Points from the Passion Gospel(s)

into your hands

In our Holy Week liturgies, we have the Palm Sunday Gospel (Mark 11:1-10) and the Passion of Christ Gospel (drama versions) from Mark’s Gospel (ch. 14 & 15– Palm Sunday) and John’s Gospel (ch. 18 & 19– Good Friday).

These gospels brings to mind some details from Our Lord’s Sacred Passion… I thought of three things to share.

#1.  Jesus Christ is presented in His Procession as The Innocent God-Man. His procession towards Jerusalem, amidst the chorus of Hosannas, is as the only One in humankind of absolute goodness, purity, love and truth. He was heading to the capital named The City of Peace, to present Himself there at the Temple, to the place of covenants, and to the hill where the Abrahamic promise was made long ago(Gen.22:8-18 “God will provide a lamb…an altar…a sacrifice…a Son”). Jesus rides an unridden colt as symbol of his peace and innocence. He had even pre-chosen it. In contrast to this scene of palms and honors and serenity, on the other side of the city comes in the marching Roman security forces on mighty horses, with the soldiers wielding weapons for imposing their will on the public. It will be a dramatic Passover.

Today, as we respond to these Gospels of Jesus, we need to affirm that He is our only Peace and Innocence and we need Him as Savior and Lord of our lives.   Any lesser opinion of Him (as such some minor influence or help to our lives) is unworthy of Him and of any salvation in His Name.   We cannot stand on our own merits; only Jesus is the Advocate of Peace and Innocence for us.

#2.  The gospel texts indicate that Jesus had made specific preparations for this particular Passover in Jerusalem.  He stayed at his usual welcome place in Bethany (from there came the Palm Procession), and he pre-asked for use of that certain colt.  He also had ‘readied’ the room for His Passover meal with His disciples.  It is said to be an Upper Room of a certain place. The Supper is prepared to happen, the Altar of the Cross awaits, and the Tomb on Golgotha’s hill awaits empty. Jesus comes freely to “fulfill all things.”   Jesus says “The Hour is now come.”‘

Could we also understand today that Jesus has set up preparations for us to live in His Presence?  He has prepared a New Passover for us (the Holy Mass) and His representatives of His communion with us (the apostolic line, via the pope and bishops) and His altar is in His Church and the emptiness of the tomb is our own emptiness if we don’t let Him be Alive and Risen in us.   This is the Paschal Mystery He challenges us with. God also has a Body for us to dwell together under His Lordship.  We are called together to the Supper of The Lamb.

The third (and longer) point I draw from the Passion Gospels has to do with prophetic living.  Jesus was telling of one prophesy after another in the final days of His ministry.  It has direct impact upon us today, if we will heed what He says.

#3.  In His time of Passion and until Death, Jesus speaks much of prophesy becoming fulfilled. Our Palm Sunday and Good Friday liturgies in this Holy Week are about His Procession and Passion and Death, and they provide the prophetic Word to us.  Consider the prophetic words of Isaiah 50 and 53, and Psalms 22 and 31, which are in our liturgies.  Note the quotes in Jesus’ dialogue (in the Gospels) and how they refer to Zechariah 13:7-9 and Amos 8:9 and Jeremiah 31:31-34.

Yet the key verse that brings this to mind is the verse about the taunting of Jesus by some of the Jewish leaders who fought versus Jesus.   After His arrest and their ‘control’ of Him, these men dare say “now prophesy for us!”  They have heard Him give one verse after another in reference to His trials (as all forecast by the prophetic Word of the Hebrew Testament), so they blindfold Him, and strike Him from different sides, cruelly saying:  ‘Predict, from Scripture, of what abuse we are going to do to you next!’   (See Mark 14:57-65)   This account shows that they had heard Jesus go account from account on laying what verses were being fulfilled in the Son of Man’s rejection.  These Jews did not want to hear these holy things.  They tried to beat Him out of saying them.

Jesus knew so much better than they of Israel’s record of turning from God.  He knew such things as from the scroll of Jeremiah (ch. 36:vs.16 and following into ch.37):   “Son of Man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their doings; their conduct before Me was like the uncleanness of a women in her impurity…. they (she) profaned My Holy Name…Therefore, God acted… Behold, I vindicate My holiness before your eyes… So I prophesied: I will raise up from the dead a new people, with My Spirit within them… you shall know the Lord has spoken.”

Jesus saw things as dead and needing a revival.  Only a Resurrection could bring the body of believers back alive.   Jesus would offer it.   In absolute trust to the Father.   As the Gospel proclaimed: “The Son of Man goes as is written of Him (Mk.14:21)” but ” Abba, Father, all things are possible to Thee.. do what Thou will (Mark 14:36) and “all will see (in the culmination of these events) the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming (in Glory and Rule One Day) with the clouds (angels) of Heaven.” That verse is Daniel 7:13, as quoted in Mark 14:62 in our Passion Gospel of this week in The Church in her Holy Week.

‘Talk about prophesy!

Prophesy tells us that God foreknows all things.   He knew of the Blessed Son’s rejection.   He knew it in the time of Genesis, and in the Exodus with Moses and through to Joshua, and onto the reigns of David and Solomon, and into the time of the prophets, like Isaiah (see chapter 53, for example).   Jesus, as God with us, also saw the turning of the world against Him as in His arrest.  As we proclaimed in the Passion Gospel, “The high priest tore his garments, and said, Why do we still need witnesses?  You have heard the blasphemy here!  What is your decision, people?  And they all condemned Jesus as deserving death.  And some began to spit on Him, and to cover his face, and to strike Him, saying to Him, “Prophesy (now)!  And the guards received Him with blows.”  Mark 14:63-65.

Our reaction to all of this should be to believe upon Jesus.  We shall be the ones who trust in Him.   We shall be His Body of believers, His Church.   Hebrews 10:5, in talking of what was forming in the First Century of Faith in the Lord Jesus, speaks these important words:  “Wherefore when the Anointed One, the Christ, came into the world, He said: Sacrifice and more oblation God has not desired, for the worshippers are all defiled, but a Body Thou has prepared for Me…”

Now hear the amazing verses in Hebrews 10 that follow, which describes “Church” or “the Body of Christ” to the believer:   “Thus, I come to do Thy Will, O God, as it is written of Me…(you) have been sanctified through The Offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all…. This is the Covenant that God has made in these days:  I put will My ways upon your hearts, and even inscribe them upon your minds… have confidence to enter the Sanctuary of God by the Blood of Jesus, by the New and Living Way He opened for us… (so) hold fast the confession of hope without wavering…not neglecting to meet together…nor forgetting to encourage one another, and all the more as The Day of the Lord draws nearer.”

On Good Friday, we shall hear Jesus say again, as to Pilate, but also to all of us:  “I AM a king.  For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the Truth.  Every one who is of the truth hears My Voice.”   (John 18:37)

So let us listen to the Lord Jesus: The Way , The Truth and the Life (John 14:6)!

The Paschal Mystery Faith versus the “None” (or Not-Affiliated-Right-Now One)

IMG_20140828_064455_421                There is not a Palm Sunday homily–  as the Mass has two Gospels ( processional gospel and Mark’s Drama of The Passion)–  and it makes for too long a Mass with a regular homily added in.. but here below is a very long reflection of a recent article I read.  It was about Religion in America and dipping church going numbers ( according to pollsters)…  I ironically reflected on it in a week when we had a discouraging turn-out for our parish Lenten Penance Service. I was wondering about the parish and how so many people could be having a possibly blessed Lent without using the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Religion in America keeps sliding and dipping.  So said the writer in their publication this week with all her polling facts.  We priests and Catholics don’t need a poll to tell us this; we can see it in openings in the pews.  Other denominational churches see the trend, too.  Some call what is going on as “The Great Decline.”

Since 2012, an official report by the General Social Survey (GSS) tells us that the number of people in the United States who are no longer active in religion has increased by three percent. This group (of non-actives), often called secular humanists, is indicated in polls with their religious preference given as “none.” The GSS is the gold standard for sociological surveys. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this multimillion-dollar study gives us the most accurate data on American society — including religion.”

The latest report of GSS states that almost 1 in 4 Americans prefer “no religion.” As late as the 1990s, this class was still in the single digits, but now makes up 23 percent of the population. That’s a significant number.  It is nearly the same size as the number of us Catholics in the nation.  Thus, pollsters have dubbed them as the “Nones” of America.

Professed Christians also are being affected by the secular culture in falling numbers.  The same GSS poll also reveals that 35 percent of Americans do not attend church (apart from weddings and other services). That’s a 5 percent increase in the last few years. And the number of people who say they never pray jumped from 14 percent to 17 percent.  Wow. Not good.

For our own Catholic Archdiocese, the numbers are falling too in this regard.  Even while we win new members by the thousands into the local Church annually, and even while Hispanic immigration keeps Catholic numbers ‘up’ among us here, and around the USA, our annual pew poll (the ADW Octobercount) show dipping numbers and less faithful attendance to Mass or parish life.

