In today's editorial, we point to the importance of this week and the fact one can't expect to 'put the cart before the horse' by celebrating Easter and the triumph of the Cross without sharing the pains and sorrows of the Cross. Jesus has told us that is not possible for the Paschal Mystery is only complete when incorporating the Passion, Death and Resurrection, not just the latter. We question why so few attend liturgical ceremonies during Holy Thursday and Good Friday and overflow for Easter. Maybe they haven't understood totally Christ's message that the only way they can be His disciples is to "take up your cross and follow Me. For today's editorial There is no Glory without the Cross! , click on CATHOLIC PewPOINT
Only by doing as He asks can we truly focus on the true GLORY of the Resurrection. However, being the finite beings we are, we must cling to the fact that we are not yet to the Glory, for if we were, we'd be in Heaven, our true home. Holy Week and the Easter Season are the time to pull all the facets and threads of our faith together into one strong and heartfelt "I believe," which transforms us into the true apostles and disciples Our Lord wants us to be. Just as the first Apostles and Christ's disciples were weak in their convictions, so too, we come up short when it comes time for stripping ourselves of our worldly garments and trappings. We shudder and shriek at the nails of penance and obedience, spewing out every excuse we can conjure up to rationalize not having to fully commit ourselves to being nailed with Jesus on that cross. If we're not willing to suffer with Him, then how in God's name, can we logically expect to share in His Glory?
Today in our rationalistic "enlightened" and liberal-oriented society, we look for ways out; we opt for the easy road and make excuses for our weaknesses, seek to blame others or other factors, instead of striving to take control and turn those vices into virtues.
The Resurrection is often debated in theological circles, downplayed as historical fact, and made to resemble a "cute fairy tale" by which those of us who possess the faith to believe are "psychologically" bonded to religion as a crutch in life. Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura made that eminently clear and many in the media follow his mantra. The Resurrection, say many modern liberation theologians, didn't really happen, that there's no historical proof! Talk about someone pulling the wool over our eyes! We are His sheep and He said it, we believe it, that settles it! There's no reason on earth whatsoever for Almighty God to have to prove anything more to us than He already has. Remember, we have to answer to God, not He to us! If any one has been in any way swayed by the modern naysayers, then they'll find a new hope and a new love in the sources of Sacred Scripture, the Dogmas and Doctrines of the Church, the lives of the saints, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the writings of our Holy Father to ignite their faith to once again believe and cling to the reality of the Resurrection.
Yet there are still some who continue to say "prove it!" Can we "see" this Glory now? Of course not. It's veiled from our eyes. We have to pass through the valley of the of the shadow of death in order to "see" for ourselves that it's true, that God's covenant with man is alive and well, and God keeps His promises! But there is a way we can "see" the Glory with our soul, and this takes faith pure and simple. It takes having a deaf ear to the world and a prayerful heart to tune out and turn off those who prefer to think that they have all the answers, that they're "one with the cosmic universe" and other new-age, modernist gobblygook. We'd be best to turn them all off and turn to the Cross of Christ, and behold our suffering Lord and Savior. Then reflect that He, the Only-begotten Son of God walked the path of mortal suffering, pain and sorrow for all His earthly life, and this path ended up on Calvary where He died an unimaginably cruel death...for all men. He did so that the Father's Justice might be satisfied, and the union between man and God might be restored in its fullness, if we but follow the way taught to us by the Master Teacher.
For some of us it may be hard at times to focus on these two related aspects in the life of Jesus: The Passion and Death, which led to and found completeness in the Resurrection. When we stop to think about it, could our failure to focus correctly be due, at least in some part, to the fact that in many churches throughout the United States one is hard-pressed to find a true remembrance of the Crucifixion? How many churches have many of us been in lately where, instead of a bonafide Crucifix, we find this large cross dangling from the rafters, and upon it is the Risen Christ. Being the weak human beings that we are, our mortal eyes behold the Resurrection and we skip over the Cross behind the Glorified Christ. As we said earlier, no human likes pain. In the way we are manipulated by the societal media today we strive to bury pain and focus only on pleasure and success - the glory. Because of this our vision is often impaired and it becomes a blur because we have not properly trained the eyes of our souls to see how we arrive at the Glory. We must earn it. As the addage says, "No Pain, No Gain!" Jesus says in Matthew 7: 13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter that way. How narrow the gate and close the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it." This narrow way is the only way to Glory!
