Thursday, April 26, 2007

bite-size wisdom (the gift of triumphing over ourselves)

I was just watching Roberto Rossellini's 1950 film "The Flowers of St. Francis." This film has a simple beauty. ... a simplicity that I think St. Francis would approve of. Apparently, Roberto Rossellini was an avowed atheist (according to one review on Netflix), but his family (including daughter actress Isabella) were great friends to the friars and the town south of Naples where this film was shot. It truly was a stroke of genius that Roberto had real Franciscan friars--and not professional actors--portray Francis' band of friars. How could an actor portray the joy of the religious life that is so counfounding to the outside worlds? How could an actor portray the impression that this amazing saint had on his followers?

At any rate, I have a great quote from the movie. I am not sure if St. Francis actually said this, but it is a great line. St. Francis and another friar are talking about true happiness. Francis says that even if those men were used to convert all the infidels in the world, even if they fed all of the poor, etc. ... even then they would not have true happiness. They then stumble upon a house and they boldly begged for alms from the man who lived there ("come, serve Christ with us" they joyfully pleaded). The man verbally assaulted them ("thieves", "vagrants") and then chased them out of his home with a club, even beating them a little. Picking themselves up out of the mud, St. Francis said:

"Brother Leone, lamb of our good Lord, now that we've borne all this for the love of our blessed Christ, know that in tihs resides perfect happiness. Because, above all the gifts Christ bestows on his servants is that of triumphing over ourselves and bearing every evil deed and tribulation out of love for him. In this alone lies perfect happiness. [they then begin joyfully singing in Latin the Magnificat:] Magnificat anima mea dominum... ["My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,... (Lk 1:46-55)]
The lives of the saints are the Gospel incarnate. This of course reminiscent of the thankfulness of the apostles after they were flogged by the Sanhedrin court for preaching the Gospel of Christ: "So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus" (Acts 5:41-42).

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI and the Latin Mass

Happy Easter - He is Risen! - Regina Caeli, Laetare, Alleluia!

I am very busy with work lately, otherwise I would try to post more items related to the Easter Octave. However, here is a little something...l

Time Magazine covers the latest on Pope Benedict XVI and movements to ease restriction on celebrating the traditional Latin Mass. For what it is worth, I add some of my own editorial comments after each paragraph (I write in BLUE):

A Step Backward for Pope Benedict?
Friday, Apr. 13, 2007 By JEFF ISRAELY/ROME in TIME magazine

Two years into his papacy, Benedict XVI may be about to reclaim his reputation as a no-holds-barred traditionalist. Thanks to Benedict's thoughtful manner, Church progressives had believed that the man who was once the hard-line Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would cut some slack on areas of doctrinal contention — using his intellectual heft and traditional credentials as necessary cover to. But as Benedict turns 80 on April 16 and marks two years as Pope on April 18, the once hopeful progressives have all but given up their fantasy of Benedict the Reformer.

Did "progressives" actually think that "Benedict the Reformer" would "reform" the Church by "cutting some slack on areas of doctrinal contention." "Cutting some slack"... that sounds like something that an immature teenager asks his parents to do. God did not give the Pope--the vicar of Christ on earth--authority over the 1 billion some Catholics in the world so that he could "cut some slack" with regards to the truth. Pope Benedict takes another approach: he chooses to EMBRACE the truths of our faith, PROCLAIM them in all their beauty and splendor, DEFEND them against a world that is set against them, and TEACH and persuade his spiritual children so that they can do the same.

In the coming weeks, the Pope is expected to release a document that would allow the widespread return of the traditional Latin Mass, which was all but shelved with the reforms of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s. Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone recently confirmed to Le Figaro newspaper that this motu proprio, or personal initiative of the Pontiff, will allow any priest to say the mass according to the old Tridentine rite (which is delivered in Latin with the priest facing the altar, his back to the congregation), rather than have to seek approval from the local bishop as is now required.

The author leaves out a lot of important points here. First, Pope John Paul II wrote an apostolic letter in 1988 entitled "Ecclesia Dei." In this letter the late pontiff stated that:

respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.

