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April 7, 1998             SECTION ONE              vol 9, no. 69

HOLY WEEK On the Way to Calvary

Like Peter, are we in denial?

     Tuesday in Holy Week provides the scenario of Peter's denial before the cock crowed thrice just as Jesus foretold his beloved Simon - the man He chose to lead His Church. Now, nearly 2000 years later we have to ask ourselves if we, like Peter, are in denial when push comes to shove. We all talk a good game, but when it's crunch time, are we ready to put our lives on the line for Him? That is a question we should all mull in our hearts and consciences as we prepare for the Passion and Death of Our Lord. The lesson today is that we must be ready to profess our undying faith in Christ no matter the consequences. For today's readings, lesson and liturgy as well as tomorrow's, click on LITURGY OF THE DAY FOR HOLY WEEK

On the Road to Calvary

TUESDAY, April 7, 1998

The tale of two Apostles who both denied Christ

     The Gospel for this day, from John, treats the two Apostles who denied Christ. One, of course was Judas Iscariot who swiftly left the Last Supper room to do his dastardly deed and ultimately despaired for the evil one had so greatly possessed him as John points out so poignantly in verse 27 when the Evangelist writes, "And after the morsel, satan entered into him." The other is Simon Peter. Always the inquisitive one, Peter presses Our Lord as to who is the one who will betray him. He even pledges his loyalty so boldly that he swears he will follow Jesus wherever He goes. Jesus knows only too well Peter's weaknesses and prophesizes in John 13: 38, "Amen, amen, I say to thee, the cock will not crow before thou dost deny me thrice."

      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."

WEDNESDAY, April 8, 1998

What price is it worth to jeopardize Eternal Life?

     Would we chance failing to gain Eternal Life for a million dollars? How about a billion dollars? After all Judas Iscariot forfeited his opportunity to experience everlasting bliss for a mere thirty pieces of silver. We might say 'no way would we ever do anything like that...there's no earthly price we could be paid to betray Jesus.' Yet do we realize we do everyday when we opt for worldly pleasures over the rigorous but rewarding task of daily prayer, sacrifice, fasting and daily Mass. When we choose to see this movie or that television show which we know in our heart offends Jesus and His Immaculate Pure Mother Mary do we realize we are contributing to our own demise and growing closer to being Judas-like than Christ-like? When we speak against others or rudely to others do we realize we are pawns for satan? When we put our own interests before God's do we realize we are heading down the primrose path toward hell?

      Unfortunately, the politically correct thing today is to downplay hell and the devil, to play up that God is all merciful and will allow anything. Wrong. True He is all merciful and will forgive anything, but He will not allow anything. This is where we have to be on our guard. Too many are advocating that this is okay, or that is okay. Turn the clock back thirty years. What would we have said if we heard there was nudity and illicet sex in the movies, even on TV? Would our stomachs be turned with all the violence on the tube or on the Hollywood celluloid today? What would our reaction be to the idea of advocating abortion and condoms, of embracing homosexuality as normal...even to accepting same-sex unions which they brazenly call "marriage?" We would be indignant and in shock. Then why aren't we reacting the same way today? Because it's not politically correct to correct others. We can't rock the boat...just let bygones be bygones and all that garbage psychobabble that is definitely taking our society into a Sodom and Gomorrah-like culture...the culture of death as Pope John Paul II calls it. The Holy Father is one pillar who is not afraid to go against the wave and rock boats the world over. And we need to follow his example and join him for his way is Christ's way...the only way! True that way leads straight to the Way of the Cross but that's what being Catholic is all about. It's not the rewards and adulation of this life that counts, but the acceptance and pleasing of God that highlights our itinerary as we map out our Heavenly destination.

      But this rendezvous with Christ and His Church Triumphant can only be achieved if we take seriously our role as the Church Militant and speak out against atrocities and apathy toward God's Laws and His Holy Church which has become the prime target for bashing in the late 90's. We must ask ourselves when confronted with this movie or that song, this person or that situation, would Jesus and Mary approve? Would they sit and watch it with us? If not, what are we doing there? When we give in to the world's ways, when we blame everyone but ourselves we are contributing to the purse that betrayed Christ. We make ourselves no better than the Iscariot. Let us not be the ones whom like Judas said "Surely it is not I, Rabbi" and then hear the fateful words of Jesus confirming our worst fear: "It is you who have said it" (Matthew 26: 25).

