Saturday, March 29, 2008

Low Sunday

Thomas the Doubter

John xx:19-31



Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you. And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God. Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed. Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name.

Have you ever had the wonderful yet fearful experience of meeting someone who completely captured your heart and soul? The kind of experience when your heart seems to burn within you? When finally it seems as though, with this person, all your hopes and dreams are within reach and those goals for which you have worked long and hard might finally be attained? Life has renewed purpose and meaning and you now have a solid direction?
In recent history the men and women who sought justice and equality for all men and women had such an experience when Martin Luther King told of his dream and led the fight for civil rights. The people of Israel had such an experience when Moses led them through the Red Sea from slavery to freedom. And Thomas had that experience when Jesus proclaimed a kingdom of peace, justice and righteousness in a land of foreign oppression.

A fisherman from the region of Galilee, we know little of Thomas other than that he was a twin, an apostle, and a doubter. Living under the strong and heavy arm of the Roman Empire, Thomas would have longed for the long-promised Messiah and the freedom he would bring. For centuries the land of Israel had been ruled by foreign powers– Babylon, Greece, Rome. It is no wonder the Jewish people desired autonomy in the land promised them by God. Ruled by a puppet government appointed by the Roman authorities, corruption everywhere and justice existed in name only. Finally after centuries of waiting, a man appears who seems to be the fulfillment of the dream and Thomas becomes one of his closest followers.

In Jesus, Thomas, along with the other disciples, saw the hope of a promise fulfilled. In the gospel he is made out to be a bit slow to understand Jesus’ meaning. At the Last Supper when Jesus tells the apostles they know where he is going Thomas protests that they don’t know and Jesus must go into a detailed and difficult explanation of his relationship with the Father (John 14:5). But no one can deny his bravery. In an earlier passage it is related that after the death of Lazarus, the disciples resisted Jesus’ decision to return to Judea, where the Jews had previously tried to stone Jesus. Thomas, revealing his heart of courage, rallies the disciples to go with Jesus despite the danger (John 11:16).

But it is in today’s gospel that we encounter the Thomas with whom we are most familiar: The Doubter. Not present with the disciples when Jesus first appeared to them on the evening of the Resurrection day, Thomas refused to believe their story saying to them: "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25).

It comes as no surprise that Thomas doubted that the disciples had seen the risen Lord. All his hopes had been dashed. The man he had counted on to make things right, to overthrow the Roman oppression and usher in an era of freedom and peace had been crucified like a common criminal. He was hurt and confused. Hadn’t he given himself to this man and his vision? Hadn’t he gone with this Jesus about the countryside listening to him preach good news? Hadn’t he seen him cast out demons and cure the sick? Thomas believed in Jesus and his mission whole-heartedly. And for what? To see it all end?

Like so many of Jesus followers Thomas didn’t quite understand the message. Caught up in his own hopes and dreams, Thomas heard the good news filtered through his own hopes and dreams, his own concept of who and what the Messiah should be. And it was to this, his own ideal, that Thomas gave his heart.

A week after the Resurrection Jesus again appeared to the disciples. This time Thomas was with them. Imagine the storm of emotions that coursed through Thomas. How can this be? Jesus is dead. They crucified him. I must be crazy. Yet here he is. And then Jesus said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe" (John 20:27). Tentatively Thomas reached out his hand and probed the marks in Jesus’ hands and side, whispering in awe and doubting no more, "My Lord and my God!" In that brief moment, Thomas once again, but in a completely new way, gave his heart to Jesus. And although he didn’t understand everything that had happened or would happen, life made sense once again.

To believe is not to assent to a set of doctrines or teaching. Both the Greek and Latin origins of the word mean to give one’s heart to. Rather, to believe in Jesus means to give one’s heart to him, indeed one’s whole self to him, at the deepest level.

Too often in the discussion of belief we focus on teaching and doctrine rather than our relationship with Jesus. We spend too much time arguing about what’s true and what isn’t, what’s orthodox and what’s heresy. We love to use the labels liberal and conservative to mark who is a "true" follower of Jesus. The scandal of Christianity is found in its divisions.

In our own spiritual lives we would do well to focus on our relationship with Jesus rather than on the strength of our faith or doubt. The theologian Paul Tillich wrote that "Doubt is not the opposite of faith but an element of faith." It keeps our faith alive and real. Doubt troubles our conscience, confuses our assumptions, disturbs our expectations and just generally keeps us from becoming predictable, complacent and plodding. Without doubt, our faith becomes stagnant and dies.

The example Thomas gives us is not to give assent to a creed or statement of belief, but rather to give ourselves to Jesus at the deepest level. There will be doubts. There will be questions. Our assumptions will be shattered. That which we hold as absolute truth may be destroyed. At times we will want to run away. But the bond generated by our self-gift to Jesus and his to us is and will be the solid and unshakable rock on which we stand.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday - The Resurrection of the Lord

ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!

CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD

The Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark (16:1-7)

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet spices, that coming, they might anoint Jesus. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they come to the sepulcher, the sun being now risen. And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulcher? And looking, they saw the stone rolled back. For it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed with a white robe: and they were astonished. Who said to them: Be not afraid; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen, he is not here, behold the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee; there you shall see him, as he told you.





Easter-day has dawned; and, my brethren, I address to you the salutation which the Church uses at this joyful season: "I announce to you a great joy, which is Alleluia. For this, indeed, is the day which the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice therein." (Ps. CXVII; 24.) The Church has put off her robes of mourning and arrayed herself in white apparel, like that of the angel of whom you have heard in the gospel. The fasting and lamentation have ceased; and she rejoices in the presence of her beloved Spouse, now restored to life. "Can the children of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then they shall fast." (Matt. IX; 15.) But now the spouse is once more united to her Beloved, and all is joy and peace. "Behold my Beloved speaketh to me. Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. The flowers have appeared in our land; arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come." (Cant. II; 10, 13.) Such are the tender words with which the Church greets her Divine Spouse as He rises from the tomb triumphant over sin and death, in all the glory of His risen Majesty. Well may the children of the Bridegroom, the faithful, feast on this occasion, not indeed with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

And you, my brethren, have come to share in this feast of joy and triumph; such of you at least, as have fulfilled the precept of Easter Communion. For not all who present themselves are found worthy to partake of the great King's supper. How, indeed, can he who has not fulfilled the precept of Easter Communion, presume to share in the general exultation with which the Church entertains our risen Lord? Can he join the rest of the faithful in their festivity, who has deliberately cut himself off from the body of the faithful by not complying with this essential duty? Can he worthily celebrate the mysteries of that glorified Body which was immolated for our sins and rose again for our justification (Rom. IV; 25); of that Soul which illuminated the prison house of the deported saints; of that Divinity which dwelt in Jesus Christ corporally (Col. II; 9); who has not received Body and Soul and Divinity in the Sacrament of the holy Eucharist?

There may, perhaps, be some here present, who have not complied with the loving invitation which our Lord has addressed to them from the beginning of Lent, an invitation full of sweetness, an invitation to partake of that precious Body and Blood which we have so lately seen immolated for us on the altar of the cross; and which He bestows upon us to strengthen and cheer us in this world’s weary pilgrimage, as the manna was spread for the Israelites in the desert. If, then, there be any such here present, let me implore them to seek without delay, reconciliation with God, in the sacrament of Penance; and then let them come and offer their gift on the altar (Matt. V; 24), that priceless Gift which Jesus Christ enables us to offer to His Father Himself, by the participation of the blessed sacrament of His Body and Blood, and thereby unite themselves to the rest of the faithful, and so become partakers of all the merits and graces which Jesus Christ diffuses through all the members of His Body, the Church. For this is the object of this holy sacrament; by incorporating us with Jesus Christ, to make us partakers of His merits and graces.