Yet among the Flock in Catholic Faith, there are those who steadfastly maintain Faith in Emmanuel, in the God Who Is with us.  Since Pentecost (A.D.33), this flock has been “The Catholic Church.”*  We gather because we believe God calls and gathers us into Communion with Him.  Sunday is The Lord’s Day to us.   We are glad to witness to this–regardless of what takes place in the world around us–though we pray more will come to The Lord and join us.

(*One can also name the Orthodox Church as a pairing with the Catholics.)

Since the start of Christ’ Church, we have heeded His message, such as to live in Hebrews’ message, that  “We have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way in which He opened for us…and since we have a great Priest over the house of God (in Him)…we hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as we see the Day of the Lord drawing near…(thus) let us draw near with true hearts and full assurance of faith…”  “Surrounded by a heavenly cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, who for the hoy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the Right Hand of the Throne of God.”  That First Century Church message has been lived out by Catholics through time. (from Hebrews 10 & 12)

But the Religion of “None” grows rapidly.  It is also called “secular humanism,” whose members even sometimes claim that they are Christian-like, but practice it without the work or guilt or right/wrong ‘judgment’ of any church or institution.   Thusly, they say that “church” is passed by in their practice, and, as one bold but frank person said:  “I just eliminate the middle man to God.   I don’t need a church, nor priests or pastors, nor bible teachers, nor some so-called brother or sister to sit next to me on Sundays.  I go direct, on my own, to God as I know Him.”

The Catholic Faith proclaims that Jesus is that “middle-man.”   He shouldn’t be passed by, but so often He has been.  In Jesus’ ministry on the earth, many of the self-identified religious or righteous people did not want anything to do with Him.  They did pass Him by.  Many examples in the Gospel show this, such as in John 5 and its teaching account of Jesus.   As the Church began upon Jesus’ Commission and Outpouring of His Spirit, you see the apostles pointing out how too many people dismissed God’s Work among them in the Blessed Son.  St. Peter scolds a group, as told in Acts 10:38; He cites their folly:   “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and of power and He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him… yet you put Him to death by hanging him on a tree.”     

The author of Hebrews says that God sends His salvation in mediation, too.   “Christ has obtained a ministry that is among us…the covenant He mediates is better than the old ones, it is a faultless one…” (8:6-7) “Jesus is the Mediator of a New Covenant, so that those who are called may receive a promised eternal inheritance by Him.”  (9:15)   Jesus proclaimed a reign of God on earth in Him (see Matthew 9:35-36), and by sharing in his ministry (middle man work) the apostles would be “persecuted for righteousness’ sake…for Christ’ account.  Yet rejoice and be glad, then, for your reward will be great in Heaven.”   That’s mediation talk. Jesus taught that no one could come to the Almighty Father of Heaven but by and through Him (see John 14:6) and He delegated His authority to apostles whom He named (Matthew 10).  That is also middle man talk.   

Jesus definitely was a middle-man and planned to work in mediation on this world with humanity.   Yet when He stood before the people in judgment, even the Jewish chief priests yelled “Crucify Him!  We have no king but Caeser!”   The middle man of God was turned away.  Jesus was rejected by His own people (as a mediator God), “yet as many as received Him, who believed in His Name, to them He gave power to become children of God.”  (John 1:12)   That is what happens today.  It comes down to Luke 12:8-9 (or Matthew 10:32-33):  “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.  But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.”

Why would someone disown the Son of God Who has come to save them?  Yet this is the place that the “None” category of people have increasing chosen today.  What has happened to them to favor this choice?  They claim (in polls) that A/their religion is none and B/ their church affiliation is none.  These secular humanists trust to make it on their own ‘goodness.’   They have no identification with God and Jesus Who would be among us in any “church” or Sunday assembly of Christians or God-believers.   Hmmm.

In a media commentary of being a “None,” some persons said:     While my neighbor may go to a church on a Sunday, I am more likely found at a Starbucks… My Sunday gathering is with two guys on a golf course, when the weather affords it… I go to a second job on Sunday morn, so to afford the new car that I like driving around…  I lounge around the house and then make brunch, and treat the Christian day of rest literally–though skipping the church part–but I am a good person and don’t need the church part.  

Practicing Catholics understand the above choices of the “None” community.  Yet we are convicted that Our Lord is Communal and He is among us actively (not just watching from Heaven or something) and that Jesus is Alive and He is the Founder of what is “The Church.”  He intended to work through it from the start; He still does.  So we want to meet Our Lord there, even while we also have a personal relationship with Him in our own heart. 

In the first century, one of Christ’ apostles appealed to the Corinth community:  “You are Christ’ body.  All of you together form the saved body He now inhabits, and each of you is a part of His body.  To each of you who believe in Him is given the manifestation of The Spirit, to work inspired for the common good.  For by One Spirit we were baptized all into one body… in Christ.”  That is Christianity.

Another expectation in the early Church was to keep and continue the Church that Jesus started– and not to found a new one or split one.  Perhaps one reason people choose not to go to church n modern times is over confusion of all the brands and difference interpretations of Jesus’ Way.  It is why the original Church needs to be what is presented to people today, as we have the history of doing what Jesus founded for her life and practice.   “I pray that all be one,” said Jesus in John 17.

This is our attitude today in the greater Washington D.C. church community, or anywhere in the world.   We are baptized to be one in Christ Jesus.   We need Christ in our souls to truly live.   We cannot be apart from our Love, our Lord.  We need to be united to one another in one fold and for all generations.  Only the Spirit of Jesus in us can be the power and means for this plan of God.  Only He can be that Guiding Force in Person or be the One to unite us to Christ Jesus. ( See the blueprint in John 12-17 and Acts 1-2)

The “None” members don’t get any sense that they are missing anything–in their lives without Christ as Lord.   They seem to think that all is going alright on their own.   They don’t look for oneness in Jesus ‘ outpoured Spirit nor for Mercy in what He provides to humanity.

This should concern us to compassion.   Our Catholic shepherds have said that numbers (of more non-affiliated people to Church) are a call to those of us who know God to reach out to them.  

We believers know the Paschal Mystery of Christ Jesus, and we understand Christ’ purpose and meaning of The Church, and support it.  So–it leads us to ask The Lord:  How we can help these numbers to change?  What is it that we are to do in Christ’ Name?  What or who are we to be, in being the light of the world, the salt of the earth, or the bright city set upon the hill ?    (Matthew 5)

We first remember that we are servants of The Lord and stewards of His Gifts and Presence in us.  We then go to what we know of the Truths of Our Catholic Faith.  We remember of what are our core beliefs and of what the Church proclaims.   Then, we take part in serving God’s will (as revealed to us in prayer and a surrendered will) and we proclaim Christ to the world– Jesus as our one Hope, and His Good News as the promise of change for the weary and lost and empty persons on earth, whose lives are headed towards the shipwreck of Self.

What do we have to offer them?  We have our humility in love and we have The Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ!   All of this upcoming Holy Week is our own renewal in this central aspect of Catholic life.  Christ’ Dying Mystery, His Rising Mystery, and His Glory Mystery is what all humanity does need for salvation (including ourselves, who live in the dispensation). 

Christ Jesus in humble love walks before us(Palm Sunday), then breaks bread with us (Holy Thursday), then He dies for us to save us in His loving offering (Good Friday), and then He rises in victory, to show His Way is True (Easter).   Jesus alone saves. He is Head of the Body, the Church.  He is Lord God.  He is our Priest, Prophet and King (which was our St. Edward’s Advent theme of parish celebration).  The Church dispenses what Jesus’ Mystery is giving and pouring forth to the world.  He asked us to be His instrument. He asks us to be His witnesses.  He asked us to be His sign.   He asks us to let Him embody us as the Living Lord.  He desires to fully live in us.  IMG_20140627_175308  0702131742Above: Catholic Church in San Francisco

Below artwork: Church and City Enveloped in Fog.

The “None’s” are not convinced.   A look around from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday in the Bowie area will reveal that the majority of people in the area are not involved in any church.   Some other nominal Christians will show up to a church to “check in” but they don’t want any further identity with it than that.   We are outnumbered by non-believers at Easter.

The non-believers excitement in our Holy Week or Easter week may be more for the NCAA basketball tournament games, or for Cherry Blossoms, or for a vacation somewhere (with the family off from school), or for some fun in being outside in the breaking, warmer weather— than for looking for God in any liturgies in a church.    We should really pray with caring hearts for those who are missing Christ as Pasch for the world  (Pasch is another word for Easter).

PapaJohnThe Church is meant to be a prophetic sign of God to the world, especially in Holy Week and Easter week.   Let us look at some prophecies and Scriptures in which we are living today as the Church of the Savior.   “Chew” on these Bible messages for a time…

These are taken from Jeremiah 30-31, Isaiah 42, and Revelation 14:12 and Revelations 21:2-3,5, and James 1:21, 5:8 and Romans 1:16:

“You shall be My people, and I shall be your God… in the latters days you shall understand this…  I have loved you with an everlasting love… again I will build you up, and you shall be My ‘building’(dwelling place)…I will put My Law (Ways) within you, and I will inscribe it upon your hearts (in the New Covenant in My Name).”

