Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter, Year C


A most holy and blessed Easter to all!

This meditation is from taken from an Easter sermon by Guerric of Igny:
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. And you also, if you watch daily at the threshold of wisdom, fixing your eyes on the doorway and, like the Magdalen, keeping vigil at the entrance to his tomb, you also will find what she found. You will know that what was written of wisdom was written of Christ: She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. Anyone who rises early to seek her will have no trouble; he will find her sitting at his gates. 
While it was still dark Mary had come to watch at the tomb, and she found Jesus whom she sought standing there in the flesh. But you must know him now according to the spirit, not according to the flesh, and you can be sure of finding his spiritual presence if you seek him with a desire like hers, and if he observes your persevering prayer. Say then to the Lord Jesus, with Mary’s love and longing: My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks for you. Make the psalmist’s prayer your own as you say: O God, my God, I watch for you at morning light; my soul thirsts for you. Then see if you do not also find yourselves singing with them both: In the morning fill us with your love; we shall exult and rejoice all our days.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday, Year C

The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.

This meditation is from a sermon by St. Peter Chrysologus (ca. 400-450):
Lamentation , Giotto (1304-1306)
It is by dying that your shepherd proves his love for you. When danger threatens his sheep and he sees himself unable to protect them, he chooses to die rather than to see calamity overtake his flock. What am I saying? Could Life himself die unless he chose to? Could anyone take life from its author against his will? He himself declared: “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again; no one takes it from me.” To die, therefore, was his own choice; immortal though he was, he allowed himself to be put to death.
By allowing himself to be taken captive, he overpowered his opponent; by submitting he overcame him; by his own execution he penalized his enemy, and by dying he opened the door to the conquest of death for his whole flock. And so the Good Shepherd lost none of his sheep when he laid down his life for them; he did not desert them, but kept them safe; he did not abandon them but called them to follow him, leading them by the way of death through the lowlands of this passing world to the pastures of life.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holy Thursday, Year C

On this most sacred day, Holy Thursday, we pray that the peace of which the Eucharist is the sign and source may fill our world.

We offer for your meditation this English translation of Ubi Caritas, the IX-Xth century hymn sung the Offertory at today's Mass:
Where charity and love are, God is there. 
Christ's love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart. 
Where charity and love are, God is there.
As we are gathered into one body,
Beware, lest we be divided in mind.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease,
And may Christ our God be in our midst.
Where charity and love are, God is there.
And may we with the saints also,
See Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good,
Unto the ages through infinite ages. Amen.
Last Supper, Jesus and St. John detail,  Taddeo Gaddi,  Santa Croce, Florence

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm (Passion) Sunday, Year C

"It is a moving experience each year on Palm Sunday," said Pope Benedict in 2011, "as we go up the mountain with Jesus, towards the Temple, accompanying him on his ascent. On this day, throughout the world and across the centuries, young people and people of every age acclaim him, crying out: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” He continued:
 But how can we keep pace with this ascent? Isn’t it beyond our ability? Certainly, it is beyond our own possibilities. From the beginning men and women have been filled – and this is as true today as ever – with a desire to “be like God,” to attain the heights of God by their own powers....
Entry into Jerusalem, Giotto, ca. 1305
The question of how man can attain the heights, becoming completely himself and completely like God, has always engaged mankind. It was passionately disputed by the Platonic philosophers of the third and fourth centuries. For them, the central issue was finding the means of purification which could free man from the heavy load weighing him down and thus enable him to ascend to the heights of his true being, to the heights of divinity. Saint Augustine, in his search for the right path, long sought guidance from those philosophies. But in the end he had to acknowledge that their answers were insufficient, their methods would not truly lead him to God. To those philosophers he said: recognize that human power and all these purifications are not enough to bring man in truth to the heights of the divine, to his own heights. And he added that he should have despaired of himself and human existence had he not found the One who accomplishes what we of ourselves cannot accomplish; the One who raises us up to the heights of God in spite of our wretchedness: Jesus Christ who from God came down to us and, in his crucified love, takes us by the hand and lifts us on high.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

5th Sunday of Lent, Year C

As we approach Holy Week, the Gospel given us for the Fifth Sunday of Lent is the story of the woman taken in adultery: The scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman who had been caught committing adultery, hoping to trap Jesus. St. Augustine comments:
But look at the way our Lord’s answer upheld justice without forgoing clemency. He was not caught in the snare his enemies had laid for him; it is they themselves who were caught in it. He did not say the woman should not be stoned, for then it would look as though he were opposing the law. But he had no intention of saying: “Let her be stoned,” because he came not to destroy those he found but to seek those who were lost. Mark his reply. It contains justice, clemency, and truth in full measure. Let the one among you who has never sinned be the first to throw a stone at her....
Jesus and the Woman taken in Adultery, Magdeburg ivories, ca. 962-968
This, unquestionably, is the voice of justice, justice that pierced those men like a javelin. Looking into themselves, they realized their guilt, and one by one they all went out. Two remained behind: the miserable woman, and Mercy. The Lord raised his eyes, and with a gentle look he asked her: Has no one condemned you? She replied: No one, sir. And he said: Neither will I condemn you.
You see then that the Lord does indeed pass sentence, but it is sin he condemns, not people. One who approved of immorality would have said, “Neither will I condemn you. Go and live as you please; you can be sure that I will acquit you. However much you sin, I will release you from all penalty, and from the tortures of hell and the underworld.” He did not say that. He said: “Neither will I condemn you; you need have no fear of the past, but beware of what you do in the future. Neither will I condemn you: I have blotted out what you have done; now observe what I have commanded, in order to obtain what I have promised.”

Sunday, March 6, 2016

4th Sunday of Lent, Year C

In today's Gospel, taken from Luke 15:1-3, 11-32, Jesus tells the moving parable of the Prodigal Son. In his weekly General Audience on this Sunday three years ago, Pope Francis told the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square:
In recent months, more than once I have made reference to the parable of the prodigal son, or rather of the merciful father (cf. Lk 15:11-32). The youngest son leaves the house of his father, squanders everything, and decides to return because he realizes he made a mistake, though he no longer considers himself worthy of sonship. He thinks he might be welcomed back as a servant. Instead, the father runs to meet him, embraces him, gives him back his dignity as a son, and celebrates. This parable, like others in the Gospel, shows well the design of God for humanity.
Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt van Rijn (detail), ca. 1699
What is this God’s plan? It is to make us all the one family of his children, in which each of you feels close to Him and feels loved by Him – feels, as in the Gospel parable, the warmth of being the family of God. In this great design, the Church finds its source. [The Church is] is not an organization founded by an agreement among [a group of] persons, but - as we were reminded many times by Pope Benedict XVI - is the work of God: it was born out of the plan of love, which realises itself progressively in history. The Church is born from the desire of God to call all people into communion with Him, to His friendship, and indeed, as His children, to partake of His own divine life. The very word “Church”, from the Greek ekklesia, means “convocation.”

God calls us, urges us to escape from individualism, from the tendency to withdraw into ourselves, and calls us – convokes us – to be a part of His family. This convocation has its origin in creation itself. God created us in order that we might live in a relationship of deep friendship with Him, and even when sin had broken this relationship with God, with others and with creation, God did not abandon us.