5th Sunday of Lent – Entering the Passion-tide

Stock Video Footage of sun rays illuminating a valley ...

Give me justice, O God,
and plead my cause against a nation that is faithless.
From the deceitful and cunning rescue me,
for you, O God, are my strength. (Psalm 43: 1-2)

As we ‘celebrate’ this 5th Sunday of Lent, we are just now entering the period of time in the Church’s’ liturgical calendar, referred to as Passion-tide. Normally, as we enter the Church for Mass on this Sunday, we find that all the holy water has been drained from the fonts and we see that all of the statues are covered with purple veils, from the looks of it, something has changed… Normally, with the images covered, our hearts and minds are prompted to meditate on what is coming next. That time in the world’s history in which Christ went off to the Garden to pray before He was to bear the weight of the world’s sins. It was a time of intense suffering and desolation as He went off alone to prepare for the  Sacrifice that was soon to be made. The Sacrifice He made out of love for man, by allowing for Himself to be condemned for something He did not do and by dying for us so that our sins might be forgiven.

Normally, it is during these days of Passion-tide, that we are called to walk the road with Christ as He made His way to Calvary. It is a brutal walk…. not for the faint of heart… Yet, as Christians, we are called to participate, somehow, even in our meagerness, to try and ease the burden of the Cross He carried for us and our salvation. He calls each of us to this road. We are each called to ponder and meditate on that fateful day. These stark disciplines of veiling the statues are to help us to remove all the distractions of the world and allow ourselves to be veiled in the same darkness that had shrouded the world… including His followers... of being ‘without‘ Christ, while they waited for His Promise to be fulfilled.

If your Church has remained open for private prayer, find the courage to go and spend some time with the Lord hidden in the tabernacle. If you are able, try to notice how empty and bare the altars with the veiled statuary make you feel.  In the quietness of God, let  your eyes rest upon Him in the tabernacle. Let your heart rest on His presence in the Eucharist. Let yourself meditate upon His Passion and how He suffered for each one of us. Blow by brutal blow... how He endured it all… patiently and without complaint. As we meditate upon His great love for us, let us unite our hearts with His and pray for those who suffer today.  Those who are suffering their own brutal blows. Those who will be forced to spend their last moments on this earth… separated from everyone… those who will not only suffer… but especially, those who will die alone… and pray for them.

This year, Lent has been different. We didn’t have to wait for this 5th Sunday of Lent, for our Passion-tide to begin… No, because of this virus and everything that it has taken with it, we have been physically separated from Christ in the Eucharist for fourteen days. Restrictions have been imposed upon us as a means of trying to contain the spread of this pandemic. Restrictions that teeter on the border of all out fear... This year, Catholics, the world over, have been called to sacrifice our religious obligations … Our ‘oneness‘ with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. We have been ‘convinced’ that our health security comes with a deep, deep price… We are being told that the Rock upon which Christ built His Church has been deemed by those in government authority to be ‘non essential’….

It has left many a hearts to ache, and I can honestly say,  it is a sacrifice that I would not have made on my own. .. it is a much more difficult Lent than the one I had chosen for myself. But I shouldn’t complain. God knows what we need. Especially now, as I hear about all of the faithful who are being left to die alone. Don’t kid yourself, with these new restrictions, many are dying without family and without the sacraments, it has become clear to me that God is calling for the rest of us to do more. He is calling us to do a small part in carrying His Cross of Redemption.

During these days of Passion-tide, let us not neglect our duty in serving and loving God just because Mass has been canceled. Many churches remain open for private prayer… but even if you are praying from home, there is much we can do. From right where we are. These ‘social distancing’ restrictions are forcing us to examine our faithfulness to the Lord. Are we going to allow ourselves to fall into the chaos of the world and leave Christ alone? This goes back to a message we have heard all of our lives … “we are to find Christ in everyone we meet”. Have we succeeded? Are we looking at our neighbors, or those we rush past in the stores as Christ? I ask, Are we even looking at them anymore? Dear Lord, help me in my littleness to have the courage to do Your Will….