Awash in the Blood of Christ

      The Blessed Mother reflects in her meditation that we must not be like Pilate and wash our hands of responsibility, but rather plunge ourselves into the Passion and immerse ourselves in the Blood of our Savior for if we walk with Him on the way to Calvary, if we are willing to be nailed to the cross with Him, He will be there for us when it is time for our Heavenly resurrection! These meditative lessons, imparted by Our Lady to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart during Lent of 1993, are meant to inspire and prompt a greater understanding of the season of Lent, especially during Holy Week, and help us all prepare for His Passion and Death, and ultimately the glorious Resurrection. Click on "IT IS CONSUMMATED!"

part three Our Lady's Meditation

My Little Ones, I am inviting each one of you to look upon this scene, and to see the two aspects which you are free to choose: good or evil, the Divine Will or the power of satan.

      My Divine Son, the spotless Lamb, stood meekly. Only by His own Will, united to the Divine Will was He able to stand, move and endure all that comprised His Sacred Passion.

      The many who gathered in the courtyard - all had seen or heard my Divine Son during His public ministry. Many had received from Him forgiveness, healing of body and soul, His mercy, His love. But they were of weak faith and thus did the evil one incite them to lose their faith. Once they followed Him, hungered for His Words and believed because they saw with their eyes the power of Almighty God in Him.

      Now, at this hour, the evil one and his legions of demons blinded the eyes of their souls, and slammed closed the gates to their hearts, stopping the flow of Divine Love - the Divine Will.

      Now with their human eyes and human minds they saw only what satan desired for them to see - a man, nothing more. A man who, no matter how good He had been, was condemned by the Sanhedrin, by the corrupt Temple. Thus, satan was able to stir their basest human passions and lead them into frenzy, where rational thought flees before the monsters of arrogance, pride, jealousy and hate. All the while they had but to look upon the victim with the eyes of their souls, and they would have given their own lives that He might be saved.

      Pilate, also, was not totally corrupt. He also knew only the false, pagan gods of Rome and thus found great difficulty in overcoming his own prejudices against a foreign people, a foreign language and the religion which was proclaimed as true - for it taught there is only one God!

      Pilate ‘saw’ with the light of truth that my Divine Son was hardly a criminal. He ’saw’ the injustice of the people, and recognized the fear of the Temple leaders which caused them to demand my Divine Son’s death. Pilate held the power in the eyes of the populace. He did not recognize, nor did the Jewish people, that all power comes from God, is to be obedient to God and in accord always with the Divine Will. God allowed the temporal rulers of men and nations, then and now, to give each person and government the chance to accept Him as the Supreme Authority, and to be obedient thereto. God allowed His Son to be handed over to the Romans. He allowed Pilate to judge, for throughout Pilate had many opportunities to prove his belief in true justice.

      But Pilate was weak, fearful of falling into disfavor with the emperor and losing his position. Earthly power, prestige and material possessions meant more to him than Truth - which is God. God stood before Pilate, and there were promptings from his soul to recognize the Son of God. But the evil one was the victor, because Pilate, too, was filled with pride.

      Little Children, pray and meditate upon the vast crowd that could not wait to see my Son dead. In each one of you there exists a weakness, a fault, and many sins which place you also in that crowd, which place you at Pilate’s side, your hands being washed of the crime.

      Dear Children, it is Jesus Who must wash you clean in the mantle of His Sacred Blood. It is He Who, rather than drying His Hands upon a snowy linen cloth, willingly reaches down and removes the filth which has collected in your hearts and souls, and cleanses away every stain through His Sacred Blood.

      Pilate dared not trod upon the places where My Divine Son’s Blood dripped upon his polished floor. Do not be like Pilate. Be of contrite heart, and full of confidence. Come running to be bathed in this Sacred Blood. Beseech my Divine Son to wash you clean. Resolve by means of prayer and penance never to sin against the Divine Will again.

      I solemnly tell you, Dear Children, when you have understood my many messages then you will live only in the Divine Will.

