Thursday, May 18, 2017

Holy Spirit Novena begins May 26th, 2017

Please join us!
To celebrate Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church, we are going to pray the Holy Spirit Novena! It is a powerful and moving novena that is meant to help us open ourselves up to the third person of the Holy Trinity.
Even though we pray this novena as a preparation for the feast of Pentecost, you can also pray a novena to the Holy Spirit any time that you want.


So, let us pray with great confidence and trust in our God who is all Good and Loving.

Satanists Are Casting Spells on Our President













 

"By thy holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, deliver us from evil!"
Satanists are promoting a movement to “Bind Trump” with “Magic Resistance”. They are regularly casting spells “to bind Donald Trump and all those who abet him every waning crescent moon at midnight ending when he is driven from office.” The spells began on February 24.

The witches’ spells involve lengthy incantations, calling on spirits and “demons of the infernal realms” to bind our President so that “he may fail utterly, that he may do no harm.”

 
Satanists are called to cast spells next Tuesday, May 23, at 11:59 PM. We are called to pray and fast against them, as Jesus said these are the weapons to defeat Satan. (See Matthew 17:21). “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:10).

This is very serious. Satan has power to wreak havoc and those who invoke him empower him. Perhaps these spells are having their effect and we are seeing their results played out in the daily media attacks upon our President and his own apparent disorientation and confusing statements and actions.

However, we have the greater power with Jesus Christ who conquered Satan by his passion, suffering, death and resurrection.

St. Paul said to pray “for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

So let us pray for America and our President by invoking our Patroness and our Queen, Our Lady of America, through the Novena to Our Lady of America for True Change and Hope for America.

You may see the Satanists’ websites here:

https://www.facebook.com/bindtrump/

https://www.facebook.c to “bind Trump” with “magic resistance” begin the spells on February 24.Om/groups/OfficialBindTrump/?fref=mentions


by:  Dan Lynch

Saturday, May 13, 2017

This is the miracle that led to the Fatima children's canonization

Fatima, Portugal, May 12, 2017 CNA/EWTN News.- Tomorrow, on the 100th anniversary of Mary’s first appearance at Fatima, Pope Francis will canonize Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the three shepherd children who witnessed the Marian apparitions.

A press conference preceding the Pope’s arrival highlighted the miracle that paved the way for their canonization. The miracle involved a Brazilian boy named Lucas, who was miraculously healed through the intercession of the shepherd children.

Jacinta and Francisco both died before age 10 and will become the youngest non-martyrs to be canonized. Sister Lucia, the third visionary, lived much longer, dying in 2005 at the age of 97. The Church is currently examining documents and collecting testimonies for her beautification cause.

In recounting the story of their son’s healing in the face of almost certain death, João Batista and his wife Lucila Yurie could not hold back tears.

“On March 3, 2013, before 8:00 pm, our son Lucas, who was playing with his little sister Eduarda, fell out of a window from a height of 20 feet. He was five years old,” related the boy's father.

“His head hit the ground and he sustained a very serious injury, which caused a loss of brain tissue,” Batista said during the press conference at the Fatima Shrine.

Teetering between life and death, “he was given medical care in our city, Juranda, and given the severity of his condition, he was transferred to the hospital in Campo Mourao, Parana.”

“When we got there, Lucas was in a deep coma. His heart stopped twice, and they performed an emergency operation.”

It was at that moment that “we began to pray to Jesus and Our Lady of Fatima, to whom we have a great devotion,” Batista said.

 “The next day we called the Carmelite convent of Campo Mouro to ask the sisters to pray for the boy,” he said. But the community was observing a period of silence, and so the message did not get to them.

As the days went by, Lucas became worse, his father recounted. On March 6, the doctors considered transferring him to another hospital, since their facility did not have the necessary care for a boy of his age.

“They told us that the chance of the boy surviving was low, and if he did survive, his recovery would be very slow,” likely dealing with “severe cognitive disabilities or even remaining in a vegetative state.”

On March 7, Batista said, “we called the convent again.” That time, they were able to get their prayer request to the sisters.

