available in full graphics and/or textonly
As we prepare for the beginning of the Third Millennium of Christianity, the Church is aware that the joy of a Jubilee is above all the joy that is based on the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God and neighbour. Therefore she encourages her sons and daughters to purify their hearts, through repentance of past errors and infidelities. She calls them to place themselves humbly before the Lord and examine themselves on the responsibility which they too have for the evils of our time.
It is my fervent hope that the document: We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah, which the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews has prepared under your direction, will indeed help to heal the wounds of past misunderstandings and injustices. May it enable memory to play its necessary part in the process of shaping a future in which the unspeakable iniquity of the Shoah will never again be possible. May the Lord of history guide the efforts of Catholics and Jews and all men and women of good will as they work together for a world of true respect for the life and dignity of every human being, for all have been created in the image and likeness of God.
This reflection concerns one of the main areas in which Catholics can seriously take to heart the summons which Pope John Paul II has addressed to them in his Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente: "It is appropriate that, as the Second Millennium of Christianity draws to a close, the Church should become more fully conscious of the sinfulness of her children, recalling all those times in history when they departed from the spirit of Christ and his Gospel and, instead of offering to the world the witness of a life inspired by the values of faith, indulged in ways of thinking and acting which were truly forms of counter-witness and scandal".(1)
This century has witnessed an unspeakable tragedy, which can never be forgotten: the attempt by the Nazi regime to exterminate the Jewish people, with the consequent killing of millions of Jews. Women and men, old and young, children and infants, for the sole reason of their Jewish origin, were persecuted and deported. Some were killed immediately, while others were degraded, illtreated, tortured and utterly robbed of their human dignity, and then murdered. Very few of those who entered the Camps survived, and those who did remained scarred for life. This was the Shoah. It is a major fact of the history of this century, a fact which still concerns us today.
Before this horrible genocide, which the leaders of nations and Jewish communities themselves found hard to believe at the very moment when it was being mercilessly put into effect, no one can remain indifferent, least of all the Church, by reason of her very close bonds of spiritual kinship with the Jewish people and her remembrance of the injustices of the past. The Church's relationship to the Jewish people is unlike the one she shares with any other religion.(2) However, it is not only a question of recalling the past. The common future of Jews and Christians demands that we remember, for "there is no future without memory".(3) History itself is memoria futuri.
In addressing this reflection to our brothers and sisters of the Catholic Church throughout the world, we ask all Christians to join us in meditating on the catastrophe which befell the Jewish people, and on the moral imperative to ensure that never again will selfishness and hatred grow to the point of sowing such suffering and death.(4) Most especially, we ask our Jewish friends, "whose terrible fate has become a symbol of the aberrations of which man is capable when he turns against God",(5) to hear us with open hearts.
The very magnitude of the crime raises many questions. Historians, sociologists, political philosophers, psychologists and theologians are all trying to learn more about the reality of the Shoah and its causes. Much scholarly study still remains to be done. But such an event cannot be fully measured by the ordinary criteria of historical research alone. It calls for a "moral and religious memory" and, particularly among Christians, a very serious reflection on what gave rise to it.
The fact that the Shoah took place in Europe, that is, in countries of long-standing Christian civilization, raises the question of the relation between the Nazi persecution and the attitudes down the centuries of Christians towards the Jews.
In the eighth verse Jesus hits the nail on the head, so to speak when He says in John 12: 8 after admonishing Judas to leave the Magdalene alone, "For the poor you have always with you, but you do not always have Me." The impact of this sentence hits home that the greatest Treasure is there among them in the flesh in the person of the Son of God, Who prophesizes His burial and the Magdalene's role by indicating in the verse before that she should keep the rest to anoint His body which she indeed did and was one of the faithful, along with John, to follow Jesus all the way to the Cross and beyond to the Sepulchre. It was only fitting she was rewarded for her loyalty by being the first to see Jesus after He had risen.
This lesson should help us put things in perspective, to realize the greatest treasures are not here on earth, but only in Heaven will we attain unfathomable wealth when we behold the face of God. Our lifespan is but a drop of water compared to the ocean of Heavenly Eternity. That in itself should help us put our priorities in order. Do we put more importance on that tiny drop of water than the entire Infinite ocean? Judas did and we all know his fate. That should strongly remind us the path he sought was a dead-end. When we realize the insignificance of this lifespan in relationship with everlasting life with God it will better help us join Jesus on the path to Calvary. There on the Cross was the greatest ransom ever made and for it, Jesus released to us untold of treasures that are ours for the asking. All we need do is heed His Will and knock at the Door of His Sacred and Merciful Heart for the day's Responsorial Psalm says it all: "The Lord is my Light and my Salvation."
Incredulous, Peter truly believes this will never happen, but alas we all know it did. We also know Peter went on to become the Rock Jesus had intended in founding His One True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. What was the difference between the two? Besides character, one asked for forgiveness and resolved to amend his ways just as the Good Thief Dismas also did as he was clinging to life on the cross with Christ; the other despaired, too proud to come in humility and ask to be reconciled. Judas' actions were also paralleled by the Bad Thief who hung there scorning Jesus and deriding Dismas.
