Thursday, April 17, 2014

Seven Last Words: Wanting

Cristo Crucificado by Zurbaran

This continues a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

++++++++++

"I thirst." (John 19:28)

Was this an echo of another conversation Jesus had earlier in the Gospel of St. John, when He asks the Samaritan woman to give Him water from Jacob's well? No one overheard that exchange; remember, the disciples were returning as she was leaving. But, this short statement hearkens back to that incident.

The entire story (John 4:4-42) has hints of the Passion. Jesus and the Samaritan woman met at about noon, the same time when Jesus was fixed to the Cross. While she wondered if He was greater than Jacob, recall the crowd who wondered if He was greater than Elijah. He was still hoping people would recognize Him, just as He began to reveal Himself to her (John 4:10). Her coming to believe echoed the words of the Centurion. But the greatest clue was in His words to her as she spoke of where true worship of God would take place, seemingly as a foreshadowing of what was to come (John 4:19-24).

Jesus has had nothing to drink since the Last Supper. His scourging drained much blood. His carrying the Cross sapped what little strength He was conserving. He had to be severely dehydrated. Yes, He thirsted.

But not for water. I have read somewhere His thirst upon the Cross is for the salvation of all. But, is it also possible that His human nature was thirsting to see the living God?
O God, you are my God whom I seek; for your my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.

Psalm 63:2
Jesus, in His life and in His death, has an unquenchable desire to draw all to Him. Soon, it would be sated.

++++++++++

Originally posted 4/13/2006.
Re-posted 4/5/2007.
Re-posted 3/20/2008.
Re-posted 4/9/2009.
Re-posted 4/1/2010.
Re-posted 4/21/2011.
Re-posted 4/5/2012.
Re-posted 3/28/2013.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Seven Last Words: Utter Abandonement


Christ Crucified by Velazquez

This continues a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

++++++++++

"Eli, Eli, lema sabacthani?" ("My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?") (Matthew 27:46b; cf. Psalm 22:2)

When the crowd heard this from Jesus, they responded by saying He was invoking Elijah. They must have forgotten Him saying there was Someone greater than Elijah amongst them. They also must have forgotten this was the opening line of a Psalm surely heard at times in their synagogues.

While all words in the Bible lead to the Word, some more than others point directly to Him. Psalm 22 is a case in point. Still a Teacher, still calling out to Israel to see Him as He truly is--their redeemer, Jesus leaves no stone unturned as His humanity begins to drain away. Indeed, as He said earlier in His ministry, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.

Yet, how eerily these words echo in Heaven as well as on earth. A member of the Trinity, a union of Perfect Love, wondering out loud if He is no longer part of Them. Has God rejected Himself? The Begotten Son, forgotten? The Beloved, unloved? We can't fathom it.

Such is the Paschal Mystery. We can find the paradoxes. There are times when we seek answers to those contradictory questions. But, as Fr. John Powell, SJ, wrote in several of his books, we need to seek not peace of mind, but rather peace of heart. "Then God's own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

Perhaps, Jesus thought of another passage to help His align His will to the Father's in this time of seemingly utter abandonment. It is a quote to quiet our souls and asks us to trust in the One Who is worthy of that trust. Maybe, just maybe, it helped Him in this moment.

"Be still, and know that I am God."

++++++++++

Originally posted 4/12/2006.
Re-posted 4/5/2007.
Re-posted 3/19/2008.
Re-posted 4/8/2009.
Re-posted 3/31/2010.
Re-posted 4/20/2011.
Re-posted 4/4/2012.
Re-posted 3/27/2013.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Seven Last Words: Gifts Of Others

Crucified Christ by Francisco de Goya

This continues a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

++++++++++

"Woman, behold thy son. . . .Behold thy mother." (John 19:26-27)

Although other accounts of the Passion mention other people near the Cross, it was the Blessed Virgin Mary and the disciple whom Jesus loved who had the courage to draw as close as possible in His agony. A love greater than their fear, they stood in the place of Adam and Eve, in a sense. In proxy of all humanity.

Jesus, in His humanity, would have never remembered the words of Simeon. Jesus, in His divinity, would have known them intensely. I don't think it is possible to determine who's heart was more broken at this moment; between the Son and the Mother, they both had to be aching infinitely.

Yet, in this moment of incredible anguish, love still abounds.

Jesus gave His Mother His adopted "children", those who worship in Spirit and Truth, those who Love as He demonstrated time after time, those who observe the Great Commandments, those who He has saved.

Jesus gave St. John, as the representative of His Church at this moment, the greatest example of what holiness is, the sign of what His grace can do in us, the model of what saying "yes" to Him means, the true meaning of what humanity is.

No small gifts.

++++++++++

Originally posted 4/11/2006.
Re-posted 4/3/2007.
Re-posted 3/18/2008.
Re-posted 4/7/2009.
Re-posted 3/30/2010.
Re-posted 4/19/2011.
Re-posted 4/3/2012.
Re-posted 3/26/2013.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Seven Last Words: The Promise

Crucifixion by Matthias Gruenewald

This continues a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

++++++++++

"Amen I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)

From the website Catholic Community Forum:
One of the thieves crucified with Jesus, the other being traditionally known as Gestas; Dismas is the one who rebuked the other, and asked for Christ's blessing.