It took a while for His Own Apostles and disciples to realize that so Our Lord understands our tardiness in complying fully. Jesus knew the weaknesses of all those who sought to follow Him. Only through the grace of God and the infusion of the Holy Spirit were they able to gain the courage of their convictions. That is pure love. We would be wise to contemplate Christ's words to Saint Thomas, the doubting Apostle as Saint John recorded them in Chapter 20: 28, "Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed." Our mortal eyes cannot see Him, but our soul's eyes do...and that is sufficient. It is but a glimpse of the Glory that is to come! Yes, it is good and proper to long for the Glory of the Lord, but we must not 'put the cart before the horse.' First came the Redemptive Act of Calvary in God's Plan of Salvation. The Glory is the Father's privilege to bestow upon all of His children who are faithful to Him. The Glory is reserved for the last, not because it is the least important, but because it culminates a lifetime of struggle, pain, sorrow and suffering in union with Jesus' Passion, and is the ultimate reward of a Father to His Son and His children for running the good race and not faltering.
That is why Lent and the Easter Triduum must be observed before we can celebrate Easter Sunday. From the opened side of Christ - the new Adam - ripped by the lance while He hung on the cross, is borne the new Eve, His Bride: Holy Mother Church. Jesus empties Himself to enrich her. Water and Blood! Font and Altar ever proclaim the Divine Mercy of Jesus from Whose loving Heart we have life, and have it more abundantly (cf. John 10: 10). To redeem mankind the Father gave up His Own Son on the Cross. For that price we find the empty sepulchre on Easter morning for He has risen and the tomb has given way to the Lamb of God. The Crucified has conquered. From His throne of Glory in Mercy and Love He sends forth His Spirit to abide with us forever. That is the reason for the Alleluias! So before donning those easter bonnets and finest duds for Easter, put on the perseverance of the Easter Triduum so you can truly share in His Glory on Easter. After all there can be no Alleluias without our fiats of obedience, sacrifice and compliance with all He asks for there is no Glory without the Cross!
Today we bring you the Holy Father's Palm Sunday Homily from this past Palm Sunday where over 100,000 packed St. Peter's Square to hear the Vicar of Christ by loudspeakers for those who could not get into St. Peter's Basilica. He shared with all that this feast is special for young people the world over and reiterated his invitation for youth to come to Rome this Jubilee Year and especially during Holy Week in which the Holy See is expecting over half a million pilgrims. He began the traditional Palm Sunday Mass in the center of the Square and processed into the Basilica, concluding the three-hour services with the Angelus. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
1. "Benedictus, Qui venit in nomine Domini..." "Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Matthew, 21, 9; Cf. Ps 117 (118), 26).
Through these words, we hear the echo of the enthusiasm with which the inhabitants of Jerusalem received Jesus for the paschal feast. We hear them again, every time we sing the "Sanctus" in the course of the Mass. After having said: "Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria Tua," we add: "Benedictus, Qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis." In the first part of this hymn, taken from the prophet Isaiah (Cf. Is 6,3), the "thrice holy" God is exalted. Continuing with the second, there is the expression of the assembly's joyful acknowledgment of fulfillment of the Messianic promises: "Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest."
We think naturally of the people of the Covenant who, for centuries and generations, lived in expectation of the Messiah. Some believed that the promises were fulfilled in John the Baptist. But, as we know, to the explicit question on his possible Messianic identity, the precursor responded with a clear denial, directing those who questioned him to Jesus.
There was growing conviction in the people that the Messianic times had arrived, first in the Baptist's testimony, then thanks to the words and signs accomplished by Jesus, especially Lazarus' resurrection, which took place a few days before the entry into Jerusalem, of which today's Gospel speaks. This is why when Jesus arrived in the city riding on a donkey, He was received by the crowd with an explosion of joy: "Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (Mt 21,9)
But it is the apostle Paul who, in the second reading, introduces us to a more profound analysis of the paschal mystery: "though He was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2, 6-8).
In the austere liturgy of Good Friday we will hear these words again, which continue like this: "Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Ibid., 2, 9-11).
Abasement and exaltation: here is the key to understanding the paschal mystery; here is the key to penetrate God's wondrous economy, which is accomplished in the paschal events.
3. Why, as in every year, are so many youths present at this liturgy? Indeed, for several years Palm Sunday has become the annual feast of youth. Starting here, in 1984, the Year of Youth and, in a certain sense, a jubilee year of youth, the pilgrimage of the World Youth Days began. Passing through Buenos Aires, Santiago de Compostela, Czestochowa, Denver, Manila, and Paris, will return to Rome, in the coming month of August, for the World Youth Day of the Holy Year 2000.
