In our editorial for this special Easter issue, we had hoped to bring you a Paschal message of joy, but there is little joy in Miami and the hearts of many. But there is hope. And that is the greatest joy we can bring you for our commentary centers around the events that transpired early Saturday morning while Our Lord's body lay in the tomb. This is a time of tension but we pray it will turn to true justice for the sake of family - whether that family is his own father or his extended family - the courts will decide. But ultimately God will decide as the oppression continues until Mary's Immaculate Heart triumphs, and her Divine Son Jesus wins out. This can only happen if we take up the most powerful weapon we have at our disposal - the one given to us by Our Lady - and use it to its fullest potential as we explain in our editorial today, Reno was right! The Cuban-Americans did have weapons! More power to them!. See, CATHOLIC PewPOINT
Unfortunately, there was little mercy in Miami early Saturday morning. This weekend should be one of great joy, hope and new beginnings. For some it is, but for those embroiled in the Elian Gonzalez situation it was a downright nightmare. We're not going to get into the politics of it for both sides have excellent points: Should we support a communist dictator by giving in to his demands and sending an innocent boy back to repressed Cuba? Should anyone stand in the way of a boy being reunited with his birth father? Both are sticky questions, but in the aftermath of what went down in the early dark dawn in "Little Havana" in a section of Miami, Florida, it not only raises more questions but draws an uncanny parallel to an event nearly 2000 years ago.
While Our Lord's body lay in the sepulchre and Roman guards stood sentinel lest His followers would come and steal the body away and, as the Sanhedrin accused that they would lie that He had risen (cf. Matthew 27: 63-64), half a world away and close to two millenniums later the situation was eerily similar. As some stood watch and many more slept in the still of the night the plot was made to steal away the sleeping body of the central character in this modern passion playing out today in the United States of America. The difference is that the roles were reversed. First, it was not Pilate who ordered the watch but the Cuban-American people who rallied behind the cause of the family in Miami. And it was Caiphas in the person of Attorney General Janet Reno who, like the negotiations and "legal procedure" the Sanhedrin put Christ through, dickered long into the night, then ordered the raid, sending in the "Pharisees" dressed as INS and Border Patrol agents in full battle gear toting heavy artillery to steal away little Elian from his relatives and the fisherman Donato Darymple who saved him on Thanksgiving Day from the clutches of death. This time he couldn't clutch him as the six year-old Cuban child was snatched away and rushed into a waiting van as supporters stood by in shock and surprise, some unaware of the eerie, almost surrealistic events that took place in a matter of minutes. During the early morning melee the leading anti-Castro leader in Miami Raul Sanchez was struck by one of the INS agents, ear bleeding. Does this sound strangely like the Roman centurion whose ear was cut off when the soldiers came for Christ at Gethsemane? But, like Christ, Sanchez prevented others from retaliating in violence by holding back angry protesters as the photos show. While it is understandable they would be incensed and moved to protest vehemently because of the semblance of a "police state" in America, "the land of the free," considering the circumstances and the volatile temperature of the political timebomb ticking in Miami and Washington D.C. the Cuban-American people of Miami armed themselves further with the most powerful weapon they had.
Reno was asked in a Washington D.C. press conference at the Justice Department a few hours after the "successful raid" why it had to be done in such a manner, why they had to storm the modest, little home in "Little Havana." She responded emotionlessly that they had heard the Cubans had weapons, that there were weapons in the house and they wanted to take the proper precautions. Reno was right! There were weapons in the house. The majority of Cuban people had armed themselves with weapons - men, women, even children - and each carried with them the most powerful weapon on earth...more powerful than any automatic rifle or tear gas cannister the INS agents toted. Reno had reason to be scared for she represents an administration that fears this weapon more than any other.
The weapon we are referring to is of course Our Lady's Holy Rosary. For weeks, days and hours the devoted Cuban people and others gathered around the home of Lazaro Gonzalez, the boy's uncle, and prayed peacefully. Statues of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother adorned the interior of the home, Rosaries were everywhere. A large crucifix was hung outside the home and it became, basically a "living sepulchered shrine" to pray for a peaceful solution that God's Will be done and that no one be injured. During this past Holy Week the area became a kind of Passion play being played out and, to look at the results today one might think prayers went unanswered. But that was what Mary Magdalen first thought when she arrived at the tomb and found it vacant (cf. Matthew 28: 1-6, Mark 16: 1-6, Luke 24: 1-7, and John 20: 1-2), but through the assuaging reaffirmation of the angel, she was filled with renewed hope and conveyed that same enthusiasm to the Apostles and the other women.