The entire document is available on the Vatican website:

Of course, the Pope also instituted a permanent pontifical commission also called "Ecclesia Dei" (
). (So, it is not accurate to attribute all of this recent movement with regards to a reconsideration of the Latin Mass just to Pope Benedict.) In many dioceses, the local bishop has not carried out this request of Pope John Paul II. Some bishops have either "ghetto-ized" the Latin Mass into select oratories or they have not applied the directives of Ecclesia Dei nor allowed for the Latin Mass with any generosity at all.

Eighteen months ago, one Rome-based progressive cleric had said he was "surprised to see that [Benedict] seems to be open to hear new ideas." But today, the same priest is disappointed. There has been no sign of any of the hoped-for reforms: overturning the ban on communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, reconsidering the celibacy requirement for priests, allowing gays in seminaries, or a softening of the condom ban to allow for distribution in AIDS-ravaged Africa. The release last month of the Pope's final document on what had seemed to be a convivial and intellectually open October 2005 bishops' meeting on the Eucharist is a good example of the Pontiff's approach. According to a senior Church official who participated: "He took all that debate of the Synod, and then gave us a document that simply defends the status quo." This same official acknowledges a bit of past excessive optimism on Benedict: "People were hoping that with his intellectual acumen and understanding of theology, he'd be in a position to make some of these changes. Unfortunately, at this point, I don't think we'll see any of them."

This kind of things always makes me laugh. I guess that this anonymous "progressive" priest considers the Pope "open to hear new ideas" and impressive in his "intellectual acument and understanding of theology" ONLY if he agrees with a particular progressive agenda. For one thing, the ideas mentioned above ("overturning the ban on communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, reconsidering the celibacy requirement for priests, allowing gays in seminaries, or a softening of the condom ban to allow for distribution in AIDS-ravaged Africa") can hardly be considered "new ideas." Priestly celibacy has been debated and wined about ad nauseum. Many would say that the predominance of gays in seminaries in the 1970's and 1980's has led to some of the problems that the Church has recently had to deal with in the priesthood. In fact, the Pope would more likely be expected to push for true reform in that area given the recent events of the crisis. He is also trying to defend the value and beauty of priestly celibacy which is always under attack by a society that is confounded and threatened by the very idea of celibacy. Again, Pope Benedict XVI like JPII before him, probably wants to reform the Church's impoverished understanding of celibacy (both clergy and the laity need help understanding this). According to an unnamed "senior Church official", the Pope "took all that debate of the Synod, and then gave us a document that simply defends the status quo." Well once again, just the mere fact that a synod involves debate does guarantee that the Pope will automatically adopt some of those suggestions. The Pope is counseled by the bishops in the Synod, and he has to be the final arbiter... he is the one who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the Church has what it needs at a given time.

Of course, beyond the doctrinal front, plenty has changed these past two years for the Bavarian prelate and Vatican insider. He has become a world leader and has been learning lessons in tempering his ideas with public relations, having given controversial speeches and been confronted with fiery inter-faith conflict, particularly with Islam. A trip next month to Brazil, the first ocean crossing and first time among the fervent flock of the Third World, will further test both the pastoral and political aspects of his job, as Latin America continues to deal with widespread poverty and the continent's Catholics increasingly lose ground to Evangelical movements. Still the Pope has managed to keep up his writings, including the conclusion of a book he began in 2003 on the life of Jesus, which comes out Monday in Italian and German, and next month in English.

By the way, the Pope was right with his comments regarding Islam (even if the mode for expression that he chose was awkward and open to misunderstanding). And where was the apology for the Catholic churches that were burned... or the Catholic nun who was senselessly murdered (even while she helped to serve the health needs of Muslims!). I am glad that he had the guts to say what needed to be said.

A significant part of any Pope's job is to manage questions of doctrine and discipline. Benedict's "no wiggle room" approach is increasingly seen in the context of his great battle to defend Catholicism on its historical home turf of Europe, where he sees a kind of cult of secularism. The Pope's response is not simply to reaffirm the Christian values of the old continent, a goal also expressed by the continent's more liberal leaders and theologians like Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Cardinal Godfried Daneels. In addition, Benedict professes a very specific kind of Christianity, one based not only on the teachings of Jesus, but on abiding by the letter of ancient Catholic Church traditions as the only effective bulwark against rampant relativism.