“One of them ran to the relics of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta, which were next to the tabernacle, and felt the impulse to pray the following prayer: ‘Shepherds, save this child, who is a child like you’…she also persuaded the other sisters to pray to the little shepherds to intercede for him.”

“And so they did,” Batista said. “In the same way, all of us, the family, began to pray to the little shepherds, and two days later, on March 9, Lucas woke up and began to speak, even asking for his little sister.” On the 11th, he left the ICU and was discharged from the hospital a few days later.

Since that time, Lucas “has been completely well and has no symptoms or after effects,” the child’s father said. “He has the same intelligence (as he did before the accident), the same character, everything is the same.”

“The doctors, some of them non-believers, said that his recovery had no explanation.”

Batista and his wife are grateful to the doctors who cared for their son, and to the postulator of the canonization cause of the little shepherds, “for all the care given throughout this process.”

But they are especially grateful to God. “We thank God for the cure of Lucas and we know with all the faith we have in our hearts, that this miracle was obtained through the intercession of the little shepherds Francisco and Jacinta.”

“We feel a great joy because this is the miracle that leads to their canonization, but especially we feel the blessing of the friendship of these two children who helped our child and who now help our family,” Batista said.

 

Cardinal Bertone talks about the third secret of Fatima

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone former Vatican secretary of state speaks with EWTN on May 4 2017. Photo credit: Daniel Ibanez 1 CNA
The third secret of Fatima deals with past events, but at the same time its call to conversion is always current, always up to date, said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State emeritus.

In an interview with CNA, Cardinal Bertone spoke about the third secret of Fatima, how the decision to release the secret was made, and his memories of his three meetings with Sr. Lucia, the longest-living of the three shepherd children who had been the custodian of the secret until it was released by the Vatican at the request of Pope John Paul II.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s appearance to three shepherd children in 1917. Pope Francis is making a two-day pilgrimage to Fatima May 12-13 to celebrate the centenary and to canonize two of the children, Francisco and Jacinta Marta.

The “third secret of Fatima” refers to a message during the apparitions predicting suffering and persecution of the Pope and the Church. Unlike the first two secrets – a vision of hell and a prediction of World War II – the third secret was not initially revealed by Sr. Lucia. At first, she said that Mary had not yet permitted her to reveal it to the world. Later, the Vatican chose to keep it secret until 2000, when it was finally revealed.

Fatima seers become the Church's youngest non martyred Saints

Standing before the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Pope Francis canonized two shepherd children who saw Mary at Fatima, but more importantly, he said, they heeded the call to pray for sinners and trust in the Lord.

"We declare and define Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto as saints," the pope said May 13 as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims broke out in applause before he finished speaking.

The relics of the young shepherd children, encased in two thin golden crosses, were placed in front of the famed statue of Our Lady of Fatima, the "lady dressed in white" as the siblings and their cousin described her.

The Marian apparitions began May 13, 1917, when 9-year-old Francisco and 7-year-old Jacinta, along with their 10-year-old cousin Lucia dos Santos, reported seeing the Virgin Mary. The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

After contracting influenza, Francisco died April 4, 1919, at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness Feb. 20, 1920, at the age of 9.

The children, beatified by St. John Paul II in 2000, are now the youngest non-martyrs to be declared saints by the Catholic Church.

Before his arrival at the shrine, the pope met privately with Portuguese Prime Minster Antonio Costa and then made his way into the sanctuary that houses the tombs of Sts. Francisco and Jacinta and their cousin Lucia, who died in 2005 at the age of 97. The diocesan phase of her sainthood cause concluded in February and now is under study at the Vatican.

Pope Francis stood for several minutes in front of the tombs with his eyes closed and head bowed. 

In his homily at the canonization Mass, the pope reflected on the brief lives of the young sibling saints, who are often remembered more for the apparitions rather than for their holy lives.

But it is Mary's message and example, rather than an apparition, is important, he told the crowd, which Portuguese authorities estimated at about 500,000 people.

"The Virgin Mother did not come here so that we could see her. We will have all eternity for that, provided, of course, that we go to heaven," the pope said. 

Instead, he continued, Mary's messages to the young children were a warning to all people about leading "a way of life that is godless and indeed profanes God in his creatures."