But, my brethren, even if you have fulfilled the precept of Easter Communion, be not satisfied with merely this, but try to enter deeper into the spirit of this great Festival, in order to enrich your souls with the graces which superabound on this the greatest solemnity of the year. What generosity, or love, or gratitude, or Christian feeling, can there be in one who thinks he has done enough by just avoiding the censure of the Church, and approaching once a year, to that banquet which is spread every day in the Church, by Him Who gives us that daily bread which we pray for. (Luke XI; 3.) "Wherefore," in the words of St. Paul: "leaving the word of the beginning of Christ, let us go on to things more perfect; not laying again the foundation of penance, from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptisms and imposition of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, have, moreover, tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, and are fallen away, to be renewed again to penance, crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making Him a mockery." (Hebr. VI; 1, 6.) "But," the apostle continues, "we trust better things of you and nearer to salvation; though we speak thus." In these words of the apostle, my dear brethren, we are taught with what feelings we ought to approach this festival. Though we may have been reconciled to God through the holy sacraments, yet our joy ought to be tempered by a holy fear, lest we relapse into our former sins, and so crucify afresh the Son of God, making a mockery of Him. For this is the great lesson we are to derive from this day’s festival that our Lord's resurrection is to be to us the sign and the cause of our own resurrection from the spiritual death of sin, as it is the earnest of our future resurrection from the grave, and participation in His Glory.

But if we hope to share in that Glory, and if our Lords resurrection is to be a pledge of our own, we must take care to rise with Him now from sin, that we should walk in newness of life, of the life which our Lord this day makes us partakers of. For as it is most true that He, having risen from the dead, dieth now no more; death hath no more dominion over Him; so also ought it to be equally true that we, having risen from our sins, should now die no more by relapsing into them, that sin should no more have dominion over us. This is what the apostle exhorts us to, when he says: "Let not sin reign in your mortal bodies." However difficult the task may seem, there is still no reason why we should be in the least disheartened or downcast; for, after all, it is not so difficult as it appears. Our enemies, the devil, the world and the flesh, may indeed terrify us, and represent to us in the most vivid light the difficulty, nay, the impossibility of renouncing our evil habits, and of following our Lord Jesus Christ, saying: "there is a lion in the way, and a lioness in the roads." (Prov. XXVI; 13.) But, my brethren, it is abundantly possible, and even easy, with the grace of our Lord; otherwise, His death and resurrection would be in vain, which it would be blasphemous to assert.

Moreover, the gospel of this Festival affords us consolation and encouragement. The devout women were rewarded by receiving the first graces of the Resurrection; and we shall participate in the same, if we imitate their dispositions and conduct. Let us consider the gospel narrative. These holy women had followed our Lord from Galilee, ministering unto Him. They stood beneath His Cross, and were witnesses of His Passion and Death; and now, as soon as the Sabbath was over, they went to purchase the most precious ointments and spices, wherewith to anoint the Body of their Lord. They came to execute their pious purpose in the early morning, whilst it was still dark, as St. John tells us. (John XX; 1.) And well was their diligent love re warded, according to that saying:"I love them that love Me; and they that in the morning early watch for Me, shall find Me." (Prov. VIII; 17.) Such ought to be our conduct. As often as we receive our blessed Lord in Holy Communion, our hearts become His sepulcher. Are we as careful as these devout women to purify ourselves from all taint of corruption and defilement?

Do we take care to purchase the sweet spices of virtues and good works? Prepare yourselves, therefore, for our Lord's visitation, by the bitter herbs of humility, of mortification, by the incense of prayer, and the fragrant odor of charity, chastity and all other virtues; that it may be true of us, as the apostle says: "We are the good odor of Christ in every place." (II Cor. II; 15.) And, again: "Draw me; we will run after thee to the odor of Thy ointments." (Cant. I; 3.) Our Lord longs to abide with us; and He is attracted by the sweet odor of virtue; whilst He is repelled by our vicious habits and self-indulgence. These evil habits and propensities are signified by the stone which was at the door of the sepulcher. If, then, we feel disheartened at the heaviness of that load which shuts our hearts against Divine grace, let us take courage from this gospel. The devout women were dismayed at the difficulty, and they said to each other: "Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulcher? For it was very great." But they persevered notwithstanding; and their perseverance and loving confidence in God were rewarded. For, "looking, they saw the stone rolled back." And so it will be with us. If only we persevere, by prayer and good works seeking to make our election sure, however insurmountable the obstacles may be, however violent the temptations, however inveterate the force of evil habits; yet we shall find the stone rolled back, not, indeed, by our own strength, but by the grace of Him Who strengthens us; Who will reward our perseverance, our confidence in Him, and our love, by manifesting Himself to us in the Glory of His Resurrection, both in this world, by the renewed life which He will bestow upon us; and in the next, by the transformation of soul and body into the likeness of His Own Glory.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday of Holy Week

TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

EPISTLE. JEREMIAS xi, 18-20.

(The Lamentation of the Prophet, and the Seventh Word on the Cross.)

In those days Jeremias said: Thou, O Lord, hast showed me, and I have known: then Thou showed me their doings. And I was as a meek lamb that is carried to be a victim: and I know not that they had devised counsels against me, saying: Let us put wood on his bread, and cut him off from the land of the living, and let his name be remembered no more. But Thou, O Lord of Sabaoth, Who judgest justly, and triest the reins and the hearts, let me see Thy revenge on them: for to Thee have I revealed my cause, O Lord my God.

The prophet places touching words on the lips of our Savior, who is the meek lamb that is led to slaughter. The discourse closes with an expression of resignation: "for to Thee have I revealed my cause, O Lord my God."

The Passion which is read today in holy Mass, relates that Jesus exclaimed from the cross with a loud voice: "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." And when He said this He bowed His head and gave up the ghost.

Contemplate, O Christian soul, your Savior’s divine power which proclaims with a loud voice, even at the moment of expiring, that He surrenders Himself to death voluntarily, that the power of God manifests itself chiefly in trials and sufferings, and especially in the hour of death. Not with out reason did our divine Savior teach us to conclude the Our Father with the words: "But deliver us from evil. Amen." There is no greater evil than an unhappy death; there is no greater blessing than to be able to die in the grace of God, and to commend one s soul into the hands of God.

O Christian soul, accustom yourself to commend your soul often to God, especially every night before failing asleep. Recite in union with your dying Savior: "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit" And as Jesus recommended all men to His heavenly Father, so you should commend to Him the souls that daily pass into eternity. Do this especially during Holy Week. Attend diligently and devoutly divine service in the morning, the Tenebrae in the evening, and the touching and magnificent services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Do not begrudge the time. Perhaps you will not live to celebrate many more Holy Weeks. Use well this time of grace in meditating with deep sorrow on the bitter passion and death of your Savior. Then, after the Good Friday of this life, He will conduct you into the Holy Saturday rest of your body, and unto the resurrection of your soul to everlasting happiness.

LET US PRAY.

O Almighty and Eternal God, grant that we may so celebrate the mysteries of our Lord’s passion that we may deserve to obtain pardon.

"Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit." O Jesus, thus didst Thou cry out with a loud voice, bowed Thy head and died. By the merits of these holy words, preserve us, O kind and loving Savior, from the greatest of all evils, from an unhappy death. Bless our dying lips with the same sacred words, and then take up our souls into Thy hands. Amen.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday of Holy Week

MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK

GOSPEL. ST. JOHN xii, 1-9.

(The Anointing of Jesus by Mary and the Sixth Word on the Cross.)

Six days before the Pasch Jesus came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life. And they made Him a supper there: and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of them that were at table with Him. Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray Him, said: Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor? Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of My burial. For the poor you have always with you: but Me you have not always. A great multitude therefore of the Jews knew that he was there: and they came, not for Jesus s sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.

The high-priest, Jesus, shortly before His death, permitted the penitent Mary Magdalene, as an act of love and reverence, to anoint His holy head with costly ointment, in preparation for His burial. For His sacred body it was a fulfillment of the words, “It is consummated.”