Why, then, do so many youths have an appointment on Palm Sunday here in Rome and in every diocese? Certainly there are many reasons and circumstances that can explain this fact. It seems, however, that the most profound reason that subtends all the others, can be identified in what today's liturgy reveals to us: the mysterious plan of salvation of the Heavenly Father, that is carried out in the humbling and exaltation of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Here is the answer to the questions and the underlying concerns of every man and every woman and, especially, of youth.
"For us Christ became obedient unto death, and death on a cross. Because of this God has exalted Him." How close these words are to our existence! To the drama of life that you, dear youths, are beginning to experience, as you question the meaning of life, your relation to yourself, to others and to God. To your heart, thirsty for truth and peace, to all your questions and problems, which at times are full of anguish, Christ, the suffering and humiliated Servant, humbled unto death on a cross and exalted in glory to the right hand of the Father, offers Himself as the sole valid answer. Indeed, there is no other answer that is so simple, complete, and convincing.
4. Dearest youth, thank you for your participation in this solemn liturgy. With His entry into Jerusalem, Christ begins the road of love and sorrow of the Cross. Look at Him with a new impetus of faith. Follow him! He does not promise illusory happiness; on the contrary, so that you will be able to reach true human and spiritual maturity, He invites you to follow His demanding example, making your own His chosen commitments. May Mary, faithful disciple of the Lord, accompany you in this road of conversion and progressive intimacy with her divine Son Who, as the theme of the next World Youth Day remind us, "became flesh and came to dwell among us" (Jn 1,14). Jesus made Himself poor to enrich us with His poverty, He took on our faults, so that we would be redeemed in His blood poured out on the cross. Yes, for us Christ made Himself obedient unto death. Death on a cross. "Glory and praise to You, O Lord Jesus Christ!"
Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. Today we present the first part of the catechesis on apex of the Passion Calvary in which the torch was passed, so to speak, from the Old to the New Covenant when the veil of the Temple was rent asunder at the moment of Christ's death as explained in My Catholic Faith as we prepare for the Paschal Triduum on Holy Thursday and Good Friday climaxing on Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil. For part one in the 155th installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Holy Week the Tenebrae are celebrated: the fifteen candles are put out one by one, to symbolize the flight of the disciples, and the death of Our Lord.
On Holy Thursday morning a pontifical Mass is celebrated, in cathedrals only; at this the holy oils are blessed. Commemorating the Last Supper at which the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood were instituted, Holy Thursday Mass takes place in the evening, with the washing of feet , to commemorate Christ's washing of the Apostles' feet.
At the Good Friday service, emphasis is given to the veneration of the cross. Holy Saturday services are held at night, beginning with the blessing of the new fire ; from this the Paschal candle is lighted , a reminder of Christ, Light of the world. The five grains of incense imbedded in the candle remind us of His wounds. Four Lessons are read; the baptismal water is blessed and taken to the font. The Mass commemorates Our Lord's glorious Resurrection.
Christ died on Good Friday. During the three hours that Christ suffered on the cross, He spoke seven times. We call these the seven words:
1. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
2. "Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
3. "Woman, behold thy son - son, Behold thy mother" (John 19:26-26).
4. "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).
5. "I thirst" (John 19:28).
6. "It is consummated!" (John 19:30).
7. "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit" (Luke 23:46).
Christ died on Golgotha, a hill also called Calvary, outside the city of Jerusalem. Saint Augustine says that on the cross Our Lord bent His head to kiss us, extended His arms to embrace us, and opened His heart to love us. How thankful we should be to Christ for His love! "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8).
At the death of Christ the sun was darkened, the earth quaked, the veil of the Temple was rent, the rocks split, and many of the dead arose and appeared in Jerusalem. The tearing of the veil of the Temple at the death of Christ marked the end of the Jewish religion as the true religion. This Jewish religion had been a figure of the True Church and, when the Church was established, was no longer needed; types and figures had to give way to reality. The veil of the Temple concealed the Holy of Holies, the most sacred part of the Temple.
We must not, however, make the mistake of thinking that Christianity ended the moral laws-laws regarding good and evil-that were taught by the Jewish religion. Christ came not to destroy, but to perfect, the Old Law. The authority of the Temple and its officers was now placed in the Church established by Christ, in the hands of His Apostles. The ceremonial laws of the Jews relating to worship were abolished.
Tomorrow: The Calvary part two