DECEMBER 2015: MONTH OF DIVINE INFANCY
December, the month of Divine Infancy, celebrates the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ. The pairing of words in this title is a reflection of the mystery of Jesus' nature. We each are one person with one nature. However, Jesus is one person with two natures. He is fully God and fully man, that is, He is 100% God and %100 man, not 50/50, or any other percentage. Jesus' Incarnation is one of the most important moments in history and its memorial is prepared for in the liturgical season of Advent, a four week anticipation. more...
NOVEMBER 2015: MONTH OF SOULS IN PURGATORY
November, the month of Souls in Purgatory, is dedicated to all the souls who have died, but have not yet been admitted into Heaven. Jesus' Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection, allowed for admittance into Heaven, but because of "free will" every person can chose whether they want to be with God. Every moment in life is the opportunity to say yes or no to this. When someone dies, Jesus looks at his/her life and sees how much they loved Him. If they didn't love Him, He lets them continue in that choice and allows them to go to Hell. If they loved Him perfectly, He allows them to abide in Heaven. If they loved Him, but imperfectly, in His Mercy He allows them to enter Purgatory where the imperfect love is made perfect through purging. Purgatory is a tempory state and will pass away. It is a place of Mercy. more...
Ash Wednesday is the day that always begins the liturgical season of Lent. On this day, Catholics attend a Mass or a service where ashes are marked on the foreheads of the faithful in the sign of the cross. Sometimes these crosses are clear, but they may look like smudges. For some, a mark on the forehead is an embarrassment, or just an external sign that means nothing more. However, the faithful do not wash off these marks, but wear them proudly at work, and wherever they may be that day. The mark is a symbol, but also a sacramental: a means of grace and encouragement to love God at a deeper level. The ashes represent repentance and a commitment to a permanent change. Ash Wednesday is the start date for all Catholics to recommit to their baptismal call and challenge their spiritual health. An examination of conscious is to be made with a mindful commitment to reform whatever is spiritually ill. To help with this change all are to be held accountable for 40 days, since it takes about 30 day to break a habit. The repentance comes from recognition and gratitude for being given a gift from God that is not deserved. This gift is threefold: more...
February is honored as the month of the Passion of Our Lord. This is fitting because this is when Lent begins. Lent is a period of time set aside to specifically commemorate Jesus' Passion, Death and Resurrection. Ash Wednesday kicks it off through fasting and repentance. Penitents are blessed with ashes and reflect on conversion that they need in their life. They promise amendment and focus on one thing to change, and for forty days they practice that change. It takes about thirty days to break a bad habit, so this structured forty days helps it to become a permanent change.
Now the Church hasn't arranged the season of Lent to force a sinner to repent, or for gruesome reflections on Christ's Passion, rather it is offered because of the love relationship between Christ and His members. If you know you are hurting your spouse/lover, you'd want to stop, right? Also, it is appropriate to reflect on and be grateful for the sacrifices that your lover made/makes for you. The Church sees Lent as an opportunity for her members to be better lovers to Our Lord. more...
January 2015: MONTH OF THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS
The name "Jesus" is powerful.
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10)
Among the Ten Commandments, God ordered that His name shall not be said in vain. Adam was given authority to name creatures. Many names in Bible are changed when something new is happening. What is it about a name and naming that commands so much respect and power?
Names say "this is what I am in my essence", and thus, informs all who hear and speak it the person's purpose. God's name tell us who He is. "Jesus" is the "God is help". " meaning, more..."
“Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great 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.” (Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday: PG 43, 440A, 45C: LH, Holy Saturday, OR)
Holy Saturday is the day of great silence where Catholics consider the death of Jesus Christ. They are encouraged to ask: what is significant about His death, and about the silence in the tomb? First, the Church teaches that the death of Christ was necessary for the redemption of mankind; it wasn’t simply the sufferings of Christ that saved, but the separation of the soul from the body. For the consequences of Original Sin caused two deaths. The first is the physical death: the separation of the soul from the body. The second death is eternal life separated from God. Through experiencing the first death, Jesus redeemed man from the second death. more...
Every year the Catholic Church meditates on the brutal tortures that Jesus Christ underwent on the day that He died; however, it seems ironic that the commemoration of a barbaric trial, and crucifixion would be called “good”. Would it not be more appropriate to call this day, “Horrific Friday”? For this is what happened on that original day: Jesus was arrested and imprisoned; a crown of thorns was pounded into His head; He was mocked, spat upon, and beaten; He was taken to trial; was scourged to the limit on the back, shoulders and legs; He was forced to shoulder one of wooden beams that He was to die on, and He had to carry it publicly through the streets of what is now Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrows); He fell three times; He was stripped of His clothes; He was nailed hand and foot to the cross; vinegar was pressed to His lips; and once He did die, His heart was pierced by a lance. Again, what is good about any of this?
Some consider that it is good because the Passion had three main ends: more...
Holy Thursday is a specific day in the Church’s liturgical calendar commemorating the actions of Jesus Christ on the night before He died. Since, Jesus had foreknowledge of His upcoming death, His last hours particularly show Who He Is and what He wanted to leave behind. These final actions are recorded in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each sheds light on the final and deliberate moments of Jesus.
St. Luke has no subtlety in expressing what Jesus desired: “I have earnestly wanted to eat the Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15-16) After the Passover, in the Mount of Olives, the word, earnestly, appears once more: “in agony, He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like drops of great blood falling down upon the ground.” (22:44) This phenomena of sweating blood only happens when one is under great duress. If Jesus acted deliberately, why would the Passover be sought anxiously and what later caused such agony in Jesus? more...
Palm Sunday is a day to honor Jesus as the Christ, that is, the Jewish Messianic King. It commemorates the day when Jesus rode through the streets on a borrowed donkey and the Jewish people spread palm branches and their garments before Him in homage. This signified their acceptance that their long-awaited prophecy was in the process of being fulfilled.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you ; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9) more...
It’s easy to get caught up in the routine of fasting for the sake of fasting; it’s that thing we do for Lent, after all! However, it must be remembered that fasting is not a virtue. Rather, it is a tool that when exercised properly yields many fruits. During the Lenten period beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday, we are asked to fast, particularly on the Fridays. But why?
St. Francis of De Sales in looking at the Life of Christ lays out the purpose of fasting and also several conditions that must be present in order for one to fast well. He says: “[F]asting fortifies the spirit, mortifying the flesh, and its sensuality; it raises the spirit to God; it fights concupiscence and gives power to conquer and deaden its passions; in short, it disposes the heart to seek to please only God with great purity of heart.” (The Sermons of St. Francis De Sales for Lent, 1622) more...