How many times have we denied Christ? Oh, true, they were small, but they build up. As Catholics we have the saving grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But we cannot abuse it. We can't feel it is a convenient outlet to just wipe away the same sins we intend to commit again. No, we must make a commitment to sin no more as the priest commands at the end of Confession. Sure, because we are human, we will sin again...but it is not a will to sin, but our weakness that we fall. The shame is in staying in sin, refusing to get up. There is no shame in falling and rising again, asking forgiveness. Jesus is always there to help us, just as He was there to forgive Peter He was there to forgive Judas, but the Iscariot did not respond. Will we respond when we fail? Will we come running to the Merciful Heart begging for Mercy? Our Lady assures us of being forgiven and begs us to go to Confession often, at least once a month and more if possible. The more we take advantage of this wonderful Sacrament, the more we realize the graces inherent and the protective shell we can build around our soul and lifestyle to keep satan out. Like Peter, we too, have been chosen. Like Peter, we too, have fallen and will fall again. Like Peter, we can rely on the Holy Spirit to instill the Gifts that will enable us to continue joyfully on the way to Calvary as we eagerly repeat the words of the Psalmist in today's Psalm 71: 3 - 4, "Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked."
Angry now - at his own predicament and the ever-quarrelsome Jews, Pilate moves out onto the wide balcony and the crowd begins to shout. With an abrupt gesture Pilate motions to the guards to bring Jesus forward. Because of His condition it takes perhaps forty-five seconds before Jesus positions Himself just to Pilate’s right and slightly behind him.
"Behold the man!" is Pilate’s exclamation.
And a roar, with the force of a tidal wave, assaults Pilate and Jesus, Who stands with bowed head, the meek, humble Lamb.
"I have had Him scourged to satisfy your filthy lust for blood," Pilate says with all his imperious authority.
I behold now the thousands of demons in an absolute frenzy pulling and pushing at the crowd, driving it forward. I am given to "see" that upon these poor wretches there are chains. Some are bound by their hands, others with their feet, still others with a chain around the neck, waist, heart, mind.
The Roman guards under Pilate’s command, swords drawn, shields held protectively, move against this rabble which starts forward. Human cowardice, however, holds it back.
"He is a blasphemer!" comes a cry from the crowd.
"He is liable to death!" screams another.
A chorus of "Blasphemer!" "Death to the devil’s spawn!"
And Pilate, looking at Jesus, is pensive, struggling. But now I see his own demon which sits upon his shoulder, whispering constantly in his ear. *Pilate makes a gesture as if to remove an annoying gnat and the demon merely climbs to the floor where it dances obscenely and incites his fellow demons to imitate him.
"It is the custom at this time," Pilate shouts, momentarily quieting the crowd, "for Rome to release to you a prisoner. It is your Passover. Therefore, I offer this man, who I find innocent, or Barrabas."
The demons cannot contain their movement. They yank, tug and jerk the chains around the people and their hideous howls become the cry: "Barrabas!" "Give us Barrabas!"
Pilate is momentarily stunned. These people are truly mad! He knows it, but the demon who is now back upon his shoulder ends the battle.
"So be it," Pilate wearily exclaims. To a servant he commands, "Bring basin and water."
The crowd chants "Barrabas" and "Death to the Blasphemer! Crucify this Christ, who has dared to call Himself Son of God."
The servant arrives, a young boy totally in awe of Pilate. With fastidious care Pilate holds his hands over the basin and the water is poured upon his palms and fingers. Pilate carefully wipes his hands dry upon a spotless piece of white linen.
"Then let it be as you say," he addresses the pressing crowd. "But I will have no part of this. Let His death be upon your heads."
"Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" is the response. "His blood upon us and upon our children," they respond, certain that they are exacting true justice according to the law.
"Release to them the prisoner Barrabas," commands Pilate. He turns, passes Jesus and with a wave of his hand gives the order. "This one - Crucify Him!"
Jesus is at once surrounded by Roman guards who form a phalanx around Him.
Pilate is once again sitting upon his judgment seat. He does not bother to look up as Jesus is taken out and let to the bottom of the palace. He suddenly sinks back into the chair, and upon his face there comes a deep shadow of immense remorse.
Yet, the demon who is still upon his shoulder whispers the lie, and Pilate resumes his arrogant posture; justice is done! So be it! NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part three of Lesson 13: Our Lady's Meditation on THE JUDGMENT BY PILATE
One of the things that did surprise us was there was no video since they specialize in video taping the Mass on the satellite. It would be an ideal situation even though it could only be for edification and not fulfilling any type of obligation since a televised or "videoed" Mass is not considered the same as attendance at Mass and therefore, especially on Sundays and Holy Days, does not fulfill the requirement. There is a section on St. Ann's Basilica itself and this beautiful edifice would be ideal for showing the Mass on a special "Mass cam" if that were possible. They offer Mass and Prayer Enrollment Cards as well as a line of gift items available through St. Ann's Media. In addition, they have an interesting sidebar on recently beatified Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi who the Holy Father beatified a few weeks ago in Nigeria with links to the saint-to-be's own home page which are all provided by Fr. Tansi's monastery in England. Overall, the St. Ann's Media sight's strong point is the Daily Mass liturgy and the audio homilies and we would have awarded a much higher rating had they not included not only non-Catholic links, but non-Christ-oriented links. That is something we hope dearly they will change in the future for, other than that and the fact they need to update the audio homilies, it is a very good sight that can compliment everyone's day. Especially during Holy Week this is a most helpful sight to keep us all in the spirit of the Passion. Therefore, for the sake of the Mass, we award St. Ann's Media the "Golden Chalice Award" and confer ONE Hail Mary to this site which can be so much more if they will only eliminate the negatives (non-Christian links) and explore and expand the positives, for after all, Mass appeal should be reserved only for the Mass.