At a time when the Church calls us to focus our attention on Christ’s suffering, are we recognizing the suffering in our neighbors? I am not trying to undermine the Lord’s suffering by any means… but we are Christians are we not? And in many places the churches are closed, and many have been ‘physically’ separated from Christ in the Eucharist. What are we doing? Are we living disciples of Christ and doing His work? I know we will never be “Christ”, but that is what we are called to do. To be Christ.

Have I lost my mind? No. We are called to follow Him. To do as He would do. Not just pray as He would pray. I don’t think it is just a cliche… something that sounds good. We are actually supposed to be Him in the world, to the world. Or have we abandoned the Lord and our Cross of redemption altogether? Christ died for us… freely giving of Himself so that we might live. Are we giving? Or are we so concerned with our own well being and safety that not only are we  neglecting  our duty to God but to our neighbors as well? Perhaps we might reexamine our own motives for how we live each day.  Just what am I getting at?

Well, for starters, everything has been stripped away. All those ‘normal’ distractions, that so often pull us away from our Christian duties. Isn’t it ironic that during this time of Lent when we are supposed to rid ourselves of worldly distraction, that God has allowed for this. He has allowed everything to be taken away. The good and the bad. The nonstop sporting events as well as everything that vies for our time… that vies for our hearts... Some might think there is another reason for all of this, and perhaps there might be. But as a faithful follower of Christ, I’d have to stake my life on the fact that God is indeed in control of all of this. He will not abandon us and He will get us through this, as He does everything else, to help us become the best He created us to be. Stay strong my friends and God bless.

Good Friday: On the Mystery of the Cross and of Human ...

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless

and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible

look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us 

so that in difficult moments we might not despair

nor become despondent

but with great confidence

submit ourselves to Your Holy Will

which is Love and Mercy Itself. Amen.

Jesus I trust in You.

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Prayer from Fr. Bill- During This Time of Pestilence

The following is from Father Bill Peckman on a post he wrote for facebook. It is beautiful, and there are plenty of things to think about as you pray and read through it. Enjoy….

As I am watching the Urbi and Orbi the following prayer has welled up in my heart:

My Precious Lord,

The world says, “If you are the Son God, accommodate and approve of my faithlessness and half-heartedness toward you. Accommodate and approve of my abandoning your altar and your house so that I may worship whatever idol I choose. Facilitate my abandonment of the Day of the Lord and may my idols bless me abundantly. “

Because you are the Son God, have mercy on me for my half-heartedness, faithlessness, abandonment of your House and your altar. Forgive me for my abandonment of the Day of the Lord as I pursued idols. By your grace, help me lay aside and destroy every idol I have allowed to control my life, energy, and time. Welcome me back into your House and to your Altar. Create a new heart in me O Lord.

The world says, “If you are the Son of God, accommodate and approve of my abuse of your gift of sexuality. Accommodate and approve of every denigration of my own flesh and the flesh of my neighbor. Ignore the consequences of our denigration, including the violent end of what children are conceived so that I may do as I please.”

Because you are the Son of God, have mercy on me for my recklessness, denigration, and abuse of the great gift of sexuality. Make me aware of the holiness of my body and body of others. By your grace help me to turn from all debasement of the flesh and so be fit as your disciple. Create a new heart in me O Lord.

The world says, “If you are the Son of God, accommodate and approve of my greed, wastefulness, gluttony. Accommodate and approve of my neglect of the welfare of my neighbor; facilitate my accrual of whatever I desire so that I may do as I please.

Because you are the Son of God, have mercy on me for the times I placed my wants before others needs. Forgive me of the neglect I have shown to those around me. Fill my heart, O lord, with your love, that I may love as you love. May that love be shown in my selflessness, charity, and mercy. Create a new heart in me O Lord.

The world says, “If you are the Son of God, overlook all my sins, and allow me into heaven; not because I wish to be with you, but so that I can be perpetually self indulgent. Facilitate my open rebellion of you and Your Father. Be pleased to have me as your rival and not your son or daughter. Accommodate and approve my disregard of you for now and eternity so that I may do as I please.

Because you are the Son of God, forgive me my sins, wash me in your waters of purification, feed me with Your Flesh and Blood so that I may have life now and for eternity. Draw me from presumption, disbelief, and all self-destructive behaviors that separate me from you so that I may come into your Kingdom as you Son or daughter. Create a clean heart in me O Lord.

