Sunday, April 17, 2022

2022 Easter Card

May our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bring you joy and peace. May His Resurrection bestow upon you blessing upon blessing. May the Lamb of God, slain for our salvation, abide with you forever.

Happy Easter, Everybody!

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Candlelight Becomes Us


What a fascinating invention.

The National Candle Association provides a brief history lesson about how they came to be and evolved.

The final line is a great summation:
Today, candles serve to symbolize a celebration, ignite romance, soothe the senses, honor a ceremony, and accent home decors — casting a warm and lovely glow for all to enjoy.
Let's focus on two phrases--symbolize a celebration and honor a ceremony, especially in context with our liturgical and religious expressions.

Beginning with the Sacrament of Baptism in its formal rite, we hear these words:  "Receive the light of Christ." Then our baptismal candle is presented to our parents and godparent with these words:
Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This
child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of
the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. When the Lord
comes, may he (she) go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.
A pious custom is then to relight that candle on the anniversary of one's baptism.

(Speaking of candles lit at sacraments, is the Unity Candle still a thing at weddings?)

No mention of ceremonial candles would be complete without the Advent wreath. The three purple/violet and one rose tapers, one for each week of Advent, symbolizing the roughly 4,000 years the world waited for it Savior, is not only a worthy reminder of our preparation for Christmas, but also a welcome relief from the gathering darkness of winter. And let's not forget that Christmas trees were also illuminated with candles before electric lighting existed.

Why, there is even a Mass whose focus is briefly on candles. The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2 was commonly known as "Candlemas" because of the blessing of candles which preceded the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Marking the end of the Christmas season for those who follow the calendar related to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, it is still about the Light of the World being revealed to the world. Ask Simeon and Anna.

Let's not forget the times we do see candles in the pews being held aloft by the congregation. It is part of the procession of the Mass of the Nativity of the Lord--During the Night (as well as during the post-Communion reflection of that same Mass, accompanied by the singing of "Silent Night".) They are also part of the procession at the Feast of the Presentation. I have also seen them used during various points of a Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

But, in a sense, the source and summit of all this ritual use of candles is the opening of the Easter Vigil. The lighting and blessing of the fire, the preparation of the new Pascal Candle and its lighting, its procession, the distributing of its flame--all to remind us the Light of the World, while it seemed to be quenched, is still burning.

The earth is glad, "ablaze with the light of her eternal King". This is Jesus Christ, hidden in the pillar of fire which "led our forebears, Israel's children" and "banished the darkness of sin", now seen in the soft, flickering glow emanating from "the work of bees and of your servants' hands". His sacrifice on Good Friday finds its fulfillment on Easter Sunday, on which tonight is just but a prelude.

And yet this candle is not only seen during Easter. It also brackets our earthly life. It is from the Pascal Candle your baptismal candle was lit. It also awaits you at the Mass of Christian Burial. It is a reminder we are His and He is ours.

May the final lines of the Exsultet remind us of how precious our redemption and salvation is:
Therefore, O Lord, we pray you that this candle, hallowed to the honor of your name, may persevere undimmed, to overcome the darkness of this night....May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star:  the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who...has shed is peaceful light on humanity....
"This is the night of which it is written:  The night shall be as bright as day." (Cf. Psalm 139:12).

Both the Latin and English texts of one of the Church's most glorious hymns are provided for your meditation.

Friday, April 15, 2022

This Merciful Novena, Again

As I have mentioned from time to time, today marks the beginning of the Divine Mercy Novena.

This post details some of the particulars of this devotion.

Its bare bone version is part of my prayer routine, for if there is anyone who has experience more than his fare share of God's mercy, it would be me. (And for that I am grateful.)

With each recitation, may we all come closer to abandoning ourselves to Him.

"Jesus, I trust in You."

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The True Narrow Way

It is a well-worn and familiar path we travel these next three days.

From the Upper Room to the Mount of Olives to Annas's house to the Praetorium to Herod's residence back to the Praetorium to Calvary to Joseph of Arimathea's tomb.

Is it too familiar, however?

The Church's annual retreat is over. Lent is a time to shake us from our lethargy. It is supposed to be spiritual preparation for Catholicism's High Holy Days--the Sacred Triduum, where we commemorate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all that entails and His instituting the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Holy Orders, and Penance.

Are we indifferent to receiving these gifts? Especially our salvation? Remember, lukewarmness is not a desirable trait.

Of all the times the liturgy draws us into the Trinitarian Life, the rites and rituals we celebrate from now until Sunday have the most significance. This is the source and summit of our "source and summit". This is when it all begins in earnest.

Are you earnest?

Do partake in as many as you are able.

"Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand; ponder nothing earthly-minded...."

Sunday, April 10, 2022

All These "Words" Once More

It begins again.

We remember once more the Passion and Death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We have traveled with Him to Jerusalem to celebrate the most important Passover since the Exodus from Egypt. The Upper Room as well as the Cross had been readied for Him. Yet His followers are not prepared for what is to come, despite His admonitions. (Which begs the question for us as Lent has concluded--"Are we?")

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion is but a synopsis of what will happen this week. It is the most psychologically jarring liturgy we pray. If one is not aware of the change of tone and timbre as the Liturgy of the Word begins, going from joining in the procession and raising our palm leaves as well as our "Hosannas" to joining in the condemnation and raising our voices to "Crucify Him", your soul may be more lukewarm than what you think.

Again we keep this somber remembrance. Again I present to you during Holy Week my meditations on the "Seven Last Words", the finals sentences Jesus spoke in His three hours hanging on the Cross. Again, while they may not be the most elegant or eloquent of thoughts, I hope they may be a point of departure for you to find those who go into more depth on this topic.

Come back later in the day.

Pause to consider what Christ has spoken to all of us.

Then be like Mary, His Mother.

Friday, April 01, 2022

April 2022 Morning Offering Prayer Intention

 Here is the intention for this month when prayer the Morning Offering:

For health care workers. We pray for health care workers who serve the sick and the elderly, especially in the poorest countries; may they be adequately supported by governments and local communities.

A reflection for this intention is found here.