April 1, 2012
Bottom line: On the cross Jesus took our evil on his shoulders, he bore the full consequences of sin, including the sense of abandonment – separation from God. But in the end he gave a loud cry – a shout of victory.
Welcome to Holy Week. Today we received a palm branch – in memory of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Then, in terrible contrast, we heard about the betrayal of Jesus, his humiliation by public scourging and then…the cross.
Those standing near the cross heard these words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” That plea affected them so deeply that they remembered the words in Jesus’ own language, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabacthani?” Christians throughout the centuries have puzzled about these words: How could Jesus – who is God – feel abandoned by God? Dietrich Bonhoeffer – a Christian pastor imprisoned and executed by the Nazis – wrote about the reality of Jesus’ desolation on the cross.* Jesus took upon himself our sins and he experienced the worst consequence of sin: separation from God.
When we feel desolate, abandoned, defeated – when we wonder where God is – that is the moment to come to Jesus, come to the cross.
When we come to Jesus, feeling abandoned, something unexpected happens. After expressing abandonment, we hear in the Gospel that “Jesus gave a loud cry.” Many Scripture scholars see this as a cry of triumph. William Barclay points out that St. John’s Gospel (as we will hear this Friday) Jesus cries out, “It is finished.” In English three words – “It is finished” – but in Greek one word, “Finished!” Jesus’ loud cry is a shout of victory.**
At the beginning of Mass, you received a victory symbol – the palm branch. Please take home the blessed palm. Place it behind a crucifix as a sign that if we embrace the cross we will triumph – not because our own strength and cleverness – but because of Jesus’ Resurrection.
Next weekend we begin a fifty day celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection. I especially invite you to the Easter Vigil. I also encourage you to attend the Holy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper and the Good Friday veneration of the Cross.
On the cross Jesus took our evil on his shoulders, he bore the full consequences of sin, including the sense of abandonment – separation from God. But in the end he gave a loud cry – a shout of victory. Amen.
*For a fresh look at Bonhoeffer’s life, his years in Jim Crow America and Nazi Germany – and his struggle for soul the Chistianity in Europe, I recommend Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.
**See The Gospel of Mark (New Daily Study Bible) by William Barclay
A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
April 1, 2012
Palm Sunday: The Victory of Humility
Palm Sunday — When a conquering hero of the ancient world rode into town in triumph, it was in a regal chariot or on the back of a stately stallion. Legions of soldiers accompanied him in the victory procession. Triumphal arches, festooned with relief sculptures, were often erected to immortalize his valiant victory.
After driving out demons, healing the sick, and raising the dead, it was time for the King of Kings to enter the Holy City. But to do so, he rode not on the back of a warhorse, but a donkey. His companions accompanied him brandishing not swords, but palm branches. The monument to his victory, erected a week later, was not an arch, but a crucifix.
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Emotions or Sacrificial Love?
A number of years ago, we witnessed the jubilant reaction of the people of Iraq at the fall of the Hassan regime. Perhaps you might remember that many of the people who were celebrating were waving palm branches. This ancient form of expressing joy has survived the ages. However, you might also remember that within a day, joy was replaced by looting and anarchy. The waving of palms was merely an emotional expression. Many of the people were not then, and many still are not now ready to commit to a stable way of life. That demands personal sacrifice.
Five Practical Ways to Pray with Mary
During Pope Benedict XVI’s General Audience on March 14 about praying with Mary, he pointed out times in Mary’s life that were pivotal to salvation history and in which she demonstrated particular aspects of prayer. When I read the Pope’s words, I was inspired to take them a step further and to explore ways in which his insights into the Blessed Mother’s prayer life could be incorporated on a practical level into our hectic daily lives.
St. Francis de Sales: Hearing the Word of God
A word is accepted or rejected for three reasons: because of the person who speaks it, because of the word that is spoken, because of those who hear it. For this word to be honored and accepted, the one who is speaking it must be a good man, a virtuous man, one worthy of being believed. Otherwise, rather than being accepted, it will be rejected, despised. Further, what is said must be good and true. Finally, those who hear it must be good, prepared to receive it; if not, it will be neither accepted, honored, nor kept.
Questions Answered: Does Hell Exist? And, Civil Law vs. Moral Law
Question: I heard that, recently, some Christian theologians are denying the existence of hell? Can you tell me if we must believe in hell?
Answer: The existence of hell is de fide from the Athanasian Creed, which teaches: “But those who have done evil will go into eternal fire.” This is fully ratified in the Dogmatic Constitution, Benedictus Deus. In this document, Benedict XII meant to resolve eschatological issues: “According to God’s general ordinance, the souls of those who die in a personal grievous sin, descend immediately into hell, where they will be tormented by the pains of hell.”
Resurrection Series – Part 3 – Is the Bible Just a Myth?
Throughout this week I’m blogging on the most climactic event in all of history: the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Is it true? Did the Bible get it right? Are there other plausible alternatives? Wading through Flannery O’Conner, myth-spinning fishermen, Homer’s Iliad, legendary body-snatchers, a crucified Judas, the Battle of Waterloo, and hallucinating ghost-whisperers, I’ll seek to convince you, before Holy Week, that the Resurrection is not just a good story but a literal, historical reality.