“Behold, my Servant, my Chosen, in Whom I delight, in Whom I have put My Spirit…He will not fail or be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth…Thus says God, the Lord, who gives His Breath and Spirit to people…I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out the prisoners from their darkness…Behold…New things I now declare… Sing God’s praise to the ends of the earth.”  

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the Commandments of God, and the Faith of Jesus.”         

Then I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven…and I heard a loud voice from the Throne saying:  Behold, the dwelling of God among men… your God Himself will be with you…Behold, I make all things new.”

“Therefore, since this is who we are, we put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted Word(Seed) of life, which is able to save our souls…” “…establish your hearts, for the Coming of the Lord is at hand.”

“Be not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for It is the Power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes!”

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The secularist sees the Church as an institution.  They may even admire some church members for our charity or humility, but they probably perceive such folks as people who were good already, regardless of the influence of God or Church.   “Good folks end up in church because they think its where they ought to go,” commented a humanist, adding “and cars go into garages, too, but they don’t have to…. Ice cream can be put atop a piece of cake, yet it is fine alone, too.   To each their own.   As for me, I don’t need a pipeline to God or a membership in a church to be good either.”

We Catholics don’t see church just as institutional.   The institutional part of it helps her to run effectively and somewhat orderly; yet we Catholics have a graced existence that is far more important.  We have the offered holiness of God.  Jesus said of it:  “Ask (for it) and it shall be given to you. Seek (it) and you shall find (it).  Knock and it will be opened to you.”    Grace is a gift of God we need to freely make room for in our souls.    “How much will your Father in heaven give you (in His gifts) to those who ask Him!”  said Jesus. (Mt.7:7-11)

We live in a Church who proclaims that a Mystery is going on of a Hope within us, and an Unconditional Love for us, and in us, and an everlasting Trust given for humankind, in which we are growing to live by.    We proclaim it all in the Living Divine Person of Jesus Christ, Who is “Head of the Body, the Church.”  He is God Who is come to the earth to save sinners.   Our major feasts tell a story.  Christmas is Christ’ Mass of Incarnation.  We have a celebration (mass) that God in His Eternal Son became flesh (incarnate) and He is called “The Christ” (the Anointed One) for the unique life He lived for us.   Easter is our “Pasch” or New Passover celebration.  Because of what Jesus accomplished through His life, as Risen up, we believe that we have received a deliverance into the kingdom of God and out of the binding slavery of sin and death. Jesus is our Pasch (the Way we pass from death to life, and conquer over it, and reach of Home with God–the goal of human existence.)  We gather to be joined in Him.  We look to Him for new life into a gradual eternal change-of-being.   That is Jesus’ Easter Gift to us.

Jesus asked for this practice.  “Abide in Me, and I in you….remain with Me like branches clinging the Vine (John 15:4,7).”  Jesus is the Vine and the Life and Reason for “Church” and Christian living for us.   He is God with us.  Our Advent and Christmas songs sing out “Emmanuel!” (Emmanu=with.  El=God)

 

See Catechism, Creed #205-207,215-227.  Colossians 1:18; Eph. 5:23.

So there are the Paschal Mystery Faith persons and there are the Nones.  Nones are the fastest growing group or category in “religious types” in the USA.  More than 7.5 million people have joined it since 2012.  What is of this phenomenon?

Some are blaming this decline over the perceived “bigotry” of religious people against homosexuals. (I mostly disagree.  We Catholics do not deserve the ‘homophobe’ slurs.  And we don’t return insult with insult by calling our accusers as Jesus-phobes or righteous loving-phobes.  We mercifully try to understand our neighbors of different lifestyles.   Yet quite little is given in return today of acceptance to orthodox Christians and our choices.)

Others point to the growing child abuse allegations in our denominations or others. It’s certainly a scandal, but maybe not worthy of an excuse of exclusion.   We’re all sinners here in this world.

Or perhaps the influence and impact of radical religious groups and their odd behavior in the Name of God and Religion has soured them.

Or perhaps, the None category people would say, ‘we are simply becoming more enlightened and objective, whereas those who believe in God and the Bible are clinging to ancient and outdated relics of a primitive age.’  I have heard that one.  Yet I think you can’t get any more presently relative and futuristic and classically old-fashioned, all at the same time, than in following the” God Who Is, Who Was, and Who Is To Come…. the Great I Am, the Alpha and the Omega.” (Revelation 1:4,8)  This definition of God and His Pascal Mystery in Christ are all about enlightenment and seeing things truly and up-to-date.  It’s so up-to-date it’s eternal!

Summary:  Whose shall you be with?  God’s or the world’s?  The divide between God’s followers and the secular world seems like it will only increase, until the Lord announces, in the End:  “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still … he who is righteous, let him be righteous still”  (Revelation 22:11).

The Bible predicts a decline in true spirituality in days before the Coming of the Lord. If we are in such times, then we can know that it was all predicted and prophesied:

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, while having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1–5).   But let’s pray for them.  Let’s look to lovingly bring them to God, as He inspires us so.

 Jesus didn’t need to take a poll when He predicted, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12).  As He commented at the Temple Cleansing (John 2), “He knew man.  No one needed to tell him what humankind is really like.”  Jesus summed His mission up this way:  “I came to seek and save the lost… For this I came into the world, to bear witness to The Truth.”   (Luke 19:10; John 18:37).    Now the choice is getting clearer.   It still comes down to Luke 12:8-9 (or Matthew 10:32-33):  “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.  But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.”  Bluntly put:   “Will we have Jesus to be rightfully the Lord over us, or not?”  He is God without us, but He’d freely like again to be God within us.


What the Dismissal at Mass really means

Catechesis on the Holy Mass.    Explanations of the final part of Mass: The Dismissal

photo240px-Jerome_RCC_Bronx_jeh

 

At the close of Mass, the priest or deacon sends the congregation forth with one of four formulas in the Roman Missal. While English-speaking Catholics had been familiar with four common ones used in the Sacramentary (used from the 1960’s to the 2000’s), they were changed somewhat in the new Roman Missal (in use from this decade and on).

Today the four dismissals are  A/Go and announce the gospel.  B/Go forth, glorifying the Lord by your life. C/ Go in peace. &  D/ Go forth, the Mass is ended.

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Going back through the history of the Mass, there was only one Latin text for the dismissal.  It was: Ite, missa est.

Let’s look at the “D” version of the New Roman Missal, and look back also to this first and “original” formula for the dismissal:

“Go forth, the Mass is ended.”    This dismissal has a Biblical basis in Heb 13:13.

This “new” dismissal (D) actually is based on the original one of “Ite, missa est.”

A literal translation into English of Ite, missa est would be something like “Go, it is the dismissal,” but that strict rendering would fail to capture the spirit of the words; it would seem rather flat and cold, and would not evoke the same reaction as, say, “Lift up your hearts!” The new translation renders ite as “Go forth” and not just “Go”.  (i.e.  If one says “go”, then people are expected to move, right?!  Move where?  Out to the world with Jesus!) The Latin word missa is where we get the name “Mass” from.   Missa doesn’t mean to just get dismissed, as if to do nothing, as if something was over.   Missa means much more.   If we have encountered Christ in Holy Mass, then when we leave the Mass, we know we are sent out by Christ to be changed people of God.  And we hope any goodness of Christ in us can be of help to someone else in the world– especially to those out in the world who are living on their own, independent from God.

The Sacred Liturgy was named, in English, “Mass” for the very result of being at Mass.  It’s an assembly into Jesus so to be filled with His Good News and Life to go spread it to others.

For many centuries at Mass, when Latin was only used, after the final blessing, the clergy dismissed the people with the words: Ite, missa est.   In antiquity, that word of missa (or Ite, missa est) which meant “dismissal,” gradually took on a deeper meaning to imply a “mission.” It all connects to Jesus’ own Great Commission that He gave to the Apostles before He ascended into Heaven: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19-20)    This is the kind of sending that the Missal is getting at.  It’s personal.  It’s from Jesus (of Whom we’ve encountered in church). So, perhaps the most used of dismissals in Masses with the new Roman Missal is this “D” version.   “Go forth, the Mass is ended.”  Yet there are three other options that are offered.   Let’s look at them, too.

When Pope Benedict XVI asked the Church to have a new Third Edition of the Roman Missal, the bishops at the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist proposed that, in order to “make more explicit the relationship between Eucharist and mission … , (that) new dismissal formulas be prepared … (to) underline the mission in the world of the faithful who have participated in the Eucharist.”  Pope Benedict XVI approved this suggestion and selected three new formulas for dismissal.

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The first new dismissal text gives us a clear idea of why we are being sent out:

It is “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”  It is based on the texts of Mark 16:15 and Ephesians 6:19.  (It is Dismissal “A” as written at the top of this article.)

