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I LOVE Easter Sunday. I love the commemoration of Our Lordís resurrection and triumph over sin and death. I love the lilies which join in by their beauty and wonderful aroma to announce: HE IS RISEN!
But Iím getting a bit ahead of myself I want to digress first about the reasons why Jesus chose to suffer in order to redeem us.
You know, He did not HAVE to choose to suffer. Since Jesus is DIVINE as well as human (He had two natures), every single act of His had infinite value. One blink of His eyes, one footstep, one nap, one trip to the well for water, one use of the hammer in the carpenter shop could have been used by Him and accepted by His Father to redeem the whole world. Everything Jesus did was infinitely pleasing to the Father and had infinite value. No matter how seemingly insignificant the act or unbeknownst to the people of His day, each act of Jesus or ANY act of His could have redeemed every person who had ever lived, was living at the time or would live.
So then the question is: Why did Jesus choose the way of suffering? The answers are MAINLY two-fold. Jesus chose to suffer 1) to show us how terrible sin is and 2) to show us how much He loves us.
Sin is THE reason why we need redemption at all. Sin is an offense against God. Sin offends God. God abhors sin. No sin is so small that God can be pleased with it. Even the so-called "white lies" are not "white." Sin is a contradiction to the very nature of God Who is All- Goodness. Sin is saying "NO!" to God.
In the Scriptures Jesus said: "If you love Me, keep My Commandments." Not keeping Godís Commandments, whether in big areas or lesser ones IS sin. Our world today loves sin; loves to disregard Godís laws; accepts and loves evil. No sin is a "little" as one could not say that slapping Jesus is a "little" act.
On the cross we SEE what our sins did to Jesus. We see in action the price He paid - a magnanimous price and the tremendous love it took to go the way of suffering. "Greater love than this no one has, that He lay down his life for his friend."
Had Jesus chosen an "easy" way to redeem us, than all of humanity could understandably say: SO!!!! How does THAT prove God loves me? Or how does THAT show me how terrible sin is?
Now, we have no excuse for those questions. Meditating on the Passion and Death of Jesus paints a very clear picture for us. Sin IS terrible to God and, yes, He loves us truly - infinitely - for in His sufferings and shedding of every last drop of His blood, we MUST acknowledge: GREATER LOVE THAN THIS NO ONE HAS, THAT HE WOULD GIVE HIS LIFE THAT I MIGHT LIVE FOREVER.
Easter will have greater meaning for us if we "walk" the Passion with Jesus.
Please be sure to get to confession before Easter! God bless you!
Archbishop Gerbert of Aurillac is consecrated the first French Pope, taking the name Pope Sylvester II.
Birth of Philip III, nicknamed "the Bold" who would become the King of France.
Death of Pope Honorius IV, the 190th successor of Peter who sought to establish closer relations with the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the leaders of the Islam world.
Pope Clement V, the first of the Avignon Popes, dissolves the Knights Templar who had grown increasingly in power and abuse of their privileges.
Birth of Henry IV who would become King of England
Death of Saint Ambrose the pagan from Gaul who converted, became a great bishop, baptized Saint Augustine, and was named a Doctor of the Church in 1298 by Pope Boniface VIII.
Death of Pope Formosus, the Ostian-born pontiff and 111th successor of Peter who was largely responsible for converting Bulgaria.
Death of King Alfonso X, monarch of Castile-Leon.
Death of Pope Nicolas IV the first Franciscan pope who was the 191st successor of Peter who brought order to the Court of Portugal.
Death of Queen Joan, wife of Philip "the Fair", King of France.
Death of Robert III, the King of Scotland.
Death of Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary
Death of Saint Benedict the Moor, a humble Franciscan servant and confessor who preferred the obscure chore of cooking over teaching. He was noted for many miracles and is considered one of the patron saints of African Americans.
Pope Innocent VI, the fifth in the line of Avignon Popes, crowns Charles IV of Bohemia as the Holy Roman Emperor.
Death of Saint Vincent Ferrer, a Dominican who played a key role in ending the Western Schism.
The Florentine church Santa Maria del Fiore is struck by lightning. It would be refurbished by works of Michelangelo and Raphael who were commissioned the project before being called to Rome.
The Civilta Cattolica story, to be published in that magazine's next issue, reports that Pius XII wrote the denunciation of the Nazi regime "with his own hand," intending that it would be published in L'Osservatore Romano. But the article goes on to say that the Pope eventually burned his own manuscript-- apparently in frustration-- because he had been convinced that such as statement would lead to even more brutal Nazi treatment of both Jews and Catholics.
These striking revelations appear in an unsigned article on the recent Vatican document about the Holocaust and the controversy that has ensued. La Civilta Cattolica is generally regarded as a semi-official publication of the Vatican, whose articles are approved by the Secretariat of State.
