Saturday, March 30, 2013
Happy Easter to everyone.
I hope you are filling the joy and the happiness that the Easter message brings.
The Regina Coeli - in the clip above - includes the words, "He is risen - as he said he would", reminding us of the faithfulness of our God. Let us be faithful in return.
"The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep..."
Take a look at this YouTube meditation from the Apostleship of Prayer...
If you can, visit a church today. Notice how empty it is without the Blessed Sacrament. Also, make an effort to attend the Easter Vigil tonight. It is a stunningly beautiful and meaningful liturgy.
In the meantime, let's wait...
Friday, March 29, 2013
VII - "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."
"It is now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, when the sun's light failed, and the curtain of the Temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice said, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit".
It's night time. For those who enter into the mystery of Good Friday this is a beautiful and demanding day.
Good Friday is coming to an end. Now, we wait...
As we retire for the night we commend our souls to our loving Father too.
VI - "It is finished"
"A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "it's finished", and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."
When Christ says it is finished, he is not saying that it is all over.
No. Instead, he is saying it is accomplished. It is completed.
A meditation for those discerning their vocation in life: When you reach old age and you lie back in your bed, what will you be thinking of when you say "it is finished, it is accomplished." What will you have accomplished? What work will you have finished?
Most of us know what a mild thirst is like and, fortunately, we can quench our thirst readily. However, a lasting thirst is, apparently, a terrible way to suffer.
In hearing Christ cry out, "I thirst", we sense the agony he is enduring.
How ironic - here is a man who gave water to the Samaritan woman at the well and who spoke of himself as the "living water".
For now, let us dwell for a moment on the human experience of thirsting and suffering, endured by Christ on Good Friday.
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
"At midday a darkness fell over the whole land, which lasted until three in the afternoon; and at three Jesus cried aloud, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Are these the starkest words in the Gospels? Jesus feels abandoned. What a consolation to all of us who feel alone during a rough period of our lives. Even though we believe, the consolations of God may seem far off.
In a Good Friday reflection, Timothy Radcliffe, OP, says that "even the experience of the absence of God is somehow brought within God's own life" by these words.
Jesus makes these words, heard also in Psalm 22, his own, and they are there for us too when we feel anguish...
"Woman, behold your son!...Behold your mother."
John 19: 26-27
Our attention shifts to those gathered at the foot of the cross. We know that Mary, Jesus' mother is there, as is the disciple John. Also present are Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleopas. It's nothing like the huge crowds that followed Jesus in the years before this!
Perhaps this is a moment to reflect on our families - our mothers, our fathers, our sons, our daughters, our brothers and sisters...
When we pray to Mary we are praying to a woman, a mother who knows what pain is...
"Today you will be with me in Paradise."
These words of the crucified Christ are uttered to the "Good Thief" who asks "Jesus, remember me when you come in to your Kingdom."
This is the great promise of our faith. What we see around us in this world is not all that there is. There is more. There is also the promise of an eternal, heavenly paradise.
We can anticipate Christ's response...."you will be with me in Paradise". Let's focus for a while now on our request, "Remember me when you come in to your Kingdom."
"Forgive them, for they know not what they do"
Christ's response on the cross is not anger. It is to forgive.
How often in our lives do we forgive? How often do we pray for our enemies? The easier option is to hate, to bear a grudge, to foster resentment.
Christ on the cross is an icon of forgiveness.
The devotion to the Seven Last Words can be traced back to the 12th century. They have been a rich source of deep reflection and meditation for Christians.
The Seven Last Words refer not to individual words but seven phrases uttered by Our Lord on the cross.
Seven, in the Bible, is always associated with perfection and completion. Genesis tells us that God created the world and rested on the seventh day when all was complete. The Seven Last Words are associated with a new completion...
Today, I invite you to use the Seven Last Words as part of your Good Friday retreat...I will post them here throughout the day...
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Our Paschal Triduum begins. The word "triduum" indicates three. We begin our three days of commemorations - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night.
It is a deeply meaningful day in which we focus our attention on the gift of the Eucharist and the gift of the priesthood. For those discerning a religious vocation, I strongly encourage you to attend tonight's Mass of the Lord's Supper in your parish.
Tonight we will witness the washing of the feet, reminding us that service is at the heart of our vocation.
After the Mass the Blessed Sacrament will be taken to the altar of repose. Many will linger and "watch with the Lord".
