fullertont

RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

THE EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS 2012

In less than six weeks time Ireland will host the 50th Eucharistic Congress, 80 years after the Eucharistic congress was held here in 1932.  There have been many changes in Ireland in the intervening period of the last 80 years. The contemporary context of modern Ireland is very different. The style, purpose and outcome of Eucharistic Congresses have also altered considerably over the years. In recent times an International Eucharistic Congress is more like a festival of faith, consisting of seminars, concerts, workshops, exhibitions and most importantly and above all else  the daily celebration of the Mass. The upshot of all of this is that the 2012 Congress will be quite unlike that held eighty years ago.  From the 10th to the 17th June many people will come to Dublin from all over the world in celebration of their faith that is faith in God in communion with Christ and one another. I know that our visitors from all over the world will get a truly great Irish welcome as many Irish people have received a warm welcome from other countries over the years.  The theme of the 50th Eucharistic Congress is in Communion with Christ and with One another. All of us should stop and ponder the theme and how it affects us in our daily lives and living, and how we relate to our Eucharistic sharing in the Mass and with one another and how we bring that sharing out into the wider world.

As a result of our participation in the Congress  whether we go to Dublin or stay at home we should be encouraging each other to live simply and happily, building a community that welcomes and loves all those who feel that they are unwelcome and unloved. Many people have  turned against a greedy world where they see and such an uncaring and unloving place. It was no easier or harder for those who in past generations who heard the voice of Christ in those less well off, and saw his face in those who were in need of love and care in need of a friendly word of encouragement, those people were able to reach out in their time and so taking their examples as a role models we should be able to reach out to all who are in need in the world of today.

Jesus when he spoke had great clarity of vision he continually spoke out against the injustices that were taking place in his own time. We should not forget the words of Jesus were there when they were first spoken and continue to be here in our present age to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. My hope is that we will  listen to the voice of Jesus in the broken hearts, and in the victims of our society the people out there who are hungry or lost, lonely or frightened, helpless or sick; and then in the days, weeks months and years ahead we can truly say that we are in communion with Christ and one another as one body of faithful people  .

Advertisements

4th Sunday of Easter Good Shepherd Sunday

Today we gather on the fourth Sunday of Easter which is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday it is also the day when we pray that the Lord will send inspire people young and not so young to take up the vocation of service as priests or religious. One of the gentle images that we find applied to God in the Old Testament is that the Lord is the shepherd of his people: The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want is the first line of the hymn with the title the Lord’s my shepherd. We Christians apply this title to Christ the Lord. He is the good Shepherd who knows his sheep and lays down his life for them. That is to say that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and he knows us laid down his life for us. We may find this language of sheep and flocks and shepherds strange, but beneath the imagery the belief it points to is at the heart of our faith: a gentle God who is concerned about and caring for everyone.  In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus say twice “I am the good shepherd The Good Shepherd seems to be calling always to His sheep to follow Him into the unfamiliar, the pastures, yonder, over there.  Most of us, upon listening to our own recorded voices, wonder if that is really us! What we sound like to others is not the exact way we sound like to ourselves. People who are visually impaired learn quickly who is who by their footsteps, pace, noisiness as well as their voices. Jesus is telling us that He will keep calling in the same voice and when we begin to follow, He will keep speaking. And what will Jesus be saying to us his followers to us  he simply says I am the Good shepherd follow me.

There will always be other voices, from within ourselves and from outside. How will we ever learn to recognize His voice as different from our self-cantered voices! A lot of people just want what they want not thinking about the true implications for themselves and the rest of those around them and this is why the calling of the Good Shepherd is so very different. That is what Jesus is calling us to on this day and every day to follow Him into the unfamiliar territory which will lead us along the roads of faith that will bring to the fullness of faith and life. We pray that the Lord will send us good shepherds into our lives who by their lives and example lead us along the highways and byways that lead us to faith, that is faith in God and in oneanother, the body of Christ the Church.