When He took the vinegar which was offered to Him on the cross, He uttered the holy word: “It is consummated.” The Scriptures were fulfilled, His divine mission was accomplished, His bitter passion was consummated. The honor of His heavenly Father was restored, the redemption of mankind was achieved, all the labor, humiliations and pains of His life on earth were at an end.

O Christian soul, would that you could say the same on the day of your death! But are you not rather filled with deep sadness and remorseful anxiety, when you call to mind the record of your past life? Has it been a life without virtue, with out improvement? Christian soul, do not despair. He who taught you to pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” He will help you to overcome all difficulties, if you begin today to do penance and if you do not refuse the hardships of a pious and virtuous life. Then you will be able calmly to look death in the face, and in your last hour heavenly peace will reign in your soul and, filled with gratitude towards God, you will exclaim with your Savior: “It is consummated.”

LET US PRAY.

Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who fail through our infirmity, in so many adversities may be relieved by the passion of Thy Son, making intercession for us.

O Divine Savior hanging on the cross, see the many dangers that surround our soul; with child like confidence we beseech Thee not to abandon us in the temptations of this life, but to help us to lead a life pleasing to Thee so that, at the end of our earthly career, we may joyfully exclaim with Thee: “It is consummated.” Amen.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

PALM SUNDAY: THE BEGINNING OF HOLY WEEK

GOSPEL. MATT, xxi, 1-9.

(The Triumphant Entry of Jesus and His Fifth Word on the Cross.)

At that time: When Jesus drew nigh to Jerusalem, and was come to Bethphage, unto Mt. Olivet: then He sent two disciples, saying to them: Go ye into the village that is over against you, and immediately ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them to Me: and if any man shall say anything to you, say ye that the Lord hath need of them, and forthwith he will let them go. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold thy King cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of her that is used to the yoke. And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them. And they brought the ass and the colt, and laid their garments upon them, and made Him sit thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees, and strewed them in the way: and the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying: Hosanna to the Son of David! blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Today, at the beginning of Holy Week, there is a procession with blessed palms in remembrance of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The holy gospel vividly describes this event. Our divine Savior knows, however, that these same people who now exclaim Hosanna will in three days cry out: "Crucify Him." But He is not satisfied with the outward splendor of His reception; He de sires also admission into the hearts of men, as is touchingly symbolized by the three knocks on the door of the Church with the staff of the processional cross. Behold the same Savior on the cross, Christian soul; His countenance is pale as death, His eyes are dim and troubled, His lips are dry, and He exclaims: "I thirst." Certainly the bodily thirst of the Redeemer was excessive and painful; but He thirsted more for the winning of souls for heaven, for tears of contrition from sinners, the fear of God from the lukewarm, humility from the proud, modesty from the shameless, abstinence from the intemperate, greater honor and glory to His heavenly Father from all men. All this He requires of you too, O Christian soul, and, since without the grace of God you can do nothing, He has taught you to pray: "Give us this day our daily bread." Oh, do not refuse to give your soul to your Savior, Who is the Bread of Life, by the frequent and worthy reception of the Blessed Eucharist, the institution of which is celebrated on Holy Thursday.

LET US PRAY.

O almighty and eternal God, Who wouldst have our Savior take flesh and undergo the cross, for man to imitate the example of His humility; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may both imitate His patience and deserve to become partakers of the glory of the resurrection.

Through Thy meritorious thirst on the cross, grant us, O Jesus, daily refreshment of body and soul, and after this life a joyous entrance into Thy eternal glory. Amen.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saint Clement Hofbauer, Saint Patrick & Saint Joseph

Today in the Redemptorist Calendar is the Feast of Saint Clement Mary Hofbauer. However, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, usually celebrated on March 19, has been transfered to today in the Roman Calendar because it falls during Holy Week this year. The feast of Saint Patrick, which also falls during Holy Week this year, is transferred in those places where it is a Solemnity. In most places it is omitted alltogether this year.

We will consider all three of these great saints after Easter Week. For now, let us enter into the celebration of those great and mighty acts whereby Christ our Lord showed the depth of his love for us. Together with him, let us go up to Jerusalem and accompany him in his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Saturday of Passion Week

SATURDAY AFTER PASSION SUNDAY

GOSPEL. ST. JOHN xii, 10-36.

(The Voice from Heaven and the Fourth Word of Jesus on the Cross.)

At that time a great multitude, that was come to the festival day, when they had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 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. And Jesus found a young ass, and sat upon it, as it is written: Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold thy King cometh sitting on an ass’s colt. These things His disciples did not know at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him. The multitude therefore gave testimony, which was with Him when He called Lazarus out of the grave, and raised him from the dead. For which reason also the people came to meet Him: because they heard that He had done this miracle. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves: Do you see that we prevail nothing? Behold, the whole world is gone after Him. Now there were certain gentiles among them who came up to adore on the festival day. These therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying: Sir, we would see Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying: The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it: and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal. If any man minister to Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there also shall My minister be. If any man minister to Me, him will My Father honor. Now is My soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour. But for this cause I came unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy name. A voice therefore came from heaven: I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The multitude therefore that stood and heard said that it thundered. Others said, An angel spoke to Him. Jesus answered, and said: This voice came not be cause of Me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself. (Now this He said, signifying what death He should die.) The multitude answered Him: We have heard out of the law, that Christ abideth forever: and how sayest Thou: The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man? Jesus therefore said to them Yet a little while the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, that the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things Jesus spoke, and He went away, and hid Himself from them.

What a striking difference between the voice of the eternal Father in heaven amidst the sublime teachings and prayers of His divine Son: "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again"; and the voice of the divine Savior on the cross, as He, in the midst of appalling darkness, exclaimed: "My God, My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me." This word of Jesus gives expression to the unspeakable suffering of His holy body, to the disconsolateness of His soul, and to His grief over the shameful flight of all His friends and disciples. But He, who taught us to pray: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," resigned Himself immediately to the Will of His heavenly Father and recalls to mind that "the hour is come that the Son of man shall be glorified." How remarkably God fulfills this prophecy in the glorious resurrection and ascension of His divine Son.

Learn, O Christian soul, to have recourse to God, in all the afflictions of your body and soul, in anguish and distress, in trouble and misery. Learn to submit to the wise and gracious ordinances of God, and to fulfill the will of God with that resignation which merited for Jesus the glory of His heavenly Father; and then you too will one day be glorified.

LET US PRAY.

May the people consecrated to Thy service, we beseech Thee, O Lord, improve in the affections of piety; that instructed by these holy mysteries, they may be so much the more enriched with Thy heavenly gifts, as they become more acceptable to Thy divine Majesty.

O Jesus, Who didst exclaim in Thy death agony: " My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me," Grant that in all our distress and adversity we may never despair, but always strive "that Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven," and that we may once obtain the crown of eternal glory. Amen.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Commemoration of Our Lady of Sorrows

The Church celebrates two festivals in honor of the Sorrowful Virgin. One of these feasts is celebrated on September 15th, the day following the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Yet always solicitous of her children, and knowing the benefits to be received from remembering how that most loving Mother suffered while witnessing her own Son's Passion and Death, holy Church gives us this commemoration of Our Lady of Sorrows on the Friday before Holy Week.

As Mother of the Redeemer, intimately united with her Son, Mary participated in the redemptive suffering of Christ. After our Lord, no one suffered more than she, for, with a mother's love, she endured the Passion in her heart even as her Son suffered in his body. Truly her participation in the suffering and death of her Son was such that we can call her co-redemptrix along with her son. Every step, every revilement, every bitter pain Jesus suffered Mary also suffered. For how could a mother not suffer seeing her innocent Son condemned to the ignominious death of the cross?

Not only did Mary suffer because of her intimate union with Christ, she suffered also on account of our sins for they were the cause of her Son's suffering. As our spiritual mother, she suffered on behalf of us, her children, given to her by our Lord when he was hanging on the cross in the person of St. John.

