Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Easter Vigil

After sunset on Holy Saturday, Christians arround the world will be gathering to celebrate the most ancient vigil of the faith.

This vigil is in 4 parts.

1. Lighting of the new fire/Exultet

The church is in darkness. This symbolized the darkness we are in because of sin. Everyone gathers outside for the lighting of the new fire. This fire is a symbol of the fire Jesus said He came to light on the Earth. After blessing the fire the Easter Candle is prepared, blessed & lit. Then the following is intoned: "Christ our light!", to which all reply: "Thanks be to God!". Then everyone processed into Church where this is intoned 2 more times. From the candle eventually the smaller candle that each person is carrying is lit as well as the Church's lights. This symbolizes the spread of Christ's light to all believers. Finally the Exultet, celebrating the Resurrection of Christ is intoned. It is an ancient hymn that truly captures what is being celebrated. It can be found here:

2. Readings from Scripture

Up to 7 readings from the Old Testament are read telling our salvation history. Exodus 14:15-15:1 has to be read. At least 2 others usually are read. This is followed by a reading from the Epistle to the Romans & the Matthew's Gospell's telling of the Resurrection.

3. Blessing of Holy Water, Adult Baptisms/Confirmation, Renewal of Baptisimal promises.

In the early Church, this was the night new converts were fully welcomed into the Church. Up to know these catachumens had to leave after the homily. The have now been washed clean of their sins & are now members of Christ's body. They were now welcomed to the Table of the Lord & able to fully particcipate in the liturgy, finally being able to receive the Eucharist, the Body & Blood of Jesus. After Vatican II, the Church restored this Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA). Those who have been through the RCIA are welcomed. & all present renew their own Baptismal promises.

4. Liturgy of the Eucharist

Just what it says.

Jesus is truly risen from the dead & has won the victory over sin & death for each of us. May this truly be the day of celebration it is ment to be. If you haven't given your life to Jesus, don't wait any longer. He is waiting for you & will welcome you into His loving embrace.





Terri Schiavo

As I have made it clear I am strongly pro-life.

The last week has seen the unthinkable happen. Terri Schiavo has been slowly starved to death. & the courts have been to cowardly to step in & do something about it. It has been tearing at my heart to see what has happenned.

I am not going to say much more. Rather I am going to redirect you to some websites that can say it better, clearly & more eloquently than I can.

Terri's Fight (This is the official website of the Terri Schindler-Schiavo foundation)

Blogs for Terri (A clearing house for blogs supporting Terri & her family's fight to save her)

Life News (Independent pro-life news orginization)

Priests for Life (Just what it says, with prayers that can be used by anyone)

& their page about Terri's fight;

1st & formost we must pray to God to intervene. Then every person must do however little or more they can. Speak out to at least 1 person. It was silence that allowed Hitler to eventually kill 6 million Jews & millions more others who were considered undesirable or less that human.

That we have reached this point is just another sign of how low this country has sunk since 22 Jan 1973. We kill the unborn, states are trying to legalize euthanasia, what is next, killing anyone with Alzheimer's or the mentally retarded, or the elderly or the physically handicapped? When life isn't valued, life isn't protected.

I know some people will say that I am overreacting. Or, I am trying to force my beliefs on others. But, it has to be said. People ignored what occured in Germany until it was too late to prevent those deaths. PLEASE, don't let the same thing happen here.

Holy Saturday

Today is a day of silent reflection for the Church. We pause to meditate on what Jesus did for us on the cross. We meditate on His death while we await to celebrate His resurrection. Here is an ancient homily that I feel is a beautiful aide to help us as we ponder what Christ did for us:

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

The Lord's descent into the underworld

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all”. Christ answered him: “And with your spirit”. He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”. I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden. See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree. I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you. Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday

This says it all about today:

Isaiah 53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

From the Catecheses by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop

The power of Christ's blood

If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration in Egypt. “Sacrifice a lamb without blemish”, commanded Moses, “and sprinkle its blood on your doors”. If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the fact that it is a sign of the Lord’s blood. In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ. If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.“There flowed from his side water and blood”. Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolised baptism and the holy eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, “the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit”, and from the holy eucharist. Since the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: “Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!” As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death.Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Holy Thursday

1 Corinthians 11: 23 - 26

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Paul reminds us in this 2nd reading from today's liturgy what it is we do every time we celebrate the Mass or Divine Liturgy. We remember Jesus' death & resurrection. But, it is much more than this. We also partake in the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. No, it is not a new sacrafice, but our entering into that sacrifice of 2000 yrs ago in a bloodless way. We offer up to the Father what the Son did for us to set us free. Jesus became our Passover lamb. In this He fulfilled what Passover proclaimed for many centuries.

The Eucharist is the greatest gift that Jesus gave to us. It enables us to not only look back to what He did 2000 yrs ago, but also to look forward to what lies ahead in eternity. It feeds us & nourishes us spiritually that we might live for Jesus. Jesus promised us life through this great sacrament.

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote 1 of the most beautiful hims there is celebrating this sacrament, Pange Lingua (Sing My Tongue) . (An English translation follows)

Pange lingua gloriosi
Corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
Quem in mundi pretium
Fructus ventris generosi,
Rex effudit gentium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus
Ex intacta Virgine
Et in mundo conversatus,
Sparso verbi semine,
Sui moras incolatus
Miro clausit ordine.

In supremae nocte cenae
Recum bens cum fratribus,
Observata lege plene
Cibis in legalibus,
Cibum turbae duodenae
Se dat suis manibus

Verbum caro, panem verum
Verbo carnem efficit:
Fitque sanguis Christi merum,
Et si sensus deficit,
Ad firmandum cor sincerum
Sola fides sufficit.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.