      Please, come now to stand with my Son and learn from Him. The Divine Will - for it is joy unsurpassed - must become yours through your own free will. If you respond by surrendering your own will, then shall my heart triumph, and the evil one shall be chained.

      O! Pray. Use the holy season of Lent to hasten my Heart’s triumph so that the world may live in the Divine Will! NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part one: IT IS CONSUMMATED!

The fullness of Holy Week is being wholly involved

     Today we review the liturgical treasures we have been gifted during this special week in the liturgical year and show how to fully partake of the graces and riches inherent in these celebrations, we must not be part-timers but wholly involved in all the Holy Week celebrations as detailed in Holy Week means being wholly involved! Click on today's CATHOLIC PewPOINT

Holy Week means being wholly involved!

     Holy Week is not just "holy" week but a week we need to become wholly involved in this fullest week in our liturgy, lasting from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. The days of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, which we are currently in, are not akin to the normal "Weekdays in Lent" but a preparation for the solemn Easter Triduum which is, of course, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. No week has more meaning, more events packed into it with meaning from both an Old and New Testament perspective than Holy Week.

     Few actually realize that the season of Lent ends on Holy Thursday at sundown for that is when the Easter Triduum begins. This marks the end of the forty days. At the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday evening the priest, in an act of humility and imitating Jesus Christ, washes the feet of twelve selected parish men symbolizing the twelve Apostles. After this solemn Mass celebrated with great pomp and solemnity in white vestments on the anniversary of the establishment of the Most Holy Eucharist, the altar and sanctuary are stripped bare in preparation for the tomb-like atmosphere of the next day. The Blessed Sacrament is removed from the main Tabernacle to a side or back tabernacle where it will repose until the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening. In St. Peter's the Holy Father will be the celebrant. The symbolism of a barren sanctuary represents the mournful time after the Last Supper in which Christ wept in the Garden of Gethsemane, was betrayed by Judas, was hauled before the Sanhedrin, was scourged, mocked with a crown of thorns, dragged before Pilate was condemned to die, weak and wobbly struggled up the rocky path to Calvary where He was stripped of His blood-soaked garment, nailed with rough hewn spikes ignominously to the huge wooden beams, and hung in the hot sun as His life was drained out of Him over the course of three hours.

Those are the events of Good Friday where there is no Mass, only the readings and Holy Communion, veneration of the Cross, prayers and Stations of the Cross. On this day of the Crucifixion, it is the custom to not do anything of an extracurricular nature entertainment wise, especially between the hours of noon and three which represent the three hours Christ hung on the cross. Like every Friday during Lent it is a day of abstinence, and it is also a day of Abstinence similar to Ash Wednesday. Red vestments, symbolizing martyrdom, are worn by the celebrant and deacons for Christ is the Ultimate Martyr. During the entire time He hung on that cross few except His Mother Mary and His faithful, beloved disciple the Apostle John, and a handful of women took the time to be there for Him. Even His Own chosen Apostles were nowhere to be seen, cowering in fear behind closed doors. Pope John Paul II will preside over Good Friday services in Rome, first leading the liturgy of the Passion at St. Peter's Basilica before later traveling across Rome to take a ceremonial part in the traditional Way of the Cross at the old Colisseum. In the past years of his pontificate the Holy Father would personally take up the cross and walk blocks lugging the huge wooden frame, but in recent years age and health have dictated he take a more cameo role. Nevertheless, for the nineteenth straight year he will take part.

     Good Friday is the day that signals the beginning of the Novena of Divine Mercy which continues for the next nine days leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday, the week after Easter. In more and more parishes across the United States pastors are recognizing this beautiful and vital feast which is so dear to the Holy Father's heart and even holding special times each day for the Novena and recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

