Easter Sunday: The Empty Tomb

“Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go secure it as best you can.” So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard. – Matthew 27: 65-66

“The king lay in state with the guard about Him. And the most astounding fact about this spectacle of vigilance over the dead is that the enemies of Christ expected the Resurrection, but His friends did not. It was the believers who were the skeptics. It was the unbelievers who were credulous.

None of the apostles expected a Resurrection. They had to be convinced. They had to be convinced the hard way, as Thomas had to be convinced. Believe me, the skeptics of today cannot compare with the skeptics of those days, namely the apostles. They were the doubters, and when they were convinced they proved that they believed by having their throats cut for the cause of Christ.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” He is not here, but has been raised.” – Luke 24:5-6

And as the risen Christ had overcome death, so too, the apostles would rise above their fear. Having again seen and eaten with their master, a presumed illusion had become reality; restoring their faith. The cowards would become heroes. They were now prepared to let go of the lives they knew and give them over to and for Christ; completely. All that was Christ was conferred upon them by Him. They would do what He had done. And through the apostles the gospels would be proclaimed throughout the world resulting in a growing, vibrant, Holy and living church.

As a result of the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday all that was is changed forever. Suffering once seen as a dreaded error of life now has a valued purpose and meaning; for it is the precursor of a greater good; and in the case of Christ, the greatest good. His success is our success. The entrance to heaven that had been denied to all humanity by the disobedience of one man, has been reopened, and access reinstated to all humanity by the obedience of the One man.

From the apostles and succeeding disciples to the present day priests, the consecration of the Holy Eucharist continues in the presence of the ever vigilant Paraclete. The Paraclete is the love of God that binds the Father to the Son and the Son to us all. The Paraclete guides, protects, inspires, consoles and sustains. And through that continual Eucharistic consecration, Jesus keeps the promise He made that comforted and encouraged his apostles then; and comforts and encourages all today, who take up their cross and follow Him. “And remember that I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” – Matthew 28:20

The stone that sealed the tomb of the Savior was found fallen away. And the place where His body had been laid was empty and free of darkness. For that which harbors not life, but death, had not the power to contain “The Light Of The World.”

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Good Friday – The First Homily

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Happy Good Friday Wallpapers and Images Ishu+cross+shadow

In the letter to the Hebrews, the author affirms Jesus as High Priest according to the Order of Melchizedek.

When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, proclaims the Gospel. Therefore, all must listen with reverence to the readings from God’s word, for they make up an element of greatest importance in the Liturgy. Although in the readings from Sacred Scripture God’s word is addressed to all people of every era and is understandable to them, nevertheless, a fuller understanding and a greater effectiveness of the word is fostered by a living commentary on the word, that is, the Homily, as part of the liturgical action.

The Homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay…

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Holy Week: “The Week That Changed The World”

Palm Sunday

“Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried: Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.”- John 12:13

Holy Thursday

“And taking bread, he gave thanks, and broke it: and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me.”-Luke 22:19

“For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many.”-Matthew 26:28

Good Friday

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”- Luke 23:34

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani?” That is, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”-Matthew 27:46

“And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”- Luke 23:46

Holy Saturday

” Command therefore the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day: lest perhaps his disciples steal him away, and say to the people: He is risen from the dead: and the last error shall be worse than the first…Pilate saith to them: You have a guard: go, guard it as you know.”- Matthew 27:64-65

 Easter Sunday

“Who saith to them: Be not affrighted: you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen, he is not here, behold the place they laid him.”- Mark 16:6

“For this was I born, and for this came I into the world: that I should give testimony to the  truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice.”

 

“A Promise”– by, Alan Malizia

Upon a cross a debt was paid,

and promise made,

for tortured souls enslaved.

From an empty tomb,

as if a womb,

emerged the promise kept.

And by it we are saved.

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The Carpenter’s Son

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

joseph“And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know, that I must be about my father’s business?” – Luke 2: 48-49

Jesus, at the age of twelve, during the Passover, was missing for three days. When His frantic parents, who thought he was with relatives or acquaintances, had returned to Jerusalem, they found Him in the Temple discoursing with the elders. As He said, He was in His Father’s house tending to His Father’s business. All, save for His earthly parents, did not understand His meaning. For often it was said among those who knew the family: “Is this not Jesus, the son of the carpenter, Joseph?”

