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"Soon I shall no longer be with you. Yet, I know that you remain unprepared and I have prayed and asked the Father to help you. Thus, I give unto you a new covenant which from this night forward until all time ends shall be the mark of My true Church, the mark of all who, having believed in Me, bear Me in their hearts."
Jesus then lefts the plate with the small loaf of bread to Heaven and He raises His eyes, which glow with a power and majesty that simply transform Him as He becomes surrounded by light. And He says.
Only Jesus notices and He seems already bent under a very heavy weight. But it is for the others and for all in future generations that He continues:
His long, tapering fingers lift now the chalice filled with wine. And holding it aloft, gazing up to His Father, the same luminous transformation takes place and He says:
Jesus then says, quietly but profoundly, looking at Judas: "Do what you have to do quickly."
And in a haste born perhaps of fear Judas grabs his mantle and he charges up the stairs and leaves the Last Supper room.
For a moment the other apostles stir, but they quiet down believing Jesus has sent Judas upon an errand of mercy. Only John keeps his head lowered, and weeps. The last few fragments of bread and the few drops of wine in the chalice remain in front of Jesus, and leaning close to His beloved disciple, He whispers: "When you are able to return here after the hour has come, preserve these remnants as a testimony to you of My Love, and give them into the care of My Holy Mother, and your head - Peter. Preserve them, for from these first I shall continue the miracle throughout all future generations by successors in your line."
And John, somewhat calmer at Jesus’ tone, nods, wipes his eyes and looks at Jesus with such sadness that Peter, ever the optimist says: "Come on, boy. You’d think we’d been to a funeral. Nobody’s died that I know of."
And Peter does not hear John’s low, plaintive, "Not yet."
But Jesus rises and bids His apostles follow Him. And together they leave this holy room where Jesus has given them His own Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, to be their food in all ages to come.
I remain in the room, on my knees, gazing at this first Eucharist until our Blessed Mother calls me to write.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part Three of Lesson 5: Our Lady's Meditation on THE LAST SUPPER
Secondly, last Thursday we touched on the foreboding number 666 and its significance when we acknowledged reaching 666 days until the Jubilee with our editorial "May God rebuke him we humbly pray!" Little did we know ol' hornhead would be that furious! He succeeded in really jamming our computer with some sort of virus that has totally disabled one and the one this editor is working on now is limping along but still showing enough of a pulse to be able to continue publishing the Daily CATHOLIC. It could be an aftermath of the much publicized virus that affected Microsoft software last week. Though we operate in Windows 95, some systems are tied to NT and we suspect it seaped in that way. We didn't lose anything that we know of, but the other computer - the master terminal we have been using over the past several weeks - was crashing every ten minutes and the time involved in rebooting and going through ScanDisk to find and correct the error was most frustrating. Let us just say that even our Virus detection program had to work overtime and showed vulnerability. Is it coincidence that it occurred on that fateful 666th day until the Millennium? We don't think so. We do know that it was only through the grace of God and the intercession of Saint Michael that we were able to continue with this backup computer and that we didn't lose too many files. With four computers we can be thankful only one was truly affected. If anyone e-mailed us or tried to subscribe between Wednesday night to Friday noon, chances are we might not have received it. Such is life in an apostolate where one has a constant foe trying to undermine all you do.
That brings us to the editorial we did Friday titled, "Remember the Alamo and Pray! It's 'Pray Day!'" in which we focused on WORLD DAY OF PRAYER dubbing it "Pray Day." But over the weekend we reconsidered that moniker and have come to the conclusion one day is not enough! Just as we have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday - each day should be referred to as "Prayday." There's a saying that goes, "Mr. Business went to Mass, never missed a Sunday; Mr. Business went to hell for what he did on Monday!" In other words, if Catholics remain only "weekend Catholics" and fail to practice their faith daily, then they are vulnerable for falling into that trap of rationalization and relativism which is so sneaky and damaging. In fact, the Holy Father is expected to release an encyclical in the near future on the dangers of relativity, which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has said is one of the great malignancies in our world today and greatly affecting Holy Mother Church. That is why we need to devote each and everyday as 'Prayday!' By building up the graces we are able to build a protective coating that helps us fend off the wiles of satan, no matter how much the pitched-fork-one throws at us. It enables us to keep everything in perspective and strive with every fiber of our being to fulfill God's Holy Will. Not everyone can get to Daily Mass and Holy Communion, but there's no reason everyone can't pray. And there are countless ways to pray. The most common of course is setting quiet time aside to spend valuable minutes with God in meditation; another is to pray the Rosary whether at home or on the way to work in the car. Better yet, gather the family in the evening and say it together before bed. Another way is constant short prayers or ejaculations such as "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you. Save souls" or "Jesus, I trust in You" or "Jesus, be with me in everything I do" or "Holy Spirit, fill my thirsty soul with Thy graces" or countless other such prayers that one can compose and keep handy or memorize to say often throughout the day. Other ways to pray are more subtle but just as effective, such as offering everything you do throughout the day for the honor and glory of God. This may seem easy but when you're at work and a co-worker displays anything but a Christian attitude this can be an uphill battle. Yet, if we strive to overlook the "humanness" of the other person and reflect on the fact that they too are children of God made in His image and likeness, it helps us get past the "shell" and look into the soul, enabling us to focus on what God wants rather than the resentment factor that so often crops up and can lead to jealousy, backbiting, snipping and a whole pandora's box of vices. The same goes for homelife, whether a homemaker or just coexisting within the family framework where the proximity of everyone can cause tension at times. It happens in every family and if every member of the family is aware that it takes teamwork and only one coach - God - then all can move throughout the day and night more cohesively in union with God's will and less strife on each other. The mother who cooks and cleans can offer all she does as a prayer; the father who goes to work, puts up with abuse in the work place from bosses or co-workers and is