Saturday, April 19, 2014

Veneration of the Cross at Holy Family



Four of our high school youth processing the Cross to the sanctuary for Veneration at the Good Friday liturgy...



 

     
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Pause for Prayer: HOLY SATURDAY

The Dead Christ by Mantegna




















On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord's tomb, meditating on His suffering and death.

The painting above by Mantegna is a compelling image confronting us with the reality of the Lord's death...

On this day, the altar is left bare, and Mass is not celebrated.

Only after the solemn vigil during the night, held in anticipation of the resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of fifty days.

A Prayer for Holy Saturday

This is the hardest time to pray:
after the drama and catastrophe,
before the angels and the big reveal.

The passion, the agony, the desperate grief
have given way to numbness
and absence
in this time in between.

God seems to be offstage,
preparing for the final scene,
taking care of ancient souls in other worlds
or clothing the hidden, broken body
in resurrection glory.

So let our prayer this day be plain
and to the point:
May God be with us in the waiting,
and may we wait with hope,
today
and every time in between.

Amen.

- by Kerry Greenhill





     
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Homily for Good Friday




Homily for Good Friday
(Scriptures for today's liturgy)

Audio for homily


Audio Note: I encourage you to listen to the audio as you read the text.  There are musical elements in the audio that you'll miss without listening.  The Passion was proclaimed in a semi-dark church, with light centered on the Crucifix in the sanctuary and I preached in the same shadows.  After the first musical refrain, the people just joined in as it repeated.  Finally, there's a little static up to 00:25 but from there on it's clear!
 

The suffering and death of the crucified Jesus
stare us in the face.
What are we to do with this?
What are we to do with the suffering of Jesus?
the death of Jesus?
What are we to do with the love of Christ
who laid down his pure and innocent life for us,
the sinful and guilty?
What are we to do with the death of Jesus?

We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts.
Living, now we remain with Jesus the Christ.

After supper with his friends on the night before he died
Jesus went into the garden to pray - and his betrayer was there.
Judas was there, and I was there, and you were there,
all of us were there –
• betraying his perfect love for us  - with our selfishness and sins,
• betraying the innocent one with our transgressions –
• betraying him unto death.
And what are we to do with the death of Jesus?

We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts.
Living, now we remain with Jesus the Christ.

And later in the courtyard,
Peter, just hours before filled with faith and bravado -
Peter denied that he even knew Jesus.

• And we were in that same courtyard,
denying, many more than three times,
denying our faith in Jesus.

• We were in that courtyard denying him
with our fear of being known as believers,
with our reluctance to name Jesus the Lord of our lives,
with our desire to protect our sophisticated selves
and enhance how others perceive us…

•We were there in the courtyard,
denying by word and deed that we even know Jesus,
denying him unto death.
And what are we to do with the death of Jesus?

We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts.
Living, now we remain with Jesus the Christ.

• With the chief priests we handed Jesus over to death,
hiding behind the law to shield our unjust deeds.

• With Pilate in the praetorium
we condemned Jesus to death by our playing with the truth.

• With the crowds we called for Jesus’ death
by going along with what everyone’s saying.

We conspired, by our selfishness and sin
to condemn Jesus.
And what are we to do with the death of Jesus?

We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts.
Living, now we remain with Jesus the Christ.

• We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts
because by the mercy and grace of Jesus
his death is the forgiveness of our selfishness and sin.

• We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts
because in the offering of his heart and life
our hearts our healed,  and our lives redeemed.

• We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts
because our hearts can know no greater love
than the love of One who lays down his life for ours.

Such is the mystery of our redemption
in the suffering and death of Jesus.
In the face of it, we have nothing to offer in return
and so, this is what we do:

We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts.
Living, now we remain with Jesus the Christ.

We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts
because his dying is our living
-- and so we remain with Jesus the Christ.

It is Good Friday and the suffering and death of the crucified Jesus
stare us in the face.
What are we to do with this?
What are we to do with the love of Christ in his suffering for us?
What are we to do with the love of Christ in his dying for us?
What are we to do with him  who laid down his pure and innocent life
for us  - the sinful and guilty?

What are we to do with the suffering and death of Jesus?

We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts.
Living, now we remain with Jesus the Christ. 


Here's a recording of the whole of David Haas's song, "Now We Remain" from which comes the refrain in my homily:

 Now We Remain - Hangad - YouTube by BUKAS PALAD on Grooveshark



 

     
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Do not go into the garden, Jesus...

