Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, April 3, 2016

"These are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." -- John 20:31

“These are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” — John 20:31

 

April 3, Second Sunday of Easter

      Divine Mercy Sunday

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) Acts 5:12-16

      Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

      2) Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19

      Gospel: John 20:19-31

 

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

Jesus is risen! He is risen, indeed! And that seems to be much of what today’s readings reflect.

The Gospel relates the account of Thomas coming to faith when Jesus appears before him and the other disciples. Jesus offers Thomas the opportunity to put his finger on his hand, to put his hand into his side. But Thomas doesn’t need the proof he had earlier said he required. His response to Jesus is, “My Lord and my God!”

The chapter closes with the writer saying, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”

When I came into the Catholic Church in 1974, I had already witnessed many great things Jesus had done in my life. In the intervening decades, I have seen him act again and again in my own life and the lives of those around me, often in amazing ways. Prayers have been answered, difficult situations that should not have worked out well did.

For example, once on ice-coated streets, moving downhill at 20 miles per hour, the pickup I was driving went from sliding sideways on a collision course with the trunks of five substantial cars into the one open lane on the far right side of the intersection and coming smoothly to a stop, as though there were no ice on the road at all.

I believe my experiences and similar ones of those who read this are part and parcel of those books that the next chapter of John refers to as being more than the whole world could contain. It was all brought about by the obedience of the son of God, who laid down his life to take it up again in its resurrected form, that we too might have life in his name.

QUESTIONS:

Have you experienced God’s saving mercies in your own life and that of your family? Are those stories part of your personal or family lore?

Picture-perfect St. Patrick now is in high school

By Jim Lackey

If you’ve visited our new website, you may have seen the cute promo pictured here for our saints section.

Yesterday we learned the backstory of the boy in the photo dressed as St. Patrick for an All Saints’ Day Mass.

  • Yes, his name also is Patrick, partly because he missed being born on St. Patrick’s Day by one day.
  • Yes, St. Patrick still is his favorite saint.
  • And yes, he’s still active in his Georgia parish.

Patrick Jackson’s backstory comes courtesy of The Georgia Bulletin, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Georgia Bulletin photographer Michael Alexander, who shot the photo of Patrick dressed as Patrick in 2006, caught up with young Patrick in time for St. Patrick’s Day last month.

And yesterday the paper tweeted about it:

Today, Patrick Jackson is a freshman at St. Pius X High School in Atlanta. He’s on the track team, he wrestles on the varsity squad,  he’s been involved in his parish altar server program since third grade, and he’s a lector at parish youth Masses.

There’s more fun stuff in Alexander’s story (such as how the young Patrick thought in kindergarten that, because of his first name, he was having two birthday parties on two consecutive days). Read the rest of Alexander’s account here.

Pope Francis’ prayer, “O Cross of Christ”

 

POPE GOOD FRIDAY COLOSSEUM

Pope Francis presides over the Way of the Cross outside Rome’s Colosseum March 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME — Here is the Vatican’s English translation of Pope Francis’ prayer last night at the conclusion of the Via Crucis service at Rome’s Colosseum:

O Cross of Christ, symbol of divine love and of human injustice, icon of the supreme sacrifice for love and of boundless selfishness even unto madness, instrument of death and the way of resurrection, sign of obedience and emblem of betrayal, the gallows of persecution and the banner of victory.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you raised up in our sisters and brothers killed, burned alive, throats slit and decapitated by barbarous blades amid cowardly silence.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the faces of children, of women and people, worn out and fearful, who flee from war and violence and who often only find death and many Pilates who wash their hands.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those filled with knowledge and not with the spirit, scholars of death and not of life, who instead of teaching mercy and life, threaten with punishment and death, and who condemn the just.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in unfaithful ministers who, instead of stripping themselves of their own vain ambitions, divest even the innocent of their dignity.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the hardened hearts of those who easily judge others, with hearts ready to condemn even to the point of stoning, without ever recognizing their own sins and faults.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in expressions of fundamentalism and in terrorist acts committed by followers of some religions which profane the name of God and which use the holy name to justify their unprecedented violence.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those who wish to remove you from public places and exclude you from public life, in the name of a pagan laicism or that equality you yourself taught us.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the powerful and in arms dealers who feed the cauldron of war with the innocent blood of our brothers and sisters.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in traitors who, for thirty pieces of silver, would consign anyone to death.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in thieves and corrupt officials who, instead of safeguarding the common good and morals, sell themselves in the despicable marketplace of immorality.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the foolish who build warehouses to store up treasures that perish, leaving Lazarus to die of hunger at their doorsteps.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the destroyers of our “common home,, who by their selfishness ruin the future of coming generations.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the elderly who have been abandoned by their families, in the disabled and in children starving and cast-off by our egotistical and hypocritical society.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas which have become insatiable cemeteries, reflections of our indifferent and anesthetized conscience.