Today let us contemplate Mary as she follows her Son to Calvary. Let us console her as she sees her beloved Son mistreated and abused, jeered and spat at, flesh rent from the cruel scourges and thorns. Let us stand with her at the foot of the cross where, after an agonizing death, the Son she held in her arms in Bethlehem she holds again. And let us support her at the tomb where, with her own hands and tender ministrations, she lays her Son on the cold stone.

Prayer to the Mother of Sorrows

To what shall I compare thee, O most Sorrowful Mother? To what shall I equal thee, that I may comfort thee, O Virgin Daughter of Sion? For indeed great as the sea is thy destruction; who shall heal thee? I wish, O afflicted Mother, I wish I could weep with thee in these thy most cruel sufferings, with tears of blood, thus to blot out my iniquities, which were the accursed cause of the anguish and desolation of thy soul. I beseech thee, most compassionate Virgin, by the torments of thy Divine Son and these thy bitter Sorrows, obtain for me grace to hate sin, to become thy devoted servant, and to console thee by a holy life. Deign also to assist me in all my necessities, spiritual and temporal; but, above all, stand by me at the hour of my death, that by thy powerful protection I may reap the fruit of so great sufferings, and bless my loving Savior and thyself, my Sorrowful Mother, with eternal gratitude in the heavenly Kingdom. Amen.

Friday in Passion Week

FRIDAY AFTER PASSION SUNDAY

GOSPEL. ST. JOHN xi, 47-55.

(The Council of the High-priest, and the Third Word of Jesus on the Cross.)

At that time: The chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said: What do we, for this man doth many miracles? If we let Him alone so, all will believe in Him, and the Romans will come, and take away our place and nation. But one of them named Caiphas, being the high priest that year, said to them: You know nothing. Neither do you consider that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this he spoke not of himself: but being the high priest of that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation. And not only for the nation, but to gather together in one the children of God, that were dispersed. From that day, therefore, they devised to put Him to death. Wherefore Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews, but He went into a country near the desert, unto a city that is called Ephraim, and there He abode with His disciples.

Against his will, the last high priest of the Old Testament was obliged to prophesy that through the death of the One God-man all men were to be saved. Thus God directs the career of men and uses even the plots of His enemies for the fulfillment of the designs of His infinite wisdom and for His honor and the glory of His kingdom.

Behold, O Christian soul, two deeply afflicted persons standing beneath the cross of Jesus; one, whose feast we celebrate today, is the Mother of the Seven Dolors, the abandoned, loving mother of Jesus, Mary, the Queen of Martyrs; the other is John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, standing alone with Mary beneath the cross. What will become of these two faithful souls, when the crucified One parts from them? Trembling they stand for a long time beneath the cross of the bleeding, silent Redeemer! But suddenly there comes from the cross a word of divine compassion and filial, grateful love: "Woman, behold thy Son! Son, behold thy mother."

Thus the Son of God consoles His afflicted mother and His grief-stricken disciple; to him, and in the person of John, to all of us He entrusts His mother. It remains then for us, like John, to live faithfully in the grace of God, to honor and love the Church of God, and to strive after heaven, as our Lord taught us to pray: "Thy kingdom come." Then Mary will not abandon us in life or in death; and, as our faithful mother, she will defend us against all our enemies.

LET US PRAY.

Mercifully infuse Thy grace into our hearts, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that by doing voluntary penance for our sins, we may be punished here, rather than be condemned to punishment for eternity.

O beloved Jesus! we beseech Thee, that Thy dolorous Mother, whose heart was pierced by a sevenfold sword, may be for us a gracious mediatrix and kind mother; so that, like her, we may live in the grace of God as true children of Thy holy Church, and that, under her protection, we may enter the kingdom of Thy eternal glory. Amen.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thank You, St. Francis Xavier!

Thank you, St. Francis Xavier for favors received in this novena and in the past!

If you have made the Novena of Grace to St. Francis Xavier, please use the comments section on this post to express your gratitude. You need not be specific. A simple "thank you" will suffice. What's important is to acknowledge your gratitiude and show others the power of this great Saint's intercession.

Thursday in Passion Week

THURSDAY AFTER PASSION SUNDAY

GOSPEL. ST. LUKE vii, 36-50.

(Jesus and Magdalene, and the Second Word of Jesus on the Cross.)

At that time one of the Pharisees desired Him to eat with him. And He went into the house of the Pharisee, and sat down to meat. And behold a woman that was in the city a sinner, when she knew that He sat at meat in the Pharisee s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment: and standing behind at His feet, she began to wash His feet with tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment. And the Pharisee, who had invited Him, seeing it, spoke within himself, saying: This man if He were a prophet, would know surely who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: that she is a sinner. And Jesus answering, said to him: Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee. But he said: Master, say it. A certain creditor had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And whereas they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which therefore of the two loveth him most? Simon answering said: I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And He said to him: Thou hast judged rightly. And turning to the woman, He said unto Simon: Dost thou see this woman? I entered into thy house, thou gavest Me no water for my feet: but she with tears hath washed My feet, and with her hairs hath wiped them. Thou gavest Me no kiss: but she, since she came in, hath not ceased to kiss My feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but she with ointment hath anointed My feet. Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. But to whom less is for given, he loveth less. And He said to her: Thy sins are forgiven thee. And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves: Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And He said to the woman: Thy faith hath made thee safe: go in peace.

To whose heart was greater joy rendered, to the contrite Magdalene whom the merciful Savior thus addressed: "Thy sins are forgiven Thee; thy faith hath made thee safe;" or to Dismas, the thief on the right, whose faith and confidence the crucified Savior rewarded with these consoling words: "Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise."
To both He gives the hope of the kingdom of heaven, the companionship of God Him self. To both He manifests His infinite love for sinners who wish to be converted, His divine power to make saints of sinners, to make, of the reprobate heirs of heaven. But see, O Christian soul, the same Savior has placed the same hope and confidence on your lips, when He taught you to pray: "Our Father, Who art in heaven." This blessed dwelling place will be given to you, if you accomplish His will on earth by fulfilling the prayer: "Hallowed be Thy Name."

For this purpose, you must, in the short span of your life, endeavor to expiate your sins and avoid them in the future; you must endure the sufferings of this life with patience and in a spirit of penance, and thus spend profitably the days of your earthly career. Then, indeed, you will in a short time hear the consoling word of your Savior: "Thy sins are forgiven thee; this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise."

LET US PRAY.

Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that the dignity of human nature, wounded by intemperance, may be restored by healthful abstinence.

O Jesus, hanging on the holy cross, through Thy divine love toward the penitent Magdalene and Thy boundless mercy toward the penitent thief, grant us the grace to honor Thy holy name by a pious and God-fearing life, and, with Thy grace, to behold, after a happy death, our Father in heaven. Amen.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Novena of Grace - Day 9

It is truly a matter of wonder that one man in the short space of ten years (6 May, 1542 - 2 December, 1552) could have visited so many countries, traversed so many seas, preached the Gospel to so many nations, and converted so many infidels. The incomparable apostolic zeal which animated him, and the stupendous miracles which God wrought through him, explain this marvel, which has no equal elsewhere. The list of the principal miracles may be found in the Bull of canonization. St. Francis Xavier is considered the greatest missionary since the time of the Apostles, and the zeal he displayed, the wonderful miracles he performed, and the great number of souls he brought to the light of true Faith, entitle him to this distinction. He was canonized with St. Ignatius in 1622, although on account of the death of Gregory XV, the Bull of canonization was not published until the following year.

The body of the saint is still enshrined at Goa in the church which formerly belonged to the Society of Jesus.
Novena of Grace Prayer
O most amiable and loving St. Francis Xavier, in union with thee I adore the Divine Majesty. While joyfully giving thanks to God for great graces which He conferred upon thee in life and for the great glory with which He has gifted thee in heaven, I come to thee with heartfelt love, begging thee to secure for me, by thy powerful intercession, the inestimable blessings of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech thee to obtain for me the favors I ask in this Novena

Here name your petitions.

