You Can’t Go Home Again by Monsignor Ferrarese

I’m sure you have had an experience like this: You have fond memories of a place that you loved in your past. But you have been away from it for a while. You talk to a lot of people about how much you are looking forward to being there again. Your memory is filled with images and scents and conversations and feelings that you carefully remember and meditate on. It comes close to going there again and your expectations are heightened.

The day finally arrives and you get to the place of your dreams. But it is nothing like you remembered! Things have changed. Cherished moments can no longer materialize since the place is different. Sure, some things are in their proper place but the light is different, the sounds seem strange and you feel that sadness of loss. You can’t experience things the way you dreamed them. Everything is changed. You can’t go home again.

This Pandemic has had such farsighted and profound effects on the global community that going back to the way things were, to the ‘normal’ so to speak, is not possible. Everything has changed: our perceptions of reality, our view of who we are in the vast scheme of things, and most of all on the vulnerability and the transitory quality of our existence. I mean existence both as individuals and as a community.

So, it is important for us to try to understand these changes in perception and in reality, that have occurred and to begin to understand their implications.

At the very center of Christian Spirituality is a distinction between the earthly and the heavenly. We are exhorted in Scripture to be more concerned about the things that are above than the things of earth. This strikes the modern ears as absurd! Heaven and the things above seem just like pie in the sky. It smacks of the abdication of responsibility for the care of the earth and the here and now.

In the supposed readjustment that occurred as a consequence of the adaptation of the Second Vatican Council’s teaching to the action of the Church in real time (many argue whether or not the implementation of the Council’s teaching was beneficial or erroneous in some way) the ‘other worldly’ quality of the Church’s teaching (concern for things above) was lost. Many say that the concern of many young priests to bring back the old Latin Mass is an attempt to return to that other worldly concern.

I mention this tension because one of the things this Pandemic has been teaching us is that this world is fragile and, therefore, as Catholic Christians, we must readjust ourselves to a more solid concentration on our preparation for the eternal life for which we have been created. This is not our abiding city. We are all passing through. Any attempt to make this world the ultimate concern of our endeavors is like building our castle on sand. It will not last. This is the ultimate lesson of this pandemic. Focus on the future for which this earth is merely a preparation.

Along with this insight comes this sense of mutual solidarity in our essential vulnerability. This little bug has humbled us and has shown that all the scientific advancement as well as the growth of secular concerns (sometimes with the abandonment of Christ’s teaching) cannot mask (excuse the pun!) that we are here for only a brief time and that this is no abiding city, nor everlasting stay.

This helps us with the need for detachment from the concerns of this worldly prelude and the need for a proper reordering of our priorities so that we can both value creation as gift, but also reject worldly concerns on our journey to God’s Kingdom.

These thoughts are not easy to digest since they are not mirrored in any way in the popular culture around us. Death and talk of death have become the new obscenity. You hear on TV and on computer sites so much about sex that in previous times would never be uttered even in private. But when talking about someone’s death, we used to say “passing away”, but even that was judged as too harsh by our culture. So, someone just ‘passes’ like two ships in the night!

In the history of Christianity, there was even a welcoming of death. Think of St. Joseph who is invoked as the patron of a ‘happy death’. There cannot be a happy death in a godless world that does not believe in God or eternal life. Death is the ultimate absurdity and the final and ignominious end of our lives, rendering our existence as meaningless.

To confront this pandemic with a believer’s confident hope that even death may have its purpose is to say the least ‘counter-cultural’.

As Christians, we must never be sucked into that hopelessness. This is perhaps the ultimate lesson of this present earthly tribulation.

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Monkeys in the Mind by Monsignor Ferrarese

An arresting image of our penchant for distractions is provided by one of the Buddhist Philosophical works. When thinking of how undisciplined the mind can be, this book said that our thoughts were like monkeys who swing from branch to branch: one second on this branch and suddenly swinging to an opposite branch that propels the simian athlete in a completely new direction.