subject to an immoral atmosphere at times, can offer it all as reparation for sins and gain graces for it; the student can offer all his or her school work and homework for those who do not take education seriously and for the fact that education will better enable them to cope with life. For those on the net, reading this, as you wait the few seconds or more for a page to load, take that precious time to say a Hail Mary or some ejaculations. That way you're using valuable time for His purpose. You'd be surprised how this method cuts down on the impatience and frustration. The fact of the matter is that if we are constantly conscious of God in all that we do, think or say, then we will be more prone to living His Will and not fall into the traps satan lays, especially for those striving to live the way God intends. Remember, if you are doing that, you are definitely a threat to lucifer and he'll do all in his power to "get" you. Consider this a badge of honor, but don't for a minute let your guard down or he will find a vulnerable area and find your achilles heel. That's why constantly praying throughout the day, offering everything we do as a prayer, keeps that protective shield up. Call on Our Lady, the protection of her protecter Saint Joseph whose glorious feast we celebrate a week from this Thursday; enlist the help of Saint Michael, your guardian angel, the saints, even loved ones who you feel have gone on to join the Church Triumphant. If you're not sure, pray for them as if they are still in the ranks of the Church Suffering. There's a very special prayer we can all pray for the souls in Purgatory, given to Saint Gertrude in which Heaven has promised that, if said reverently and worthily, will release 1000 souls everytime it is said. It is so important that we repeat it here:
Another important prayer is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It takes only ten minutes and also offers tremendous rewards for a world sorely in need of mercy. There are novenas and other prayers that can be recited, but as the Blessed Mother has said to so many of her visionaries and messengers from Rue de Bac on, Pray from and with the heart! Don't worry so much about saying the exact prayers so many times a day that it gets in the way of what God really wants. Satan loves to use our conscience against us and goad us into guilt where we eventually give up because we can't possibly fit everything in. For some the Rosary is the best way, for others a day isn't complete without Daily Mass, for others conscious and subsconscious holy ejaculations throughout the day work best. Whatever way you can best communicate with God, do it. If it becomes a chore and a burden that takes you away from God, try a method of prayer that will bring you in closer union with Him. For some it is through quiet meditation, for others it can through reciting prayers outloud either with a prayer group or with the family, for others it might be through the inspiration of Scripture or spiritual reading. Whatever method works best for you, it will work better if you are constantly in tune with God and all He is asking. That is why we hereby unofficially inaugurate a new day of the week that applies to everyday. Many refer to Monday as 'Backday' because it's the start of the week, Wednesday is often called "Humpday" because it's the middle of the week, Friday, of course, is many times referred to as simply "Payday" because that is traditionally when many receive their weekly checks. But we recommend each day of the week be termed "Prayday" for a day without prayer is like a day without sunlight. Therefore, we proudly proclaim that from henceforth everyday is "Prayday!"
And this leads to my final thought: Whatever her faults, the Church is the only, truly free, community in creation. Not "free" in the mixed-up language of our political culture, but really free; free in the deeper sense we find in Scripture. She is the family in which we encounter Christ, who is the way the truth and the life; the same Christ who said "no one comes to the Father except through me." She is the vessel through which God pours hope and holiness into the world. She is the silence where we can hear God calling our name. She is the path we take to answer Christ's call, "Come follow me," and also His command, "Go, make disciples of all nations." When our teaching is obedient to her teaching, it is obedient to His will. Our job as Catholic educators is to draw the souls we teach into the Church, into her freedom, into His will. If we can begin to do that, God will change the world.
III. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." He also said, "You will know the truth and the truth will make you free." But He also said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword" (Mt 10:34). Those are hard words for the Prince of Peace, but they make sense in the face of the three great opponents of the Gospel in every age-- the world, the flesh, and the devil. We tend to frame the struggle between virtue and sin in slightly different words today, but the reality is exactly the same. The truth will set us free, but it won't make us comfortable-- and it will certainly make the enemies of Christ bitter not only toward Him, but toward us.
When I was confirmed, the bishop gave me a light slap on the cheek to remind me of the persecution that might come because of my faith. I became a soldier of Christ in a spiritual war that has gone on throughout history on every continent, in every culture and in every individual heart I suppose expressions like "spiritual warfare" fell out of favor in the 1960s because they had a flavor of militarism or preconciliar theology. But I think it's time to reclaim the truth at the heart of those words. Spiritual warfare is real. We are soldiers of Christ, and we are engaged in a war for the soul of the world with spiritual enemies who hate the human person and all of God's creation. The cost of that war is the blood of martyrs, and the history of this century is written in it. That's what I mean by missionary realism. If you teach the truth, brothers and sisters, you are the friend of God. And if you are the friend of God, you are the enemy of those who revile Him. St. Paul says it most powerfully in Ephesians 6, 10-17:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
"Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the Gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God."
Catholic education cannot be done by the disaffected or lukewarm. It's for people who have a fire in their heart for God; who love the Church and her teachings; who want to be a lion for the lord and not a housecat. It's for missionaries and soldiers of mercy, justice and truth. It's for souls who see their own suffering as a small price to pay, to be part of God's great work of redemption.
The "good news of great joy" is that the hardest victory is already won. Christ has opened the door to new life. Our job is to follow Him and lead others to Him. I know you have that hunger in your own hearts, or you wouldn't be here today. As we begin this season of Lent in this Year of the Holy Spirit, I ask you to pray for me-- as I will pray for you-- to have the same courage which the Apostles found at Pentecost: to preach Jesus Christ with passion and conviction, in season and out, so that others may hear and believe.
God bless each of you, and thank you for the tremendous work you do.