Third Sunday of Easter


Here we are at the third Sunday after Easter already and where have Lent and Holy Week gone? Time stops for no one and it certainly didn’t stop for me and all of us got through Lent, and Holy Week with all their opportunities and challenges. I am very thankful to God for the journey that we began on Ash Wednesday the road we travelled during the days of Lent and our arrival at our first destination that is the day of resurrection that is Easter Sunday on route to Ascension and Pentecost moving forward with our faith in God, in life and living strengthened and maybe for some restored. But as I said above we are travelling along the road that is the road of faith and that road is a lifetimes work from beginning to end and we have to keep on working at it, to nurture it and help it grow. The roadmap we follow is the road map of faith so let us continue on our journey of faith.

In the aftermath of the walk to Emmaus, as Luke recorded, Jesus appeared to his followers, gave them convincing proof of his resurrection, and opened their minds so they could preach with authority about the Messiah.  And down through the ages many have done this right down to the present time. We hope  and pray that many people will take up the call to do the same in every generation into the future.

The appearance of the risen Lord was so new, it was outside the experience and  comprehension of the disciples. They could not interpret the experience; they could not put it into a proper context of time and place. In fact, they were powerless to understand in the sight of what they saw and heard. Only Jesus was able to  validate the experience and supply a proper understanding of it. Many ask what the message of Jesus was and what is his message for us today? We see, hear, and touch Christ today through the sacraments, through shared witness and service to others this is the message of Jesus for us today to see Jesus in the Sacraments and the sacramental life of the Church and be of help to other people and maybe by our example bring them to a knowledge of faith.  As witnesses, the early disciples were charged to tell others what they saw and in a similar way we are told tell people about what we celebrate as Christians.  Over the past two weeks, the Sunday gospels have recalled the confusion and fear caused by the Resurrection. They have also echoed Jesus’ greeting of Shalom that soothed the emotions of the early followers. This Sunday adds a new element to the disciples’ vision experience: a context for understanding. This context would sustain the changes the Church would undergo in its first few generations of believers as it sustains us as the modern Church of today. We, like most Christians, are tempted to take the context for granted.

The Good News might become the old news as many people are looking for the next big thing. To shake off this inclination, let us place ourselves in the company of those who first heard the words of the two from Emmaus when they recognised him in the breaking of the bread and let us pass on the message of the resurrection so that we can say to others as Jesus said to the apostles peace be with you.

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY

Our gospel lesson for today is the story of Doubting Thomas. Many of us are familiar with the story and i’m sure we can relate to the doubts that Thomas has in this particular story. In the evening of that first Easter Day, the risen Lord appeared to his disciples, but Thomas was not with them. When the other disciples tell him that they have seen the Lord, Thomas says, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later the risen Lord appears to his disciples again, but this time Thomas is with them. Jesus tells him to see his hands and to touch his side. And Thomas responds by saying, “My Lord and my God.” When Thomas sees the risen Christ he says, “My Lord and my God.” It is more than simply a matter of historical knowledge. Rather, it is about the transformation of Thomas’ whole life, because in the risen Christ, in his wounds, he sees his Lord and his God, who is there for him and for his salvation. How many times do we doubt people things and in particular god and his great love for us? How many times do we say to ourselves Father I believe help my unbelief.  Let us remember that god our Father loves us where we are with the doubts in faith that we have. Through our faith he helps us to get through all the various things including the doubts that our belief in Jesus brings to all of us at some time or other during our lives  so that along with Thomas we are able to say MY LORD AND MY GOD I BELIEVE IN YOU.