Well, the "teachings of Jesus" ARE found both in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. (Duh!)
The point is right on--without sacred tradition and the guidance of the Magisterium, other Christian groups have managed to warp the Christian message into a strange form (all with justification from Scripture).

In fact, the one major disciplinary about-face expected is this coming document on the Latin Mass, a concession to the ultra-conservatives, who have been living and praying on the fringe of the Church since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council brought in Mass in the vernacular. Said one Rome-based priest: "Opening up the Latin rite to anyone would amount to the Church turning back the reforms of Vatican II." A Vatican official who has worked closely with the Pope said that loosening rules on the Latin rite has been a long-time personal goal of Ratzinger, who had led what turned out to be failed negotiations in the early 1980s to bring back into the fold the followers of the breakaway French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who have defied the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Notice the typical political jargon of journalists: "a concession to the ultra-conservatives."
Would wider use of the traditional Latin Mass bring about a "turning back [of] the reforms of Vatican II"? That is hard to say. Many would argue that the liturgy as we have it today does not really resemble what is called for in the documents of Vatican II. For example, while the document on the liturgy stated that "the use of to be preserved in the Latin rites" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #36), when is the last time that you have sung the Pater Noster, or the Agnus Dei, or the Gloria at Mass? One of Pope Benedict's great missions in his pontificate seems to be to bring about a "reform of the reform." I do not think that he wants to comletely negate the liturgical changes of Vatican II--but he does want to turn back liturgical abuses (done often in the name of the "spirit of Vatican II") and restore the liturgy to what was originally envisioned by Vatican II. Where the use of the (1962) traditional Latin Mass alongside the post Vatican II Novus Ordo Mass fits into this reform, however, is another question. I do not think that it would be an easy question.

The Vatican official says that Benedict believes that the Council's legacy "has been abused," and finding a way to widen access to the Latin rite "has always remained in his heart." Still, even mainstream members of the Roman hierarchy are opposed, fearing that it will exacerbate divisions within the Church. French bishops have openly argued against it. The Pope's old office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith last spring, privately advised against the motu proprio, the Vatican official said. Still, Benedict does not appear swayed. The professor Pope may be happy to have a conversation on doctrine, but he knows he always has the last word.

This point may very well be true. A restoration of wider access to the Traditional Latin Mass would bring joy to many Catholics who have a special devotion to it, but it could result in parishes having two congregations. However, we also must remember that the one universal Catholic Church already does have a large number of rites, usings various languages, gestures, symbols, etc. I also can sympathize with traditional Catholics who long for the traditional Latin Mass. It does possess great beauty, reverence, and an otherworldy sense of transcendence. It requires that the laity see their prayer in the Mass as more contemplative than active. The notion of the Mass as the unbloody sacrifice of Calvary is more clear. Imagine the reaction of an Byzatine rite Catholic if the Church one day just transformed the Mass that he knew and loved, changed the language, the order, the symbolism and gestures. He would be outraged and saddened. Why do expect less of Latin rite Catholics. Still, I see the beauty of the reformed liturgy of Vatican II (if it is practiced with reverence, according to the liturgical norms, and in continuity with past liturgical tradition). What would happen if we had wider access to two different Masses. Hhhhhmmmm, it is an interesting question, and not one that I would have to negotiate. I, for one, am glad that Pope Benedict does have "the last word" on this one.
Interestingly, after I wrote this... I discovered that the blog New Liturgical Movement also commented on this article by Time. They also have some interesting photos of where the Post-Conciliar liturgical reform was implemented in rather absurd ways. Check it out:

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

"He Descended into Hell": Pope Benedict XVI on the Holy Saturday Mystery

The Absence of God... and the Conquest of Hell!

The following is a beautiful passage from Introduction to Christianity by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) [1968, pp. 294-97]. Cardinal Ratzinger is dealing with an article of the Creed that causes a great deal of curiosity and confusion to the modern mind: Christ "descended into hell".