The core of the Church’s mission is evangelization, the preaching of the Gospel for the salvation of souls. This duty belongs to all the faithful, not just to the ordained and religious. The Concluding Rites are short so that “we can get to evangelizing right away,” in the words for Fr. Tom Margevičius. “If we rush out of the church doors, it should not be because we want to beat other cars out of the parking lot, but because we can’t wait to tell others about Jesus.”  J Have you ever noticed the same people in church, week after week? Have you ever wondered why no one new was showing up? Perhaps the reason is that no one has asked them to go to Mass! It does not require a professional to ask someone, “Would you like to come to Mass?” Maybe there is a person in your neighborhood who is thinking about the Catholic Church but does not know where to start; maybe you are just the one to talk to them. “Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord” may be the sending rite that you need most to live. As Pope Francis has said, a Catholic is not just define at someone who goes to Mass.  A Catholic is also one who lets Mass (our encounter with God) go forth in them in the world.  The Eucharist is meant to lead the Church’s evangelical efforts, so it is important to start there as a Catholic, yet everything we do to preach the Gospel flows from our communion with Christ that was meant to be experienced in Sacred Liturgy.  ,

“We should be living the reality of the Mass in the world, making Christ present by our words and deeds,” says Fr. Margevičius in his explanation of celebrating Mass today.  He says it “call[s] us out of our busy worlds … to worship the Father through Christ in the Spirit, so that this Spirit empowers us to bring people back to the Father through Jesus Christ, whom we have encountered in the Eucharist.” The example of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus serves us well. They had journeyed seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and the day was almost over.  They invited the holy stranger (Jesus) in with them to break bread.  When their eyes were opened at the Breaking of the Bread, these two disciples wasted no time after they recognized the Lord: “They rose that same hour and returned [seven miles] to Jerusalem; and they found the Eleven… Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (Lk 24:33, 35)      This Emmaus incident is meant to be ours; this “A” dismissal encourages it.

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Living the Mass in our daily lives is what the next new dismissal “B” text is about:

“Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”  This new dismissal is based on the texts of  Luke 5:25 and 1st Corinthians 6:20.

What meaning can we get from what this dismissal says?

The lay faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood primarily by sanctifying the world from within. The laity have a vocation to holiness in their everyday lives, as the Second Vatican Council made clear in its document on the lay apostolate:

“They exercise the apostolate in fact by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel. In this way, their temporal activity openly bears witness to Christ and promotes the salvation of men. Since the laity, in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor of the Spirit of Christ.” (Apostolicam Actuositatem 2)

Jesus told His disciples not to do good deeds “before men in order to be seen by them.” (Mt 6:1) At the same time, He told them to let their light shine before men “that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:16) These might sound contradictory: should others see our good deeds or not? The answer is that we should do our good deeds to glorify God and not to worry about who sees them, as God will use our witness as He wants.   We also are to going about doing good works not only to look good or to appear to be good.   If that is our impetus, then perhaps we are sharing only from our own self-righteousness, and not the holy one of God that is to genuinely flow from Heaven into us and out into others.

This dismissal asks us to live in the genuine, as to what God was offering in the Sacred Liturgy. We are to give out Jesus.  We are to glorify God by living authentically the Peace of Jesus.

There is no “liturgy” in the world, at least not like there is in the Church. So we must go and live the liturgy out to them: we must bring contrition, adoration, petition, and thanksgiving into the world. Our daily lives should be a witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ in every word and deed. This is how we can fulfill our apostolic and evangelical mission, glorifying the Lord. (Apostolicam Actuositatem 6)

That’s a lot of explanation for just a nine-word dismissal from Mass.  Yet, it’s worth some examination and application.

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Now we move on to the fourth choice of the dismissal from the liturgy.   It is the simplest.  It is the recovery of an ancient formula from Masses back in the late fourth century*, which was  “Depart in peace.”        (*as found in the Apostolic Constitutions)

The “new” one is simply:  “Go in peace.”  It is based on texts from Judges 18:6; Isaiah 55:12; and Luke 2:29; 7:50; 8:48.

This formula of “Go in peace” recalls once more (as did several prayers during the Communion Rite) the peace that Christ gave to His Apostles on the day of His Resurrection.  He gave them peace and told them that He was sending them as He had been sent by His Father. This means that the Church’s mission is the Son’s mission: to preach the Gospel, to call all people to repentance, and to lead them to salvation and eternal life. This attitude of Christian peace is how we are sent out: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you.” (Lk 10:5-6)

Within the Mass, the Church has the Peace Rite after the Lord’s Prayer is prayed.  Here in this time of Mass, we are to turn and recognize how our neighbors in the pews with us are both “brother in Christ” and “sister in Christ” to us, and we are called to become one in the family of God.  This new identity will take faith, hope and love—a lot of it.   We pray for it at Mass, and we hope for Christian community.   A gentle, warm-hearted gesture in the Mass is supportive to this hope for “all to be one” (the John 17 prayer of Jesus); and our hope is for the whole world one day to recognize ourselves, under the Peace of Christ, as brother and sister in The Lord.

We hope, soul by soul, that more will come into the Body of Christ, and be a believer.  This is possible if many truly do go out from Mass in Jesus Peace, and touch someone who is not yet experienced the love of God and the call back home to Him.

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To all of these dismissal texts, the faithful respond:   THANKS BE TO GOD.

The Paschal Mystery and Liturgy 5th Sunday of Lent Homily

There is a line in today’s epistle, which says: “When Christ Jesus was in the flesh…” and the author of Hebrews speaks of how we can honor Christ’ memory in a living way among His faithful flock–so that Christ’ impact will not go away–but live on in us. We shall talk about the same belief in a homily here about our liturgy and its celebration of the ever-living Paschal Mystery.

Last year in the movies, some popular films went back to remembering a hero and the times they were among us “in the flesh.”   There was “Selma” which honored the memory of a reverend pastor and his cause for justice.   There was “Unbroken” which honored a brave American soldier in World War II, and “American Sniper” which honored another recent soldier who had passed, and both stories (from a book and about a real person) had a Christian foundation.  There was “The Imitation Game” movie which honored a code breaker in World War II, a man of great persistence and duty to his country. hrough these films, you might say that many more people now know and respect what these men did in their lives, when they were among us, and its hopeful good impact on us today. These movies were all about a past event and of appreciating it today, via a film. Each were interesting and successful films, all that touched their audiences in some ways. Yet the event was of the past. And they were just movies.

In the Paschal Mystery, we are going back to “when Christ Jesus was in the flesh” but we are not only looking in the past, but we are experiencing it in the Present, because Jesus Lives! That’s one very significant point. Christ Jesus can be experienced in the now. That’s Paschal Mystery power.

Sunday’s epistle from Hebrews (and our text from chapter 5: verses 7-9) is from an author unidentified, but He wants us to know in his letter of how great and amazing Christ Jesus was to the world, AND how, as God in man, Jesus is STILL at work among us.  He is not dead.  He is Risen.  Yet His dying mystery is still at work too.   Something unique happened in Jesus’ death, not to be the same as any other great person’s passing from earth.  Jesus, more or less, in His death, seeded Himself for humanity’s new life to come.   The Book of Hebrews talks then about a Paschal Mystery in Christ Jesus.   It is all about this seeding to hungry souls for salvation.   Jesus is the One who said of Himself: ‘I am as a grain of wheat that falls, dies into the earth…. and in dying, produces a whole harvest to come forth…. for I am the Resurrection and the Life… on the third day, I will draw those of faith to know the Father.’   Hebrews builds on this…

In selected words about the Paschal Mystery, it says in our Hebrews text today that: ”…when Christ Jesus was in the flesh… He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save him from death (The Crucifixion is referred to here), and He was heard because of His reverence. (Resurrection is the result of being ‘heard’ and received by the Father.)…and Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered; and when He was made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. Jesus’ Reign in referred to here, and He will come again in that Reign. It’s all there today in the text: Christ’ Dying Mystery, and Rising Mystery, and Glory Mystery.

Have you noticed that every Sunday epistle in Lent has presented the Paschal Mystery of Lord trying to reach us and touch us deeply.   Are we open and ready for it?  God is.

Let’s speak of how we experience the Pasch of Jesus in the relationship of our Catholic “Liturgy.” I take my ideas from a theologian in Sacred Liturgy, one who is well known by liturgists in America.  She is Sister Kathleen Harmon.  She spoke in a liturgy conference in D.C. on this topic this past Winter. I took notes.  I share her perspectives (which, gladly, did line up with much of what I have been taught from the Church).

Every liturgy invites us to be open to the process of becoming present to God.  Jesus set up something in the Last Supper and through the Mystery of His Life.  The Son of God became God and man.   Forever would this wedded relationship be available or present to humankind who would believe in God.   A finding place is the sacred liturgy.   “Do this in memory of Me” is celebrated, as asked, by Jesus, by the Church in her public Mass.   This command of Christ is to be more than a looking back at what He did in history, though it is first that (that Christ came among us and died for us); but it is also a present celebration of what His Sacrifice is effecting now.  We indeed believe His True Presence comes to us here.  It is the meaning of receiving Eucharist, it is receiving Jesus in the now.  (Jesus is Alive and He comes in this Blessed Sacrament.)  Catholics celebrate a Lamb of God with us now, not just He who died and is gone.   The Bible also shows Jesus as Lamb of God presently, as the Book of Revelation offers, so our Mass is a joining with, on earth, into an ongoing liturgy in Heaven, with the Lamb of God in center.

So, Christ has died, and Christ is Risen and he moves in and through us now.  His Eucharist is the living sign.  ” Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb.”