Today is also Divine mercy Sunday It comes as an opportunity to celebrate the mercy of God shown to us in our own time by Saint Faustina who was made a saint by Blessed John Paul. In the Old Testament, mercy was something that had to be begged from God. In the New Testament it is given without having been even asked for. The mercy of Jesus was not giveneveryone but Jesus did not merely “show” mercy he was merciful, towards everyone whom he met who wanted to receive it. In the last days especially, he was merciful towards those who, would show him none. We should not forget Good Friday and the Cross. This is often the paradox of being merciful the burden and test of mercy. For being merciful often involves our own suffering. It may mean not only giving what we have, but giving ourselves that as so many including myself have learned can be very hard indeed but once this has been done once it gets so much easier. We often look upon the example of the mercy of Jesus with little or no imagination with fear and caution, too afraid to see and take those first bold steps of mercy that the gospel and our faith call us to, instead we prefer to tread the old familiar ground. It takes determination to make this mercy of God more than a show of words. It takes the effort of long days and hard work. Mercy is not just shown in the demeanour of your face, in a gesture of the hand—it is done, it is work and it is hard work. It took some imagination on Jesus’ part when he pro­nounced the fifth beatitude to his hearers in Galilee when he told them:

 “How blest are those who show mercy;

mercy shall be shown to them”.

This was a bold act of confidence on his part.”Show mercy, and you will receive mercy,

This seems like such an ordinary and bland precept, hardly far-fetched. But of all the beatitudes, it is the most difficult to achieve. It really takes confidence to show mercy not merely once in a while. Rather it takes confidence and love to be merciful, all of the time —to seek out occasions of mercy, to take the initiative, be inventive and creative, in our mercy filled outlook on life and living, it is not always easy to convince ourselves that we are the merciful kind. Usually we like to think of ourselves as being rational, clear-headed, and reasonable about the situations we might find ourselves in. We like to think that people get their “just desserts,” because that way everything evens out. It does not take much imagination to see that this was not the attitude of Jesus. He raised his hand against no one. And he found ways, every day in a vast desert land with few villages and a small, widespread population to show what his mercy was. The world is so much bigger now and yet we have not yet figured out what it means to show mercy, to be merciful to one another.  We must be careful to recognize the needs of all the various people we come across and not be harsh, supercilious, or whatever. The mercy that we will be shown will be the mercy that we will have shared with others.  On this Divine Mercy Sunday let us not be afraid to show the Mercy of God to those we meet as we go along the roads of our lives and daily living.

EASTER

 

 

This weekend we celebrate the beginning of the Easter Feast or more correctly we begin the great 50 days of Easter with Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord. On the Saturday evening there is the Easter Vigil  during which we light the Easter Candle symbolising Christ the light (Lumen Christi) We light the new Easter Candle from a large fire outside to remind us that Jesus is our light in the darkness in our lives and living, we then process into the darkened church. We hear the great hymn of praise called the ‘Exsultet, in which we praise Christ for saving us. The hymn says that we would greatly prefer a fallen universe with Christ to a perfect one without him. “O Happy fault which deserved so great a Saviour.” We hear more readings than usual on this night, recounting the history of our salvation. Most significantly we welcome new members into the Church and our parish communities. Then With those who have been baptized we all renew our Baptismal promises. We need time to do all of these things well, s o we begin a fifty day season of feasting with a long liturgy that is packed with all the riches the Church has to offer.

It can seem that once Easter Sunday has passed Easter is finished, but the’ celebration continues for fifty days. The next Sunday of Easter day  is known as Divine Mercy Sunday. It comes almost as an opportunity in which anyone who missed out on celebrating the mercy of Christ in Holy Week has another chance. After forty days we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of Christ who returns to the Father to send us the Holy Spirit. We spend the novena (nine days) between the Ascension and Pentecost praying for the Spirit like Mary and the apostles in the Upper Room. On the fiftieth day (which is the literal meaning of the word “Pentecost”) Easter ends.

We live in a culture that yearns for the next “big thing,” the next event that will “wow” us. It can be new media, new technology, or new faces. Our culture demands not only progress, but “freshness,” something that will deliver us from the routine of whatever our lives entail.