If we are really honest, this is a very accurate image of what is going on in our minds. One thing leads to another and another and to something really different and then…Well, you get the picture! Monkeys in the mind is what we live with most days.

Yet the spiritual reality of our lives as well as the physical exists right in front of us. But we don’t see it since we are mesmerized by those monkeys! And the sad thing is that we live most of our lives in this jungle of thoughts all of which have little reality about it.

In Eastern Non-Christian Meditation, there is a practice that has become very popular here in the West. It is called ‘Mindfulness’. What it basically tries to do is calm the flight of the mind into the past or the future or to any host of other distracting paths and to concentrate on one’s breath. The breath is important in this form of meditation because we do it all the time and therefore it can be utilized for these purposes in every phase of our busy lives. It focuses our attention on the present moment and what is happening right now.

While it is a very promising technique to harness the mind to a single purpose, it is often connected with elements of eastern religions or no religion at all that make it problematic for the Christian. It is problematic because it is partial. In the Christian worldview, this experience is better called the Sacrament of the Present Moment. It has been dubbed as that a number of centuries ago by a Jesuit theologian named DeCausade. It is a fuller understanding for a Christian because it brings God into the process, which does not arise in Buddhist or Secular concerns. But we believe in God and as such we see God and His grace at the very center of the present moment. While we can be mindful with what we accomplish and attempt to steer our attention to more stable and fruitful pursuits, it also opens us to the realm of prayer and as such fits better theologically with our understanding of reality.

This attempt to harness attention and focus it into a God centered existence has been aptly called Centering Prayer. But what I am suggesting as a way of utilizing the time we have in our pandemic includes prayer but also everything we do. To be centered in God as we shop and clean and plan and work and play is to be unified and built on a real foundation. Watching as we build on this foundation gives us the joy of meaning and purpose that all reality is actually going somewhere and that life is not a circular round of repetition but a linear movement toward a destination made more wonderful by the growth that it inspires.

In other words, we tame those monkeys by bringing the peace of God like a fragrance or beautiful melody, consolidating our energies and being attentive to the God filled present moment.

In addition, by placing our attention in the present moment we confer needed importance to the things right in front of us, especially the people who are present to us. Psychologists tell us that, in our relationships with one another, attention equals love. When a parent is actually attentive to their child, the child feels how important they are. Sadly, when that attention is missing, the child, no matter how materially off they are, feels that they are worthless. This is a very important consequence of our effort to keep ourselves in the present moment. When in a conversation and are truly ‘there’ with someone, it means that they are important and that they should be listened to.

Many and important are the consequences of living in the present moment. But it is not easy to quiet those monkeys!

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Humanity, Humbled by Monsignor Ferrarese

We can’t even see it! This invisible enemy. Yet how efficient and terrible it is! We had come to the point as a global community that we thought that we were freed from the past and that we had a glorious future ahead of us. We have traveled to Outer Space. We can visit any place on earth. We have an arsenal of weapons to protect ourselves. And yet….

This virus has humbled our world. We thought we could have it all and that nothing could stop our progress. And yet… Even people say, “God was a nice concept and maybe He is hanging out somewhere, but we really don’t need a god.” The pride of Adam is still in evidence! This idea that we don’t need God is at the root of our secular culture. Just as we have banished God from the Public Square, we have also given Him a termination notice from running the world. We thought that we were smart enough to do it. We thought we could be our own gods!

For people of faith, on the other hand, we never doubted our need for God. We have always known how vulnerable we are and how, without God, we are lost. It is a sad story. On the Left, Communists said there was no need for God and that He was dead. So, they produced the agony of the Gulag and the millions lost in China’s Cultural Revolution. On the Right, the National Socialists produced genocide and the Final Solution. Even here in America, our pride has sanctioned slavery, the mistreatment of native populations and the genocide of preborn Americans.

It stands to reason that God would need to get our attention and allow this virus to humble our pride; to wake us up.

It is a time for prayer and sacrifice.

