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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Homily of Pope Francis for the Easter Vigil



Holy Saturday, 19 April 2014

 The Gospel of the resurrection of Jesus Christ begins with the journey of the women to the tomb at dawn on the day after the Sabbath.  They go to the tomb to honour the body of the Lord, but they find it open and empty.  A mighty angel says to them: “Do not be afraid!” (Mt 28:5) and orders them to go and tell the disciples: “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee” (v. 7).  The women quickly depart and on the way Jesus himself meets them and says: “Do not fear; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (v. 10). “Do not be afraid”, “do not fear”:  these are words that encourage us to open our hearts to receive the message.

After the death of the Master, the disciples had scattered; their faith had been utterly shaken, everything seemed over, all their certainties had crumbled and their hopes had died.  But now that message of the women, incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness.  The news spread: Jesus is risen as he said.  And then there was his command to go toGalilee; the women had heard it twice, first from the angel and then from Jesus himself: “Let them go to Galilee; there they will see me”. “Do not fear” and “go to Galilee”.

Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began!  To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called.  Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets.  He had called them, and they left everything and followed him (cf. Mt 4:18-22).

To return to Galilee means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory, fearlessly: “do not be afraid”.  To re-read everything – Jesus’ preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal – to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love.

For each of us, too, there is a “Galilee” at the origin of our journey with Jesus.  “To go to Galilee” means something beautiful, it means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience.  To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey.  From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters.  That flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy.

In the life of every Christian, after baptism there is also another “Galilee”, a more existential “Galilee”: the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission.  In this sense, returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him. To return there means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me.

Today, tonight, each of us can ask: What is my Galilee?  I need to remind myself, to go back and remember.  Where is my Galilee?  Do I remember it?  Have I forgotten it?  Seek and you will find it! There the Lord is waiting for you.  Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it?  Lord, help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy. Do not be afraid, do not fear, return to Galilee!

The Gospel is very clear: we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection.  This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia.  It is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth.  Go back to Galilee, without fear!

“Galilee of the Gentiles” (Mt 4:15; Is 8:23)!  Horizon of the Risen Lord, horizon of the Church; intense desire of encounter…  Let us be on our way!

The Easter Homily of St. John Chrysostom


O death, where is your sting? 
O Hades, where is your victory?
Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort.

Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.

When Isaias foresaw all this, he cried out: "O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world." Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and, lo! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.

O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. 

Amen.




Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pope Francis Presides at the Way of the Cross in the Colosseum


Pope Francis has presided over the evening Way of the Cross in Rome, joining thousands of people gathered in prayer.

Standing in the midst of a giant cross outlined with small torches, Francis said the Cross is a reminder of how much evil people are capable of and how much love Jesus had for a sinful humanity.

“It was a heavy cross like the night for those who are abandoned, heavy like the death of a loved one and heavy” because it took on all the pain of evil, he said.

Standing on a hillside overlooking the Colosseum, the pope told the thousands of people who gathered with him in prayer that Jesus shows “that evil will not have the last word”, and love, mercy and forgiveness will be victorious.



“From the Cross we see the monstrosity of mankind when it lets itself be guided by evil. But we also see the immensity of the mercy of God, who doesn’t treat us according to our sins, but according to his mercy.”

Do not forget those who are sick and abandoned with their own cross, but pray “they find the strength of in the trials of the cross, the hope of God’s resurrection and love”, he said before imparting his blessing. 

Read more at The Catholic Herald >>


Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Sacred Triduum - Holy Thursday

Today we begin the Sacred Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil.  These days are the pinnacle of the liturgical year and commemorate the Paschal Mystery of Christ's salvific mission, which continues through His Church and through time.  Christ's passion, death and resurrection are the dividing point of all human history and the source of our hope in Christ.


Our posts at this solemn and holy time will, for the next few days, be focused on these sacred mysteries.  We wish you, dear friends in Christ, every grace and blessing.  May you, and all those you love, be filled with the hope and joy of our Lord's Resurrection.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Happy 87th Birthday, Dear Pope Benedict!


On this, Pope Benedict's 87th birthday, we remember that he had the daunting task of succeeding one of the most beloved, longest and greatest papacies since the day Christ established His Church on the rock of Saint Peter.  The brilliant scholar quietly took up his task and in a few, short years healed wounds in the Church that had festered for a half century, and wounds in the Body of Christ that had divided the people of God for a millennium.

On this kind and gentle shepherd's 85th birthday we wrote:
In these seven years, he has undertaken 23 international trips, including the first state visit by a Pope to England and Scotland (Pope John Paul II made a pastoral visit in 1982).  He has made 26 pastoral trips throughout Italy.  He has presided over 4 synods of bishops and 3 world youth days.  In 3 encyclicals and in all of his many books, homilies, letters and addresses he has spoken powerfully, clearly and from the heart, to the heart.
His contributions to building the unity of the Church and healing old divisions have been monumental and historic.  There has never been such friendship and collaboration with leaders of the Orthodox churches as there has been throughout this pontificate.  Through his apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus he has provided a bridge through which thousands of Anglicans and other Protestants are entering the Church, while maintaining their own rich patrimony.  Through his Apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum he has restored the Roman Church's own patrimony, ending nearly a half century of division and conflict and restoring reverence and beauty to sacred liturgy.  And in the English-speaking world he has restored a faithful and reverent translation of the Roman Missal.  He has been tireless in seeking reconciliation with those alienated by false interpretations and reckless innovations following the Second Vatican Council.

Most importantly, his joyful, faithful and total submission to the service of Jesus Christ and His Church has inspired vibrant, new, evangelical growth throughout the universal Church, that has also spawned a boom in religious and priestly vocations.
Today we give thanks for all of this and so much more, and pray that Pope Benedict may continue for many more years in his prayerful service to the Holy Father and God's people, and in his holy example to us all.

We love you and thank you, dear Pope Benedict!




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Patrick J. Buchanan: The End of Ideology?



By Patrick J. Buchanan

On our TV talk shows and op-ed pages, and in our think tanks here, there is rising alarm over events abroad. And President Obama is widely blamed for the perceived decline in worldwide respect for the United States.

Yet, still, one hears no clamor from Middle America for “Action This Day!” to alter the perception that America is in retreat.

If a single sentence could express the seeming indifference of the silent majority of Americans to what is going on abroad, it might be the simple question: “Why is this our problem?”

If a Russian or Ukrainian flag flies over Simferopol, why should that be of such concern to us that we send U.S. warships, guns or troops? If Japan and China fight over islets 10,000 miles away, islets that few Americans can find on a map, why should we get into it?