The Resurrection stands as the eternal “Big Thing.” But, after 2000 years, it receives the lip service of the routine, the stale, and the disposable. The resurrection we should remember is never stale or disposable it is ever old and always new as it delivers us from the dull stale routine which our lives, spiritual and otherwise contain. No one ever witnessed the Resurrection of Jesus first hand. But, the Catechism points to historical evidence that supports a conclusion that faith in the Resurrection is a reasonable thing to have. The first sign was the empty tomb. Obviously many other reasons could be given for the absence of Jesus’ body. But, if we place this with others pieces of evidence a pattern emerges that points simply to faith in the Father. It is an amazing thought how the faith has come down through the ages in every generation to us , right until the here and now of today. We have knelt at the cross for ourselves and those who are dear to us and we have knelt at the cross for the sins of the whole world that the Lamb of God will take away our sins and grant us peace.

 

The Cross is stark in its portrayal of a suffering God, and yet full of meaning in its depictions of us and our lives yes we are all there on the cross of Good Friday. Now after the horror of the cross we bask in the joy and the happiness of the resurrection of Jesus who is the light of the world who promises us eternal life. Our celebration of Easter resonates throughout the rest of the year  full of gratitude for Christ’s passion, joy in his resurrection and, strengthened by the Spirit, we continue our Christian journey.

GOOD FRIDAY

 

 

On this day the churches are bare and empty in the liturgy we read St. John’s account of the passion, we pray for the needs of the Church and the world, we venerate the Cross and we receive the blessed Eucharist. We think of the death of Jesus on the cross. His death was a result of the courage of his convictions. He was not afraid to do the will of his father. He lived his life with a message of compassion, of equality and love. Jesus was often critical of those who lorded it over those who were less well off or who had little or even nothing at all. The cross of Good Friday is a sign and a symbol that all of us recognise, it is a sign of the completeness of the love that God has for each one of us. We need to show that we are a caring people showing the love of God to all those whose lives are loveless, to all who have nobody to care for them we have to show them that ours is an all loving and caring God. Today when we go up to venerate the cross we should allow the cross to move us to be better people. Consoling, comforting and challenging the people we meet with the values of Jesus and the Cross. The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. I am sure that the apostles and all the others who accompanied Jesus to Calvary would be completely amazed at the idea of all of us gathering here in 2012 to celebrate the events of the first Good Friday. It is an amazing thought how the faith has come down through the ages in every generation, right until the here and now of today.

In the silence of this day we will feel the emptiness of dying, and we will experience something of what it is like to be without God in our lives – the light that is Christ (lumen Christi) has gone out, and the encroaching darkness coming to replace it. The Liturgy of Good Friday takes us to this dark place. The image of the suffering servant, the cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” at the beginning of Psalm 22, and the reading of the Passion according to John – these things strip our minds of any trivialities and focus us on the great things god has done for us especially on the CROSS.

Today we stand at the cross for others who cannot be here. We stand here for those who cannot begin to fathom this day, for those whose own pain keeps them from being here and there are many who are suffering intolerable pain because of the abuse that has been inflicted on them by clergy and others who should have known better. We stand at the cross for those who do not know Jesus, and those who openly scorn him. We stand at the cross for those who have been exploited by others and for their exploiters. We stand at the cross for those who think life is an opportunity to get all one can. We stand at the cross for those who are in prison for their crimes, for those who fight on the field of battle, for those who are tormented by memories of war and terror. We stand at the cross for those who are dying at this moment that they may enter into the light of Christ in eternal life. We stand at the cross for those who cannot pray, for those who no longer believe, and for those who have lost all hope in God and man.

We kneel at the cross for ourselves and for the sins of the whole world that the Lamb of God will take away our sins and grant us peace. The Cross is stark in its portrayal of a suffering God, and yet full of meaning in its depictions of us and our lives yes we are all there in the cross.  Let us then fearlessly acknowledge, and even openly proclaim that Christ was crucified for us; let us confess it, not in fear but in joy, not in shame but in glory. We should glory in the Cross of Christ for in it and in him is our salvation

How splendid is the Cross- of Christ!

It brings life, not death;

Light not darkness;

Paradise, not its loss.