But if what I ask is not for the Glory of God, or the good of my soul, do thou obtain for me what is most conducive to both. Amen.

Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory be to the Father.

V. Pray for us, St. Francis Xavier,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: O God, Who chose to bring into the bosom of the Church the nations of the Indies through the preaching and miracles of St. Francis Xavier, mercifully grant that we may imitate his virtues, whose glorious merits we hold in veneration. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis Xavier
Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that the souls of infidels were created by Thee and formed to Thine own image and after thine own likeness. Behold, O Lord, how to Thy dishonor hell is being filled with these very souls. Remember that Jesus Christ, Thy Son, suffered a most cruel death for their salvation. Do not permit, I beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy divine Son be any longer despised by unbelievers, but rather, being appeased by the prayers of Thy saints and of the Church, the most holy spouse of Thy Son, deign to be mindful of Thy mercy, and forgetting their idolatry and their infidelity, bring them to know Him Whom Thou didst send, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord Who is our health, life, and resurrection, through Whom we have been redeemed and saved, to Whom be all glory forever. Amen.

Wednesday of Passion Week

WEDNESDAY AFTER PASSION SUNDAY

GOSPEL. ST. JOHN x, 22-38.

(The Divinity of Jesus and His First Word on the Cross.)

At that time: It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem: and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. The Jews therefore came round about Him, and said to Him: How long dost Thou hold our souls in suspense? If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them: I speak to you and you believe not: the works that I do in the name of My Father, they give testimony of Me. But you do not believe: because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice: and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them life everlasting, and they shall not perish forever, and no man shall pluck them out of My hand. That which My Father hath given me, is greater than all: and no man can snatch them out of the hand of My Father. I and the Father are one. The Jews then took up stones to stone Him. Jesus answered them: Many good works have I showed you from My Father; for which of these works do you stone Me? The Jews answered Him: For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that Thou being a man, makest Thyself God. Jesus answered them: is it not written in your law: I said, you are gods? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God was spoken, and the Scripture cannot be broken: do you say of Him, Whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world: Thou blasphemeth, because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not. But if I do, though you will not believe Me, believe the works: that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.

How clearly and distinctly Jesus reveals His divinity in this gospel. And they wish to stone Him, instead of adoring Him. He refers to His divine works which unmistakably prove His divinity. And men nail the Son of God to a cross. Now, does Jesus, on the cross, ask His heavenly Father to hurl the thunderbolts of His justice upon the deicides, to make known His divinity and to cover His enemies with everlasting shame? No, Christian soul, and this is the most glorious proof of the divinity of Jesus Christ, as soon as He is raised upon the cross, hanging between heaven and earth, He turns His eyes toward heaven and exclaims: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." It was not without reason that He taught us, poor sinners, to say in the Lord s prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Examine yourself now, and reflect, O Christian soul, that the innocent Savior, Who was abused to the utmost, prays for His deadly enemies, excuses them, and palliates their guilt, and you? Perhaps for a long time you have borne in your heart hatred and revenge toward your fellow men whose offences may not be so grievous as you imagine; or you magnify their faults by imputing to them motives which they perhaps never entertained. Remember, as Christ s prayer on the cross for His enemies is an excellent proof of His divinity, so your love for your enemy is the proof and measure of your Christianity.

LET US PRAY.

Sanctify this fast, O God, and mercifully enlighten the hearts of Thy faithful; and to those upon whom Thou bestowest the grace of devotion, lend a merciful ear to their prayers.

O Jesus, true Son of the living God, as Thou, on the tree of the holy cross, prayed for Thy enemies, and taught us to pray to Thy heavenly Father to forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us; grant us the grace that, out of love for Thee, we may always forgive, from the bottom of our hearts, all those that have done evil to us, that we may pray for them and do all the good we can for them, in imitation of Thy holy example. Amen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Novena of Grace - Day 8

After working about two years and a half in Japan he left this mission in charge of Father Cosme de Torres and Brother Juan Fernández, and returned to Goa, arriving there at the beginning of 1552. Here domestic troubles awaited him. Certain disagreements between the superior who had been left in charge of the missions, and the rector of the college, had to be adjusted. This, however, being arranged, Xavier turned his thoughts to China, and began to plan an expedition there. During his stay in Japan he had heard much of the Celestial Empire, and though he probably had not formed a proper estimate of his extent and greatness, he nevertheless understood how wide a field it afforded for the spread of the light of the Gospel. With the help of friends he arranged a commission or embassy the Sovereign of China, obtained from the Viceroy of India the appointment of ambassador, and in April, 1552, he left Goa. At Malacca the party encountered difficulties because the influential Portuguese disapproved of the expedition, but Xavier knew how to overcome this opposition, and in the autumn he arrived in a Portuguese vessel at the small island of Sancian near the coast of China. While planning the best means for reaching the mainland, he was taken ill, and as the movement of the vessel seemed to aggravate his condition, he was removed to the land, where a rude hut had been built to shelter him. In these wretched surroundings he breathed his last on 2 December, 1552.

Novena of Grace Prayer
O most amiable and loving St. Francis Xavier, in union with thee I adore the Divine Majesty. While joyfully giving thanks to God for great graces which He conferred upon thee in life and for the great glory with which He has gifted thee in heaven, I come to thee with heartfelt love, begging thee to secure for me, by thy powerful intercession, the inestimable blessings of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech thee to obtain for me the favors I ask in this Novena

Here name your petitions.

But if what I ask is not for the Glory of God, or the good of my soul, do thou obtain for me what is most conducive to both. Amen.

Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory be to the Father.

V. Pray for us, St. Francis Xavier,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: O God, Who chose to bring into the bosom of the Church the nations of the Indies through the preaching and miracles of St. Francis Xavier, mercifully grant that we may imitate his virtues, whose glorious merits we hold in veneration. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis Xavier
Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that the souls of infidels were created by Thee and formed to Thine own image and after thine own likeness. Behold, O Lord, how to Thy dishonor hell is being filled with these very souls. Remember that Jesus Christ, Thy Son, suffered a most cruel death for their salvation. Do not permit, I beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy divine Son be any longer despised by unbelievers, but rather, being appeased by the prayers of Thy saints and of the Church, the most holy spouse of Thy Son, deign to be mindful of Thy mercy, and forgetting their idolatry and their infidelity, bring them to know Him Whom Thou didst send, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord Who is our health, life, and resurrection, through Whom we have been redeemed and saved, to Whom be all glory forever. Amen.

Tuesday in Passion Week

TUESDAY AFTER PASSION SUNDAY

GOSPEL. ST. JOHN vii, 1-13.

(Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles. The Thief on the Right.)

At that time: Jesus walked in Galilee; for He would not walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews feast of Tabernacles was at hand. And His brethren said to Him: Pass from hence, and go into Judea: that Thy disciples also may see Thy works which Thou dost for there is no man that doth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If Thou do these things, manifest Thyself to the world. For neither did His brethren believe in Him. Then Jesus said to them: My time is not yet come: but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth: because I give testimony of it, that the works thereof are evil. Go you up to this festival day, but I go not up to this festival day: because My time is not accomplished. When He had said these things, He Himself stayed in Galilee. But after His brethren were gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. The Jews therefore sought Him on the festival day, and said: Where is He? And there was much murmuring among the multitude concerning Him. For some said: He is a good man. And others said: No, but He seduceth the people. Yet no man spoke openly of Him, for fear of the Jews.

How it must have grieved the divine Savior that even His kinsmen did not believe in Him, and that He was obliged to attend the feast of tabernacles "as it were in secret." As some said He was a good man, and others said He was a seducer of the people; so the opinions were divided regarding Him even when He was at the portals of death, on the holy cross. The thief on His left did not believe in Him and insulted Him: but he that was crucified on His right, moved by the wonderful silence of Jesus and His prayer for His enemies, accused himself in all humility, saying: "We, in deed, justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds;" and he vindicates the Innocent One with these words: "But this man hath done no evil." Full of contrition he implores: "Lord, remember me when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom." Learn from this, O Christian soul, the virtue of brotherly correction, when your neighbor commits a sin. Since "whoever leads back a sinner from his erring ways, he saves his soul and covers a multitude of sins."

