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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The Wait

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GOOD FRIDAY: The Value Of Sacrifice

“For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” – John 18:37

“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” – Luke 23:44-46

“NO GREATER LOVE IS THERE THAN THIS.”

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The Week That Changed The World

As we enter Holy Week we remember that one year ago we and the world entered a most unprecedented period of duress rooted in a pandemic from which many trials and challenges have sprung forth. Yet the lessons of Holy Week provides a hopeful model that there is light at the end of the tunnel. For the lamentation of Good Friday gives way to the Joy of Easter Sunday.

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 brake: 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.

A Blessed Holy Week to all. Know that the agony of Good Friday is the requisite for the ecstasy of Easter Sunday.
-Alan

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The Carpenter’s Son

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 surrogate Father who was a carpenter? Why not to a man of some other vocation?

My cousin, Ralph, is a carpenter. He once constructed a new deck overlooking the back yard of our house. He first tore down the old existing deck and replaced it with a new and improved deck that served better than the first. After he had finished the deck, and as we stood upon it and admired his work, I paid him and shook his hand in gratitude for the wonderful job completed. Have you ever shaken the hand of carpenter? It is a strong firm hand of rough texture. It is a hand of one who knows hard work. But also a hand that validates the skilled craftsman. A hand that attests to a keen creative mind of one who is disciplined to the laws governing his trade. A hand that demonstrates the characteristic of one who possesses an eye for the aesthetic. A hand that transforms an idea into a reality.

Christ spent the first thirty years of His life obeying. In that He was obedient to the nurturing and direction of His earthly parents. During that period of time he learned and practiced the art of carpentry; as was the profession of Joseph. He knew the purpose and proper use of the tools of carpentry of His time; including the predecessors of the hammer and nail.

Christ’s hands were also strong and rough. Made so by His apprenticeship. Yet, His hands healed, as well. Not solely in the repair of worn furniture, leaking roofs and broken plows, but, of most importance, the restoration of a malfunctioning mankind. Broken bodies, empty hearts and tortured hopeless souls were made anew. His were not the soft hands of one who handles money or fine cloth. His work in the practice of carpentry was hard and demanding, requiring much physical strength. God sent Him not to be raised by a money changer nor a trader in goods. He was sent to one who would train Him in hard labor. For the true mission that lay before Him would be hard and laborious, as well. Joseph was a skilled craftsman in the use of the instruments of his trade. He cut and shaped the wood according to the image that he had in mind for a particular item that he was commissioned to make or repair. The parts were then firmly joined by hammer driven nails resulting in the desired product of that image.

The Son of God, too, was a craftsman. Except one of a divine nature. The knowledge, skill and discipline of His earthly trade would be implemented in the mission for which God had commissioned Him to accomplish. Christ was God’s idea and reality. As in carpentry His mission required some tearing down and rebuilding. The then unmerited altered and tainted truths being taught by the learned, which were once truths revealed in perfect purity by God to His creatures as the guiding principles of life, had to be torn asunder. And by the power of divine sacrificial love, God’s reinstated truth would be secured in the longing hearts of the contrite, as the carpenter’s hammer drives nails in fastening. By this action the son of the carpenter set the stage for the Son Of God.

In an absurd divine irony, the son of the carpenter, who often tore down to build anew, would, Himself, be torn down by the very tools of His trade. Hammer and nail that joined two pieces of wood now has fixed the hands and feet of the Son of God to the tabernacle of His own making, formed from the successful execution of His very mission.  And on that tabernacle of pain and suffering  the Son of God would achieve for mankind what no son of a carpenter ever could; redemption. The hands that once pierced to restore broken woodwork have now, themselves, been pierced to restore a broken world.

By that redemptive act, Christ would forgive the sins that have since, The Fall, separated man from a complete and loving relationship with God. And in three days hence, He would renew a never-ending relationship between God and mankind.

The work done by a good carpenter can last a lifetime. But the work of the Divine Carpenter lasts forever.