Sister Kathleen in her book The Mystery That We Celebrate says “throughout the rite (of our Eucharistic liturgy) the ever-present God invites us to become present to the Divine Self and to ourselves as Body of Christ, and to choose a lived presence of surrender to the paschal mystery in daily life.”   She gives us 3 things there.

Let’s try to apply these words and each exhortation of “becoming present”:

First, let us pray and have the attitude of heart and mind of being present to the Moment of Encounter with Christ.   We are in the moment here.  Be fully in the moment.   Not partially, not thinking about something from yesterday or of plans for tomorrow or tonight.  Be in this moment of encounter in the Mass.   Christ is come.  Let us pray: “Lord, help me to become present to Your Divine Self.  You are here for me, and I present myself to you.”

This is in accord with The Rising part of the Paschal Mystery.    “We profess Christ’ Resurrection,” as the prayer says.   We do indeed profess that Jesus our Savior/ Redeemer/Mediator is alive for us to present us to The Father.  Jesus is intercessor and friend for us as He reigns in glory.

Now, Sr. Kathleen also suggests that, within The Sacred Liturgy, we become present (or highly aware) of ourselves as “Body of Christ.” So, here we can enter The Dying Part of the Paschal Mystery.   We acknowledge everyone around us at Mass as being put into Christ’ Body.  We have that relationship with one another here.  It is found in our dying to self and to give ourselves to love one another like Jesus showed forth. The Dying Mystery of Christ in us is to be able to love others as much as we would ourselves. Yet if only loving ourselves, we can see the shame in that. Jesus love is a giving outward; it seems that sin is much a selfish turning mostly inward. Can I (and you) offer ourselves freely into Christ’ eternal offering, so that we can become free to be in better relationship with others?   1,982 years ago Jesus was offered on a wooden cross at Golgotha, right outside Jerusalem walls.  It was a Friday, right in the Jewish Passover memorial, and Jesus really bled and died as The Lamb of God for sinners.  Do I surrender my life into that Lamb of God Mystery?  If you have some irritation over your answer, then I’d recommend you go to confession. Hint: We have a Penance Service tomorrow night here, with five choices of a priest confessor.

Sr. Kathleen then tells us to move to a third step in liturgy.  She says:  now “choose a lived presence of surrender to the paschal mystery in our daily life (ahead for this week).”   Pray, “Lord, as I now meet You in Mass, and surrender in You, how may I live that surrender out ahead in daily life?   I am open to serve You, Lord. ”

So we will look for how to live out the Paschal Mystery in regular life.  The idea of being sent out from Sacred Liturgy, in such prayers as “Go forth, the Mass is ended” (from Hebrews 13:13) or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” (from Luke 5:25; 1 Cor. 6:20) is that you are being sent forth from the altar and your Holy Communion with Christ to go live out the surrender of the Paschal Mystery.  We are in mission as The Church.  For that calling and Christian life, we pray:  “Thanks be to God.”

(This week check out my Pastor’s Blog on what those Mass dismissals really mean. I wrote a separate teaching on it.)

Part 2: Long article on Paschal Mystery

Hello again.   We continue with this Long and Deep Teaching on the Paschal Mystery.   We return to the article on the doctrine.  It is the article our parish Liturgy Committee looked at in considering and choosing this theme for our Lenten journey.  It came from St. Mary’ s Press (Minn.), a Catholic publisher of catechetical and youth/young adult teaching materials.  

Continuing from Part 1…

How Does the Paschal Mystery Work?

Firstly, we are not dealing with a scientific truth; we are dealing with a spiritual truth.
We can explain it through metaphor only. We can verify it through a life of faith only. We can observe it in the lives of the saints only. This doesn’t mean that the Paschal Mystery is any less real than the law of relativity. (In fact, I would argue that it is more real!) But we must not expect to understand how it works as we could a math problem or a scientific proof. What follows is a very basic answer to the question, “How does the Passion, death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ save us from sin and death?”
Please keep in mind that there is much more that could be said on this topic.

The Scriptures and Tradition often use three metaphors in explaining how the Paschal Mystery accomplishes our salvation: redemption, justification, and adoption. These metaphors build upon Old Testament themes and reflect the cultural realities of the first Christians. The Apostles and Church Fathers used these cultural metaphors to explain to the people of their time their experience of Christ’s saving power in their lives. We are somewhat removed from these cultural experiences, which is why they require some background explanation.

The metaphor of redemption is referred to in the Catechism’s glossary definition at the beginning of this article (see previous blog) and it has to do with the cultural practice of slavery. Slavery was an essential part of the Roman Empire’s economic system. Many slaves were people captured during wartime, but many slaves were people who sold themselves into slavery in order to pay off debts or just to survive. To “redeem” such a slave, one had to pay the price of that slave’s debt to the slave owner and then the slave would be set free.

You can see how this practice can be seen as a metaphor for how Christ saves us. We have become enslaved to the world (or as Paul says “slaves to sin”) through Original Sin and our personal sin. This is a debt that we cannot repay on our own power. But Jesus Christ takes our debt upon himself. Through his perfect obedience to his Father’s will, he “redeems” us―that is, he pays off the debt incurred by Adam and Eve’s (and our) disobedience to God. Redeemed by Christ we are now free from slavery to the world and
slaves to Christ (or as Paul says, “slaves of righteousness”). See Romans 6:15–23 for an example of this metaphor.

The metaphor of justification is also frequently used in the Catechism and is commonly associated with the cultural practice of blood sacrifice. The reasoning goes like this. By definition only a just person can be in intimate relationship with God―that is, in perfect communion with him. A person in a state of
injustice (sinfulness) cannot be in intimate relationship with God; God’s perfect holiness simply doesn’t allow for such a relationship. Because we have all sinned (see Romans 3:23), in order to restore our right relationship with God, we must regain our “just” state.

Many cultures, including the ancient Israelites, believed that this required a sacrifice to their god, and that sacrifice was usually the life of an unblemished animal (see Leviticus,chapters 4 and 5; the Israelites also practiced animal sacrifice for other reasons).

This cultural practice helps us to understand the metaphor of justification. Sin—again both Original Sin and our personal sin—damages our “just” state and thus ruptures our communion with God. A sacrifice is required to restore us to that “just” state. But every sacrifice we offer on our own behalf is inadequate because our sin makes us impure and thus our sacrifices are impure (or “blemished”). To get us out of this catch-22 situation, God the Father sends his Son who, because of his sinlessness, is the pure and perfect sacrifice necessary for restoring our just state. Jesus Christ is both perfect priest and victim as he offers himself to his Father on our behalf. His Passion and death justify us and restore us to full communion with the Holy Trinity. See Romans 3:21–26 and Hebrews, chapters 5, 9, and 10, to see how two biblical authors addressed the metaphor of justification.

The metaphor of adoption is used in the New Testament letters by Paul and less frequently in modern theology. This is probably because our cultural understanding of adoption is different from the first century cultural understanding. We think of adoption as adult parents going through a legal process to bring unrelated children into their family. But as far as we know, this type of adoption did not exist in Jewish or Roman culture—orphan children were simply brought into the care of extended families. But there was a legal process in Roman culture for the adoption of adults. Sometimes a childless couple would adopt an adult relative—a nephew or grandson, for example—and thus ensure the continuance of the family name and fortune. Adult slaves were also sometimes adopted. Keep in mind that many slaves were valuable members of the household and were treated like family. So some slaves chose to be adopted into their owners’ families if the owner was agreeable and the slave had no natural family to return to after his or her service was fulfilled.

Knowing this cultural practice can help one to understand how the adoption metaphor works with the redemption metaphor. Paul weaves these two metaphors together in Romans, chapters 6 through 8.

First, he tells how Christ’s death has redeemed us so that we are no longer slaves to sin: “We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin” (6:6). Now Christ is our new “owner” and we “have become slaves of righteousness” (6:18).

But this is not the end of the process.(Secondly, consider that) being a slave to the household of God is such a wonderful experience that we (would) want to remain in this household forever. And so we accept God’s invitation to be part of his family, moving from slave to adopted son or daughter: “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (8:15–17).

(My Bible Study blog from last week covered a lot of info on Romans 8, remember?)

The thing common to all these metaphors is that human beings cannot and do not save themselves. It is Christ who saves us through his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. He has redeemed us from our slavery to sin and restored our original justice so that we might live in full communion with the Trinity as
adopted sons and daughters of God. But this does not happen automatically, nor is it simply a passive experience on our part. We must choose to participate in the Paschal Mystery and avail ourselves of Christ’s saving work.

Participating in the Paschal Mystery

The Paschal Mystery is not just about our own salvation; it calls us to continue Christ’ mission, inviting other people to know God’s saving power. Consider the Ascension, the final event in Paschal Mystery definition. Christ’s Ascension marks the beginning of the mission of the Church. At his Ascension, Christ
gives the Apostles their mission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).

Soon after this, the Apostles receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, empowering them for this mission and thus the saving work of Christ continues through the Church. Individual Christians participate in the Paschal Mystery through their own sacrifices and through the sacramental life of the Church.