O Lord, when this pestilence has passed, show me the way to you in all things. Guide me away from the deceit of the Devil and into your own truth. Welcome me again into your House and to Your altar, which I pledge to never abandon for another idol again.

Amen.

Jesus with Euchariistic Heart

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Laetare Sunday… We Are Supposed to Rejoice?- Sermon From Fr. Royce Gregerson

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work.”

It would seem that Christ’s words in the Gospel are being fulfilled. Amidst a global pandemic and a prohibition of any public gathering that precludes the possibility of the faithful’s participation in the Eucharist, we seem to be in a spiritual night when the work of the Church cannot be accomplished. In this grave and unprecedented situation in the life of the Church, it would be easy to start assigning blame. Some would blame the iniquities of the world, or even sin within the Church – God’s just punishment for a world, and maybe even a Church, gone astray. There is definitely some truth here. We are in need of a big “wake up call.” But this idea is also insufficient.

Our Lord tells the disciples today that the man’s blindness is not because of his sin or his parents’ sin, but “that the works of God might be made visible.” And this, my brothers and sisters, is the point of departure for our own reflection today. What are the works of God that He wants to make visible, here and now?

It is deeply ironic that the first Sunday on which we are not able physically to gather as the Body of Christ is Laetare Sunday, when the Church bids us rejoice in the midst of Lent. Rejoice? Rejoice?

(To enjoy the rest of this brilliant sermon click on the following link.)

 What do we have to rejoice about? 

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A Reminder For the Faithful

 

fulton sheen priests need to be priests

During this difficult time when it seems that every aspect of our faith is being tested, or worse yet, stripped away, we the faithful have got to stay firm. We have got to buckle down on our prayer life. Many of our wonderful priests are posting Masses and other liturgical devotions online … we must participate, just because the bishops have locked us out of our traditional Lenten devotions . God is Still calling us. We mustn’t slack in our prayer life. God is still calling us to holiness. He wants us to be strong. Never has He called anyone to cowardice… be courageous… be not afraid…Listen to what God is calling you to do… do not shriek in fear and hide!

On this Friday of Lent do not forget to walk the path of Calvary with Our Dear Lord. Even if there are no public acts of devotion, do not hesitate to make the way of the Cross at home. There are many websites that have the Stations of the Cross, and I know that some of the local parishes are streaming them online. It is absolutely necessary that we do not forget this is a day of penance and abstinence … as are all Fridays of Lent. Even when the bishops have issued dispensations for Mass, we are still encouraged to use this time, this ‘suffering’ as a means of growing closer to the Lord.

Remember, the Church has faced many difficult times in Her long history… we have had courageous priests… courageous bishops… and now dear faithful reader... He is calling us to show the same kind of courage that only God can ask. Don’t fear and fall into anger. Pray and be calm. Allow the Lord to put your miserable little self  into action. Don’t settle for ‘just enough‘…. do more… always strive for holiness… always strive to be a saint. God bless!

images.duckduckgo.comJesus

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Feast of St. Joseph – Pray For Us

Traditional Latin Mass Community of Saint Mary Magdalen ...

Spouse of the Blessed Virgin, and Foster Father of Our Dear Lord Jesus

Oh St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

Oh St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your divine son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me, and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen

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St. Corona- Patron Saint Against Epidemics

As the world finds itself in the grip of the global Covid-19 Pandemic, many people are discovering and turning to a little known 2nd-Century Catholic Saint named Saint Corona, whose relics have been preserved since the 9th century, in a basilica in Anzù, Italy.

While little is known about the life of Saint Corona, it is generally accepted that she was martyred during the reign of Emperor Antoninus in the year 165 A.D. in Damascus.

The most common pious legend around Saint Corona involves another Saint, St. Victor, a Roman soldier of Italian ancestry, who was stationed in Damascus. Saint Victor was tortured for refusing to renounce his faith- including having his eyes gouged out, before ultimately being beheaded.

While Saint Victor was being tortured, the sixteen-year-old Saint Corona comforted and prayed for him. Because of this, she was arrested and interrogated by the Romans and found to be a Christian. According to some accounts, Saint Corona, was tied between to two bent palm trees and torn apart as the trunks were released. Her relics were transferred to Aachen around 1000 A.D. by Emperor Otto III.