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The Way Of The Cross

 

There is only one way that pain can be handled, and that is by looking at this scene: the three crosses on Calvary and particularly our Blessed Lord in the middle. He took this absurd symbol of the cross, put himself upon it, and solved the enigma of life and death. He solved it by making a condition of life. “Take up your cross daily and follow me.” Good Friday is the condition of Easter Sunday. The crown of thorns is the condition of the halo of light. The scourged body is the condition of the glorified body. You die with Him, you rise with Him. In other words, he conquered pain by using it as a means of attaining glory. – The Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

There are those who wonder why God has so burdened them with their trial. Then there are those who wonder why God has not trusted them with one.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1: 12

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Lent and The Paradox of the Cross

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

LENT

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday; with the participants being marked with ashes and the words “Repent and believe in the Good News” are prayed. The expectation is to imitate the example of Jesus’ prayer and fasting in the desert by our prayers, fasting and charitable works. Lent is a time for all followers of Jesus to examine their consciences and reflect on changes each can make in their lives and resolve to incorporate them, not just during the Lenten season, but as a permanent improvement as they strive to grow spiritually and perfect their souls in Him. “In this sense, Lent is a movement from one point of view to another, or, perhaps, from one interpretation of life to a different interpretation.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Lent is a forty day preparation for Easter Sunday; beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending at the Triduum (the three-day period which includes Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday). As discussed…

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The Lenten Journey

lent

For those who do not know, Lent is a journey. It is observed by Catholic and most other Christian denominations. The journey begins on Ash Wednesday, and lasts forty days. During that time Christians practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Prayer represents how we relate to God, fasting represents how we relate to ourselves and almsgiving/charitable works represents how we relate to others. The followers of Christ are reminded on Ash Wednesday of their dependence upon God for their very being. The ashes distributed in the ceremony come from the palms from the previous “Palm Sunday.” As the priest or minister marks the forehead of the penitent with the sign of the cross using the blessed ashes he says either of two blessings: “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or, “Repent and believe the Gospel.” The first blessing, a stark and humbling reality of our mortality, the second, more amicable. Yet to follow the Gospel is by no means for the meek.  Lent then continues through Holy Week, culminating with death’s final triumph over life by Christ’s Crucifixion on Good Friday, and life’s eternal triumph over death through Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

“…better to fast for joy, than feast for misery.” – G.K. Chesterton (The Ballad of the White Horse)

The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is often called “Fat Tuesday,” for it precedes Lent and it is seen as the last feast before the fast of Lent. Many, during Lent, sacrifice that which they hold dear. A personal sacrifice that often is eliminated for the good of the penitent as a test of self-denial. A positive change in the way one lives, rather than, say, giving up drinking coffee (which one often resumes after Lent), is a greater accomplishment of Lent. For if that change is held to, that person emerges from Lent all the better for it. Ridding oneself of a bad habit brings one closer to Christ. And that is the purpose of Lent. One may choose to replace impatience with patience, hate with love, injustice with justice, anger with kindness, greed with charity, indiscretion with prudence, pride with humility, to name a few. By eliminating a weakness, we increase our strength.

It is a difficult task to change from some harmful habits or way of life. Where does one begin? With an act. An act that is contrary to thought. Acts that when practiced continually will conform thought to the act. Good acts foster good thoughts.  Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said: “It should be each person’s goal to rid themselves of one sin per year.” How much better would the world be if that were to be accomplished.

We should emerge from the Lenten journey a better person than when we began. Fat Tuesday, I believe, should be ignored; for one should fast before the feast, rather than after. Because the real feast is celebrated on Easter Sunday. And with such a spiritual feast before us, any last self-indulgence before Ash Wednesday would pale in comparison and not be remembered, save for the moment at which it took place.

The goal of the Lenten journey is not to reform, but to conform. The Lenten journey is unlike a trip to Europe, as you travel with companions and meet many people along the way. In Lent you come face to face with but one person; Christ. On that journey you walk with him and are confronted with all that is in you that is contrary to Him. It is the result of the practice of our will over His. If one seriously values his/her relationship with Christ, that person must remove from himself/herself that which reflects less of Christ.

When our life’s journey is over we will stand before He who intercedes on our behalf before God. His judgment will be based, not upon a list of events of our lives from which we can plead our case. The time for making our case has passed when we have passed. We will immediately know our judgment. For when in the presence of perfection we will see our imperfections. As the imperfections in a portrait are easily revealed in sunlight and not by the light of a candle. His judgment will be based on how much He sees of Himself in us. The saddest response ever to be heard by one who stands before the divine judge is: “I know you not.” How merciful we were to others in life will earn equal mercy from Him. However, if that saddest of all responses, in all truth, applies to any of us, then it is not Christ who bars us from heaven, but we ourselves.

Remember, the Lenten journey need not be impossible to complete; for it is not taken alone. It is taken with He who offers us His Yoke which makes the way easy and the burden light.