So also a few modern believers, who were upset at the way this "passion play" played out, are expressing hope. One of those is a man we have known for nearly ten years. He is Agustine Costa, a devoted follower of Our Blessed Mother and her Divine Son and an outstanding Catholic citizen who is also a popular radio announcer for a Cuban station in Miami. He has urged his fellow Cuban-Americans to exercise caution and peaceful prayer despite the fact the boy has been taken. The Clinton administration may have won the battle but not the war according to Agustine. He has said he is confident the people will not resort to violence but at the same time will not sit still. Just as the Justice Department's actions were questionable but within the law, so also he believes the 800,000 strong Cuban-Americans of Miami and many others will stay within the legal confines but do everything in their power to have the boy returned. That may not happen until the Federal Court of Appeals makes a final decision and then only if the ruling is favorable to the family that has protected Elian since his rescue in the Atlantic in November. He hinted that plans are underfoot to legally shut down Miami through work stoppage at crucial locations such as the airport and other hubs of communication, transportation and commerce. Regardless of what develops from this unfortunate set of circumstances, we can only hope and pray all sides will remain calm and sensible.
But that may not happen for the Cuban-American Catholics feel betrayed just as Jesus was by Judas for Elian was taken during a time that many Cuban-American Catholics trusted that an Easter truce would be observed in the spirit of the season. It was not and they blame Reno, who fears the religious zeal of these people who she has long despised as a native Miamian herself. This is documented in her rise to power. Like satan, she laughs exteriorly at the Rosary-carrying Cubans and Catholics, while interiorily she cringes. Truly the end does not always justify the means and for both she and Bill Clinton it is not about the welfare of a little boy; it is not about what's best for children and that mantra is sickenly hypocritical. If they were sincere, they would take a serious look at abortion and the horrors of this modern-day holocaust. No, it is politics at anyone's expense, including this little boy who has become a political football to be kicked around. We all need to pray for healing on all sides and for Clinton, Reno and those in the Clinton administration, many of whom are badly in need of grace, as Our Lord said in Matthew 23: 27, ": "Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you are like whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear just to men, but within you are full of hyprocisy and iniquity."
The way to combat Reno and Clinton's pomposity, the way to offset the kind of legal system that makes it "legal" to kill millions of lives annually through the holocaust of abortion, the way to call down Divine Mercy upon a sinful world, the way to assure that Mary's Immaculate Heart will triumph is to take up the very same weapon the Cuban-Americans have been using - the Rosary - and use it at every opportunity we can. Yes, Reno was right! The Cuban-Americans did have weapons! More power to them!
In her Easter column this week, Sister Mary Lucy Astuto shares a special prayer from her own heart to the Risen Lord and reminds all that there can be no celebration of the Resurrection without the Triumph of the Cross and that victory we can only share in when we willingly take up our own crosses and follow Him as He asks. Her heartfelt prayer is a capsule of all we as Catholics should believe and a celebration of our Faith as she exudes in her prayerful leadin for this week during the Novena of Divine Mercy which is the lasting benefits of God's Love For her column, He is truly Risen! see GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER
Our sins have been washed by the Blood of the Lamb of God. The Supreme Sacrifice of the Cross has reopened the gates of Heaven for us. The Savior has saved us from ourselves and our sins.
O Glorious Lord, Redeemer of mankind, Lily of all lilies, sweet Master of the Universe, I praise, bless, and glorify You in Your Divinity and in Your Humanity. For it is in this powerful act of Your Resurrection, that You prove that You are truly God, that You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Had You not risen, as You had promised, our religion would be in vain. Yet now we see that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
Thank you, Lord, for Your Life, Your Death, and Your Resurrection. Envelope each one of us into the wound of Your side, for it leads to Your Sacred Heart. Allow us to be so wrapped up in You that we become lost in the ocean of Your love and mercy. We are nothing and You are Everything.
How sweet to be nothing when You are All! Let the rocks and the hills cry out that You are God! Let the thunder and the roaring of the seas call out Your Name as Lord! Let all the earth and what fills it resound: "He is risen as He said! Hosanna to the Highest!"
Permit my voice, Lord, to be one with the angels and saints of heaven in song of joy! Allow my life, my death and my rising on the last day to glorify You, my Maker! Thank you, God, for Your Love which endures. Thank you for Your faithfulness!
Dear reader, there can never be a resurrection without a cross. There cannot be eternal joy without walking in the valley of tears of this life.
Let's not lose heart. Our Lord and Master has gone before us. He has merited heaven for us. He has shown us the Way.
Raise your eyes to the Lord, O earthlings! Have hope because of God! Keep climbing and don't count the cost. We will one day see the Face of Our Risen Jesus!
A Blessed and Happy Easter to each of you!
Today we resume our series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. In this Easter issue we present the first part of the catechesis on The Resurrection as explained in My Catholic Faith and this fulfillment was the apex of all that Jesus had foretold and proof to all believers that He truly is the Son of God though there were still doubters such as Thomas and even today many still doubt, but our Faith proves without a shadow of a doubt the glorious fruits of His Resurrection. For part one in the 157th installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
When we say that Christ descended into hell, we mean that, after He died, the soul of Christ descended into a place or state of rest, called Limbo, where the souls of the just were waiting for Him. Christ did not go to the hell of the damned, but to the "hell" of the just. In Holy Scripture, it was called "Abraham's bosom" Saint Peter called it "a prison." We call it Limbo.