It is the wood on which the Lord,

like a great warrior;

was wounded in hands, and feet and side,

but healed thereby our wounds.

A tree had destroyed us,

a tree now brought us life.

Theodore of Studios



HOLY THURSDAY

On This day we celebrate the feast of the Priesthood and the institution of the Eucharist at the last supper. In the morning we gather people and priests along with our Bishops to celebrate the gift of the priesthood and we also witness the renewal of the Vows of the priests who renew their commitment to serve the people of God in the year ahead. The consecration of the holy Chrism and the blessing of the oils of the sick and the catechumens also take place during this Mass. Today we pray for and with our priests remembering that humble prayer to God and humble service for and with his people should be what all of us priests and people should be about. Our priests need our prayers and we need their prayers for and with us more and more in an age where so many have little or nothing at all. We need them more especially for all they bring to us through the celebration of the Eucharist the sacrament Par Excellence. We need to stop and refocus ourselves on this day on the priesthood that is the Vocation of the priesthood and the service of God’s people that the priestly life means. We need to pray that the Lord will send gentle shepherds to guide his people in these trying times for people of faith. We also remember those who have been hurt by the misdeeds of the few so called bad priests may God give their victims peace of mind to continue their lives in his love.

In the evening we begin the Triduum and The Church speaks of these Three Days in the following way:

“Christ redeemed us all and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life. Therefore the Easter Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year…. The Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (on Holy Thursday), reaches its highpoint in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. On Good Friday and, if possible, also on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil, the Easter fast is observed everywhere.”

-General Norms for the Liturgical Year,

nos. 18-19

 

Lent actually ends on Holy Thursday up until a few years ago I didn’t realize this as i’m sure many others didn’t know that fact. Friday and Saturday are days of communal and private prayer. We fast from food, work, and entertainment in anticipation of the great Vigil. We hold in special prayer the elect who will be baptized, be confirmed, and join in the eucharistic banquet. Thus are the death and Resurrection of Christ proclaimed in our midst. At various moments from Thursday evening until Sunday, the community gathers for prayer and vigil. In the times between these communal celebrations, we pray at home, as individuals and as a family. In the Gospel of the Last supper we see Jesus getting up from the table to wash the disciples feet. Masters of houses in Jesus’ time most emphatically did not wash the feet of their disciples. It simply was not the done thing. Yet Jesus surely does it and when you stop to think about it Jesus never did the done thing.

Jesus the Son of God always did the right thing and this always showed up those who stood on their dignity. Those who said I am not doing that because it is not the done thing!

Then eventually Peter catches on, proclaiming, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” He has learned, in his own larger-than-life way, the lesson of Holy Thursday, the new commandment of love and service. That we should love one another as God loves us. It was I think, Origen, who said that it was not just the death that Jesus died but the life that he lived which was pleasing to God. If we think  again about Jesus life, we see how he used his senses for others. He saw Zacchaeus up there in his tree, he heard Bartimaeus at the wee man at the back of the crowd, he felt the touch of the woman with the haemorrhage, he smelt the decaying body of Lazarus and spoke to the demonic man. He touched the untouchables; he ate and drank with publicans, tax collectors and sinners. In other words Jesus did not do the done thing and in the same way we should embrace all those who are in need of any kind as Christ did.

We should be leading lives of generous service to all those who need our help wherever they are and there are many people around who may need our help and care.  We need to show that we are a caring people showing the love of God to all those whose lives are loveless to all who have nobody to care for them we have to show them that ours is an all loving and caring God, an all loving and caring God embodied in all we do and say for one another not counting the cost.

When we serve our brothers and sisters showing them that our God is an all-loving and caring father in heaven then the Eucharist when we partake of this great sacrament will bring us joy and peace may we not be afraid to pass them on to others in our words and deeds.

Almighty ever-living God,

direct our actions according to your good pleasure,

that in the name of your beloved Son

we may abound in good works.

Through Christ our Lord

 

AMEN

Post Navigation