When God, the Father, sent His Word into the world in Christ, He sent Him by way of the womb of a sinless women. But, why to a…

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Humility to Humor to True Humanness

“It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.” – G.K. Chesterton

Humor is a grace from God that makes the unapproachable approachable. All classes, races, political partisans and religious sects can have one thing in common; a good laugh. The great elixir of conflict is humor. And humor can only be expressed when humility overtakes the stubbornly proud. It is logical to assume then that since God made man in His image and likeness, and since we have a sense of humor, that He would also have one. If we can find things funny, so can He. Of course God’s humor is never cruel the way humans may be at times. In fact, God is entirely pure and unblemished, therefore so too is His humor. God, like a good parent, will help us see the futility in our seriousness by not taking us seriously in a most  unassuming way. And by it our pride gives way to humility followed by good humor. Making us charming to those around us.

After mass one Sunday, a little boy unexpectedly announced to his mom, “Mom, I’ve decided to become a priest when I grow up.” “That’s ok with us if you want to do that,” she said, “but why did you decide to become a priest?” “Well,” said the little boy, “I have to go to mass on Sundays anyway. I think it will be more fun to stand up and yell than to sit down and listen.”

A boy walked up to the parish priest after mass and handed him a dollar. The priest told him he should give the dollar to the poor. The little boy responded, “But, that’s why I gave it to you, Father. My dad says you’re the poorest preacher we ever had.”

After his baby brother was baptized in church, little Timmy cried all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him what was wrong? Finally, the little boy stopped crying long enough to tell his dad, “That priest in church said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, but I want to stay with you and mom!”

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: While giving his homily during mass one Sunday, was interrupted by a restless and quite vocal child. The child’s embarrassed mother at one point gathered her child up and was making her way out of the pew where they were seated. Archbishop Sheen paused in his homily to encourage the mother to stay, saying: “Madam, it is not necessary for you to leave mass, your child is not bothering me.” To which she replied, “No Archbishop, I’m leaving because you are bothering him.” And with that the congregation, including Archbishop Sheen, broke into laughter. Again, even the good Archbishop would note, that humility precedes Humor. All at that moment, in laughter, were one.

If we can agree that God has a sense of humor then Jesus, the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, would be expected to as well. During the time of Jesus in first century Israel, there were publicans and tax collectors who could walk up to a man and tax him for what he was carrying, and much more. These tax collectors were hated and despised because they were usually fellow Jews who worked for Rome.

In a scene from Franco Zeffirelli’s mini-series, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus invites himself to the house of Matthew, a tax collector. Outside Matthew’s house, Peter, in the company of some of the other apostles are appalled that Jesus was eating with a sinner. In their anguish over the certainty that such a scandal would spread, the apostles asked Peter why he didn’t persuade the master not to attend. Peter, in anguish, told them that he tried to do just that. But Jesus’ reply to Peter’s plea was, matter-of-factly; “Why don’t you come along, as well.” That scene always draws a chuckle from me. Through humor, Jesus is showing Peter that he must put away his pride and anger so not to separate himself from all those, righteous and sinners alike, whom he must one day love and lead as Jesus’ vicar on earth.

Once, as any child who doesn’t get his way, I announced that I was leaving home. My mom’s response was, “Wait, I’ll make you a lunch to take with you.” How can you not laugh at that? Yet I stormed out of the house. We are made to realize, at times as these, by those who care most for us, how truly foolish we are. And isn’t a fool a humorous character? We need but to consider the court jester of the Middle Ages. Peter I’m sure came to the same realization that his foolish pride, too, had put a divide between him and Jesus. Once humbled, Peter saw the humor and was again one with Jesus. After one lonely lap around the neighborhood my senses, too, returned. And I, as well, returned home for lunch, rather than stubbornly taking it on the road.

There are things in this worldly life that should be seen as important but not taken too seriously, including our foibles, so that God’s gift of humor is not lost. For it is in shared humor that the common and elite, the friend and foe are humbled to the same level of perception where true humanness is exalted. It is here that we will come to understand, if but for an instant, that we are all one as brothers and sisters of Christ, and like Him are heirs to Paradise; where love, truth, life, joy and humor are everlasting.

“When last I saw an old gentleman running after his hat in Hyde Park, I told him that a heart so benevolent as his ought to be filled with peace and thanks at the thought of how much unaffected pleasure his every gesture and bodily attitude were at the moment giving to the crowd.” – (From “All Things Considered,” by G.K. Chesterton)

 

 

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Jack Frost

        

“…art cries out for an artist. It is plainly impossible that so standard a work as the Universe should remain anonymous.” – G.K. Chesterton

One morning my sister-in-law captured a photo of the top image that was left on her windshield following a below freezing night. Before scraping the windshield clear, the photo was taken from inside the vehicle and preserved. Jack Frost, depicted on the left, in using my sister-in-law’s windshield as his canvass, had left this awe-inspiring wintry portrait for us all to enjoy and marvel. Until the window pane came into practical use, Jack Frost had no medium on which to share his divine gift.