"Such a life -- frequently proposed and imposed -- risks leading to hell. Mary came to remind us that God's light dwells within us and protects us," the pope said. 

The hopeful message of Fatima, he said, is that men and women have a mother and like children clinging to her, "we live in the hope that rests on Jesus."

Pope Francis called on the pilgrims to follow the example of heroic virtue lived by St. Francisco and St. Jacinta, particularly their insistent prayer for sinners and their adoration of "the hidden Jesus" in the tabernacle. 

This continual presence of God taught to them by Mary, he said, "was the source of their strength in overcoming opposition and suffering."

By following their example, the pope said, Christians can become "a source of hope for others" and counter "the indifference that chills the heart" and "worsens our myopia."

"We do not want to be a stillborn hope! Life can survive only because of the generosity of other lives," he said. 

It is with the light of hope, the pope added, that the church can radiate "the true face of Jesus" and reach out to those in need. 

"Thus, may we rediscover the young and beautiful face of the church, which shines forth when she is missionary, welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love," he said.

Addressing the sick before concluding the Mass, Pope Francis said that Christ understands the "meaning of sorrow and pain" and, through the church, offers comfort to the afflicted just as it did for Sts. Francisco and Jacinta in their final moments. 

"That is the church's ministry: the church asks the Lord to comfort the afflicted like yourselves, and he comforts you, even in ways you cannot see. He comforts you in the depths of your hearts and he comforts you with the gift of strength," the pope said. 

The "hidden Jesus" the young shepherds adored in the Eucharist is also present "in the wounds of our brothers and sisters" where Christians can adore, seek and recognize Christ.

Pope Francis encouraged the sick present at Mass to "live their lives as a gift" and to not think of themselves simply "as the recipients of charitable solidarity" but rather "a spiritual resource, an asset to every Christian community."

"Do not be ashamed of being a precious treasure of the church," he said. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Our Lady of Fatima Novena 5/4 - 5/12


The same verse is said once each day for the nine days.

Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with a sincere love of this devotion, so that by meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in it, we may gather the fruits and obtain the conversion of sinners, the conversion of Russia, and this favor that I so earnestly seek, (mention your request) which I ask of you in this novena, for the greater glory of God, for your own honor, and for the good of all souls. Amen.
(Say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be three times each.)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Learning to Breathe: How Faith Got Us Through the ‘Pregnancy of Death’



When I wouldn’t abort my high-risk pregnancy, friends left, doctors scolded me, and family braced themselves for my possible death. But little Henry? He had some breathing lessons to teach me.

My four-year-old son, Henry, has a little song that he likes to chant: “Me and Mommy, best buddies together! Me and Mommy, best buddies forever!” I can’t help but smile when I hear this cheerful little chant, thinking to myself how very true it is. My pregnancy with Henry was probably the hardest out of my five pregnancies. And though it was the best pregnancy physically, emotionally, it was the toughest.
On November 22nd 2009, I had my fourth child—a beautiful baby girl who we named Anna. We spent the first week with her in complete happiness. Anna was a good baby. She nursed and slept well, and was for the most part, content. I now had two boys and two girls. Christmas was coming, and Anna’s big sister, Lucy, was going to turn four years old soon. Life was good.
Then on December 1st of that same year, as I was nursing Anna, I had a coronary dissection, which resulted in a massive heart attack. My life ended that day and when I woke up a week later on a vent, a whole new one began.
Believing that the dissection was connected to pregnancy hormones,  I was warned over and over to never get pregnant again. The thought of “no more babies” tore at my heart; I was only 35 and knew that I still had childbearing years ahead of me. But for the sake of my family, for the sake of the children I already had, I agreed to not have any more children.

“When is my baby brother coming?”

And then one day, a year later, my eight-year-old son asked me, “Mom, when is my baby brother coming? I want to play with him!” When I asked him what “baby brother” he was referring to, he answered, “The one in your belly.”
I laughed and told him that I had no baby in my belly. What he said next sent a supernatural fear that ran right through me: “Yes you do. You have a baby in your belly right now.”
Over the month, he repeated this three more times. Out of the blue, he would suddenly sigh and complain, “When is my baby brother coming? It’s taking so long!”
A few days later, I took a test. I was pregnant.