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Mathematics and Bias: An Argument Against

The MAA (Mathematical Association of America) in a statement, which I read in an article printed in a recent issue of the “Gilbert” magazine (American Chesterton Society), concluded that since mathematics is created by humans who are biased then mathematics is inherently biased. Sited were a number of mathematicians throughout history who were white. Essentially, then, students of color cannot become successful and proficient in mathematics because of racism. That is what I gathered from the article if we cut to the chase. I offer ten of the most impactful black mathematicians as an evident refutation of the MAA bias premise:

  1. Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806m
  2. Charles Lewis Reason (1818-1893)
  3. Kelly Miller (1863-1939)
  4. Dudley Weldon Woodard (1881-1965)
  5. Martha Euphemia Lofton Haynes (1890–1980)
  6. Elbert Frank Cox (1895-1969)
  7. William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor (1908-1967)
  8. Marjorie Lee Browne (1914-1979)
  9. David Harold Blackwell (1919-2010)
  10. Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr. (1923-2011)

As a retired high school Mathematics teacher, of 30 years, the point being made by the MAA is mute, on two points. One, because mathematics was not a creation of man. How is this so? By a simple challenge. Think of an original thought that can be brought by you to reality, without something that already exists aiding in that “original” thought. I know that I can’t. One might argue that the creation of the sail that powers boats along the waterways and across the seas is a creation of man. But, we must ask this question: What if there were no winds to be harnessed by the sail? Would there be any motivation to make such a thing if it would have no purpose? I think not. No wind, no sail. But there is air movement. Therefore, a sail served a purpose. Therefore it was invented. Now as defined: to invent is to be the originator of something not known. So our first sail maker is better labeled as inventor rather than creator. For, a prior creation was requisite for that invention. God in one thought created the Heavens, Earth and all hierarchies of life from nourishing minerals to man. In His Word, He graced each in saying it was good. God’s sole requisite is Himself.

The second point being an intentional disregard for the Law of First Principle. A man buys a new car. It comes with a manual from the car’s designer for operation. In following the manual the man gets the best performance and longevity from his new car. Now if he puts it to the side and operated it by his own preferences or whims, then he will find it more in the repair shop than out. And, as well, will find it on the junk heap well before its time. God, the divine designer, too, gives us a manual for a best performing life and one of longevity, with a final destination that ends not on a junk heap but in the New Heaven, as promised, should we follow it. This life manual for success is authored by The One who has included all things of His creation, yes, even mathematics, which are subject to Nature Law and First Principle. Any deviation from such guidance driven by wanton desires compels one to bias. Bias toward a perversion of truth, which leads to no good end. Content is afforded one who exercises Common Sense in these matters.

Thomas Sowell, the author of “Charter Schools and Their Enemies,” discusses a study made of a particular inner city school district with students from both public and Charter schools housed in the same building. Math test scores were compared over time with only 10% of public school students passing, while 68% of their counter-part Charter school mates passed. Both having the same curriculum and the mode of evaluation. Why is this so? It can’t be bias as professed in the article for no advantage was given to the Charter School over the Public School students, other, perhaps, than in the goals set for the students by their teachers and administrations. Here is the likely difference. The modern charter school’s priority emphasizes teaching students how to think, the public schools priority appears to emphasize teaching students what to think. This is the difference between success and failure, hope and despair.

It would be remiss to not mention Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutiérrez (December 31, 1930 – March 30, 2010) who was a Bolivian-American educator known for teaching students calculus from 1974 to 1991 at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. The multi-documented successes of his East L.A. students casts further doubt on the MAA assertions.

Man is graced with a Free Will because God did not want to be surrounded by automatons. We could choose to accept Him or reject Him. That is why God finds us so charming when we choose Him. As we can see, man can go but two ways in exercising his free will. He can choose what he ought or what he wants. One determines the humble, the other the egotist. He can be cooperative or contrary. In his contrariness we see his ego rising and a detrimental bias cultivated. As regards mathematics and bias. It is man alone who, if he so chooses, is capable of implanting bias and all the modern isms into every principle that he studies or imparts upon the youth, including mathematics.

I dare say that the indoctrinated student, through a curriculum which is subject to political correctness and governed by unions, would fare best from a reawakening to the traditional. Through a Catholic and classical education, devoid of hyphenated representation of each student, found especially at a unique G. K. Chesterton school, where the only bias is a proclivity toward the cross.

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A Case For Guardian Angels

No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to His Angels God has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. – Psalm 91: 10-12

A heavenly is spirit assigned by God to watch over each of us during our lives. The doctrine of angels is part of the Church’s tradition. The role of the guardian angel is both to guide us to good thoughts, works and words, and to preserve us from evil. Since the 17th century the Church has celebrated a feast honoring them in October throughout the Universal Church. Since the last calendar revision this feast is Oct 2.