Agony in the Garden by El Greco


Do not go into the garden,
Oh! Jesus,
do not go into the garden before dawn!

But if I do not go into the garden in the dead of night,
who will lead you to the sunrise of Paradise?
I will go into the garden in the dead of night.
Do not let them bind your hands,
Oh! Jesus,
do not let them bind your hands without a word!
If I do not let them bind my hands like a thief,
who will break open the prisons
in which you languish?

I will let them bind my hands like a thief.
Do not hang on the cross,
Oh! Jesus,
do not hang on the cross 'til you die!
If I do not hang on the cross like a bird,
who will protect you from the flames of hell?

I will hang on the cross like a bird.
Do not let your heart be pierced,
Oh! Jesus,
do not let your heart be pierced by executioners!
If I do not let my heart be pierced like a ripe fruit,
from whom will you drink the blood and water
that will heal you?

I will let my heart be pierced
like a ripe fruit.

Do not to into the tomb,
Oh! Jesus,
do not go into the tomb that they have dug!
If I do not go into the tomb
like a grain of wheat,
who will lift from your coffins your lifeless bodies?
I will go into the tomb to sleep there.

- The Days of the Lord




 

     
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Pausing for Prayer: GOOD FRIDAY



Meditation on the Crucifixion
by Mimi Ess
(Click on the image for a larger version)

While Meditating Upon the Passion

I long to be the teardrop
Rolling ever so slowly down your cheek
Searching the curves and creases of your most holy face
Lightly kissing moisture upon your dry lips.

I long to be the air that becomes your breath
Bought with your agony as you push up to draw me in,
Absorbed into your body offered to the Father,
Flowing mercy from your wounds,
Exhaling love upon the world.

I long to be the cry
Welling up from the depths of your soul
Blinded by the night that envelops it.
Rushing to meet you as the all-consuming pain
draws you deeper into the darkness,
Finally bursting forth a helpless scream,
The cry of God - to God -
For mercy.

I long to be the last beat of your heart,
Suspended there in time
Until the Father grants you life anew
And then -
Captured there in eternity,
A prisoner of Divine Love.


- Brenda Stinson


 

   
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Stations of the Cross


Especially if you're not able to get to church today, you might want to pray the Stations of the Cross at home. You might find the video presentations below especially helpful.

The Stations of the Cross is an ancient devotion in the Catholic Church. Here's a brief history of the Stations which includes a comparison of the customary 14 stations (those found on the walls of most churches and chapels) and a newer version which came to us from John Paul II and was used for the first time in Rome on Good Friday 1991.

Here are links to several offerings of the Stations of the Cross, in a variety of styles:

From the Passionist Fathers

From Beliefnet

From the Order of St. Benedict

The video below offers another opportunity to pray the Stations of the Cross at home, online. It's only 6 minutes long but of course one could pause the video at each station and pray for a longer time.




And here's a fine reflection on the Seven Last Words by William Storey.  


 
   
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Good Friday is a Day of Fast and Abstinence


GOOD FRIDAY
is a day of FAST and ABSTINENCE

What does that mean?
 
On Good Friday, Catholics over 14 years of age are expected to abstain from eating meat on this day.

Catholics 18 years of age and up to the beginning of their 60th year are expected to fast on these days: taking only one full meal and two other light meals, eating nothing between meals (although liquids between meals, are allowed).





   
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

On the table, under the table...

Image source

Homily for Holy Thursday
(Scriptures for tonight's liturgy)

Audio for homily

 


 
How fitting that we begin the celebration of the Triduum,
our celebration of Christ our Passover,
by remembering Jesus gathered with his friends for that meal
in which he gave himself to us in the bread and cup of the Eucharist.

And yet, how odd that the gospel for this night, from John,
should tell  the story of the Lord’s Supper
with nary a mention of "bread and cup,"
not a word devoted to “body and blood,”
not so much as a hint of "food for everlasting life."

John devotes a whole chapter of his gospel
to Christ’s flesh as real food, his blood as real drink:
but in telling of the last supper,
he mentions not a word about the Eucharist.
While Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul
all write of food blessed, broken, poured out and shared,
John alone, writes about – FEET!

In writing of the Last Supper
John is not much concerned at all about what’s ON the table,
but rather, focuses totally on what’s UNDER the table: feet!
Tired feet, dirty feet,
road-worn, calloused, dusty, muddy, smelly feet:
feet needing to be washed…

Down through the centuries,
Christians have debated about the Eucharist:
what it is, and what it isn’t;
how it happens, and who can make it happen;
what it is, and WHO it is; is it real, or just a sign,
who may receive it, and who may not receive.
About such concerns positions are argued, books are written,
and, sadly – Christendom is divided.