It is a time for ultimates. By this I mean that, with sickness and death all around us, who of us has not thought about their own deaths and the sicknesses that lead there? Who of us has not asked themselves: “Does anything matter? Do I matter?” And when it comes to others close to us, we consider the possibility that they can suddenly be taken away from us, and then what?

The lack of Sacraments, the dearth of opportunities to mourn our loved ones and to visit and comfort the sick create an ambience of uncertainty and isolation.

A time for ultimate concerns and ultimate losses and final issues.

Yet this is Easter time in which we remember that death has been defeated by Christ; that being a Christian is a vocation to hope; that, in the face of these ultimates, we say: “I believe in God. I believe in the victory of Christ. I am not alone. I live in the Holy Spirit.” These are not vague wishes. We speak them with conviction and meaning, in spite of doubts. Because, in this Pandemic, we understand perhaps more deeply what the Resurrection means in our life.

After the Crucifixion and the burial of Jesus, Mary and the Apostles must have felt that all was lost. Their Lord, their friend, her Son; brutally tortured, shamed and murdered in front of them before a cheering crowd. His disciples hiding out, fearful of being arrested as part of His movement. They must have felt all was lost and there was no hope. That Sabbath must have been very quiet, subdued and tearful, just like what we are experiencing now.

What a turnaround that Sunday morning! The story continues! Jesus is alive, transcendent! Hope grows. We have seen the Lord! Suddenly, the gloom had lifted and the new reality had begun. Praise the Lord!

We are in that long Holy Saturday. Death and disappointment are all around us. Everything is changed. But it is not the end of the story. He is Risen!

We will emerge as a global community, hopefully a little wiser, and a little humbler. We might be able to see the price of pride and the beauty of Christ who will never abandon us, not even in the E.R.s of this plague.

Death may seek us out, but it has no lasting power over us, because He is Risen. And that is the last word.

Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat!

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Time to Think by Monsignor Ferrarese

Many years ago, I caught a talk that my old Rector from the Seminary gave after he went to a Parish to be a Pastor. After speaking about several things, he learned in his new assignment that he startled everyone with the assertion that each day he enjoyed stopping work and going upstairs to sit and think.

“Think what?”, I thought. It seemed like a waste of time to me! Then, maybe, what he was alluding to was going to his room for a siesta!

Coming from a working-class background, I was told to be useful and, if I ever attempted to sit and ‘think’, my mother would have slapped me in the back of the head and told me to get busy! Even our garden had to be useful. I once announced to my parents that I was going to plant flowers in our garden. They both looked at me in horror. Finally, my mother broke the silence and said: “Don’t be stupid. You can’t eat flowers!” And so, I planted tomatoes and string beans!

So, when my old Rector said he went to his room to think, I heard him with my working-class ears and my working-class attitude.

But he was right.

We confuse thinking with wasting time. But, if we are honest, we probably think a lot, even obsess, when we should be keeping our attention on what we are doing. We could be driving or doing something in the garden or being at work, and yet our minds are churning away. Worry, getting even, plans, fears: our minds are constantly at it. But is it fruitful? We seem to do a lot of thinking when we should have our attention fixed on what we are doing or to whom we are listening.

The Rector that I spoke about dedicated real time to do some real thinking, sometimes with a pad and pencil and sometimes looking at the sunset as he drifted from thinking to praying.

The ability to think is one of the most important things about being human. We are rational beings. Our brains are the most complex realities known to man. Thinking, therefore, should be more than what we do accidentally from the corners of our consciousness.

Setting aside some time to think through our lives and what we love and value should be one of our top priorities. Arguably, one of the results of this lockdown in our dealing with the Pandemic is that we have more time to think. We must, however, distinguish this from brooding, which is not a healthy choice. Brooding is filled with fear and anger. One can be the play-thing of demons if we enter into that stage of consciousness!

The true companion of thinking is praying. In prayer, we open ourselves up to Divine Providence, so that our thinking moves in the direction of wisdom and some of the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. To me, it is amazing that, when I have a seemingly impossible problem and I ask for help from God and just wait in confident hope for God to assist me, things become clearer: I see what I have to do and what I have to avoid. I can’t fully explain it. It just happens! God wants to be so involved and, yet, we often close Him out and go our own way. He gets the blame, though, if things go wrong!