He has charged His angels with the ministry of watching and safeguarding every one of His creatures that behold not His face. Kingdoms have their angels assigned to them, and men have their angels; these latter it is to whom religion designates the Holy Guardian Angels. Our Lord says in the Gospel, “Beware lest ye scandalize any of these little ones, for their angels in heaven see the face of My Father.” The existence of Guardian Angels, is, hence a dogma of the Christian faith: this being so, what ought not our respect be for that sure and holy intelligence that is ever present at our side; and how great our solicitude be, lest, by any act of ours, we offend those eyes which are ever bent upon us in all our ways! – Catholic Online

Remembering Clarence, George Bailey’s guardian angel, from “It’s A Wonderful Life,” we see how devoted he was to helping George fulfill George’s wish, that he had never been born. Clarence showed George how his absence would have had a negative effect on the lives of all who knew and loved him. That love would have never been in their lives, making them bitter and sad people with many of those lives in ruin and despair rather than productive and hopeful. Our guardian angels, too, are saddened in our indiscretions and rejoice in our righteousness, for it is here in a prudent use of free will that we are not far from heaven. And that is the task of our GA; to get us there.

What of our own experiences?

As a person disabled by polio, at age 4, I have personally experienced my helpful guardian angel when in dire straights. Most can brush off such attestations as some whimsical explanations in place of coincidence. However, one night after a parent-teacher conference after all had left, but me and the principal, I had need of my GA. My principal had gone off to lock up and set the alarm system and asked that I lock the back door before leaving. The parking lot was empty as I left the building. As I made my way to my car I was unaware that the temperature had dropped enough to freeze the recent rain to an unnoticed thin glaze of ice on the lot’s surface. Before I knew it, I was standing in the middle of a patch of that glaze. Nothing is more attention getting and cause a disabled person’s heart to pound than this situation. The next expected sight was, most assuredly, for me to be strewn on the ice. But, my rubber tipped crutch had caught, MIRACULOUSLY, a wet spot not yet frozen. I was in an awkward position, with one leg on ice, my crutch still holding, as my other leg was too holding on to some non-glazed surface. I was becoming increasingly tired with each passing minute. While in this precarious position I could hear my principal’s car, whom I thought was already gone, coming up the adjoining road to the school and passing the lot. I thought this was my out. However, there was not much lighting in the lot, and though I screamed for her attention, she, unable to hear my shouts, drove off not knowing of my difficult circumstance.

I thought it inevitable that I was going to fall to the ground and crawl my way to my car over the ice and rough drive. I expected bumps, bruises and scrapes with no guarantee that I would be able to climb from the ground into the car. To note: cell phones were not the rage at that time. I was weakening as I continued holding the angled stance for some time. My last chance to stay on my feet was to draw the crutch closer on a leap of faith with hope that that dry patch was large enough to grab and hold firm my crutch as I made the attempt to draw it closer. With a prayer I made the move and “It Held!” The more I straightened up, the less was the strain on my fatigued muscles. I then was upright, and made a prayer with each baby step toward my car, until I grabbed onto the door handle. I then unlocked the door and flopped down exhausted into the security of the supportive seat. After closing the door and starting my car, I looked over to the passenger seat and sensed that it was not empty. With a thankful heart I started for home knowing that I was not that night alone, nor would I ever be alone. This was just one of other similar instances where my GA interceded on my behalf.

Mother Angelica, the founder of EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), told of her own GA rescue story. While shopping with some other Sisters, as they were crossing the street, she being the first, unseen by her was an unavoidable oncoming speeding car. The Sisters who witnessed the event gave there eye witness account as follows. They all froze in horror expecting the worst because Mother was in no position, nor the drive of the car, to avoid the inevitable accident that was about to occur. Her companions reported that she seemed to rise up and away from the imminent impact. Mother, too, said, as she awaited the impact, that she felt a power like two hands lifting her from danger and placing her safely away from the road. The grateful and terrified driver was relieved to avoid the near tragedy and couldn’t explain why it did not take place. Mother, had always claimed that in a dream God had given her the task to develop EWTN, to spread His word throughout the world. She believes that her GA interceded for her so that she could complete the task that God had commissioned to her.

If we each spend but a moment we too can draw from our minds and hearts a time, place and circumstance when our GA came through for us. It need not be as dire as my circumstance nor as dramatic as Mother’s. Yet to each of us it comes at a time most needed. It can be the strength needed in overcoming the loss of a loved one, the reassurance before a job interview or courage in forbearance toward an internal struggle when we feel at our most alone. And especially when we face the unknown, when about to close our eyes to this world for the last time. It is then that we will be most assured of our GA’s intercession. Because he/she will, at our judgement before Christ, stand by us still and not leave our side as was so throughout our lives.

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