But not so with feet! Not so with feet…
No arguments, disagreements or theological distinctions about feet!
No denominations splintered off by a question like:
“Were the feet at the last supper real - or merely symbolic?”

It’s certainly clear in John’s gospel that for Jesus
- dirty feet were very real.
In both images, of course
(in bread and cup, and in the washing of feet)
Jesus gives himself to us as our servant
and calls us to serve one another.
In the bread and cup of the Eucharist he shows us
that his body will be broken and his blood shed for us,
so that we might have life, and have it to the full.

In handing over his whole self for us,
he calls us to hand over our selves:
our lives, our desires, our time, our possessions,
our “things,” our money, our contentment,
our ambition, our power, our prestige, our status –
he calls us to offer what we have
that it might be broken, poured out, and shared,
in service of our neighbor.

We can’t wash our neighbors’ feet
until we stop what we’re doing and pay attention to others’ needs.
We can’t wash our neighbors’ feet
until we free our hands of all the things we cling to for ourselves.
We cannot wash our neighbors’ feet
until we learn to do precisely those things
we’d much rather avoid -
things like washing others’ feet.
           
Washing feet is not nearly as sophisticated
as breaking bread and sharing a goblet of wine,
but it certainly makes the point
- and with no room for argument or ambiguity.

And even though John doesn’t write about it,
we can be sure that bread was broken and a cup blessed
after Jesus washed his friends’ feet.
It is not as though we can pick one image of service or the other
(it’s not bread and cup –or- washing feet):
it must be both, we need both.
We need the reality, the feel of feet in our hands, over a basin,
to remind us that we are servants of one another.
And we need the nourishment of the Lord’s Supper
to feed us, strengthen us, to lift our spirits,
to remind us that mutual service in Jesus’ name
brings us into the holiest of all holy communions.

In a few moments, we will prepare the Lord’s Table
for the supper he gave us on this night before he died.
We will offer, bless and pour the cup;
we will feast on the simple meal and promise Jesus gives
in the most holy sacrament of the altar.

But before all of that, we shall take a few moments
to “look under the table”  -  for feet to be washed.
I can pretty much assure you
that no one’s feet here tonight really need to be washed.

But I can guarantee you that we, you and I,
need to wash each other’s feet - whether they need it or not –
because we need the practice.

Everyone, watch what we do here tonight:
watch what we do with water, basin, towel and feet…
and watch what we do with bread and wine,
with the meal of this table.

Watch for the connection between what happens
UNDER the table and what happens ON the table
and in the connection,
see the life that we are called to live BEYOND this altar.

(We invite all to come forward tonight
to have their feet washed, and to wash feet.
If you wish to participate in the foot washing,
please remove your shoes and socks (both feet)
before leaving your pew.
Once your have had your feet washed,
you will wash the feet of the next person in line.)

As the Last supper Jesus took off his outer garment
and washed his friends’ feet and he said:
“If I, your master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

 

  
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Images for prayer: HOLY THURSDAY night



Although the scenes below are not in the scriptures of the Holy Thursday liturgy, the events they depict took place in the garden, after the Lord's Last Supper with his friends: Christ's agony in the garden and his betrayal by Judas...



Agony in the Garden
by Peter Howsonn






The Kiss of Judas by Giotto




 

   
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pause for Prayer: HOLY THURSDAY

Our Humble God by Howard Banks

A song, a prayer for Holy Thursday

Tonight at the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, feet will be washed in response to the Lord's command at his last supper when he washed his friends' feet:  
If I, therefore, the master and teacher,
have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you,
you should also do.
And this song will be sung...



Where charity and love prevail,
there God is ever found;
Brought here together by Christ’s love,
by love are we thus bound.

With grateful joy and holy fear
His charity we learn;
Let us with heart and mind and soul
now love him in return.

Forgive we now each other’s faults
as we our faults confess;
And let us love each other well
in Christian holiness.

Let strife among us be unknown,
let all contention cease;
Be his the glory that we seek,
be ours his holy peace.

Let us recall that in our midst
dwells God’s begotten Son;
As members of his body joined,
we are in Christ made one.

No race or creed can love exclude,
if honored be God’s name;
Our family embraces all
whose Father is the same.

And another musical setting, in Latin and from Taize:
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

Ubi caritas by TaizĂ© on Grooveshark    




       
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