For this to work for our benefit, we need solitude and time. We need an open heart. Mix a little silence with these and we have a wonderful spiritual meal!

Even in secular literature, be it Plato or Thoreau, you get the oft repeated axiom, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” That is akin to what I am trying to say. If we go slowly and think in quality time, and if we include the Divine Observer, life becomes more livable and the future is not as frightening!

It is a gift to just take a comfortable moment and decide to think through a problem or an issue! That time is not wasted. Arguably, it is a great use of time since we may come upon an unexpected and attractive choice that would not be in our mind unless we spent that time.

Time is spent in thought is a good investment. So invest now!

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Things Above by Monsignor Ferrarese

In the midst of this pandemic, we often are terrorized by death. We hear of corpses piled up in makeshift morgues, this stealthy virus entering unsuspecting people and killing them. A despair hangs over the world, causing deep depression.

After Vatican II, we careened from an otherworldly Church that spoke a dead language to a more ‘relevant’ Church that embraced the here and now. We went from an altar against a wall and a priest praying mysteriously and quietly, to an altar facing the people and the priest on center stage.

With the more ‘this worldly’ emphasis, many feel that something essential has been lost. During the tumultuous 60’s, priests left the ministry in droves. The abandonment of the whole area of mystery and the call of the beyond made the priesthood devolve into a kind of social work that could not support the weight of living a celibate life.

This imbalance seems particularly difficult during this enforced solitude engendered in social distancing. More and more people are dying, often outside the reach of the comfort of family and friends. Once you sap away belief in our future glory with Christ, death becomes even more unspeakable.

We are left with a question: Do I really believe that there is a future after death? Really?

Part of the difficulty in thinking through this belief is that any use of the imagination is counterproductive. We don’t know what our future will look like or feel like. All of our vocabulary is earthbound. So, it is hard to put ourselves in a realistic attitude about this.

This is the darkness that permeates this important step of faith, and it is why we have to choose to trust. I use the word ‘choose’ very consciously. We all have understandably intellectual doubts about this. We go from ‘it seems too good to be true’ to ‘maybe this is all made up”. If we rely on our minds and thoughts, we will be lost. It is the will that must act.

Let’s say that we are on a journey and we arrive at a crossroads. We could go straight or make a left or make a right. We think we know where these choices will take us, but we are not sure. The mind cannot resolve the difficulty. You remember that someone told you to hang a right when you got to the crossroad.Or was that a left? Your mind is paralyzed since it has nothing to say to you. What to do?

Clearly, you must choose and then hope you made the right decision. The mind cannot help you and neither can the memory. One must make a decision and live that decision out.

Thus, is faith. The mind cannot help us. It will just leave us standing there. We must choose the way to go and then put one foot forward and go the way we have chosen.

I choose to believe in God. I choose to believe in Christ. I choose to believe in Eternal Life. And I choose to live my life according to the precepts of the Church even though I have doubts. Especially because I doubt.

When people say that they cannot believe in God, they are making an intellectual assumption. No matter how difficult it is for our minds to accept that there is a God and that there is life after death, we can still choose to believe in Him. While there are no scientific proofs of God’s existence, there is a preponderance of inferences and probabilities that suggest that it is not irrational to believe. But we must use our wills and stake our ground and make the gamble.

Blaise Pascal, a philosopher, scientist, and engineer, called this the ‘wager theory’. If you choose not to believe and I do, when we both die and if there is no God, we just both go into oblivion. But if there is a God, you may perhaps unpleasantly (or pleasantly?) be surprised!

So, during this pandemic, let us choose to believe in God and let the cards fall where they may. What we may find is that, once we accept Him, doors and paths heretofore unknown may beckon and the intellect will catch up with the will and we will begin to see things in a radically different way. Faith always seeks understanding. But understanding can never get to Faith unless I choose to take the leap!