Starting in late 19th century literature, more developed characterizations of Jack Frost depict him as a sprite-like character, sometimes appearing as a sinister mischief-maker or as a hero. He is traditionally said to leave the frosty, fern-like patterns on windows on cold winter mornings and nipping the extremities in cold weather. Overtime, however, frost has become far less prevalent in the modern world due to the advance of double-glazing, but Jack Frost remains a well-known figure in popular culture. He is sometimes described or depicted with paint brush and bucket coloring the autumnal foliage red, yellow, brown, and orange.

As a retired high school mathematics teacher of Algebra and Geometry, the frozen design caught my eye and brought to mind a special branch of mathematics; fractal geometry.

Benoit B.Mandelbrot (20 November 1924 – 14 October 2010) was a Polish-born, French and American mathematician with broad interests in the practical sciences, especially regarding what he labeled as “the art of roughness” of physical phenomena and “the uncontrolled element in life.” He referred to himself as a “fractalist”. He is recognized for his contribution to the field of fractal geometry, which included coining the word “fractal”(see the image to the right of Jack Frost), as well as developing a theory of “roughness and self-similarity” in nature. Mandelbrot was one of the first to use computer graphics to create and display fractal geometric images(see the complex colorful image furthest to the right of Jack Frost), leading to his discovering the Mandelbrot Set in 1979. He showed how visual complexity can be created from simple rules. He said that things typically considered to be “rough”, a “mess” or “chaotic”, like clouds, shorelines or mountains, actually had a “degree of order.” Our frost-fern, since a part of nature, in like manner, does not satisfy the rules of classical geometry.

The frost-fern would be found by most to be a thing of beauty. An inquisitive child without cynicism would believe that it was fashioned by an impish fellow named Jack Frost. Mandelbrot, through fractal-geometry, brings order to the chaos of the image. In so doing provides an explanation and purpose behind its beauty.

While everyone is delighted by beauty, and the more alive among us are positively fascinated by it, few are explicitly aware that we can recognize truth by its beauty and simplicity. Most eminent physicists of the twentieth century agree that beauty is the primary standard for scientific truth. Likewise, the best of contemporary theologians are also exploring with renewed vigor the aesthetic dimensions of divine revelation. Honest searchers after truth can hardly fail to be impressed that these two disciplines, science and theology, so different in methods, approaches and aims, are yet meeting in this and other surprising and gratifying ways. – Thomas Dubay (The Evidential Power of Truth and Beauty)

The fern-frost design on the windshield is evidence of both truth and beauty. Truth in the sense that it IS, and that some action formed it. And beauty in that it impels appreciation from the witness. Jack frost, in the imaginative and wondering mind of the child, is seen as a marvelous impish instrument of the Divine Artist in His own creation. A finished novel proves an author. An existing building proves an architect. A rescued damsel proves a hero. The forgiven sinner proves a savior. And our frozen art proves an artist.

A child, again in the frost-fern, sees the artist as magical. But, by the premise that beauty is truth we can see the artist as mystical. As the pencil is the medium by which we lay down our thoughts; so, too, our universal natural environment is the medium by which God conveys His one all-inclusive thought. Whether this chaotic yet ordered incident of nature is believed to be the work of fairyland, or of scientific cause, the certainty is this; that it catches the imagination, compels inquiry, inspires human wonder and inclines the practical thinker toward the impractical.

The frost-fern is not an accident of nature. But, rather, is the intent of a loving God, whose purpose is to instill in the hearts of those who are captivated by such natural events that they need not fear any feeling of being lost, alone or abandoned. For what they see before them is in reality a divine gesture communicating the most desired comforting reassurance; “I AM here!”

The mercy of God has provided the tools of science and study of theology to once again allow fallen man to re-discover his Creator through understanding that which His creation reveals.

 

For those who are interested in viewing some awesome fractal designs , go to You Tube and key in: “Fractals The Hidden Dimension.” You won’t be disappointed.

 

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Why Identify with the Stations

The Stations of the Cross are a 14-step Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth as a man. The 14 devotions, or stations, focus on specific events of His last day, beginning with His condemnation. The stations are commonly used as a mini pilgrimage as the individual moves from station to station.

In any Catholic Church along the side walls will be found, in sequence, the Stations of the Cross. Stations one through seven along one side and eight through fourteen along the other. The pilgrim before each station recites the following prayer: “We adore you, O Christ, and we praise You, because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.” The Church grants an indulgence for anyone who completes the Stations. An indulgence is “a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins”. It may reduce the temporal punishment after death for a soul in the state or process of purification called Purgatory.