Sing, my tongue, the Saviour's glory,
Of his flesh the mystery sing;
Of the blood, all price exceeding;
Shed by our immortal King:
Destined, for the world's redemption,
From a noble womb to spring.

Of a pure and spotless Virgin
Born for us on earth below,
He as man with man conversing,
Stay'd, the seeds of truth to sow,
Then He closed in solemn order
Wondrously His life of woe.

On the night of that Last Supper,
Seated with His chosen band,
He the Paschal victim eating,
First fulfils the Law's command;
Then, as Food to His Apostles
Gives Himself with His own hand.

Word made Flesh, the bread of nature
By His Word to Flesh He turns;
Wine into His Blood He changes:
What though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
Faith her lesson quickly learns.

Therefore we, before It bending,
This great sacrament adore;
Types and shadows have their ending
In the new rite evermore:
Faith, our outward sense amending,
Maketh good defects before.

Honor, laud, and praise addressing
To the Father and the Son,
Might ascribe we, virtue, blessing,
And eternal benison:
Holy Ghost, from both progressing,
Equal laud to Thee be done.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Palm Sunday

Matthew 21:1-11

And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Beth'phage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If any one says anything to you, you shall say, `The Lord has need of them,' and he will send them immediately." This took place to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet, saying, "Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass."

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, "Who is this?" And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee."

Question: Would you be willing to go into a town, knowing your very coming would open you up to your enemies, enabling to not only capture you, but kill you? This is exactly what Jesus did. He came into town openly, finally acknowledging by His very actions that He was the long awaited Messiah.

Many of the Jewish leaders saw this as a threat to themselves & the comfortable life they had made for themselves. They had comprimised with the Romans who ruled over them. They knew that Jesus ment trouble for them. A king set up in opposition to Rome would mean war & disaster for them. They would lose what they had gained.

What they failed to see is the truth. Jesus was the Messiah, yes, He was the King. But, He didn't come to conquer & set Israel free from Roman rule. He came in peace. Riding into town the way he did was a symbol of that. A proud conqueror came in in that era riding on a magnificent steed. A humble king, coming in peace, rode on a donkey.

Jesus did come to set the Israelites free, as well as all of us. But, it was freedom from sin & death. He came to die for each & every 1 of us. He came because He loved each of us. Hosannah means "God save us" & that is exactly why He came. To save us from the penalty of sin that each of us owed.

Today begins what is known as Holy Week. It was made holy by the actions of Jesus. Today is the openning act of a cosmic drama. A drama that affects each & every 1 of us. May God pour out His Holy Spirit to enlighten your eyes to see, your mind to understand & your heart to accept what Jesus is doing for you.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Buona festa di San Giuseppe

!9 Mar is 1 of 2 days we honor St. Joseph in the Catholic Church. He is the patron of the Universal Church. He is also probably underrated & underappreciated by many Catholics. This is probably because there is so little said about him in the Gospels. But, when you look at what is said seriously these few words actually say volumes. These words show us the greatest role model for a husband & father that there could be. He was willing to do whatever was needed to protect & provide for his family. He was a man of deep faith that challenges us to imitate him.

From a sermon by Saint Bernardine of Siena, priest

The faithful foster-father and guardian

There is a general rule concerning all special graces granted to any human being. Whenever the divine favour chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfil the task at hand.This general rule is especially verified in the case of Saint Joseph, the foster-father of our Lord and the husband of the Queen of our world, enthroned above the angels. He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying: “Good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your Lord”.What then is Joseph’s position in the whole Church of Christ? Is he not a man chosen and set apart? Through him and, yes, under him, Christ was fittingly and honourably introduced into the world. Holy Church in its entirety is indebted to the Virgin Mother because through her it was judged worthy to receive Christ. But after her we undoubtedly owe special gratitude and reverence to Saint Joseph.In him the Old Testament finds its fitting close. He brought the noble line of patriarchs and prophets to its promised fulfilment. What the divine goodness had offered as a promise to them, he held in his arms.Obviously, Christ does not now deny to Joseph that intimacy, reverence and very high honour which he gave him on earth, as a son to his father. Rather we must say that in heaven Christ completes and perfects all that he gave at Nazareth. Now we can see how the last summoning words of the Lord appropriately apply to Saint Joseph: “Enter into the joy of your Lord”. In fact, although the joy of eternal happiness enters into the soul of a man, the Lord preferred to say to Joseph: “Enter into joy”. His intention was that the words should have a hidden spiritual meaning for us. They convey not only that this holy man possesses an inward joy, but also that it surrounds him and engulfs him like an infinite abyss.Remember us, Saint Joseph, and plead for us to your foster-child. Ask your most holy bride, the Virgin Mary, to look kindly upon us, since she is the mother of him who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns eternally. Amen.

I couldn't put it better.

As an Italiano-American I also share the deep love that Italians have for San Guiseppe. While we didn't do much in the way of celebrating when I was a child I have tried to learn the traditions & when possible put them into practice. The following article describes some of these practices:

I have made something similar to what he calls sfinge, bigne di San Guiseppe. & believe me when guests came over to our house there was always something offered to all. Food & drink are an important part of Italian hospitality. Mange!!! To refuse would be an insult to the hostess.

& in this age of the internet there is even a virtual St. Joseph's Altar:

Buona festa San Guiseppe!!!! Mille grazie for saying yes when God called you.

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