Christ himself set the foundation for uniting our sacrifices with his for the sake of our salvation and for the salvation of others. He instructs his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24–25). But after we have been redeemed through our Baptism, we want to share the Gospel with others, even though doing so often requires some form of sacrifice. We might need to sacrifice comfort, popularity, or personal freedom. Or our sacrifice might be the pain of being rejected, misunderstood, or even tortured for speaking the truth and acting on it. The Church holds martyrs as exemplars of the Paschal Mystery because of the high price they paid in following Christ. We endure
these sacrifices not on our own power, but by seeing it as an extension of Christ’s Passion.

(I like how this article here challenges us to live our baptismal vocation and identity.  It reminds us that our Christian life really is about our active participation in the outpoured gifts of God.  We are given the Holy Spirit to live the new life.  We need daily to pray: Come, Holy Spirit.  Help me to live by the Divine Mystery in me and in us, Christ’ Body–the Church.)

Uniting our sacrifice In prayer with Christ Jesus.

In prayer we consciously unite our sacrifices—even the suffering we do not choose, such as the suffering caused by illness or accidents—with Christ’s Passion and Death.

There is a fine distinction to be made here. Taking up our cross does not mean that we earn our own salvation; that work is Christ’s alone. But our willingness to endure suffering and even death to continue Christ’s mission does earn us merit in the sight of God. We avoid egoism and give God his rightful glory by
remembering that we can take up our cross only because God first reaches out to us and gives us the needed strength to do so.

The sacramental life of the Church is the superlative source for experiencing God’s saving power and receiving the grace necessary to continue Christ’s mission. In Baptism we are redeemed from our slavery
to sin, and our original justice is restored. In Confirmation we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit to continue Christ’s saving mission. In the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, we are again freed from slavery to sin when sin has reentered our lives. In the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders, we receive the graces needed to continue Christ’s mission of salvation in family life or as an ordained minister of the Church. And in the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, we receive God’s healing power and the grace to unite our suffering with Christ’s Passion.

The Sacrament of the Eucharist has a special place in our participation in the Paschal Mystery. In the Eucharist we receive Christ’s Body and Blood, the same body and blood that was broken and poured out to redeem us. We receive the same Christ who was raised as the promise of our own eternal life with God.

Our hearing of the Word of God and our reception of the Eucharist is both the sign and the reality of our full communion with God. The Eucharist makes Christ’s Paschal Sacrifice present to us, so that we truly and actively participate in its saving power.

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A long article on the Paschal Mystery (1 of 2)

The Paschal Mystery is a core doctrine of the Church, one of the essential beliefs of all Christians.

Though all doctrines are important, it can also be said that some doctrines define the very heart of the Christian faith. The Paschal Mystery is one of those doctrines, making it similar to the doctrines of the Incarnation
and the Trinity. It is an essential foundation for the Christian’s faith.

This is the definition of Paschal Mystery in the glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:  “Christ’s work of redemption accomplished principally by his Passion, death, Resurrection, and glorious Ascension, whereby *dying he destroyed our death, rising he restored our life”(*1067; cf. 654). The paschal mystery is celebrated and made present in the liturgy of the Church, and its saving effects are communicated through the sacraments (1076), especially the Eucharist, which renews the paschal sacrifice of Christ as the sacrifice offered by the Church (571, 1362–1372). (P. 891).”

That is what our whole parish theme of Lent is about–right there.   This article from St. Mary’ s Press (Minn.) does continue on… and we include all of it in the rest of this blog and a part 2 blog.

Exploring the Etymology (of the Paschal Mystery).

A simple consideration of the linguistic background for the terms paschal and mystery reveals many things about this doctrine. Paschal is the English adjectival form of the Greek word pascha, which is derived from
the Hebrew word pesah (or pesach), which means “passover.” The Pesach or Passover is the Jewish Feast celebrating the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt (see Exodus, chapter 12), focusing on the Tenth Plague and its results. In the Tenth Plague, the angel of death struck down the firstborn males of
the Egyptians (humans and animals) but “passed over” the homes of the Israelites, sparing their firstborn.

This led to the Israelites’ release from their Egyptian captivity, beginning a major new chapter in the story of salvation history. The angel of death recognized the homes of the Israelites because they were marked by the blood of a sacrificial lamb (also called the paschal lamb).

The Passover is an important foreshadowing in God’s plan of salvation. There are many parallels between the Passover and Christ’s saving work. In both cases the people are under foreign domination: Egyptian and Roman. In both cases God raises up a savior to lead them to freedom: Moses and Jesus Christ. In both cases the people are given a new code of life: the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes.
In both cases they are saved by the shedding of innocent blood: the Paschal Lamb’s and Christ’s. In both cases the savior leads the people from one state to another: from being slaves in Egypt to being free in the Promised Land and from being slaves to sin to being free from sin.

There is one important difference between the Passover and the Paschal Mystery: In the Passover salvation is incomplete and limited to the Israelites, but in the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ, Salvation is fully accomplished and universal, for all people and all time. By calling Christ’s saving work the Paschal Mystery, we are reminded that God’s plan of salvation has long been at work, and though hidden and incomplete in the events of the Old Testament, it has been fully revealed and accomplished through Jesus Christ.

As a theological concept, mystery is often misunderstood. For many people the word mystery calls to mind something that is secret, irrational, or fictional. This understanding of mystery is consistent with the second definition of mystery in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. But the mysteries of faith—for example the Incarnation, the Trinity, and the Paschal Mystery—are not secrets, irrational, or beyond explanation.

A correct understanding of the mysteries of faith is consistent with Webster’s first definition of mystery: “A religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand” (p. 822).
Correctly understood then, the mysteries of faith share several characteristics.

First, they are mysterious in the sense that we cannot discover them through human reasoning or scientific exploration. But this does not mean that they cannot be known or understood—God has revealed these truths to us, particularly through the Scriptures and Tradition. They must be accepted in faith, and once accepted, their meaning and purpose is understood by the believer.
Second, they are mysterious precisely because they are religious truths. Religious or spiritual truths are not limited by or contained solely within the physical world so they cannot be proven or disproven through scientific experimentation. Words cannot precisely describe these truths, so we must use the language of metaphor and symbol when talking about them.
Third, they are mysterious in the sense that we know them incompletely in this life. Their meaning is so rich that their full understanding is beyond the capability of the human person. By calling Christ’s saving work the Paschal Mystery, we are reminded that it has been revealed by God (not by human beings) and that although we can know a great deal about it, we will not fully know understand the Paschal Mystery in this earthly life.

Describing the Effects of the Paschal Mystery

Simply stated, the Paschal Mystery is the doctrinal teaching that God saves us from the consequences of sin— both Original Sin and our personal sins— through the saving work of Jesus Christ. However, this simple definition leads to numerous valid and complementary descriptions of the Paschal Mystery. Let’s look at the most common of these complementary descriptions.

One common description starts by considering the consequences of sin. The Scriptures and Tradition reveal that the primary consequences of sin are death (see Genesis 2:17, Romans 6:23) and eternal separation from God (see Matthew 25:41). Thus one way of describing the Paschal Mystery is the process through which Christ’s work saves us from death and from eternal separation from the Holy Trinity. Or, to describe it in positive terms, the Paschal Mystery is the process through which Christ’s work makes everlasting life possible for all people and brings us into full and eternal union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Another way of describing the Paschal Mystery is centered on the theological concepts of Heaven and hell. Because hell can be defined as “the state of being eternally separated from God” and Heaven can be defined as “the state of being in complete, eternal union with God,” a popular description of the Paschal Mystery is that it is the process through which Christ saves us from the “fires of hell” so that we might enjoy the glories of Heaven.

A third way of describing the Paschal Mystery focuses on the “what” of the Paschal Mystery— that is,the four events commonly used to describe it: the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. The Paschal Mystery reveals that Christ’s Passion and death, in loving obedience to his Father’s will, were necessary to bring to fruition God’s plan of salvation, his Resurrection is proof and affirmation that God’s saving plan has been fulfilled, and his Ascension enables the Church to continue to make salvation available to all people through the power of the Holy Spirit. So the Paschal Mystery is often simply described as Christ’s Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, a kind of theological shorthand. (There are variations of this formula; for example, the Catechism also refers to the Paschal Mystery as Christ’ “Suffering, Death, and Resurrection” or even just as His “Death and Resurrection.”)

In the broadest sense, Christ’ entire life is salvific— that is, all his words and actions reveal his Father’s will and contribute to our salvation, and Christians strive to follow all his teachings. But the events of his Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension most clearly reveal and affirm his saving work. This is why the earliest creeds and proclamations of faith focus on these events. For example, see Peter’s early speeches recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (2:22–24, 3:13–15, 4:10) and Paul’s frequent references to Christ’s Crucifixion (1 Corinthians 1:23, 2:2; Galatians 2:19, 3:1) and Resurrection (Romans 6:4–10, 1 Corinthians 15:12–24, Philippians 3:8–11). P aul poignantly states why the focus of the Paschal Mystery is on Christ’s death and Resurrection: “If Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

There are other ways to describe nuances of the Paschal Mystery, but these three concepts are central to understanding this mystery of faith: first, that through Christ’s saving work we are saved from death and eternal separation from God; second, that through Christ’s saving work we will share in his resurrected life and the glories of Heaven; and third, the essential core of the Paschal Mystery is found in Jesus’ Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension.