O Cross of Christ, image of love without end and way of the Resurrection, today too we see you in noble and upright persons who do good without seeking praise or admiration from others.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in ministers who are faithful and humble, who illuminate the darkness of our lives like candles that burn freely in order to brighten the lives of the least among us.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the faces of consecrated women and men — good Samaritans — who have left everything to bind up, in evangelical silence, the wounds of poverty and injustice.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the merciful who have found in mercy the greatest expression of justice and faith.

POPE GOOD FRIDAY COLOSSEUM

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in simple men and women who live their faith joyfully day in and day out, in filial observance of your commandments.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the contrite, who in the depths of the misery of their sins, are able to cry out: Lord, remember me in your kingdom!

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in the blessed and the saints who know how to cross the dark night of faith without ever losing trust in you and without claiming to understand your mysterious silence.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in families that live their vocation of married life in fidelity and fruitfulness.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in volunteers who generously assist those in need and the downtrodden.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those persecuted for their faith who, amid their suffering, continue to offer an authentic witness to Jesus and the Gospel.

O Cross of Christ, today too we see you in those who dream, those with the heart of a child, who work to make the world a better place, ever more human and just.

In you, Holy Cross, we see God who loves even to the end, and we see the hatred of those who want to dominate, that hatred which blinds the minds and hearts of those who prefer darkness to light.

O Cross of Christ, Arc of Noah that saved humanity from the flood of sin, save us from evil and from the Evil One. O Throne of David and seal of the divine and eternal Covenant, awaken us from the seduction of vanity! O cry of love, inspire in us a desire for God, for goodness and for light.

O Cross of Christ, teach us that the rising of the sun is more powerful than the darkness of night. O Cross of Christ, teach us that the apparent victory of evil vanishes before the empty tomb and before the certainty of the Resurrection and the love of God which nothing can defeat, obscure or weaken. Amen!

Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, March 27, 2016

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above." -- Colossians 3:1

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above.” — Colossians 3:1

 

March 27, The Resurrection of the Lord, The Mass of Easter Day

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) Acts 10:34a, 37-43

      Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23

      2) Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8

      Gospel: John 20:1-9

 

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

The third-highest-viewed TED Talk, by Simon Sinek, is titled, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” He gave this talk in September 2009, and it has been viewed more than 25 million times. On the surface, it is about marketing and sales, as he compares successful companies, ideas and people with others in the same field that were not as accomplished. But when viewed from another perspective, Sinek’s talk reveals a truth of our faith.

The premise of his presentation is that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” He used this idea to frame why some organizations excel and others don’t. Basically, he pointed out that when a company knows why it exists, it knows its purpose, and if it shares that purpose with the world, other like-minded people will jump on the bandwagon and buy its product.

This TED Talk came to mind while I was reading the Scriptures for Easter Sunday. St. Paul says: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above.” The connection is that we have to know our “why” if we are going to know our purpose.

The why for Christians is the Resurrection! If Jesus is not raised from the dead, then we are all fools for believing in him. Jesus is our “why,” and we need to seek the things that lead us to this “why” and then lead others to this “why.”

Another connection between Sinek’s TED Talk and the Christian life can be made if we see ourselves as on the marketing team for God: He is management, we are sales, and if we do not know the “why” of the kingdom, we won’t make many “sales.”

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. When we know the “why” of the kingdom of God, we have direction for our lives. But even more so, when we share the “why” of our faith, we reveal a truth that the world does not have to offer. Namely, that through Jesus our sins are forgiven, and we will appear with him in glory.

Live and share the why of our faith, and set the world on fire for the love of God.

QUESTIONS:

How would you describe the “why” of Christianity? Why are you a follower of Jesus? How has the Resurrection made an impact on your life?

A ‘Way’ for modern cross-bearers who share Christ’s cross

This Good Friday, throughout the day and through the evening, Catholics around the world are joining in Way of the Cross processions — the symbolic walk with Jesus from his trial before Pontius Pilate to his crucifixion on Calvary. Walkers reflect on the sufferings Jesus endured leading up to his death.

In Rome, after the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis presides over the Way of the Cross service at Rome’s Colosseum.

In the United States, thousands of Catholics and religious leaders from five parishes in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, are walking more than a mile tonight carrying crosses and statues through the streets of Bensonhurst — led by Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Paul R. Sanchez.

Some processions are organized around contemporary themes. Spearheaded by the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, the “Way of the Cross for Victims of Abortion” is being held throughout the day in dozens of U.S. cities and in Calgary, Alberta. In India, Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical “Laudato Si'” inspired a parish’s Way of the Cross in the Archdiocese of Mumbai.

frfitzgeraldbookcover2“A Contemporary Way of the Cross” is the title of a slim volume by Father William John Fitzgerald that came my way here at CNS. Father Fitzgerald, 83, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was ordained in 1958 and served as pastor in several rural parishes where he developed team ministry in the 1970s. In the 1980s, he was pastor of what was Omaha’s largest parish, St. James, where he also developed team ministry. But when he was 62, Omaha’s archbishop gave him early retirement — he suffered chemical lung poisoning and had to move to Arizona for his health.