In two separate investigations in 1943 and in 1981, the relics were dug up and confirmed to belong to St. Corona and St. Victor. Saint Corona is especially venerated in Austria and Bavaria as the patron saint of treasure hunters, since her name means “crown’ and since coins often feature the crown of the ruler who issued them it seemed fitting. She is often invoked for protection against epidemics.

Saint Corona’s feast day, along with Saint Victor, is May 14th.

from ucatholic.com

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The Prophetic Voice of the Lord

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
Lectionary: 238

Reading 1 Daniel  3:25, 34-43

Azariah stood up in the fire and prayed aloud:

“For your name’s sake, O Lord, do not deliver us up forever,
or make void your covenant.
Do not take away your mercy from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your beloved,
Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one,
To whom you promised to multiply their offspring
like the stars of heaven,
or the sand on the shore of the sea.
For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation,
brought low everywhere in the world this day
because of our sins.
We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in your presence today
as we follow you unreservedly;
for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now we follow you with our whole heart,
we fear you and we pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame,
but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your wonders,
and bring glory to your name, O Lord.”

For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins. As we sit in our living room watching the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on t.v., listening to the readings from the daily Missal, I am struck once again at the truly prophetic nature of God and His Holy Mother Church. With the fast pace in which this ‘virus’ seems to be traveling over all of the continents of our world, our president has once again imposed new guidelines for the citizens of the United States. Today, many of the bishops have made the difficult decision to close the doors to all the Catholic Masses as well, and we the faithful are left to watch the Mass on television and pray at home. Thankfully, we have EWTN, where the daily Mass is being shown several times a day, so we are still able to follow the daily readings and make a ‘Spiritual Communion’ in which to offer to the Lord.

But it just feels so different... everything about this is causing my gut to turn and topple. Last night, I was watching the news late into the evening, that coupled with a glass of iced tea, propelled me late into the wee hours of the morning, going over everything in my head.  One of the most damaging things I did during this time, was to goggle Wuhan China. Now, I am not even sure if what I viewed was the real deal or not, but it was eerie. There are street cameras all over the city, and nobody is seen in the streets. Wuhan China looks like a ghost town. It is very unsettling, to say the least.

Every time I was roused from sleep, I sat in the living room and prayed. There is such an unsettling feeling to those long hours of night when fear is attempting to gnaw at your soul… So there I sat, clinging to my rosary beads. I offered the Blessed Mother my simple prayers asking her to intercede and ask the Lord to comfort me in this time of distress. The hours dragged on. The pit of my stomach felt like a hollow void filling with anguish and (gasp!) fear, as the hours drug on, I could feel it spreading to my chest. I could actually feel my heart thumping in my chest. I prayed harder. One prayer in particular that I prayed was the final prayer from the Divine Mercy Chaplet…

Eternal God, in Whom Mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us, and increase Your Mercy in us, so that in difficult moments, we might not despair, nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your Holy Will, Which is Love and Mercy Itself … Amen

It wasn’t until sometime just after 4 a.m. that I was able to fall asleep. It had been a difficult night. But, God gave my tired body, and my weary soul comfort. And yet, there are still so many unanswered questions about this whole thing. And if for but a moment, I begin to take my eyes off of God,  I will wish that I hadn’t… for it is a frightful picture they are painting. The future of returning to a normal life seems to vanish the longer I listen to the news media peddle their fear. I know better. But lack of sleep makes me weak. ‘Uncharted territories’… make me uneasy… I know all of this… I have been here before… this vacuum of fear that threatens everything I have ever held close and dear. But that is why, this reading, this Word of God is so prophetic… If we calm those voices inside our heads, and place our  trust in the Lord, He will calm our hearts, and His Mercy will wash over us. Trust no man… Trust only in the Lord… God bless you my friends, stay strong.

“So let our sacrifice be in your presence today
as we follow you unreservedly;
for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now we follow you with our whole heart,
we fear you and we pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame,
but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your wonders,
and bring glory to your name, O Lord.”

 Oh Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my Trust in You.

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