A pregnancy of fear

Unfortunately, there was no joy in this pregnancy, only fear. This fear was accompanied with much humiliation, as so many had a difficult time understanding how we could “allow” this pregnancy to happen. Relationships with family was strained, while other relationships with friends completely broke off. “How could you let this happen??” someone asked me. “How could you be so irresponsible??”
Though I felt that this question was unfair and none of their business, I informed them that we had practiced NFP. And with NFP, God has the final say.
Knowing I was going to need a lot of support, I looked up a doctor who claimed he was prolife. Expecting to find reassurance and comfort, I was stunned when this doctor advised that the best thing I could do was to abort before the baby grew any bigger. “Wait any longer, and it will just be more painful for both of you.” he said. That was the day I learned not everyone believes that life begins at conception.
My cardiologist was not happy with me either.  This hurt the most. Being his “rock star patient” who beat the odds against death, my doctors and nurses were full of praise and compliments every time they saw me.  But now, I sensed deep disappointment. Our doctor-patient relationship was strained as my doctor rolled up his sleeves to help me with this mess that I had gotten myself into.
Me and Dennis learned to keep our mouths shut about the pregnancy, though my growing belly was an all around pro-life statement wherever I went. “So how’s ‘the pregnancy of death’?” someone joked to me one day. Snide comments and anxious questions followed us wherever we went.
As days and weeks ticked by, I watched my belly grow bigger and bigger. The closer we came to the due date, the less time I felt I had to live. I spent a lot of time in front of the Blessed Sacrament asking God for strength to continue on with the pregnancy. There were times I was so overwhelmed with fear, I felt the temptation to end it. But the morals of my Catholic faith saved me from making such a decision. Knowing it was a serious sin, remembering it was a baby who had a right to life, gave me the courage to go on. Still, there were days when my faith was the only thing left to cling to.
Though my family was supportive, they were also afraid for me, and so for this reason, I didn’t feel I could really open up about my own fears. My friends who had supported me during my heart attack, bringing my family food and playing with my children while I recovered in the hospital, became very angry with me, stating that they “couldn’t watch me kill myself.” I lost all contact with them during my entire pregnancy. Even between me and Dennis, there was little joy. I bought baby items almost in secret, afraid to show some of the glimmer of excitement that was in my mother-heart for the baby I wanted to welcome. Having thought that we were through with children after my heart attack, we had gotten rid of all our baby things, so I had to buy everything all over again. I was absolutely thrilled to find the same bassinet that we had sold to a second-hand store still sitting there, waiting for us to buy it. I felt God’s loving encouragement despite the darkness of my pregnancy. I brought the bassinet home and set it up in our bedroom, happy to know that Max’s baby brother would share his same bassinet.

Breathing in, breathing out

As we neared the final days of pregnancy, I think my last straw was when my doctor advised me to make a living will. Others also encouraged me to do this, stating it would be much easier for them to know my wishes if I should die. So with a heavy heart, I wrote out my wishes that the baby be taken first, and if possible, save me too. I handed the note to Dennis and asked him to hide it. I didn’t want to see it.
One night,  I laid down on my bed for a rest. As I put my hands on my belly as I normally did, I felt it rise and fall. Confused, I looked down and realized that this was not coming from me. It was coming from the baby. Through my own belly, I could watch my baby breathe.
All babies in the womb do “practice breathing” at some point, preparing their lungs for birth. However, many moms aren’t aware of it or completely miss it since babies practice whenever they feel like it. Fortunately for me, Henry practiced breathing all the time. So much, in fact, that it was even caught on ultrasound. (See above pic.)
I watched in amazement as my baby breathed in and out, in and out, practicing breathing, preparing his body for his entrance into the world.  He was oblivious of the turmoil we were all in, or how his unexpected presence had turned our lives upside down. In his tiny mind, all was well in his world. He was warm and secure,  He was breathing, practicing, and living his life. This was a healing moment for me, watching my baby breathe.
I couldn’t get enough out of this miracle I was witnessing. Every day, Henry and I would breathe together. Excitedly I showed Dennis, putting his hand on my belly, waiting for the baby to practice breathing. And always on cue, little Henry would play his little trick, breathing in and out. In and out….
But mostly, at the end of the day, it would be just me and him, and we would breathe together. After a stressful appointment, or negative comments, I would shut the door of my room and lay quietly on my bed, waiting for him to show me he was eager to see me as I was learning to be to see him.
And soon, my belly would start to breathe all on its own. I would place one hand on my belly, and one hand on my heart, and together we practiced living our life quietly and simply, breathing in the breath of life and breathing out the negativity that wanted to kill us.