But learn also to have a humble knowledge of yourself and to accuse yourself humbly when you have fallen into sin. Pay no attention to the judgment or opinion of the world. When God and His holy name are insulted, when virtue and piety are ridiculed, when the truths of religion and the commandments of Holy Church are despised, then do not be afraid to imitate the undaunted example of the thief on the right hand of Jesus.

LET US PRAY.

May our fasts be acceptable to Thee, O Lord, and having purified us from sin, make us worthy of Thy grace and procure us everlasting remedies.

We praise Thee, O divine Redeemer, on the cross, because by Thy grace Thou didst bestow upon the penitent thief such great power for good in his last moments: Grant that in all situations of life we may confess Thee by word and deed, so that Thou mayest once confess us before Thy Father in heaven, and that Thou mayest lead us to eternal happiness through the merits of Thy bitter passion and cross. Amen.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Novena of Grace - Day 7

They landed at the city of Kagoshima in Japan, 15 Aug., 1549. The entire first year was devoted to learning the Japanese language and translating into Japanese, with the help of Pablo de Santa Fe, the principal articles of faith and short treatises which were to be employed in preaching and catechizing. When he was able to express himself, Xavier began preaching and made some converts, but these aroused the ill will of the bonzes, who had him banished from the city. Leaving Kagoshima about August, 1550, he penetrated to the centre of Japan, and preached the Gospel in some of the cities of southern Japan. Towards the end of that year he reached Meaco, then the principal city of Japan, but he was unable to make any headway here because of the dissensions the rending the country. He retraced his steps to the centre of Japan, and during 1551 preached in some important cities, forming the nucleus of several Christian communities, which in time increased with extraordinary rapidity.

Novena of Grace Prayer
O most amiable and loving St. Francis Xavier, in union with thee I adore the Divine Majesty. While joyfully giving thanks to God for great graces which He conferred upon thee in life and for the great glory with which He has gifted thee in heaven, I come to thee with heartfelt love, begging thee to secure for me, by thy powerful intercession, the inestimable blessings of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech thee to obtain for me the favors I ask in this Novena

Here name your petitions.

But if what I ask is not for the Glory of God, or the good of my soul, do thou obtain for me what is most conducive to both. Amen.

Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory be to the Father.

V. Pray for us, St. Francis Xavier,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: O God, Who chose to bring into the bosom of the Church the nations of the Indies through the preaching and miracles of St. Francis Xavier, mercifully grant that we may imitate his virtues, whose glorious merits we hold in veneration. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis Xavier
Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that the souls of infidels were created by Thee and formed to Thine own image and after thine own likeness. Behold, O Lord, how to Thy dishonor hell is being filled with these very souls. Remember that Jesus Christ, Thy Son, suffered a most cruel death for their salvation. Do not permit, I beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy divine Son be any longer despised by unbelievers, but rather, being appeased by the prayers of Thy saints and of the Church, the most holy spouse of Thy Son, deign to be mindful of Thy mercy, and forgetting their idolatry and their infidelity, bring them to know Him Whom Thou didst send, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord Who is our health, life, and resurrection, through Whom we have been redeemed and saved, to Whom be all glory forever. Amen.

Monday in Passion Week

MONDAY AFTER PASSION SUNDAY

GOSPEL. ST. JOHN vii, 32-39.

(The Last Teaching of Jesus. The Thief on the Left.)

At that time: The rulers and Pharisees sent ministers to apprehend Jesus. Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while I am with you: and then I go to Him that sent Me. You shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and where I am, thither you cannot come. The Jews therefore said among themselves: Whither will He go, that we shall not find Him? Will He go unto the dispersed among the gentiles, and teach the gentiles? What is this saying that He hath said: You shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and where I am, you cannot come? And on the last and great day of the festivity, Jesus stood and cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink. He that believeth in Me, as the Scriptures saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. Now this He said of the spirit which they should receive who believed in Him.

With what zeal did our divine Savior, as the hour of His passion drew nigh, endeavor to point out to men the way of the true faith, happiness and blessedness. But the people did not listen to Him, and they persecuted the eternal, divine Truth.

Christian soul, look up to the cross of Jesus on Mt. Calvary; even in the face of death, the thief on the left refuses to recognize Jesus, His divine truth and redeeming power. From the days of his youth he despised God, and now he blasphemes his divine Savior with his dying lips. From the gibbet of the cross he sees and hears how the scribes and Pharisees insult and blaspheme Jesus; instead of entering into himself and adoring the innocence, patience and humility of the God-man, he imitates their wicked example and also scoffs at Jesus in the impious language of unbelief.

Behold, O Christian soul, how the wicked man turns to his ruin the sufferings which Jesus intended for his spiritual benefit; how, instead of rejecting bad examples, he joins the company of the godless and imitates them. In the unhappy end of this impenitent thief, contemplate the ruin of all those hardened sinners, concerning whom our Lord said: "You shall seek Me, and you shall not find Me." Pray for the conversion of those who err in faith: and pray that God may grant a happy death to all those sinners who are dangerously ill or dying.

LET US PRAY.

Sanctify our fasts, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and mercifully grant us the pardon of all our faults.

O Divine Savior hanging on the cross, for how many souls, besides that of the thief on Thy left, must Thy precious blood be shed in vain! For the sake of Thy holy passion, have mercy on us. We promise Thee that we will never permit ourselves to be guided by the wicked example of others, that we will never neglect a good work on account of the influence of the wicked and that we will never think, speak or do anything evil for the sake of gaining the applause of godless men. Grant us the grace of perseverance, the grace of a good preparation for death, and the grace of a happy death. Amen.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Passion Sunday (Fifth Sunday of Lent)

PASSION SUNDAY

GOSPEL. ST. JOHN viii, 46-59.

(The Hidden Savior. Jesus is raised on the Cross.)

At that time Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: Which of you shall convince Me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe Me? He that is of God heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not because you are not of God. The Jews therefore answered, and said to Him: Do not we say well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered: I have not a devil: but I honor My Father, and you have dishonored Me. But I seek not My own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you: If any man keep My word, he shall not see death forever. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that Thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets: and Thou sayest: If any man keep My word, he shall not taste death forever. Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Whom dost Thou make Thyself? Jesus answered: If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing. It is My Father that glorifieth Me, of Whom you say that He is your God. And you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say that I know Him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know Him, and do keep His word. Abraham, your father, rejoiced that he might see My day. He saw it and was glad. The Jews therefore said to Him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham? Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up stones therefore to cast at Him. But Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.

Beginning with today the crucifixes are veiled with the violet color of penance. The holy season of Lent is approaching its end, and the Church busies herself and the hearts of her children with deeper meditation on the bitter passion and death of her divine Spouse.

Although your Savior hides Himself from the obstinate Jews, and the image of the Crucified is veiled to our bodily sight, still you should represent to your soul all the more vividly your Redeemer, Jesus Christ, as He is raised upon the cross. There hangs, O Christian soul, the High-priest and Mediator, who has reconciled the offended Deity with sinful mankind. It is the loving, pain-laden Redeemer, who freed you from the guilt and eternal punishment of sin. On the holy cross hangs the powerful God who has drawn to Himself you and the whole world, while He allows all to participate in His sufferings and also in the fruit of His bitter passion. Christian soul, in your suffering look at His bitter passion; in your poverty look at His privations; in your desolation look at His dereliction; in your persecutions, look at His cross and partake of its fruits in holy Mass and in the sacraments. Then your redeemer will not hide Himself from you, and you will not see death for all eternity.