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St. John of the Cross and COVID-19 by Monsignor Ferrarese

Ordinarily, we don’t speak about saints and a pandemic in the same breath! They seem miles apart. But it occurred to me that the great mystic St. John of the Cross can help us to see what we are going through in a different way.

St. John was a contemporary of St. Teresa of Avila in 16th century Spain. He helped her with the reform of the Carmelite Order by working on the male side of that austere religious group. He has been called the first psychologist in history because of the penetrating insights into the mind and the soul of the human person.

One of the lasting contributions to the analysis of how God works in the soul is what he calls the ‘Dark Night’. In one sense, this teaching is not new with him. It had been around hundreds of years before he lived. But in his books “The Ascent of Mount Carmel” and “The Dark Night”, he explained in a definitive way the path that we all travel to become unified with God. Classically, it was often referred to as the ‘Three Ages of Man’. But first through his poetry (he was the first important poet of the Spanish Language), and then through the works explaining that poetry, he was able to clarify and deepen this spiritual teaching.

When we awaken spiritually (often referred to as Being Born Again), we begin a path of purification or purgation to separate ourselves from sin, evil and the devil. This purification is both active (the things we choose to do or forgo) and passive (the things that God asks of us). This is the first dark night: The Dark Night of the Senses.

After walking in this path for a while, we finally enter the second Age of Man—the Illuminative stage. Suddenly, everything becomes clear and all coheres in an amazing way. The lights get turned on and we see life as we never saw it before—as God sees it.

But then comes a night more terrible than the first night: The Dark Night of the Soul. While in the previous night, the Dark Night of the Senses, all the sense perceptions and comforts that we depend on are taken away from us. In this second Dark Night, that of the Soul, even the joys of the spiritual realities are taken away from us. We feel abandoned by God and we have no spiritual gifts to help us get through. In this dark night, we have to keep going, onward and ahead, even as our exhaustion permeates us. Faith alone is our support; a faith we cannot feel. Doubt surrounds us, but we still go forward trusting in God, even when every gift that He gave us is taken away. Mother Teresa of Calcutta went through years in this night! But
what awaits us at the end is stupendous: union with God, with Love itself. This can never be taken away from us.

God purifies us and makes us strong through these nights, so that we can love the Giver and not just the gifts.

I think that this gives us an interesting frame of reference as to what is happening to the world during this Pandemic. Like in the Dark Night of the Senses, many of our cultural, sportive, social and entertaining events have been stripped away. True, there is always the TV and the computer, but with time we will tire of them and want something more. This is a lot tougher than giving up chocolate for Lent! God has asked us to give up a lot more than that. We do it for each other and for God. That is when we make the requisite sacrifices in the right way. I have seen such beautiful sacrifices health care people make as they extend themselves. We just keep making the sacrifices as God leads us forward to illumination and acceptance.

The Dark Night of the Soul occurs when people confront their lack of belief or the thought that God has abandoned us. What St. John makes clear is that we are called upon to still believe, still do works of charity, still follow the guidance of the Lord. It takes a lot to do it without the reward of good feelings, but it also purifies us and asks us to do the right for the right reasons: Love of God and Love of Neighbor.

This is a time of testing and a time to keep loving and keep caring and keep sacrificing. Walking in the Dark Night is not easy, but St. John says that we must follow the warmth and light of our hearts to find our way to God and to each other.

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How Long O Lord! by Monsignor Ferrarese

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we all had ways of living that we had gotten used to. Now, they seem to be elusive. The Pandemic has fundamentally changed how we live.

One thing that is different is our sense of security. As Americans, we live in a very safe country with great and dependable services. With this Pandemic, a rising sense of insecurity has begun to besiege us. Can I depend on a Doctor if I needed one? Would going to a hospital be a possibility if I should get really sick? Can I be assured that I can go and help a loved one in need? Does living in one of the most advanced cities in the world mean I can go safely wherever I want to go?