      The time from three o'clock in the afternoon to Saturday evening represents the time Christ was in the sepulchre, the time He descended to hell. That is actually the wrong nomenclature for Jesus in no way visited the nether regions but rather "limbo" a temporary place where all those souls who died after the sin of Adam and Eve waited in hopes the Messiah would release them from their own "hell" and bring them all into the Heavenly embrace of the Eternal Father. That is why the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil is the traditional time for bringing catechumens into the full body of the Church. In striving to be holy they become whole through the Sacrament of Baptism. In St. Peter's the supreme pontiff again presides at this beautiful Easter Vigil service. There is probably no more beautiful liturgy than this Easter Vigil Mass which begins with the Light in the Darkness coming to all. In many churches the faithful hold candles in a darkened apse as a small fire is blessed outside the main part of the church and the Paschal candle is carried to the fire. Five grains of incense are often placed into the wax of this candle and then sealed in place with the "wax nails" representing the five nails of the cross. within the framework of the cross are the numbers for the year. Above the cross the Greek letter Alpha and below the last letter of the Greek alphabet Omega. Before lighting the candle the priest calls out the "Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega; all time belongs to Him and all the ages: to Him be glory and power through every age for ever. Amen." The candle is blessed and the priest lights it. Then the deacon knocks on the door outside and the words "Light of Christ" ring out. In times past there were few goose-bump moments as stirring as hearing "Lumen Christi" repeated three times with all the pomp of the Latin liturgy as the procession proceeds to the altar. Truth be told this most wondrous of celebrations has lost much in translation. Yet, even in English no Mass contains more readings than this with the seven Old Testament readings and Responsorial Psalms in addition to the Epistle from Romans and the Gospel of Luke. In addition there is the majestic Litany of the Saints during the Baptism liturgy with the blessing of the water, the chrism and presentation of the lighted candle to all candidates. In some churches there is also the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation. Because of its length and the crunch for space, not as many attend this non-mandatory, but beautiful liturgy. It is too bad they do not, like Sunday Mass, offer more than one Mass on Holy Saturday evening for most churches cannot handle the mass of people pouring into the church. Add to this the additional people both Catholic and non-Catholic in attendance for the sake of their friends or loved ones who are to be baptized and received into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and it becomes paramount that one arrive nearly an hour early to secure a space in the church. Also, because of the length, many families are discouraged from attending as one because if kids get edgy during a one hour Mass, imagine how consternated they'll be during a ceremony that can last up to three hours when taking into consideration getting there early. However, for those who are willing to make that one last sacrifice before the Resurrection they are in for a liturgical treat that cannot be matched at any other time during the year.

     And then comes the day we have all been looking toward - the Day of the Resurrection which, in many churches begins at sunrise and there is a cadre of Masses to accommodate the masses. In Rome this is the day the Holy Father not only presides at Easter morning Mass but issues his traditional Urbi et Orbi benediction. It is a day of "Alleluias" and more flowers than one can imagine. Just as the altar is adorned with pointsettias at Christmas, the pure white easter lilly is the mainstay this day which begins the glorious time of the Pascal season and the purity of white vestments lasting for the next forty days until May 31 when we celebrate the birthday of Holy Mother Church - Pentecost Sunday. But back to the present as we are in the midst of Holy Week and we will bring you all the liturgy this week along with commentaries on the significance of each day as well as the Novena of Divine Mercy in the Daily CATHOLIC for to truly become wholly involved we need to throw ourselves into it body and soul for Holy Week means being wholly involved!

Michael Cain, editor


"Even in laughter the heart may be sad, and the end of joy may be sorrow."

Proverbs 14: 13


Today's prayer is the sixth of the Seven Last Words of Christ that we will bring in these issues leading up to the Easter Triduum

      "It is consummated!" (John 19: 30) Jesus, help me, that I might come to the end of my earthly life with the peace of having lived and died only for You.

For more devotions of Holy Week, click on WAY OF THE CROSS

Medjugorje Monthly Message for March 25th

     Dear children! Also today I call you to fasting and renunciation. Little children, renounce that which hinders you from being closer to Jesus. In a special way I call you: Pray, because only through prayer will you be able to overcome your will and discover the will of God even in the smallest things. By your daily life, little children, you will become an example and witness that you live for Jesus or against Him and His will. Little children, I desire that you become apostles of love. By loving, little children, it will be recognized that you are mine. Thank you for having responded to my call.
For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE


Events today in Church History

      For events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history, click on ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME

Historical Events in Church Annals for April 7:

633 and counting, hoping and praying..

Click here to go to SECTION TWO or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.

Apri1 7, 1998 volume 9, no. 69         DAILY CATHOLIC