These are blessed and grace-filled days.
Make the most of them.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
The Wednesday of Holy Week is known as "Spy Wednesday". Tradition holds that it is the day when Judas conspired with the authorities to betray Christ. Take a look at this video for a quick explanation...
Today, during his first General Audience, Pope Francis spoke about Holy Week. His comments about following Christ are very appropriate for anyone discerning a religious vocation. I've included some of his address below. Note how he mentions the excuses we all give "I have no time" but the challenge for us all as disciples of Christ is to "step outside" of ourself.
For those who are discerning a religious vocation, I invite you to read his comments (see below) closely and reflect on them...
"Following, accompanying Christ, remaining with Him requires a "stepping outside," a stepping beyond. Stepping outside of ourselves, of a tired and routine way of living the faith, of the temptation to withdraw into pre-established patterns that end up closing our horizon to the creative action of God. God stepped outside of Himself to come among us, He pitched His tent among us to bring the mercy of God that saves and gives hope. Even if we want to follow Him and stay with Him, we must not be content to remain in the enclosure of the ninety-nine sheep, we have to "step outside", to search for the lost sheep together with Him, the one furthest away. Remember well: stepping outside of ourselves, like Jesus, like God has stepped outside of Himself in Jesus and Jesus stepped outside of Himself for all of us.
Some might say to me, "But, Father, I have no time", "I have so many things to do", "it is difficult", "what can I do with my little strength?", with my sin, with so many things? Often we settle for a few prayers, a distracted and inconsistent presence at Sunday Mass, a random act of charity, but we lack this courage to "step outside" to bring Christ. We are a bit like St. Peter. As soon as Jesus speaks of the Passion, Death and Resurrection, of self-giving, of love for all, the Apostle takes him aside and rebukes him. What Jesus says upsets his plans, seems unacceptable, undermines the sense of security that he had built up, his idea of the Messiah. And Jesus looks at the disciples and addresses Peter with perhaps one of the strongest words of the Gospel: "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do"(Mk 8:33).
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Our new Pope's crest and motto have been released. The shield (above) contains symbols representing the Jesuits (top), Mary (the star) and St Joseph (the buds of a spikenard flower, bottom right).
The Pope's motto is very interesting - "having mercy, he called him". It's taken from a commentary on Christ's calling of St Matthew. The relevance of this to those who are discerning a religious vocation is striking. It's also very encouraging and is providing much food for thought for those of us working in the world of vocations promotion and direction...
I'm really looking forward to learning more about, and hearing more from, our new Pope.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
There is nothing like the election of a new Pope for drama and excitement!
This is already a Pope of "firsts" - the first Latin American Pope, the first Jesuit Pope, the first Pope Francis...
Already our new Holy Father is the focus of our prayer, affection and, indeed, curiosity.
Let us pray for him earnestly as he faces his daunting mission.
As a young man, Pope Francis said yes to the call of the Lord to follow Him as a member of a religious order. I encourage you too to answer the Lord's call with confidence.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Since I blogged yesterday I noticed that the Pope's General Prayer Intention for March 2013 concerns respect for nature.
The Apostleship of Prayer has produced the video (above) to help us reflect on the Holy Father's chosen theme.
Take a look!
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Among the many tributes paid to our retired Pope, Benedict XVI, have been those that highlighted his interest in ecological issues.
The Vatican made headlines a few years ago by installing photo-voltaic cells to power the running of several buildings with solar energy (see above). Benedict also mentioned that need to respect God's creation on several occasions. Some commentators suggested that he was the closest we have had to a "Green Pope".
All of this came to mind at the weekend as I attended a very informative and challenging workshop on eco-spirituality with twenty other Presentation Brothers. At an international gathering of our Brothers in 2011 we were called to live a lifestyle that is relevant and meaningful to the needs of people and the planet in the 21st century. Our attention was also focused on a spirituality of being in communion with God and his Creation.
At the weekend we explored what this means. We learned that this week is ‘Tree Week’ from March 3rd to March 9th. Trees are a beautiful and essential part of life on our planet. They are an important part of life on the planet.
The experience at the weekend reminded me again of the diversity that exists in religious life today. One week I'm at a prolife vigil defending the dignity of every human life, another week I'm at a conference on canon law and then I find myself at a seminar on ecology. Balance in our spirituality is important. On that note, if anyone wants to chat with me about a religious vocation, I'm always available at vocation@PresentationBrothers.org