendar of the Church with its seasons and feasts is also part of our liturgy.

Devotions on the other hand, are prayers and practices that are optional, for example, the rosary, forty hours, novenas, scapulars, first Fridays.

No matter how widespread or publicly celebrated a particular devotion may be, it is not part of the core prayers and rituals of the Church, nor is it celebrated on behalf of the whole Church. Many devotions are quite private – a person can make up their own.

People are free to make use of whatever devotions they find helpful. A general principle is that no one (especially a pastoral leader) should attempt to impose his or her devotions on others. Devotions are something like a dessert tray – a person may choose whatever they like. However, should a devotion develop that is contrary to the faith (for example, devil worship) the Church would step in.

48 posted on 05/15/2004 11:41:58 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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May 2, 2004, Fourth Sunday of Easter

Raising Lazarus

This is the longest of all the miracle stories in the Gospels, and one of the best known. While there is no need to retell it here some details deserve a close look.

• The miracle takes place in Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem. Jesus had just been in Jerusalem for a feast, but he had to leave because, when he said to a group of people, “I and the Father are one,” they wanted to stone him. John says, “He escaped from their power.”

• When Lazarus is ill, his sisters ask Jesus to come and heal him…which meant a return to dangerous territory.

• By the time Jesus returns, Lazarus is dead. He has been in the tomb for four days. In that climate, his body would have been in a state of advanced decay. He is very dead.

• Jesus speaks to Martha with utter clarity: “I am the resurrection and the life…everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” And Martha replies by speaking words very similar to the profession of faith that Peter makes in the other three Gospels: I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

• Before calling Lazarus to come out of the tomb, Jesus prays aloud to the Father, showing that God is made known through the words and actions of Jesus.

• In John’s account, this is the miracle that sets in motion the decision to have Jesus killed. One might be tempted to say…Jesus will not get out of there alive. But to say that is to have a very limited view of “life”.

Spend some time with the Risen Lord.

49 posted on 05/15/2004 11:45:11 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
May 3, 2004, Monday, Fourth Week of Easter

Prayer Tip

There is an easy-to-miss statement by Jesus toward the end of Mark’s Gospel.

Jesus, at the sight of the withered fig tree, says to the disciples that if they have faith, they can move mountains. That’s familiar enough. But then he says:

“When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance.”(Mark 11:25)

That’s an interesting way to start one’s prayer. (Standing, by the way, was the normal posture of prayer for the Jews.)

Note that Jesus isn’t talking about forgiving people who have a grievance against you. He says to begin the prayer by forgiving anyone “against whom you have a grievance.

The Easter Season is approaching the half-way mark. What would happen if, each day from now on, whatever the topic of prayer, this “prayer tip” of Jesus were followed by everyone using these posts?

“When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance.”

It might actually create a blip on the radar screen of world peace.

50 posted on 05/16/2004 4:16:44 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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