This gift of God

The day came for Henry to enter into the world and take his first real breath. He arrived by C-section, with me connected to heart monitors as a precaution. As I held him for the first time in my arms. I watched my baby breathe in and out, in and out. His weeks of practice paid off: he let out such a gusty loud cry that doctors and nurses were startled; believing that something had pinched him.
And those doctors? Most of them said I was “lucky.” One doctor said she was happy for me but wouldn’t treat me if I should get pregnant again. But one of them was humble enough to say, “I was wrong.”


Mom and Henry
Mom and Henry

Now, four years later, with my heart healthy and sound, life with five children can be a lot to handle. Me and Henry have a special relationship together, and though he doesn’t know it, I still find solace in his company. Sometimes after a busy day, as I tuck him in and watch him sleep, I put my hand on his belly and close my eyes, and we breathe together. Breathing in life, breathing negativity out. Breathing in God’s healing. Remembering that rocky time together. But mostly, cherishing this gift . . . the gift of Henry, and the gift of grace that helped me trust in God, the author of life.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Divine Mercy Sunday 2017

From my prospective it has been a long hard lent. Lots of lessons to be learned. The most profound move for me has been to see and understand the scripture relating to the last 40 days of Christ Life from His prospective. Perhaps it is impossible to really grasp all that He was going through but He gives some pretty big hints.

Mark 14:34 " My Soul is sorrowful to the point of death," "Stay here and keep watch with Me."

Why was Jesus so sorrowful?? Why did He groan with emotional pain as He prayed alone in the garden?? Why did He sweat Blood?? Perhaps part of the answer lies in another statement He made,  Mark 26:40, "Could you not watch one hour with Me," He asked Peter.

Why did Jesus say to His Father, "My Father if it is possible let this cup pass from Me, yet not as I will but as You will."

I believe that the lack of faith of those closest to Jesus was enough for Him to be in despair. Jesus gave everything but His Life for them while walking and talking and teaching them for 3 1/2 years. If they didn't get it how was anyone else going to? How could He have failed to the point of them not even being able to pray for one hour with Him?

So we move on and Jesus is betrayed to an even deeper level by Peter and the other disciples. He is scourged, mocked and murdered while those closest to Him watch ran away or directly deny knowing Him.

At one point Jesus called Peter out for not believing what Jesus told him, "Get behind Me Satan." How serious it was and is not to believe the teaching of Jesus.  For Peter to decide in front of the others that the most important and difficult part of the message was not true because it, "hurt too much"  was very serious. Was Peter thinking of Jesus or himself. Did he not so enjoy being with the Master and being a follower that he didn't want anything painful to change all of that??  As a follower you can accept some of the teaching or reject it but as a teacher you must tell the whole truth, believe and live the whole truth. A much more difficult, uncomfortable  position to be in.

It all had to change in order for the message of Jesus to be available to this day. In order that there would be a resurrection, that Jesus would return and continue to teach those who mocked and scorned and crucified Him. I have wondered if any of them apologized to Him. He met them were they were at, allowing Thomas to put his hand in the Wound on His Side. Thomas needed to be absolutely sure it was Jesus living not an imposter. Some people are like that. No matter how much Christ shows His Love for them they have to be sure.

As I consider this day as Divine Mercy Sunday scheduled so soon after Easter it is because of the  great Mercy shown to His disciples, His friends  so soon after the crucifixion. From the Diary of St. Faustina, "The greatest sinner deserves My Mercy the most."