A few months ago, these questions would have seemed nonsensical. Not today. This Pandemic has not only interrupted our lives; it has fundamentally changed how the world will relate in the future. Nations seem besides the point now. This virus has taught us our common humanity. This global awareness is taking center stage. Working together and solving our common problems is now a necessity and a priority. Our vulnerability makes us feel how we really need one another.

This new sense of insecurity can be seen painfully in the breakdown in our economy. We are all financially interdependent. We are all part of a whole and, when we cannot thrive in it, then many lives are affected. It can also be very scary when things have to change because people are not there to do their jobs. You cannot rely on the status quo. Our wonderful economy just seemed to hum along, almost giving the appearance that it was indestructible. And now things are not so clear.

Besides our vulnerability and our interconnectedness, for us believers, this Pandemic has taught us how much we need God, how important community is, and what the deeper meaning of things are that we just went along believing: life after death, faith, revelation.

Who of us has not, in the darkness of night, when we could not sleep, thought realistically of our own deaths? This Pandemic has brought to the fore the need for hope and the constant threat of despair.

I remember Saint John Cardinal Newman’s distinction between notional and real assent. The notional is merely in our mind and is a sort of an abstraction. Yes, I believe that what the labels says: “This rope can hold up to 250 lbs of weight” is true. But is it real assent? Let’s hang grandma out the window by that rope! No? Why not? The label said it would hold up to 250 lbs and grandma weighs 120 Lbs. Right? No, you would probably dangle a very heavy inert object from the rope first and see if it really holds up. And when it does, then you can give it your real assent. (But please leave Grandma alone!)

When speaking about death, we can give a notional assent to our belief that death is merely a transition and that there is life after death. But on our death bed, will it be a real assent? That can only come through faith.

As I get older, death is becoming more and more real to me. Hitting 70 this year, I am in a segment of the population where the risk of death from this Pandemic is more likely. I woke up a number of times during the last few weeks thinking of how fragile my life is. I thought during those moments: What is death? How does it feel? Do I really believe in eternal life?

One of the things this time has done for many people is made faith a matter of life and death. It is not just a pretty ‘churchy’ word. It means something important and real.

Even Jesus was rendered powerless when there was no faith in evidence. When He went home to Nazareth, the people had no faith in Him and He regretted that He could not work any miracles. On the other hand, the woman with the issue of blood had great faith. She got a charge right from Jesus for her healing without Jesus even knowing who accessed the power within Him. It automatically flowed from Him. It was simply her faith that made it happen!

This is a time for real faith. We need the power of God to get through this. No matter what lies ahead of us, we must be armed with faith to face this uncertain world and this new “normal”.

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The Solemnity of Easter

The Solemnity of Easter

“Christós anésti!”

“Alithós anésti!”

“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.  Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.  They were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large.  On entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed.  He said to them, ‘Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.” (New American Bible, Mark 16: 1 – 6)

Easter, without a doubt, is the most important and joyous day (& season) in the liturgical year.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states it in this manner: “Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the ‘Feast of feasts’, the ‘Solemnity of solemnities’” (#1169).  It goes on to say that “… the mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him.”(#1169)

What is the Church celebrating during the Easter season?On Easter Sunday and throughout the fifty days of the Easter season, the Church celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus.  Yes, by the way, the Easter Season lasts for fifty days until Pentecost.

Why is Easter so important to the Church?Easter is important to the Church because the Resurrection of Jesus is the central mystery, belief and teaching of the Church; it has been believed AND preached from the earliest days of the Church: Peter, on Pentecost says, …God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it.”(New American Bible, Acts of the Apostles 2:24)  Peter says later in Acts, “God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.” (New American Bible, Acts of the Apostles 2:32)

St. Paul states in his letter to the Romans:

Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned – for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come. But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many. And the gift is not like the result of the one person’s sinning. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal. For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.”  (New American Bible, Romans 5:15-17)

So all Christians celebrate Easter, why then do some Christians celebrate it on different days?Yes, all Christians celebrate Easter.  As I mentioned above, the Resurrection of Jesus is the central mystery, belief and teaching of the Church.  The celebration on different days is a religious calendar issue.