Before each station after reciting the prayer given above, the pilgrim then meditates on that particular element of Christ’s Passion. The pilgrim should not only meditate upon the Lord’s Passion but on any trial that burdens his/her life, as well. We can join our migraine headache to the crown of thorns; our chronic back aches to His scourging; our weakened legs, by age or malady, to the weight of His cross; our arthritic hands and feet to the divine hands and feet pinned to the cross. Those enslaved by addiction or isolated through atheism are not forgotten in His saying: “Father why have you abandoned me.” And the homeless find refuge in the knowledge that the “Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head.” It is therapeutic and freeing to attach our suffering with that of Christ’s. He encourages us to do so when He invites us to “Take up our cross and follow Him.” Simon of Cyrene shows that we do not have to carry our crosses in life alone. It was he who lessened Christ’s burden. And it is Christ who lessens ours. This is so, because all the sins and comprehensive burdens that constitute the totality of human suffering were the substance of that cross.

The Via Dolorosa was the road that Christ walked from His condemnation, to the instrument of that condemnation on Calvary. Along the way He was wept for by those who sympathized and spat upon and mocked by those who did not. The unrelenting lash was taken to the back of the Creator by His creatures. Urging the Divine Lover on to the fulfillment of His mission by His beloved. Not greater pain did He endure than that.

Station 1Jesus is condemned to death

“Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 

Station 2Jesus carries his cross

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha.

Station 3Jesus falls the first time

My Jesus, the heavy burden of my sins is on Thee, and bears Thee down beneath the cross.

Station 4: Jesus meets his mother

Jesus tells His Mother and the apostle John: “Woman behold your son. Son behold your Mother.” From that time on John took Mary the Mother of Jesus into his house. At that moment, Mary became the Mother of the Church, and John the first member of the Church.

Station 5: Simon of Cyrene carries Christ’s cross

And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Station 6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

Station 7: Jesus falls the second time

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

Station 8: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”

Station 9: Jesus falls the third time

I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his garments

And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull), they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.

Station 11: Jesus is nailed to the cross

They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones.

Station 12: Jesus dies on the cross

 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Station 13: Jesus is taken down from the cross

After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body.

Station 14: Jesus is laid in the tomb

The tomb was sealed and a guard set to keep watch. At no other time in history was a guard set to watch over a tomb because there was concern that the dead would rise. The strangest aspect of this event was that it was his enemies who thought Christ might rise, not His friends.

The Stations of the Cross is a wonderful Lenten exercise. For in it we are encouraged to continue our Lenten promises of the three pillars of lent: Almsgiving, prayer and fasting. Almsgiving is our commitment to our neighbor. Prayer is our commitment to God. And fasting is our commitment to improving ourselves. When a person sacrifices /gives up something/ for the forty days of lent it is a form of fasting; beyond not eating meat on Fridays during lent or a periodic light meal. It means giving up that which is a possession; one that has become possessive. It could be food, beverage, forms of social media, TV use or any negative habit hindering personal growth. If we experience some angst or tension in so doing then we have found where change is needed. To return to such practices in the same strength of habit or in some cases, at all, defeats the purpose of Lent. Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection are life changing events from which we all share the benefits. He turned the world upside down to turn it right side up for the forgiveness of sins and thereby reopened the gates of heaven through reconciliation with God. There is no going back. Likewise we, too, if we are to perfect ourselves, must guard against returning to those ways that have stifled improvements toward perfection. A step forward followed by a step back is no improvement at all.

Will we fall along the way? Surely we can. Yet, we need not fail, because we fall. Our example to follow is that of Christ along the Via Dolorosa. For on that road He fell three times and yet rose from each fall to continue on to His crowing success. So we, too, must not allow our stumbles along our pilgrimage to deter us from fulfilling the three Pillars of Lent. In the end we will be better for it. For God finds us charming in our contrite efforts toward truth and goodness that are found in His will.

Yes, Christ fell three times. However, He managed to save the world nonetheless. We have but to save ourselves. Our Lenten task may be a difficult one. Yet, how infinitely greater was His, and still He finished His divine mission. Who then can fail in knowing that?

A weekly Stations of the Cross is time well spent in keeping one on track toward a successful Lent. And in so doing we play a functional role in fulfilling Christ’s promise: “Watch, I make all things new.” This is true of us all; even for the seemingly least of us.  For we are all unique and equally important in his eyes.

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