TO BE CONTINUED, NEXT BLOG…

Some Solid Scripture Meditation on The Paschal Mystery

A Bible Study on The Paschal Mystery.

For starters:  Why do we assemble for Mass each Sunday for The Lord?  St. Paul gave a good reason to the church at Corinth. It can be good for us too.  “Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch–as you really are.  For Christ, Our Pasch, has been sacrificed.  Therefore, let us keep the Feast, with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”   1 Cor. 5:7-8

THE PASCH is our Sure, lasting foundation. IMG_20150315_155918_234IMG_20150315_155909_207above, 2 photos of a mountain shrine (Catholic) in Arizona. Later, through this blog entry, you’ll see other photos of Sedona.

Sunday is our feast in the Pasch, Who is Christ.  We keep celebrating the Lord’s Day, as we await Him Who will come in splendor One Great Day.  The Rose colors of this Sunday in mid-time Lent show the happiness that is even ours as we journey in sacrifice and remembrance of Our Lord’s self- offering.
The epistle of Romans, like Ephesians today at Mass, gives us many places to reflect on The Paschal Mystery.  In my own devotional today, I took to that favorite spot in Romans 8.  It gave me so much to munch on spiritually today.  So, I share it with you.

CH. 8 vs 10-13. the Dying Mystery. (WE PROCLAIM YOUR DEATH, O LORD…)

“If Christ lives in you, the Spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin.  If The Spirit of God…. lives in you, then He who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of His Spirit in you.  So then, my friends, we have an obligation not to live as our human nature wants us to.”

Commentary:  I think that St Paul is speaking here about our human nature as fallen, and advising us that it is not to be trusted. We have a proclivity to sin in our human fall, but we need to instead put on Christ and live a sanctified humanity with the Lord in our souls. This humbled dependency on God in Christ for our human lives and choices is mainly what it is to be in The Dying Mystery of Christ (part 1 of the Paschal Mystery).  We imitate Jesus Who lived in this state of humanity always.

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CH. 8: verses 13b-16. The Rising Mystery  (We proclaim your death, O Lord, AND WE PROFESS YOUR RESURRECTION….)

“If by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live. Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children. For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children, and by the Spirit’s power we cry out to God, “Father, my Father!” God’s Spirit joins Himself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children…”

Commentary:  I think that St. Paul is showing how the Dying Mystery moves us into the Rising Mystery of Christ.  In verse 13, one finds the link.  He says that God’s Spirit (indwelling in us now) enables us to cry out “Father , My father!” (or “Abba Father”). In stating this, Paul tells the believer that Christ wants us to join in Him in seeking to please the Father. We are welcome into Jesus’ Rising action, as we live and serve the Father as the “beloved of God,” inspired by Jesus’ place of favor to a very special and intimate Father. Jesus, of course, knew how He was beloved to the Father. He says so in John (“The Father loves the Son, and has put all things under His hand.”  John 3:35)

Jesus wants to move us into this relationship, as we are willing to offer ourselves up in Himself. (This is what the Holy Mass is all about.) Jesus said:  “As the Father has loved Me, so have I Ioved you.  Now remain in My love…I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends.” John 15:9,11,13-14

To share in Jesus’ self-giving to the Father is to place ourselves into His Body, which is designed for Resurrection to new life. To share in Jesus’ self-giving implies co-serving His mission on earth, too, and being led by the Spirit of God.  Jesus’ Rising is to present a covenant people in His Name.  In John 17: 11,16 He says, of His Rising, “Father, now I am coming to You; I am no longer in the world but they are in the world. Holy Father! Keep them safe by the power of Your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one just as You and I are one….they do not belong to the world anymore.”

When the Church realizes her intimacy with the Father, and when she acts in the Person and Name of Christ, then the Bread of Life surely leads her to works in The Spirit that are done, not as by “slaves,” but by people who identify themselves now as “God’s children. ” The New Manna in us forms us anew as reborn people. Thus is the Rising part of the Paschal Mystery that St. Paul writes of in Romans 8. The spirit of a person has a Spirit-joining going on within themselves, too, as verse 16 says.
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Romans 8:17-21,23b-24a.   The Glory Mystery.  (“We proclaim Your death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection, UNTIL YOU COME AGAIN.”)

“Since we are His children, we will possess the blessings He keeps for His people, and we will also possess with Christ what God has kept for Him; for if we share Christ’s suffering we will also share His glory. I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us… That we would one day be set free from slavery to decay and share the glorious freedom of the children of God… We groan within ourselves as we wait for God to make us (fully into becoming) His children and setting our whole being free.  For it was by hope that we were saved.”

Commentary:  I think that Paul now speaks here in these verses of future glory.  He says that, since we are indeed living the dying/rising mystery and being true children of God, then we already do possess the blessings that has been kept for those in Christ.   He says that if we’ve gone through the process of Christ’s suffering then we will also share His glory.  He speaks of the process of dying and rising to glory as a groaning or cry of Glory arriving.  He says the glorious freedom of our whole being can be likened to a childbirth process taking place.  It is like we are pregnant with Glory!   Paul speaks to us of the third part of The Paschal Mystery as “waiting for the time when our whole being will be set free into the hope of glory.”  Those are wonderful words.

In verse 23 He says that the down payment of Glory is that “we have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts.”  So, really, Glory is secretly underway in us.

In Romans 8, verses 29-30 Paul reviews the three – fold process again.  Let’s look at it before we conclude.  “Those whom God had already chosen He also set apart to become like His Son… And so those whom God set apart (for union and embodiment in the Son in the Church),    A/ He called (to the Cross of Jesus), and B/those He called, He put right with Himself ( in Risen and New Life in Jesus), and C/ He shared His Glory with them.  Hosanna, Hosanna to the Lamb!  That’s the Paschal Mystery of Faith.  All three are ours if we will walk with Christ.   All during this Lent 2015, let’s consider it.

Not a Concept or Idea, the Paschal Mystery is a Person Homily: 4th Lenten Sunday

Its the 4th Sunday of Lent.   We are past the halfway mark of Lent.

We can admire God’s workmanship in Saints Patrick and Joseph; and expect holiness and grace in our own lives, too.

As you know, the second readings in Lent on Sundays all refer to “The Paschal Mystery.” We have been pointing that out.  Each weekend homily that I have, I am giving it on “The Paschal Mystery.” I want to make it clear that we are not talking about a concept or idea, but that a Living Person IS The Paschal Mystery .  He is the Living Lord Jesus in us!   Jesus is not a concept or idea, but The One meant to be personally living His Mystery in us and greatly linking us with others who share the same mystery of His Presence.  The Paschal Mystery is the Living God Who is back in our souls and forming a faith body under Christ Jesus.  The new exodus in the world is led by Jesus, Who is also our New Pasch and New Passover Reality.  Moses led a former exodus for the Jews; the One by Jesus now is a most amazing one to all the world and all ages to leave the slavery of sin and death into a journey with the Savior and Son of God.  The Mystery is happening as we speak….right now.

Today we are in Ephesians where it talks on the effects for the believer to live in Christ’ Dying, Rising and Glory mystery.  This Pauline epistle seems to take the human perspective on this Divine reality.   It is Paul showing to the Ephesian believers of what he saw as the lived part and application of it for each individual Christian of The Faith.  He asks:  “How do we believers apply this—on our own lived level?” What is Christ’ doing in us in His Paschal Mystery?

The whole chapter of Ephesians 2 has a lot of teaching on The Paschal Mystery.   The image in chapter 2, verse 10 is of the Lord ‘crafting’ us or ‘working’ with us to create a beautiful life.

There is a line at the end of our reading today that speaks of this.   It is a Scripture that was well demonstrated by the two famous saints we honor this week.  The line (verse) is: “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.”

When God saw the opening in the hearts of Patrick in Ireland and Joseph in northern Israel, he knew that the Mystery of his life in Christ in them would have a great faith story.   God’ s handiwork is greatly celebrated in these two men; we have saint’s days for recalling how the 1st and 4th centuries were greatly touched by “the works of the Lord in them.”. Their impact holds to today.

Saint Joseph is a splendid ecample.   Here was a man who became fully available to God’s will. He had been used to making things with wood in carpentry; then God calls him, as if to say: ‘Permit Me to make something special with you to My highest purposes.’

Patrick was a young man living in the Catholic faith but suddenly thrust into a pagan world and subjected to its worldly sinful ways. God says to Patrick:  ‘Let Me reshape your life from what you see here in Ireland, and then we can reshape the pagan people in Ireland to be believers, as you learn My compassion and love for them.’

Saints Patrick (March 17) and Joseph (March 19) each had their lives changed by a big event (Patrick was kidnapped from England and taken to be a slave in Ireland, and Joseph was told suddenly how he was to marry the pregnant-with-child Mary and to raise the Messiah in his home, Who was that Child). Wow.   ” And, in pondering today’s verse, God “prepared beforehand” for these men to have so much grace.  Still, both men needed to respond to God and to live in that grace and apply it.  (That’s what the epistle’s lesson is today:  the practice of response to God to let Him shape and direct us, even re-make us.)