Mankind sinned greatly to His face and continues to this day.  We can't pretend that we are actually better than those who turned Him over to pilot and said, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him."

It is a struggle moment by moment not to be a taker but to somehow try to
be a giver.

To be a person who says, "Father forgive them for they know not what they
do. "

 And go on to wash their feet.

For me this is what Divine Mercy is about, 1 John 4:19: "We Love Because He
First Loved Us."

Most Sincerely, on this Glorious Day,

~Margaret of Souls for Jesus

Sunday, April 16, 2017

SUNDAY APRIL 16, 2017 – EASTER SUNDAY

You Shall Believe

Gospel - JN 20:1-9
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church
2174 Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica)—Sunday.
647 O truly blessed Night, sings the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil, which alone deserved to know the time and the hour when Christ rose from the realm of the dead! But no one was an eyewitness to Christ’s Resurrection and no evangelist describes it. No one can say how it came about physically. Still less was its innermost essence, his passing over to another life, perceptible to the senses. Although the Resurrection was an historical event that could be verified by the sign of the empty tomb and by the reality of the apostles’ encounters with the risen Christ, still it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history. This is why the risen Christ does not reveal himself to the world, but to his disciples, “to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.”
625 Christ’s stay in the tomb constitutes the real link between his passible state before Easter and his glorious and risen state today. The same person of the “Living One” can say, “I died, and behold I am alive for evermore.”

From “The Stations of the Cross” Testimony of Catalina Rivas (Pg.9)
THE FIFTEENTH STATION
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
† We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.
Holy Friday was followed by the glorious dawn of the Sunday of the Resurrection. It is My redeeming Blood that waters the arid lands that have become the deserts in the world of souls. And this Blood will always run over the earth as long as there is one man to save. I have not died on the Cross, and gone through a thousand tortures to populate Hell with souls, but rather, to populate Heaven with chosen ones. I say again, My children, poor sinners! Do not distance yourselves from Me. I wait for you night and day at the Tabernacle. I will not reproach you for your crimes; I will not throw your sins in your face. What I will do is to wash you with the Blood of My wounds. Do not be afraid, come to Me. You do not know how much I love you. Come now, My children. Come to Me. I am your Lord Who awaits you in the Tabernacle. I am completely present in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Do you want to know Me? Then come and spend time with Me. I love you, dear children.
"Come to Me now, I am waiting for you."
† Jesus, most obedient, meek and humble of heart, have mercy on us.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What Everyone Missed About Christ During Holy Week (Including Me)

It happened at Mass today.

I was sitting comfortably in the pew taking in the extended reading of Matthew’s Gospel for Palm Sunday and Holy Week when it struck me like a bolt out of the blue.

Everyone missed Christ. Everyone.

Let me explain.

As Jesus Christ’s life came to a catastrophic and horrific end, he was utterly and tragically alone. Oh certainly, God the Father was still united in his inextricably triune fashion with Son and Spirit. But as far as finding company on this dark road to death (even when considering his friends and family), Jesus was all by himself. Though many watched and wailed, lamented and followed, they didn’t – couldn’t – fully understand the drama unfolding before their very eyes. If to sympathize is to feel sorry for someone out of some semblance of understanding, it was impossible sympathize in the purest form. If to empathize is to envision a walk in someone’s shoes, no one could bear this path. Everybody – everybody – misunderstood him. And, thus, he was alone.

Somehow, in spite of best (or worst) intentions, everyone seemed to miss out on who Jesus Christ was and what he was trying to do.

Just consider Holy Week…

As they raised their palms and threw their cloaks on the dusty path ahead of him, some lauded a prophet, others a king, still others shouted for the miracle-worker who had healed a father, mended a grandmother, raised a daughter, cured a friend. But still, they missed who he truly was.

As the disciples shared the somber Passover with him and listened to his strange words mixing the breaking of bread with visions of a broken body and a shared cup of wine with the spilling of innocent blood, they wondered at his message. And when he described his betrayal and dispersion of the disciples, they fumed and fussed and denied and assured. But somehow, they missed what he was saying.