Father Pierre Blet, SJ, the sole survivor among the Jesuit historians who studied the secret Vatican archives from World War II, told the Rome news agency I Media that the revelation about the proposed statement came from Sister Pasqualina, the German nun who worked on the staff of Pope Pius XII for years. The story appeared in her memoirs in 1982, and Sister Pasqualina later confirmed the existence of the statement in conversation with Father Blet. However, the Jesuit historian continued, "I never used it in my writing because it is impossible to document this letter-- which has in fact disappeared." Intrigued by the story, he questioned Sister Pasqualina further, and learned that Pope Pius XII had burned the draft statement, in her presence, "in the kitchen of the pontifical apartments."
The story in La Civilta Cattolica explains that Pope Pius XII was dissuaded from issuing his statement for three reasons:
First, he noticed that the Nazi regime had intensified its persecution of Jews immediately after the publication of Mit Bennender Sorge, the German-language encyclical issued by his predecessor, Pope Pius XI, to condemn Nazi racial policies.
Second, he learned that after Dutch bishops had made open protests against the deportation of Jews, earlier in 1942, the Nazi regime again responded by redoubling the persecution-- and also rounding up Jews who had converted to Catholicism, among them the Blessed Edith Stein.
Finally, he was counseled by many Jewish leaders-- including some who had escaped from Berlin and elsewhere in Germany-- that such an explicit condemnation would be counterproductive.
The report in La Civilta Cattolica matches the evidence produced by Cardinal Paolo Dezza, who had been rector of the Gregorian University during the wartime years. Last week Cardinal Dezza recalled visiting with Pope Pius XII, and finding: "The Pope was suffering, because he was ready to intervene publicly with a solemn condemnation of Hitler's actions. But he had me read a letter from the German bishops and cardinals, who begged him not to speak, because if the Pope spoke out publicly against Hitler, he would treat Catholics even more violently than Jews."
The Civilta Cattolica article goes on to defend the Church against accusations that Catholic teaching provoked anti-Semitism, and to defend the Vatican decision not to offer unfettered access to the secret archives involving World War II. The unsigned editorial praised the recent statement, We Remember, as a positive step forward in inter-faith dialogue.
The verdict comes less than a year after a civil jury returned a $119.6 million verdict against the Diocese of Dallas for negligence in its handling of the allegations against Rudolph Kos, who was sentenced to life in prison on three counts of aggravated sexual assault and also received 20-year prison terms for conviction on four other accounts. He will be eligible to seek parole in 15 years.
Kos had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child. Eleven men had filed complaints against Kos for the assaults that occurred at three Dallas-area churches from 1981 to 1992. After the sentencing, the diocese said in a statement: "We hope with the conclusion of the criminal cases that all of us can move forward with the healing process."
Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, 64, was selected as the replacement for the late Archbishop Paul Nguyen Van Binh, who died in July 1995, by an agreement between the Vatican and the government in Hanoi. The post has been vacant for so long because Hanoi refused to agree to a Vatican-appointed replacement. As with all religions in Vietnam, the administration of the official Catholic Church falls under the Communist party's mass movement umbrella agency, the Fatherland Front.
Tensions rose last year when Cardinal Pham Dinh Tung of Hanoi sent a letter to Prime Minister Phan Van Khai complaining about restrictions on Church activities. The letter complained that priests faced a bureaucratic minefield to get permits to travel within their parishes, that applications to assign new priests to parishes faced delays, that strict limits on the number of young men permitted to enter seminaries were unreasonable, and that the restrictions forced people to follow their spiritual beliefs illegally.
Around 200 priests and 1,800 others, including a handful of foreigners, crammed into Notre Dame cathedral for Archbishop Man's installation. Hundreds of others pushed up against the padlocked church gates to listen to the two-hour service. In a sermon, Ho Chi Minh City apostolic administrator Bishop Nicolas Huynh Van Nghi hinted that much needed to be done to improve relations between the Church and the Communist party.
The proposal to grant legal status to homosexual "marriage" was introduced in the Italian chamber of deputies by representatives of the leftist PDS and centrist Forza Italia parties. It would provide for a registration of "affective unions," which same-sex couples could enter. The L'Osservatore article observed that by this process, a homosexual union would gain a status approximating that of a legal marriage, "within certain limits." The proposal would not allow homosexual couples to adopt children, nor would it have any effect on the legal status of children from a previous union.
Nevertheless, the Vatican newspaper pointed out, the proposal is unsettling because it points to an abandonment of moral principles, and suggests a profound reversal of legal reasoning. L'Osservatore expressed shock that support for the proposal came from across party lines, noting: "One cannot remain indifferent, faced with the fact that a decision of such revolutionary has gained such broad support from both the majority and the opposition."