An old legend from an Arabic infancy gospel says that when the Holy Family were running to Egypt, they were set upon by a band of thieves including Dismas and Gestas. One of the highwaymen realized there was something different, something special about them, and ordered his fellow bandits to leave them alone; this thief was Dismas.
While St. Joseph taught Him the skills of carpentry, Jesus was actually a farmer. Recall the Parable of the Seeds, the need for harvesters, the call to die to self in order to be fruitful. While He was very familiar with wood (first the Manger and now the Cross), He came to reap and gather the most precious crop of all--souls.

Seeds of grace are what He planted. Some sprouted quickly (St. Paul). Some needed nurturing (the Samaritan woman at the well). Some matured with the help of others (St. Augustine, thanks to St. Monica). Some died on the vine (Judas). Now, one which had laid dormant for some 30 years blossoms.

The Church teaches it is never too late to repent. Salvation is close at hand when sincerely sought.

++++++++++

Originally posted 4/10/2006.
Re-posted 4/2/2007.
Re-posted 3/17/2008.
Re-posted 4/6/2009.
Re-posted 3/29/2010.
Re-posted 4/18/2011.
Re-posted 4/2/2012.
Re-posted 3/25/2013.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Seven Last Words: Lacking Knowing


Kreuzigung by Bernardo Daddi

This begins a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

++++++++++

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)

One has to wonder how many times this thought crossed the mind of Jesus during His ministry before He uttered it at His crucifixion. Certainly not when people converted upon encountering Him, whether by His words or deeds. Certainly not when people asked Him in faith for something. And certainly not when He showed forgiveness through His words and deeds.

Yet, one will find example after example of those who "know not what they do." The Scribes and Pharasees debating Him. The rich young man walking away from His invitation. James and John asking for their seats. The crowds shouting their "Hosanna". Peter--well, pick an incident.

Judas Iscariot. Caiaphas. Herod. Pontius Pilate.

We, when we sin.

Yes, there are degrees of culpability. But, because of Original Sin, there is damage done to our wills and intellects. And it is that damage that does not allow us to truly realize in the very core of our being what our sinfulness does to us. It is in that sense we "know not what we do." It is the war within us mentioned by St. Paul.

Yet, is that not what metanoia is all about? Is that not why we, "with the help of Thy Grace," seek to uproot in our souls that which separates us from God? Is that not why we examine our consciences and seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to continue to strengthen what has been weakened?

It is the level of sanctity asked of us ("Be therefore perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect."). It is the level of sanctity achieved by the saints. It is a level of sanctity we can have. The Son has asked the Father with the Spirit that this may be. It continues its fruition when we seek it.

"Father, forgive them."

++++++++++

Originally posted 4/9/2006.
Re-posted 4/1/2007.
Re-posted 3/16/2008.
Re-posted 4/5/2009.
Re-posted 3/28/2010.
Re-posted 4/17/2011.
Re-posted 4/1/2012.
Re-posted 3?24/2013

Nine Times "Seven"

And so Palm Sunday arrives. Such an unusual Mass on this day, as we go from joyful acknowledgement in our "Hosanna's" to angry disdain in our "Crucify Him's" in the Liturgy of the Word, coloring the Liturgy of the Eucharist which follows. First we raise our palm branches, saluting Him; then we raise a Cross, sacrificing Him.

Humans are such a fickle creature, no?

With Holy Week upon us, I humbly offer again my brief meditations on the "Seven Last Words" of Christ as He hung upon the Cross.  For the next seven days inclusive, the final thoughts of our Lord and Savior come to the fore. I hope each post will allow you to contemplate on what this act of redemption means in your life, to add to what little I have said.

Jesus leads us outside the walls of Jerusalem.

There He will deliver an even more elegant "sermon" on a mount.

For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear; let us follow the Master to Calvary.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Even More Intercession

Once again, I seek stable, suitable employment.

Back to this prayer again (this will be the fourth time I've used it in a post).


++++++++++

Prayer to Saint Anthony of Padua: 
Good Saint Anthony, in God's providence you have secured for His people many marvelous favors. You have been especially celebrated, good Saint Anthony, for your goodness to the poor and the hungry, for finding employment for those seeking it, for your special care of those who travel, and for keeping safe from harm all who must be away from home. You are widely known also, good Saint Anthony, for securing peace in the family, for your delicate mercy in finding lost things, for safe delivery of messages, and for your concern for women in childbirth. In honoring you, Saint Anthony, for the many graces our Lord grants through your favor, we trustfully and confidently ask your aid in our present need. Pray for us, good Saint Anthony, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 
May it be a source of joy, O God, to your Church that we honor the memory of your Confessor and Doctor, Saint Anthony. May his spiritual help always make us strong, and by his assistance may we enjoy an eternal reward. This we ask through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen. 
(This post will remain at the top until further notice.)

April 2014 Morning Offering Prayer Intentions

Here are the intentions for this month when reciting the Morning Offering:
General:  Ecology and Justice.  That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources. 
Mission:  Hope for the Sick.  That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Breastplate


From New Advent, the following is a literal translation from the old Irish text.

++++++++++

I bind to myself today:
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
I bind to myself today:
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today:
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself today:
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself today:
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
I invoke today all these virtues:
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me today:
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today:
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
++++++++++

Originally posted 3/17/2006.
Re-posted 3/17/2009.
Re-posted 3/17/2010.
Re-posted 3/17/2011.
Re-posted 3/17/2012.
Re-posted 3/17/2013.