Among the souls in limbo were Adam, Eve, Abel, Noe, Abraham, Issac,Jacob, Joseph, David, Isaias, Daniel, Job, Tobias, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Baptist. They went to Heaven at Our Lord's entrance upon His Ascension.
Christ went to Limbo to announce to the souls waiting there the joyful news that He had reopened Heaven to mankind. "He was brought to life in the spirit, in which also He went and preached to those spirits that were in prison" (1 Peter 3:19). The souls in Limbo could not go to Heaven, which had been closed by Adam's sin. It was only reopened to man by the death of Our Lord, by the Redemption. The souls in Limbo did not suffer pain, but they longed for Heaven. After the release of these souls from Limbo, and their entrance into Heaven, this Limbo for the just souls ceased to exist.
While His soul was in Limbo, Christ's body was in the holy sepulchre. When man dies, his soul is separated from the body. When Jesus died, His body and soul were separated, but His divinity remained united to both body and soul.
Christ's body did not corrupt in the tomb. It was in the holy sepulchre from Friday evening when He was buried, to Sunday morning, when He arose from the grave. This is why we say Christ rose on the third day, although He was in the grave for only three incomplete days.
Christ rose from the dead, glorious and immortal, on Easter Sunday, the third day after His death. Our Lord had often foretold His resurrection. He said of His own body: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). Before entering Jerusalem He said to His Apostles that He would be put to death and "rise again on the third day" (Matthew 20:19). On the night of the Last Supper He said: "But after I have risen, I will go before you into Galilee" (Matthew 26:32).
Even His enemies knew that He had predicted His resurrection. This is why they obtained Pilate's permission to seal the sepulchre and set guards to watch it. They said to Pilate: "Sir, we have remembered how that deceiver said, while He was yet alive. 'After three days I will rise again'" (Matthew 27:63).
Christ really arose from the dead. For forty days He appeared to many. He conversed, walked, and even ate with them. He spent much time instructing the Apostles. One of His most important appearances was to five hundred disciples on a mountain in Galilee, when He gave the Apostles the command to go forth into the world and teach. The Evangelists have recorded nine apparitions; but it is evident from their writings (for example, Acts 1:3) that there were other and unrecorded occasions when Christ appeared. Countless of Christ's followers laid down their lives in testimony of the truth of the resurrection. "During forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).
Today the entire Christendom celebrates Easter Sunday in memory of the Resurrection. It is the Feast of feasts, commemorating the completion of our redemption by Christ.
Tuesday: The Resurrection part two
We present the Easter Sunday Liturgy and Easter Monday which encompasses other feasts that are superceded this year because of Eastertide. This includes the feasts of Saint George, Martyr and Saint Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr, who is credited with the conversion of Russia in the first millennium. On Monday, Eastertide takes precedence over another martyr, Saint Fidelis of Sigmaren and Tuesday would be the traditional feast of yet another martyr, the Evangelist Saint Mark. For all of the readings, liturgies, and vignettes on these feasts, see DAILY LITURGY.
A flower that remains dormant in the spring will wither and die. So also, if we do not use the talents God has given us and preach to all as Jesus asks in Matthew 28: 18-20 for all we need do is remember His words "Do not be afraid." (Matthew 28:10).
As we come to the end of Lent and embrace with joy the Glorious Resurrection, let us remember that we cannot achieve the Resurrection unless we have first embraced and borne the Cross, suffered with Jesus, and died to ourselves in and for Him. Leave the rest to God. Let Him decide what is best, and how and when to use us in His Plan of Salvation. This is Mary's call to all of us. This is her plea to all her little ones gathered beneath her mantle. The cross each carries will be different. But they all come from the One True Cross of Christ, Who alone is the Savior of the world. If we look only to Him, then we'll stop looking at one another, making comparisons, allowing our human weakness to get the better of us, and allowing satan to keep us divided. If we look only at Jesus on the Cross and then see Him gloriously risen from the dead, how can we be divided? He died for all mankind, even though He knew there would be many who would not accept Him. He did not compare or grumble or complain. He was obedient to the Divine Will, even unto death. And so, too, we must be.
We must decrease that He may increase in us. Let this be for us the motto of every day henceforth, that with Mary, we may stand fearlessly at the foot of the Cross, and with her offer our lives for the salvation of our own soul and the souls of others. This way the Resurrection takes on a new meaning - the flowering of fulfillment - the evangelization of God's Love. We offer Jesus' Own words in John 11: 25-26 as proof that if we trust in Him we will conquer every obstacle and be united with Him forever. "I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me, even if he die, shall live; and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die."
Note: For Monday's Liturgy, see SECTION TWO