LET US PRAY.

We beseech Thee, Almighty God, mercifully look down upon Thy family, and grant that by Thy bounty it may be ever guided and protected both in body and soul.

Crucified God and Savior, Jesus Christ, we prostrate ourselves in spirit before Thy holy cross, and adore and thank Thee; for through Thy holy cross thou hast redeemed the world. On the wood of shame, raised between heaven and earth, Thou hast reconciled God with man, Thou hast erased the hand-writing of the condemnation which was threatening us; Thou hast taken it away and attached it to the cross. Praise and thanksgiving be to Thee forever more. May Thy holy cross and passion not be lost for us poor sinners. Amen.

Novena of Grace - Day 6

By July, 1547, he was again in Malacca. Here he met a Japanese called Anger (Han-Sir), from whom he obtained much information about Japan. His zeal was at once aroused by the idea of introducing Christanity into Japan, but for the time being the affairs of the Society demanded his presence at goa, whither he went, taking Anger with him. During the six years that Xavier had been working among the infidels, other Jesuit missionaries had arrived at Goa, sent from Europe by St. Ignatius; moreover some who had been born in the country had been received into the Society. In 1548 Xavier sent these missionaries to the principal centres of India, where he had established missions, so that the work might be preserved and continued. He also established a novitiate and house of studies, and having received into the Society Father Cosme de Torres, a spanish priest whom he had met in the Maluccas, he started with him and Brother Juan Fernández for Japan towards the end of June, 1549. The Japanese Anger, who had been baptized at Goa and given the name of Pablo de Santa Fe, accompanied them.

Novena of Grace Prayer
O most amiable and loving St. Francis Xavier, in union with thee I adore the Divine Majesty. While joyfully giving thanks to God for great graces which He conferred upon thee in life and for the great glory with which He has gifted thee in heaven, I come to thee with heartfelt love, begging thee to secure for me, by thy powerful intercession, the inestimable blessings of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech thee to obtain for me the favors I ask in this Novena

Here name your petitions.

But if what I ask is not for the Glory of God, or the good of my soul, do thou obtain for me what is most conducive to both. Amen.

Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory be to the Father.

V. Pray for us, St. Francis Xavier,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: O God, Who chose to bring into the bosom of the Church the nations of the Indies through the preaching and miracles of St. Francis Xavier, mercifully grant that we may imitate his virtues, whose glorious merits we hold in veneration. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis Xavier
Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that the souls of infidels were created by Thee and formed to Thine own image and after thine own likeness. Behold, O Lord, how to Thy dishonor hell is being filled with these very souls. Remember that Jesus Christ, Thy Son, suffered a most cruel death for their salvation. Do not permit, I beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy divine Son be any longer despised by unbelievers, but rather, being appeased by the prayers of Thy saints and of the Church, the most holy spouse of Thy Son, deign to be mindful of Thy mercy, and forgetting their idolatry and their infidelity, bring them to know Him Whom Thou didst send, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord Who is our health, life, and resurrection, through Whom we have been redeemed and saved, to Whom be all glory forever. Amen.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Novena of Grace - Day 5

In the spring of 1545 Xavier started for Malacca. He labored there for the last months of that year, and although he reaped an abundant spiritual harvest, he was not able to root out certain abuses, and was conscious that many sinners had resisted his efforts to bring them back to God. About January, 1546, Xavier left Malacca and went to Molucca Islands, where the Portuguese had some settlements, and for a year and a half he preached the Gospel to the inhabitants of Amboyna, Ternate, Baranura, and other lesser islands which it has been difficult to identify. It is claimed by some that during this expedition he landed on the island of Mindanao, and for this reason St. Francis Xavier has been called the first Apostle of the Philippines. But although this statement is made by some writers of the seventeenth century, and in the Bull of canonization issued in 1623, it is said that he preached the Gospel in Mindanao, up to the present time it has not been proved absolutely that St. Francis Xavier ever landed in the Philippines.


Novena of Grace Prayer
O most amiable and loving St. Francis Xavier, in union with thee I adore the Divine Majesty. While joyfully giving thanks to God for great graces which He conferred upon thee in life and for the great glory with which He has gifted thee in heaven, I come to thee with heartfelt love, begging thee to secure for me, by thy powerful intercession, the inestimable blessings of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech thee to obtain for me the favors I ask in this Novena

Here name your petitions.

But if what I ask is not for the Glory of God, or the good of my soul, do thou obtain for me what is most conducive to both. Amen.

Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory be to the Father.

V. Pray for us, St. Francis Xavier,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: O God, Who chose to bring into the bosom of the Church the nations of the Indies through the preaching and miracles of St. Francis Xavier, mercifully grant that we may imitate his virtues, whose glorious merits we hold in veneration. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis Xavier
Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that the souls of infidels were created by Thee and formed to Thine own image and after thine own likeness. Behold, O Lord, how to Thy dishonor hell is being filled with these very souls. Remember that Jesus Christ, Thy Son, suffered a most cruel death for their salvation. Do not permit, I beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy divine Son be any longer despised by unbelievers, but rather, being appeased by the prayers of Thy saints and of the Church, the most holy spouse of Thy Son, deign to be mindful of Thy mercy, and forgetting their idolatry and their infidelity, bring them to know Him Whom Thou didst send, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord Who is our health, life, and resurrection, through Whom we have been redeemed and saved, to Whom be all glory forever. Amen.

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

SATURDAY AFTER THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. JOHN viii, 12-20.

(The Testimony of the Light. The Crucifixion of the Redeemer.)

At that time: Jesus spoke to the multitude of the Jews, saying: I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The Pharisees therefore said to Him: Thou givest testimony of Thyself: Thy testimony is not true. Jesus answered, and said to them: Although I give testimony of Myself, My testimony is true: for I know whence I came or whither I go. You judge according to the flesh: I judge not any man. And if I do judge, My judgment is true; because I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me. And in your law it is written, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that give testimony of Myself: and the Father that sent Me, giveth testimony of Me. They said therefore to Him: Where is Thy Father? Jesus answered: Neither Me do you know, nor My Father: If you did know Me, perhaps you would know My Father also. These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, teaching in the temple: and no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come.

Christian soul, Jesus declares Himself clearly and distinctly to be the Light of the world, the Witness of the Father and the just Judge. But the Jews did not believe in Him: the only effect on them of His teaching was: "No man laid hands on Him"; not because they did not wish to do so, but "because His hour was not yet come." But the hour came, that hour of horror and terror, concerning which the Scripture says: "And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him."

His right hand was pierced with a nail to expiate the sins which men commit with their hands by robbery and theft, by fraud and injustice, by blows and ill-treatment, by sinful and immodest touches.

His left hand was pierced with a nail to expiate the sins of negligence and omission, remissness in prayer, retaining of ill-gotten goods, neglect of good works.

What pain was experienced by the humble and patient Redeemer, when His right foot was penetrated by a nail and He thereby expiated all the sinful steps made by men from motives of vanity, lust, pride and disobedience, steps leading to occasions of sin, to dangerous places, to bad company.

When they pierced His left foot, how severely did He suffer for our carelessness in attending divine worship, and our indifference in helping those that are in need.

Entreat Almighty God, O Christian Soul, that He may pardon the sins of your hands and feet; that Jesus, the light of the world, may guide all your steps and actions. Pray to your crucified Savior for those who are wandering along dangerous paths, and for those who are unwilling to perform their Easter duty.

LET US PRAY.

May our devotion be made fruitful by Thy grace, we beseech Thee, O Lord, for the fasts we have undertaken will become profitable to us only if they are pleasing to Thy clemency.