7 Connections Between the Womb and the Tomb
Usually falling on March 25th, 9 months before Christmas Day, the Solemnity of the Annunciation was moved this year to March 26th, which gave a great many people the opportunity to take part in the Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, ending today. It’s fitting that we should consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary during Lent, but in all truth, on this solemnity, we cannot help but look toward Christ’s Passion and Death.
God’s Game Plan (John 3:16-21)
John 3:16-21: ‘Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son. On these grounds is sentence pronounced: that though the light has come into the world men have shown they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. And indeed, everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, for fear his actions should be exposed; but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’
5 Steps to Help Catholics Stop Failing at Online Activism (and Start Winning)
You read me right: Catholics are failing at online activism.
Sure, if you’re reading this, you probably know a heck of a lot more than your average Catholic about online activism, but still, when it comes to this subject in general, we Catholics are way behind.
The reason Catholics need to start winning at online activism isn’t about numbers on a scoreboard. Social media activism is a new major force which influences the outcome of battles we care about.
Why Catholics make the sign of the cross
I used to make the sign of the cross casually as a nice gesture for beginning and ending my prayers. But about a decade ago, probably nudged by the Holy Spirit, I took it more seriously.
I began to sign myself more frequently with faith and reverence. I did not think much about it, but after a year I noticed that I seemed to be doing measurably better in my Christian life. I was praying with more passion, resisting my bad inclinations somewhat more effectively, and relating to others more kindly.
Kindness Can Kill if Love is Unwilling to Wound
We live in a reductionist culture that has tended to reduce love to kindness. The results are often quite problematic as we shall see.
Kindness is a very great thing and has an important place in our relationships. Kindness is evidenced by goodness and charitable behavior, a pleasantness, tenderness and concern for others.
According to Aristotle, kindness is an emotion manifesting itself by the desire to help somebody in need, without expecting anything in return. Peter Kreeft defines kindness as “sympathy, with the desire to relieve another’s suffering.”
“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over:” My Mother’s Deathbed Conversion
“Never, ever, ever give up.” Thus said Winston Churchill in October 1941, in the shortest of his speeches. As the WW II statesman applied this maxim famously to political life, so too might we apply the principle of perseverance to our personal lives when the warfare is spiritual in form.
Perseverance works in tandem with the cardinal virtue of fortitude as we “fight the good fight” to the finish, whatever situation we may face. Even within the family, perseverance is essential. So it proved to be in the case of my dying mother, more than a dozen years ago.
Fr. Higgins: The Man I Saw Brought Back to Life
Who doesn’t enjoy a good BBQ with friends? When I was asked to a young couple’s home for a Young Adult Ministry Home Mass and BBQ I packed my Mass kit and off I went. I arrived about 6:00 pm with a hearty appetite and was greeted by about 15 young people. Then the phone rang and everything changed. I had to drive about 10 miles to a hospital where there was an emergency call.
‘My wife, she had an abortion here last Friday’
Much attention in a 40 Days for Life campaign is on the mother and her unborn child — and saving the life of the baby scheduled to be aborted. But each of those children has a father — someone who is legally in no man’s land. He has no rights — and often no influence.
Steve, the 40 Days for Life coordinator in Glendale, California, tells the story of one such man — a guy he refers to as “Bill.”
When Will Christ Come? Some Basics of Catholic Eschatology
In certain Protestant circles (not all), especially among the Evangelicals there is a strong and often vivid preoccupation with signs of the Second Coming of Christ. Many of the notions that get expressed are either erroneous, or extreme. Some of these erroneous notions are rooted in a misunderstanding of the various Scriptural genres. Some are rooted in reading certain Scriptures in isolation from the wider context of the whole of Scripture. And some are rooted in reading one text, and disregarding other texts that balance it.
Catholicism and Suffering
When a Catholic goes into a Protestant church, he will often notice a cross or crosses, but usually without a corpus. Catholic churches almost always have a crucifix; Orthodox churches also, but sometimes two-dimensional rather than three-dimensional. Some Catholic churches are noted for very graphic depictions of the wounds and suffering features of Christ crucified. This may give us an indication of the uniquely Catholic perspective on suffering.
How I Memorized My Favorite Prayer in Sixty Seconds
I recently made a commitment to say the Morning Offering every day. I’d been having trouble making time for longer prayer sessions, so I figured that the least I could do would be to start each morning with that short prayer, which says simply:
Mystery solved? Turin Shroud linked to Resurrection of Christ
For centuries the Turin Shroud, regarded by some as the burial cloth of Jesus, by others as the most elaborate hoax in history, has inspired extraordinary and conflicting passions. Popes, princes and paupers have for 700 years been making pilgrimages the length of Europe to stand in its presence while scientists have dedicated their whole working lives to trying to explain rationally how the ghostly image on the cloth, even more striking when seen as a photographic negative, and matching in every last detail the crucifixion narrative, could have been created. And still a final, commonly agreed answer remains elusive, despite carbon-dating in 1988 having pronounced it a forgery.
A Dominican and a Jesuit Walk Into a Bar…. 4 Catholic Jokes
1. Cast the First Stone…
Jesus was walking along one day, when He came upon a group of people surrounding a lady of ill repute. It was obvious that the crowd was preparing to stone her, so Jesus made His now-famous statement, “Let the person who has no sin cast the first stone.”
The crowd was shamed and one by one began to turn away. All of a sudden, a lovely little woman made her way through the crowd. Finally getting to the front, she tossed a pebble towards the woman.
Jesus looks over and says, “I really hate it when you do that, Mom.”