The lesson is that God has His supply of grace for us, too, and we need to choose it and apply it.   What grace is happening in our Lent at this half-way mark?

We have the self-dying process, in imitation of Jesus Dying Mystery. It is a courageous choice, a heroic one, to deny one self to follow Jesus.   Patrick and Joseph did it.

This led  to the Rising Mystery, that arose in these two saints, as they lived faithfully in God’s service.  A whole new coexistence with God became of Patrick and Joseph’s lives!

This led them  to the Glory Mystery.  Our Lord has taken these two men to Himself in Heaven.  It’s why we have saint’s days for them this week.  It’s also why we have many miracles and much saving help from Heaven from our invoking these saints’ names.   Right?!

Perhaps my favorite commonalities of both saints was of their willingness to let God shape things for “good works” to come out of even their most biggest, hard surprises in life.   Eventually both of them saw that somehow God had His Hand on them, even when their circumstances didn’t seem right ( Pat’s kidnapping, or Joseph dealing with his mysteriously pregnant girlfriend,  who now was asking for support and understanding!).  In comparison, we could wonder about some of our own (crazy) situations, asking:  ‘Lord–how in any way can the events occurring in our  lives been “prepared in advance” by You?!  Yet still–I trust you with my life, Lord.’

That would be a very good prayer.  Good works of God do flow from such prayer attitude.

Both saints (celebrated this week) let faith lead them, trusting that God was indeed leading their vocation, and they accepted their calling in a big way. Patrick got His call whille a captive in a foreign Ireland and would escape from there and return home to England,  only in driving him to train for priesthood, so to one day return again to Ireland as a missionary priest/bishop to help save the poor pagan land.

Likewise, and even greater in witness, Joseph accepted his role for caring for Mary, and he put his trust in God, and in Mary ( for her part) . Joseph, along with Mary, had to leave their Nazareth home and business for a time, as Joseph took the Holy Child of expectation and Mary to Bethlehem.  Then upon Jesus’  Birth, Joseph would dedicate the Babe in Jerusalem and then soon afterwards, take the Holy Family into hiding in Africa, until the persecution was ended for the new-born king (rival to Herod), and then Joseph returned the Holy Family to Nazareth.  From there on, Joseph loved Mary and Jesus, and he taught Jesus the proper life of being a faithful Jewish boy.  Then later on, Joseph begins to teach Jesus the carpenter’s trade,  and the life of becoming  a Jewish man.

God did a lot in the lives of these two saints; His “handiwork” is all over them!
Is His handiwork over us?

In peeking at next Sunday’s epistle, it will be The Paschal Mystery again in Hebrews 5: 7-9. In selected words, it says that: :”….when Christ Jesus was in the flesh… He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save him from death (The Crucifixion is referred to here), and He was heard because of His reverence. (Resurrection is the result of being ‘heard’ and received by the Father.)…and Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered; and when He was made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. Jesus’ Reign in referred to here, and He will come again in that Reign.

There it is again. It is the Paschal Mystery of Lord trying to reach us and touch us deeply.   Are you open and ready for it?  God is.   Today’s letter of Ephesians says the offer is in our hands– in being saved in Christ’ Dying-Rising-Reign Mystery.

40 Days to Pray Vs. 50 Shades of Grey

Lent brings us time for praying; the world brings us another season for preying (on women).

The disgusting* novel has been turned into a disgusting* film. 50 Shades of Grey is a story of women being treated in degradation*, in pursuit of an exciting and different sensual life. This ‘work of art’ doesn’t interest me. It seems to be refuse for the mind and senses. The book and film has been popularly received, so I am told. I wonder: ‘Really?!

So –I was reading another Catholic blog and I saw something about that 40 Days to Pray vs. 50 Shades of Grey polar pairing. I thought I’d pass the words along.

Opinion By Joseph McDaniel ( A Salesian seminarian) VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV

The world we live in today is often characterized by controversy, whether it be in religion, politics, or the arts. For those of us trying to lead a simpler life and grow closer to God, the desire to completely shut out the noise of the jousting on network TV, news sites, and the blogosphere is an enticing one.

However, as Oblate founder Blessed Louis Brisson insisted, we cannot simply ignore the hot-button issues of our day, and instead “are called to enter society such as it is, and this by every means possible… entering it feet first and without reservations.”

With this in mind, I reflect on a recent, controversial cultural phenomenon that has generated much popular interest: 50 Shades of Grey. Marketed as a love story, the plot involves a young woman in college who enters into an apparent romance with a wealthy young businessman, but is quickly caught up in the throes of a sexually abusive relationship. Despite numerous critiques for mediocre artistic merit, as well as serious concern about its disturbing content, the 50 Shades franchise has generated over 100 million print copies of the novel, and set opening-weekend records at the box office.

What has driven 50 Shades to become so popular? Perhaps the answer simply lies in the adage that “sex sells.” Or are social media and corporate advertising mostly responsible for transforming the series into such a juggernaut?

Looked at through a Salesian lens, there may also be another, deeper reason: people have been perennially fascinated by love stories, and we live in a culture in many ways desperate for love stories. However, people are also aware that real love stories do not solely involve rosy feelings and clichéd “happy endings.” They are aware that love stories involve moments of intense darkness. In the perceived absence of real, gritty love stories, popular culture turns to a supposed love story that makes the darkness its focus and takes it to a troubling new level.

Instead of letting our world settle for love stories in which the darkness becomes the main protagonist, we can to proclaim to the world that as Christians, we possess a love story, the love story, the story of God’s love for us through his Son. Our story goes far beyond mere superficiality and indeed involves great darkness, the darkness of Calvary, which Francis de Sales calls the “mount of lovers.” The darkness is not, however, what defines our love story; what defines ours is the dispersion of darkness by the light of Christ’s love at Easter.

May this Lent be for us a time to rediscover the great story of God’s loving relationship with us, and with him journey through these “40 days to pray,” and find the light of the Resurrection in each of our lives.

End-of-Day Act of Contrition in the Paschal Mystery

AN END-OF-DAY ACT OF CONTRITION: IN THE PASCHAL MYSTERY
[ For one person. ]

Sign of the Cross. (Now pause for a minute or two to reflect on your day—its sins and its graced moments—in asking: How have I lived this day for You, Lord?) (As you reflect, invoke the Holy Spirit many times, saying: “Come, Holy Spirit, Come.”)
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+…When ready, then pray the below:

Oh my God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against You Whom I should love above all, and far over any thing. I now repent before You, and I ask you to help me with tomorrow, as I lay down this day before You.

Lord, have mercy…. Christ, have mercy…. Lord, have mercy.

Father, I love You. I offer You myself to You through Your co-equal Son, Whom You have given. O Holy Son, and Lord Jesus Christ, I love You, too, and I am Yours. I give myself to Your Eternal Sacrifice, in the Eucharist, as celebrated all over the world today in holy Masses, and adored in your (tabernacled) Presence, and given into people today.
You are Life for Your people, and we praise You as Lord and Head over us, including me! Holy Spirit, I love You, as well, and I ask You to please lead me, guide me, and deliver me and all others into The Kingdom of God.

I firmly intend, with Your help, O Lord, to keep acknowledging my sins and to aim not to be under sin’s control, but rather to be seeking Grace. I am dead to sin, and alive to God, and in journey to You, my Love, my All. I am crucified with Christ, therefore, “I” no longer live, but Jesus Christ now lives in me, and the life I now have I live by faith in the Son of God, Who saved me, raised me, and has prepared a place for me in the eternal kingdom. I live in Christ’ Body now! Jesus is Lord, He is Risen, and every knee shall bend, and every tongue confess so, to the Glory of God, Amen!

O God, I want to live by You, and to keep depending on You for everything. May I do penance and avoid whatever leads me to sin. Help me to be converted wholly to You.

This is the Day, Lord, You have made for me. I rejoice in it.

Hurrah. Hallelujah. I have lived one day more today, and I have come one day closer to the upward calling to You.

I pray that tomorrow will give me another day to live to Your pleasure and remain headed to Glory in a surrendered life of service to You.

I give You thanks, too, O Lord God, for the gift of this day I have just lived, and all the good that did come of it. I thank You for inspiring me to choose the good over the course of this day. I pray that some love from my heart, which I shared with someone today, did do them good, and that it furthered Your mission to win the world over to Christ’ Love. I join with my brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, the Church, in hoping that we all served Your Kingdom today.
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I join with the angels and saints triumphant in adoring Your majesty. I rejoice with them in Your kindness and plan to help us all to one day become perfectly one in the fullness of Your Love. I pray, with my fellow believers, that we have pleased You with our thoughts and actions and prayers over this day. I pray that, with our work (and our school, and home life, etc.) and our community activities, along with our home lives, and our rest and leisure taken, that we have offered You praise. Now, please, give this beloved son/daughter their rest, to be renewed for the morning, so to serve You another day. Your mercies are new every dawn, they even are awaiting me in my tomorrow.

Glory be to Your Name, O Lord, Most High, forever and ever. Amen.

The Mystery of Faith: We proclaim Your Death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection, until You come again.

(Sign of the Cross.)