"...Instead of pushing the question aside, then, should we not learn to see that this article of faith, which liturgically is associated with Holy Saturday in the Church's year, is particularly close to our day and is to a particular degree the experience of our [twentieth] century? On Good Friday our gaze remains fixed on the crucified Christ, but Holy Saturday is the day of the "death of God", the day that expresses the unparalleled experience of our age, anticipating the fact that God is simply absent, that the grave hides him, that he no longer awakes, no longer speaks, so that one no longer needs to gainsay him but can simply overlook him. "God is dead and we have killed him." This saying of Nietzsche's belongs linguistaically to the tradition of Christian Passiontide piety; it expresses the content of Holy Saturday, "descended into hell" (cites: Cf. H. de Lubac, The Drama of Atheist Humanism).

This article of the Creed always reminds me of two scenes in the Bible. the first is that cruel story in the Old Testament in wihch Elijah challenges the priests of Baal to implore their God to give them fire for their sacrifice. They do so, and naturally nothing happens. He ridicules them, just as the "enlightened rationalist" ridicules the pious person and finds him laughable when nothing happens in response to his prayers. Elijah calls out to the priests that perhaps they had not prayed loud enough: "Cry aloud, for he [Baal] is a god; either he is musing, or has gone aside, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened" (1 Kings 18:27). When one reads today this mockery of the devotees of Baal, one can begin to feel uncomfortable; one can get the feeling that we have now arrived in that situation and that the mockery must now fall on us. No calling seems to be able to awaken God. The rationalist seems entitled to say to us, "Pray louder, perhaps your God will then wake up." "Descended into hell"; how true this is of our time, the descent of God into muteness, into the dark silence of the absent.

But alongside the story of Elijah and its New Testament analogue, the story of the Lord sleeping in the midst of the storm on the lake (Mk 4:35-41, par.), we must put the Emmaus story (Lk 24:13-35). The disturbed disciples are talking of the death of their hope. To them, something like the death of God has happened: the point at which God finally seemed to have spoken has disappeared. The One sent by God is dead, and so there is a complete void. Nothing replies any more. But while they are there speaking of the death of their hope and can no longer see God, they do not notice that this very hope stands alive in their midst; that "God", or rather the image they had formed of his promise, had to die so that he could live on a larger scale. The image they had formed of God, and into which they sought to compress him, had to be destroyed, so that over the ruins of the demolished house, as it were, they could see the sky again and him who remains the infinitely greater. ...
Thus the article about the Lord's descent into hell reminds us that not only God's speech but also his silence is part of the Christian revelation. God is not only the comprehensible word that comes to us; he is also the silent, inaccessible, uncomprehended, and incomprehensible ground that eludes us. To be sure, in Christianity there is a primacy of the logos, of the word, over silence; God has spoken. God is word. But this does not entitle us to forget the truth of God's abiding concealment. Only when we have experienced him as silence may we hope to hear his speech, too, which proceeds in silence (in a footnote, Ratzinger notes the significance of silence in the writings of apostolic father Igantius of Antioch). Christology reaches out beyond the Cross, the moment when the divine love is tangible, into the death, the silence and the eclipse of God. Can we wonder that the Church and the life of the individual are led again into this hour of silence, into the forgotten and almost discarded article, "Descended ino hell"?
When one ponders this, the question of the "scriptural evidence" solves itself; at any rate in Jesus' death cry, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mk 15:34), the mystery of Jesus' descent into hell is illuminated as if in a glaring flash of lightening on a dark night. We must not forget that these words of the crucified Christ are the opening line of one of Israel's prayers (Ps 22:1), which summarizes in a shattering way the needs and hopes of this people chosen by God and apparently at the moment so utterly abandoned by him. This prayer that rises from the sheer misery of God's seeming eclipse ends in praises of God's greatness. This element, too, is present in Jesus' death cry, which has been recently described by Ernst Kasemann as a prayer sent up from hell, as the raising of a standard, the first commandment, in the wilderness of God's apparent absence: "The Son still holds on to faith when faith seems to have become meaningless and the earthly reality proclaims absent the God of whom the first thief and the mocking crowd speak--not for nothing. His cry is not for life and survival, not for himself, but for his Father. His cry stands against the reality of the whole world." After this, do we still need to ask what worship must be done in our hour of darkness? Can it be anything else but the cry from the depths in company with the Lord who "has descended into hell" and who has established the nearness of God in the midst of abandonment by God?"
...In this last prayer of Jesus, as in the scene on the Mount of Olives, what appears as the innermost heart of his Passion is not any physical pain but radical loneliness, complete abandonment. But in the last analysis what comes to light here is simply the abyss of loneliness of man in general, of man who is alone in his innermost being. This loneliness, which is usually thickly overlaid but is nevertheless the true situation of man, is at the same time in fundamental contradiction with the nature of man, who cannot exist alone; he needs company...
...where man falls into extreme loneliness he is not afraid of anything definite that could be explained away; on the contrary, he experiences the fear of loneliness, the uneasiness and vulnerability of his own nature, something that cannot be overcome by rational means. ...
...The fear peculiar to man [fear of loneliness] cannot be overcome by reason but only by the presence of someone who loves him...
...if a state of abandoment were to arise that was so deep that no "You" could reach into it any more, then we should have real, total loneliness and dreadfulness, what theology calls "hell". We can now define exactly what this word means: it denotes a loneliness that the word love can no longer penetrate and that therefore indicates the exposed nature of existence in itself. In this connection who can fail to remember that writers and philosophers of our time take the view that basically all encounters between human beings remain superficial, that no man has access to the real depths of another (i.e. the anthropolgy of Sarte)?...
In truth--one thing is certain: there exists a night into whose solitude no voice reaches; there is a door through which we can only walk alone--the door of death. In the last analysis all the fear in the world is fear of this loneliness. From this point of view, it is possible to understand why the Old Testament has only one word for hell and death, the word sheol; it regards them as ultimately identical. Death is absolute loneliness. But the loneliness into which love can no longer advance is--hell.
... This article [of the Creed] thus asserts that... in his Passion he went down into the abyss of our abandoment. Where no voice can reach us any longer, there is he. Hell is thereby overcome, or, to be more accurate, death, which was previously hell, is hell no longer. Neither is the same any longer because there is life in the midst of death, because love dwells in it. Now only deliberate self-enclosure is hell or, as the Bible calls it, the second death (Rev. 20:14, for example). But death is no longer the path into icy solitude; the gates of sheol have been opened. ...[cites the opening of tombs and rising of the dead at the death of Jesus in Mt 27:52] ... The doors of death stand open since life--love--has dwelt in death.