As he asked for his friends to sit vigil in the garden, imploring them, just once, for their strength during his blackest moment of fear and weakness, he found them soundly sleeping as the pall of death encroached upon him. They missed how, in suffering, he ached for their support.

As Judas’ warm kiss pressed upon his cheek, the traitor hoped the silver would enrich their work and the authorities would advance their cause. But as the King of Peace was roughly handled and taken away, Judas missed the kind of king Jesus was called to be.

The Sanhedrin shouting blasphemy, the Roman Governor sneering “What is Truth?”, the bloodthirsty crowds demanding crucifixion, the mocking guards ironically crowning him with thorns, the smug passersby asserting upon his crucifixion, “He could save others; he cannot save himself,” and the thief at his side cursing him for not rescuing them from the jaws of hell. All saw in him what they wanted to see, and missed what he was.

And in the darkest hours of evil’s apparent victory – the death of the man they thought God – the truest believers hid, shuddered and were consumed with terror. “How could this be,” they struggled. “How could this be?”

As I sat there listening to the Gospel relaying one human misunderstanding of Christ after another, it dawned on me that Holy Week (to paraphrase Winston Churchill) is a time when so much was missed by so many in so little time…

And yet it is easy – so easy – for me to sit in my comfortable, suburban twenty-first century pew on a brilliant Sunday morning and wonder how all the friends and enemies of Christ could have missed the unfolding divine narrative of suffering and grace. How could they have missed what he was saying? How could they have missed who he was (and is)?

The answer is quite simple.

In the thick of it, in the midst of the physical, emotional and spiritual drama that serves as the epicenter of all human history: the redemption of humanity through divine sacrifice, how could anyone truly grasp the enormity of what was happening? Just as the disciples and witnesses were wrestling with a blind man regaining sight, a lost friend raised from the dead and a mass of thousands fed with a handful of fish and bread, they next found themselves considering the unparalleled wisdom of the Sermon on the Mount, the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer and the correction of haughty, merciless dogma of the Scribes and Pharisees. And that’s not even considering the hundreds of undocumented conversations, parables and miracles that only Christ’s contemporaries were privy to. Finally, to top off the dizzying array of wisdom and works of wonder from the Son of God, he is ruthlessly snatched, tortured, humiliated and executed. When honestly reconsidering what my reaction would be if I were in the disciples’ shoes, I am almost reduced to saying, “Too much. It’s all just too much for me to handle.”

A wise man once said, “Faith means believing in advance what only makes sense in reverse.” And T.S. Eliot, commenting on the arrogance of moderns pronouncing judgement on the naivete of their predecessors, “Someone once said, ‘The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did.’ Precisely, and they are that which we know.”

Today, we are blessed to encounter Christ’s story in reverse. Today, we are gifted with the bold questions and silly squabbles and acts of bravery and moments of cowardice that Christ’s contemporaries engaged in, if only to better learn from them. Christ’s story is still mysterious and extraordinary, but we have the benefit of hindsight (which none of Christ’s contemporaries had, even though they had the teachings and pronouncements of the Prophets including John the Baptist). Today we are encouraged that when we fail, so did Peter…and when we feel beyond redemption, so did Peter. And yet he wasn’t and nor are we. We are reminded that when we feel overconfident in our version of the Truth, so did Pilate…and yet the True Criterion stood before him (and stands before us). We are heartened that, just as flocks of exuberant people with palms and cloaks cheered a gentle man astride a donkey, we don’t need to fully comprehend the sheer magnificence of Christ to love him. We just need to trust and feel the joy in knowing that God is near. And we know that when we are tempted, like one thief, to curse God for not rescuing us from our suffering…we are called to praise God, like the other thief, for the paradise that ultimately awaits us.

Today’s Gospel reading reminded me that these very human people – and all they missed in Christ – have been indispensable guides in my faltering walk of faith. Why? Because, too often, I miss Christ too. Their mistakes are mine. Their oversight is mine. Their confusion and desperation is mine. But thankfully, their penetrating hope, dogged perseverance and humble gratitude for Christ’s Grace is mine too.

This Holy Week let’s not miss Christ. Let’s see him in his raw agony and brilliant glory.

And be eternally grateful.