O Crucified and Loving Savior, by the merits of Thy unspeakable pains in the crucifixion, pardon our sins, and direct our steps in the path of virtue and justice. Amen.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Novena of Grace - Day 4

On 7 April, 1541, he embarked in a sailing vessel for India, and after a tedious and dangerous voyage landed at Goa, 6 May, 1542. The first five months he spent in preaching and ministering to the sick in the hospitals. He would go through the streets ringing a little bell and inviting the children to hear the word of God. When he had gathered a number, he would take them to a certain church and would there explain the catechism to them. About October, 1542, he started for the pearl fisheries of the extreme southern coast of the peninsula, desirous of restoring Christanity which, although introduced years before, had almost disappeared on account of the lack of priests. He devoted almost three years to the work of preaching to the people of Western India, converting many, and reaching in his journeys even the Island of Ceylon. Many were the difficulties and hardships which Xavier had to encounter at this time, sometimes on account of the cruel persecutions which some of the petty kings of the country carried on against the neophytes, and again because the Portuguese soldiers, far from seconding the work of the saint, retarded it by their bad example and vicious habits.

Novena of Grace Prayer
O most amiable and loving St. Francis Xavier, in union with thee I adore the Divine Majesty. While joyfully giving thanks to God for great graces which He conferred upon thee in life and for the great glory with which He has gifted thee in heaven, I come to thee with heartfelt love, begging thee to secure for me, by thy powerful intercession, the inestimable blessings of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech thee to obtain for me the favors I ask in this Novena

Here name your petitions.

But if what I ask is not for the Glory of God, or the good of my soul, do thou obtain for me what is most conducive to both. Amen.

Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory be to the Father.

V. Pray for us, St. Francis Xavier,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: O God, Who chose to bring into the bosom of the Church the nations of the Indies through the preaching and miracles of St. Francis Xavier, mercifully grant that we may imitate his virtues, whose glorious merits we hold in veneration. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis Xavier
Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that the souls of infidels were created by Thee and formed to Thine own image and after thine own likeness. Behold, O Lord, how to Thy dishonor hell is being filled with these very souls. Remember that Jesus Christ, Thy Son, suffered a most cruel death for their salvation. Do not permit, I beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy divine Son be any longer despised by unbelievers, but rather, being appeased by the prayers of Thy saints and of the Church, the most holy spouse of Thy Son, deign to be mindful of Thy mercy, and forgetting their idolatry and their infidelity, bring them to know Him Whom Thou didst send, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord Who is our health, life, and resurrection, through Whom we have been redeemed and saved, to Whom be all glory forever. Amen.

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

FRIDAY AFTER THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

GOSPEL. ST. JOHN xi, 1-45.

(Lazarus in the Grave. Jesus is Stripped of His Garments.)

At that time: There was a certain man sick named Lazarus, of Bethania, of the town of Mary and of Martha her sister. (And Mary was she that anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair: whose brother Lazarus was sick.) His sisters therefore sent to Him, saying: Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick. Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus. When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He still remained in the same place two days: then after that He said to His disciples: Let us go into Judea again. The disciples say, to Him: Rabbi, the Jews but now sought to stone Thee: and goest Thou thither again? Jesus answered: Are there not twelve hours of the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he has the light of the world: but if he walk in the night, he stumbleth, because the light is not in him. These things He said; and after that He said to them: Lazareth, our friend, sleepeth: but I go that I may awake him out of the sleep. His disciples therefore said: Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. But Jesus spoke of his death; and they thought that He spoke of the repose of sleep. Then therefore Jesus said to them plainly: Lazarus is dead; and I am glad for your sake, that I was not there, that you may believe: but let us go to him. Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples: Let us also go that we may die with Him. Jesus therefore came and found that he had been four days already in the grave. (Now Bethania was near Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.) And many of the Jews were come to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Martha therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus was come, went to meet Him: but Mary sat at home. Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, If Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But now also I know that whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee. Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith to Him: I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me although he be dead, shall live: and every one that liveth and believeth in Me, shall not die forever. Believest thou this? She saith to Him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that Thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world. And when she had said these things, she went, and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The Master is home and calleth for thee. She, as soon as she heard this, riseth quickly and cometh to Him. For Jesus was not yet come into the town: but He was still in that place where Martha had met Him. The Jews therefore, who were with her in the house and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she rose up speedily and went out, followed her, saying: She goeth to the grave to weep there. When Mary therefore was come where Jesus was, seeing Him, she fell down at His feet, and saith to Him: Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. Jesus therefore, when He saw her weeping, and the Jews that were come with her weeping, groaned in the spirit, and troubled Himself, and said: Where have you laid him? They said to Him: Lord, come and see. And Jesus wept. The Jews therefore said: Behold how He loved him. But some of them said: Could not He that opened the eyes of the man born blind, have caused that this man should not die? Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself cometh to the sepulchre: Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it. Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to Him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days. Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? They took therefore the stone away. And Jesus lifting up His eyes said: Father, I give Thee thanks that Thou hast heard me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always, but because of the people who stand about have I said it: that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me. When He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice: Lazarus come forth. And presently he that had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with winding bands, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them: Loose him and let him go. Many therefore of the Jews who were come to Mary and Martha, and had seen the things that Jesus said, believed in Him.

Consider, O Christian soul, that our Lord permits His friend Lazarus to become sick, to die and to be deprived of all that he had on earth, all but his shroud. Before His own death, Jesus permitted Himself to be stripped even of all His clothes. Learn from this to detach yourself from all the useless and harmful things of which death can rob you. By a worthy confession, purify your soul from every sin, so that your Savior will not be troubled over you, and that He will not need to weep over the misfortune that would befall you, if He could not awaken you to a glorious resurrection.


LET US PRAY.
O God, Who renewest the world by ineffable mysteries, grant we beseech Thee, that Thy Church may profit by Thy eternal precepts and may never be destitute of Thy temporal assistance; through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy divine Son, who wrought so many miracles and Who was so shamefully stripped of His garments. Amen.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Novena of Grace - Day 3

After completing his studies in Paris and filling the post of teacher there for some time, Xavier left the city with his companions 15 November, 1536, and turned his steps to Venice, where he displayed zeal and charity in attending the sick in the hospitals. On 24 June, 1537, he received Holy orders with St. Ignatius. The following year he went to Rome, and after doing apostolic work there for some months, during the spring of 1539 he took part in the conferences which St. Ignatius held with his companions to prepare for the definitive foundation of the Society of Jesus. The order was approved verbally 3 September, and before the written approbation was secured, which was not until a year later, Xavier was appointed, at the earnest solicitation of the John III, King of Portugal, to evangelize the people of the East Indies. He left Rome 16 March, 1540, and reached Lisbon about June. Here he remained nine months, giving many admirable examples of apostolic zeal.

Novena of Grace Prayer
O most amiable and loving St. Francis Xavier, in union with thee I adore the Divine Majesty. While joyfully giving thanks to God for great graces which He conferred upon thee in life and for the great glory with which He has gifted thee in heaven, I come to thee with heartfelt love, begging thee to secure for me, by thy powerful intercession, the inestimable blessings of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech thee to obtain for me the favors I ask in this Novena

Here name your petitions.

But if what I ask is not for the Glory of God, or the good of my soul, do thou obtain for me what is most conducive to both. Amen.

Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory be to the Father.

V. Pray for us, St. Francis Xavier,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: O God, Who chose to bring into the bosom of the Church the nations of the Indies through the preaching and miracles of St. Francis Xavier, mercifully grant that we may imitate his virtues, whose glorious merits we hold in veneration. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis Xavier
Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that the souls of infidels were created by Thee and formed to Thine own image and after thine own likeness. Behold, O Lord, how to Thy dishonor hell is being filled with these very souls. Remember that Jesus Christ, Thy Son, suffered a most cruel death for their salvation. Do not permit, I beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy divine Son be any longer despised by unbelievers, but rather, being appeased by the prayers of Thy saints and of the Church, the most holy spouse of Thy Son, deign to be mindful of Thy mercy, and forgetting their idolatry and their infidelity, bring them to know Him Whom Thou didst send, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord Who is our health, life, and resurrection, through Whom we have been redeemed and saved, to Whom be all glory forever. Amen.