I was dead, but now I live for ever,
and I hold the keys of death and of hell.
--antiphon from Morning Prayer for Holy Saturday

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The Dark Silence of Holy Saturday

Catholic Apologetics of America has posted a meditation from the book Divine Intimacy by By Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. :

Hans Urs Von Balthasar on "The Magic of Holy
Saturday" (posted on the blog Pontifications):

On the website for Touchstone Magazine ("A Journal of Mere Christianity" ) Orthodox priest Patrick Henry Reardon gives an interesting reflection on chapter 3 of Habukkuk and Christ's descent into hell:

"Holy Saturday, April 7
Habakkuk 3:1-19: Although there were plenty of witnesses who could testify to seeing the risen Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), it is a curious fact that none of them claimed to have seen the Resurrection itself. Indeed, when the Gospel witnesses first learn of the Resurrection, it is already a past event. In every single instance, as far as we can tell from the Sacred Text, everyone who saw the risen Christ had first heard about the Resurrection from somebody else, beginning with the angelic testimony to the Myrrh-Bearers. It is surely significant that, in each case, hearing preceded vision.

This absence of witnesses to the act of the Resurrection is apparently the reason that traditional Eastern iconography is reluctant to portray the event. Instead of the Resurrection imagery common in the West, what we have in the Church of East is the icon of Jesus entering triumphant into hell to preach the Gospel to "the spirits in prison" (1 Peter 3:19).

I suppose the obvious question in this respect is this: "If we have no eye-witnesses account of the event of the Resurrection, just where do we find an eyewitness account of Jesus' descent into hell?" In other words, if the absence of such an account renders us reluctant to paint icons of Jesus' Resurrection, what justifies our painting icons of His descent into hell? Do we, after all, have a biblical eyewitness to this latter event?