What do you mean by “a religious calendar issue”?  Don’t all Christians use the same calendar?No, for religious celebrations we actually don’t.This goes all the way back to the early days of the Church.  At the first ecumenical council of Nicea in 325 AD, one of the issues discussed was the date for the celebration of Easter.  It seems certain Christian groups celebrated Easter on a different date.  The Quarterdecimanists, for example, celebrated Easter on what was the 14th day of Nisan in the Jewish calendar, no matter the day of the week on which it occurred.  At Nicea the Church decided that Easter would be celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

Now throw in the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.  The Julian calendar was the civil calendar introduced by Julius Caesar in the 1st Century BC; as a religious calendar, many of the Eastern Churches use this.  The Gregorian calendar was the civil calendar introduced in the 16th Century AD to adjust for the differences that had occurred to the Julian calendar over fifteen hundred years; as a religious calendar, this is used by most Western Churches.  As of 2020, there is a difference of 13 days between the two calendars which can make the celebrations off by up to six weeks or so.  In recent years there have been inter-religious dialogues concerning the celebration of the central mystery of our common faith on the same day but nothing definitive, as far as I know, has been agreed to.

What does the Resurrection of Jesus mean for me, why is it important?  It can and should mean so many things:

  • Jesus’ Resurrection means that I have been liberated from sin and a new way of life has been opened to me. (CCC,#654)
  • Jesus’ Resurrection means that I have been justified in my relationship with God; my offenses, my sins, have been remediated and I can now really be called a child of God.  There is no longer an obstacle in place, besides my own self – centered attitude, sin, that can overcome this. (CCC, #1995)
  • Jesus’ Resurrection means that I can achieve eternal life in the Kingdom as long as my actions and attitudes are in accordance, in agreement, with God’s will, with God’s plan, with what God wants for me, for others and for the rest of creation. (CCC, #655)

What can I do to make Easter a more meaningful season for me? 

  • Try to use the season to reflect upon the Resurrection and its importance in my life.
  • Make an effort to do some spiritual or Scriptural reading over the course of the season.
  • Try to figure out how I can take the message of the Resurrection and actually live it; not in a showy, pretentious or ostentatious way but in a sincere, humble and faith-filled manner.
  • Attempt to spend time with family.  Visit a relative you may not have seen for a while, visit a relative that lives in a nursing home or retirement facility.
  • Attend a parish or community event occurring in conjunction with Easter.  Are there any Easter egg hunts happening in the neighborhood?  If so, bring the kids.

Bibliography

The Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The Vatican, 06 Nov. 2002.  Web. 18 March.2016   < http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM>

The New American Bible. The Vatican, 06 Nov. 2002.  Web. 13 March.2014 <http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/_INDEX.HTM>

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The Shroud of Turin to be displayed

The Shroud of Turin is to be displayed from Holy Saturday through April 17th. Here’s a link to the article on Crux: https://cruxnow.com/covid-19/2020/04/shroud-of-turin-to-be-shown-via-tv-and-social-media-for-coronavirus-outbreak/

Here is the link to the Shroud’s website: https://www.shroud.com/

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Good Friday

Good Friday

Good Friday is the most solemn day of the liturgical year. It is so solemn a day that there is NO Mass celebrated on Good Friday. On Good Friday we commemorate the day on which Jesus is condemned to death by Pilate and crucified. It is also a day of fasting and abstinence.

Why is it “Good” Friday? Because of the effects of the events that occurred. By Jesus’ obedience to and His trust in the Father He overcame the effects of sin of and achieved our salvation.

On Good Friday the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, once called the Mass of the Consecrated, occurs. It is a service that resembles the Mass but the Eucharist that was consecrated on Holy Thursday is distributed.

The Veneration of the Cross is a ceremony during which a person pays respect to the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Usually this is done during Good Friday services; usually people perform the veneration of the cross individually by coming forward and, while kneeling, kiss the foot of the cross.

SEE: Mark 15; Matthew 27; Luke 23; John 18:28-19:1-42. (New American Bible)

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