Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday 2016

The Pope treated this today:
Impress, Lord, in our hearts the sentiments of faith, hope, love and sorrow for our sins.
When Jesus bowed his head and said,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,"
the hearts of his mother and his followers at the foot of the cross must have felt so devastated, so alone. Yet, he had told Dismas, the thief who from his cross had asked to be remembered in Jesus' kingdom: "Today you will be with me in Paradise." Somehow remembering that sentence must have lit a flicker of hope amid the sadness at seeing Jesus die such a brutal death.
With Pope Francis we repeat our prayer asking Jesus to engrave in our hearts a deeper faith, hope, love and contrition or sorrow for our own sins. When we were younger our mother told us that today, Good Friday, is a day of silence, a day to think about Jesus and what he went through for us. Perhaps you had to work today, or travel, or look after your own children or someone else's little ones. Offer your work as a living prayer, done for love of God and with the intentions Jesus has.
Believe me, placing a holy intention into what we do in our everyday tasks whether or not we get a salary for those works, is like putting the correct address on an envelope that we mail. That song that was around in the late 60's, What the World Needs Is Love, Love Sweet Love, is good for every year and every day. We need to build bridges and not walls of hatred, extend helping hands and not "turn our back on our own." In this Good Friday of the Year of Mercy, I look to the cross of Jesus from which mercy flows every day so I can benefit from God's mercy freely given to me. Because of this free gift, I hope to extend mercy to all around e, and to all who may read this blog. Each day in the Mass we renew the sacrifice of Calvary and Jesus offers anew his body and blood for us. I am so privileged to be able to attend Mass almost every day and receive the Body and blood given for me and for all. Have a good continuation of this holy Friday, this Good Friday which brought us the greatest Good--God's loving mercy and redemption. May you grow in love and in thanksgiving for the gift that is Jesus, our Lord and God.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Sacred Three Days

At 5:30 this evening, Holy Thursday, two priests con-celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Supper in our chapel. The reading from Exodus reminded us of the Passover meal, and the blood of the lamb sprinkled over the doorways of the Hebrew households spared them from death as they prepared to flee Egypt. The reading from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians clearly teaches that the bread we eat and the wine we drink are the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus gave us his Body and Blood to nourish us on our way in life. In Chapter 6 of John's Gospel, Jesus had promised that he would "give us his body as food and his blood as drink". Some people walked away from Jesus then. Jesus did not call out to them and say: "Hey, wait a minute. I meant to just give you a sign, a symbol of my humanity. Come on back. Forget what I just said." No, Jesus was a prophet and not a politician. He spoke the truth because he is The Truth. We believe Jesus' promise to care for us and actually nourish us who believe in his "Real Presence" in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Paul wrote that he received from the Lord what he handed down to us. Tonight we remember that Greatest of Gifts the Eucharist which is so available to millions of us throughout the world. God wired us so that we need to eat about three times a day. So why not feed our soul what it yearns for--that union of our whole self with the whole Self of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tonight we keep watch with Jesus hidden in the Eucharist. On that first Holy Thursday Jesus went out into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He prayed face down on the ground begging the Father to spare him "the cup" of suffering. He shuddered at the thought that despite his love being poured out for each person, sinners would turn their back on him and reject his love. As John wrote: "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." That moral suffering of being rejected and the thought of bearing all the sins of the world must have weighed on him. Luke tells us that "drops as of blood fell upon the ground" St. Paul said that "He who knew no sin was made sin" as he gave himself up for us. When I meditate on Paul's words, I imagine Jesus being overwhelmed with a huge weight, a weight that is ugly, stinking with the rottenness of dead things, totally abhorrent. Doctors who have studied the Passion believe that Jesus heart even in Gethsemane was broken with sorrow. He begged his Father to spare him from drinking from the chalice of suffering humiliation, ridicule, apathy, scourging, and crucifixion. Yet, his prayer brought him into perfect alignment with the Father: "Not my will, but yours be done."
If you stay up tonight, or for reading tomorrow, take up the New Testament or just the Four Gospels and read the last chapters of each gospel to read and pray over their descriptions of Jesus' suffering or Passion. I leave you to pray in our "garden" set up where Jesus in the Eucharist is surrounded by Sisters and guests who want "to spend one hour" in his Eucharistic presence. Here is the "Garden" where Jesus in hidden in our midst in the small tabernacle prepared with love by our Novices. May the following two days of teh Sacred Threesome, Good Friday and Holy Saturday be grace-filled and peaceful for you.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

March Meditation

We are in the middle of our Great Lent--the once a year time when we focus as a whole church on Christ's Passion and what caused that Passion: sin. Rather than on sin itself, which we are all aware of we zero in on Christ. His life and death redeemed us, made reparation for our sins. When he comments on Jesus' heading towards Jerusalem, the Scripture writer Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis sums up the purpose of Jesus becoming one of us like this:
The Letter to the Hebrews, having at its center the whole Christian theology of atoning sacrifice, spells out in clearest terms how Jesus' eventual self-oblation is the very purpose of the Incarnation, It also shows us how the holocaust of Jesus' life and body toward which he is ascending in Jerusalem like Isaac carrying the wood on his back up Mount Moriah, is the highest fulfillment of the Father's design.
One of our first Sisters in the USA often repeated that when it comes to living a good life and accepting the crosses which come our way, it is not a matter of having a "grin and bear it" attitude. That could be something forced and eventually will evaporate. No, rather Sister would say, "It is a matter of giving love for love." Christ died for love and with love. Love is what makes the ugly beautiful, the heavy light, and the unsufferable bearable. Jesus said that we can do nothing worthwhile for heaven by ourselves. But, as St. Paul passionately emphasizes, "With God I can do all things!" St. Paul did endure a lot of suffering, fatigue, shipwreck, beatings and an entire litany of sufferings. In the end he would say, "I can do all things in him [Christ] who strengthens me!" May your day be lighter and lovelier because of the love of God poured out on you. My prayers are with you for a very blessed day!