And the Church's answer to this question has always been, "Yes, we do have such a witness, and his name is Habakkuk." In truth, the Church has ever regarded the third chapter of Habakkuk as a prophetic vision of Jesus' triumphant descent into hell to preach the Gospel to the spirits in prison and to bring forth the ancient saints who so eagerly awaited His arrival.

This reading of Habakkuk is the reason why that prophet's third chapter, for nearly two thousand years in the Church of the West, served as the normal Matins Ode on Friday, the day weekly commemorative of our Lord's death. In the Eastern Church, that same text is chanted among the Matins Odes of Sunday, the day of the Resurrection. The object of Habakkuk's vision, then, is central to the Church's faith, so central that the event itself is included in the Nicene Creed: "He descended into hell."

It is no wonder, then, that when the New Testament speaks of the importance of faith, its cited authority on the point is often Habakkuk, whose affirmation "the just shall live by his faith" (2:4) becomes a kind of rallying cry among believers (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).

Because Christ's triumphant descent into hell still lay in the future, Habakkuk was obliged to await the fulfillment of the mystery he had beheld in prophetic vision. The Lord instructed him, nonetheless, to inscribe it plainly, in order to prepare His believing people for the coming day: "Write the vision/ And make it plain on tablets, / That he may run who reads it. / For the vision is yet for an appointed time;/ But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. / Though it tarries, wait for it; / Because it will surely come, / It will not tarry" (Habakkuk 2:2-4).

It is important, therefore, not to separate Habakkuk's contemplation of Jesus in the nether world from his affirmation that "the just shall live by his faith." Otherwise this affirmation becomes a merely general notion divorced from its Christological reference. The faith of Habakkuk is faith in the triumphant Christ, that living Gospel striding into the nether world, victorious over sin and death.

The "life" to which Habakkuk refers, the life by which the righteous live, is the paschal life offered by the Christ who tramples down death by death. Habakkuk's role among God's people, then, is that of a visionary who inscribed what in mystic contemplation he beheld, when God came from Teman in order to strike the head from the house of the wicked and to thrust him through with his own arrows.

Zechariah 14: A nun from Gaul, named Egeria, who visited the Christians at Jerusalem in the late fourth century, left us a description of the various liturgical practices of that ancient church. In the course of it, she described how, on Ascension Thursday, the believers gathered on the Mount of Olives, from which Jesus had ascended into heaven. And what did they do? They read the entire account, from the Gospel according to John, of the Lord's suffering and death.

This remarkable detail reveals how closely the Christians of old to be the various actions of the Lord by which we were redeemed. They did not think of redemption as taking place solely on the Cross, where the price of our sins was paid by our Lord's blood (1 Peter 1:19), but as involving also the other events integral to the mystery of the Cross. The accomplishing of our redemption included also the event we celebrate today, Holy Saturday, when Jesus descended into the nether world to free the bondsmen whom Satan held there (3:19).

It included likewise His rising from the dead of Easter, inasmuch as Jesus “was delivered up for our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25). As was suggested by Egeria's account of the celebration of Ascension Thursday, the mystery of our redemption included also our Lord's ascent into heaven and His taking His throne at the right hand of the Father, having been made for ever a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. This latter theme, of course, provides the major images of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

With this in mind, we should not be surprised that the Book of Zechariah, in the final chapter of its section dealing more explicitly with the sufferings of our Lord, prophesies the Lord's standing on the Mount of Olives (verse 4), which are symbolically divided, much as He once divided the Red Sea and the River Jordan. His ascent from the Mount of Olives will cause to flow the living waters of redemption (verses 8-9) and the reunion of all God's people in the Holy City (verses 14-21). "

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Friday, April 06, 2007

A Good Friday Prayer

This is a prayer that was handed down to my mother... and she, in turn, handed it down to me. I was in highschool when she first gave it to me and I prayed it every year as she reminded me. Even when my life was not very centered on God, I was spiritually grounded again every Good Friday by this prayer:

This prayer is to be said 33 times between 12 and 3pm [in rememberance of the 33 years of our Lord's earthly life]
O My Lord Jesus Christ, I humbly beg of Thee, by the merits of Thy precious blood, by Thy Divine Heart, and by the intercession of Thy most cruel death, to assist me in this my most pressing necessity. Amen
Pray the following after 3pm--33 times [3pm--the hour of mercy]
O My Lord Jesus Christ by the Agony in the Garden, by the Scourging at the Pillar, by the Crowning of Thorns, and by Thy cruel death have mercy on me and grant my petition.
O Lord Jesus, I implore that I may love Thee more and more.

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Good Friday Fare

Spiritual Readings for Good Friday:

The Cross of Christ, The Cosmic Tree from early church writer known as “Pseudo Chrysostom”:


The Pope's Via Crucis [Way of the Cross]:

For recent years [I really liked the text for the 2006 Stations last year...]

Pope's Via Crucis for today [have not prayed these yet]:

"God Manifests His Love for Us", by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., Preacher to the Papal Household [4/14/2006, St. Peter's Basilica]
A scritural reflection by Orthodox priest Henry Patrick Reardon [posted on Touchstone Magazine's ]:
"Good Friday, April 6
Zechariah 13: Maintaining his emphasis on the Lord's Passion and Death, the prophet goes on to speak of the striking of the Shepherd and the consequent dispersal of His disciples (verse 7), a text interpreted for us in Matthew 26:31 (cf. Mark 14:27; John 16:31).
This is the event by which the false gods are defeated (verse 1). These are the demonic forces brought to naught by the death of the First Born. Questioned about the marks of the wounds in His flesh, the Lord responds, “These wounds I received in the house of My friends” (verse 6).
Cyril of Alexandria wrote in the early fifth century, “when the Only Begotten Word of God ascended into the heavens in the flesh to which He was united, there was something new to be seen in the heavens. The multitude of holy angels was astounded, seeing the King of glory and the Lord of hosts being made in a form like ourselves. . . . Then the angels asked this, 'What are these wounds in Your hands?' And He said to them, 'These wounds I received in the house of My friends.'” These are the wounds that He will show to His disciples after His resurrection. He bears these wounds in his glorified flesh forever, as He stands before the Father, “as though slain,” being the one Mediator between God and man (Revelation 5:6)."

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Celebrating Holy Thursday

Today we celebrate Holy Thursday... we commemorate in a special way the Last Supper and the institution of the Holy Mass and the priesthood.

What is the importance of the priesthood? No priests = No mass. Check out this article from Catholic Exchange:

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Holy Week and Lent recap

UPDATE: News & Current Events:
Holy Week amidst war and car bombings--an interesting post from Amy Welborn's blog:

Audiences and Sermons of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI during Lent:

Music for Lent:

Holy See's page for Holy Week:

The Pope always has excellent Stations of the Cross texts (2006's was wonderful). This year, the meditations that Pope Benedict XVI will lead were composed by Msgr. Gianfranco Ravasi, the Prefect of the Ambrosian Library and Gallery of Milan:


and the Meditations:

[famous 19th century Catholic convert scholar John Henry Newman's Stations of the Cross meditations (longer version):

(shorter version):
(in handy PDF format):

[Podcast alley has a March 3 2007 posting of an audio mp3 file of the Stations of the Cross based on the film "The Passion of the Christ":

[PhatCatholic Apologetics posts a lot of info on the Stations of the Cross:
Lent from a historical Christian perspective

Church historian Mike Aquilina talks about Holy Week [audio file]

1917 Catholic Encyclopedia article on Holy Week:

and an article on the Sacred Triduum:

History of Passiontide and Holy Week:

Practice during Passiontide and Holy Week:

Intro to prayer/fasting/almsgiving from the early church fathers:

1. Prayer:

2. Fasting:

3. Almsgiving:

Passion Sunday from the perspective of early Church father St. Andrew of Crete:

Spiritual reading for Lent

Personal Prayer suggestions for Holy Week:

Meditate and instruct on the 7 last words of Christ:

Virtual Retreats
at Loyola Press'

Sacred Space's Lent page:

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (blog: "What does the prayer really say") examines the liturgical text of the prayer over the gifts:

Amy Welborn's April 1 post has some great pictures of how Palm Sunday was celebrated around the world:

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