In the intervening years, he told me, “I have thrived.” Among other things, he is active in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Voice of the Poor Committee and he is a prolific author — he has written 14 books. He also has a CD out of his Irish songs.

Father Fitzgerald dedicated “A Contemporary Way of the Cross” to “all those who carry heavy crosses.” “Walk the narrow streets of old Jerusalem today and you will discover plaques along the way that indicated the Stations of the cross. … There are other current roads around the world where modern cross-bearers share (Christ’s) cross — the paths of Africa, the roads to homeless shelters, the streets past foreclosed houses,” the priest writes in his introduction.

“Christ still walks beside his followers as they carry their own heavy crosses,” he says. “It is these modern-day crosses that are brought to mind and to prayer in these contemporary Stations of the Cross. These Stations are meant to be thought and prayer provoking. … (They) can be prayed alone or in community.”

frfitzgeraldbookcoverHis other books include “Seven Secrets of the Celtic Spirit,” and “A Contemporary Celtic Prayer Book.”

He also just recently wrote “The Amazing Love of Dogs and God,” about all the dogs he had as a kid, starting with Joe – pictured on the cover with a 9-year-old William.

“In each book I attempted to infuse it with eco-spirituality,” said Father Fitzgerald, who said he studied creation spirituality at Holy Names University in Oakland, California, in 1986. He noted that his high school English teacher at Jesuit-run Creighton Prep in Omaha “taught me the basics of writing, which I still use today.”

When Good Friday falls on feast of the Annunciation

Nuns carry a cross during a silent march during Good Friday celebrations in Durban, South Africa, March 25. (CNS photo/Rogan Ward, Reuters)

Nuns carry a cross during a silent march during Good Friday celebrations in Durban, South Africa, March 25. (CNS photo/Rogan Ward, Reuters)

By Father John Fields

Today is Good Friday in churches that calculate the date of Easter based upon the Gregorian calendar.

March 25, exactly nine months before Christmas, is also the feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary she would have a son. The Knights of Columbus observe the feast of the Annunciation as the “International Day of the Unborn Child,” since this feast liturgically and scripturally demonstrates that life begins at conception.

Because these two important observances will occur on the same day this year, depending on the liturgical tradition, accommodations are made in the date and manner of celebration of the feast of the Annunciation and the Good Friday observances.

This year in the Latin church, the feast of the Annunciation is transferred to the first available day after the Paschal celebration. Therefore, this year, the solemnity of the Annunciation will be observed April 4, the first available day, the Monday after the second Paschal Sunday. Christmas will still be celebrated Dec. 25, although will not be a full nine months after the Feast of the Annunciation.

This icon depicting the Annunciation is from St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Edmonton, Alberta. (CNS photo/Western Catholic Reporter)

This icon depicting the Annunciation is from St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Edmonton, Alberta. (CNS photo/Western Catholic Reporter)

The importance of the feast of the Annunciation has such importance in the Byzantine tradition that this feast is always celebrated March 25, even if it falls on Good Friday or Holy Saturday. This tradition dates back to the third century.

This year, since the Annunciation falls on Good Friday, churches of the Byzantine tradition will also celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Good Friday, the only exception to the rule that the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated on Good Friday. Church fathers stress that the importance of Mary’s “yes” to the angel Gabriel is so important that, without it, there would not have been a Good Friday.

– – –

Father Fields is director of communications for the Ukrainian Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Guardian angels and guns: Granddad fought in the Rising

Willie McNeive escorts his daughter, Vivian, into church on her wedding day in 1948, 32 years after he fought in Ireland's Easter Rising. (CNS photo/courtesy Susan Gately)

Willie McNeive escorts his daughter, Vivian, into church on her wedding day in 1948, 32 years after he fought in Ireland’s Easter Rising. (CNS photo/courtesy Susan Gately)

By Susan Gately

DUBLIN (CNS) — I am a child of Ireland’s Easter Rising, the disordered six-day insurrection against British rule in 1916.

My grandfather, Willie McNeive, was imprisoned in Wales following the Rising. His best friend was Joe Stanley, press agent to the Rising leader, Patrick Pearse. When Joe’s sister Jenny, visited him, she met Willie and they fell in love and married.

As a child, I questioned Granddad about the Rising but he was reluctant to talk. Seeing the Northern Troubles develop, he became disgusted that what was so nobly begun had ended in terrorist atrocities in the name of an Irish Republic. Fortunately, in 1978 he committed his 1916 memories to tape.

Initially during the uprising, Granddad was assigned a first-floor window overlooking a quayside. Rifle in hand, he watched a group of British lancers march by.

“We turned our face to the wall, said an act of contrition and waited for the order to shoot.” To their relief, the order did not come.

Next, commandeering “all forms of transport,” they moved material to the General Post Office.

“One of the greatest thrills of my life was when I looked up and saw the tricolour of the Irish Republic flying over the GPO. It brought tears to my eyes,” he recounted.

For six days my grandfather fought at the post office. Toward the end, he was ordered to break open a door, which he did. When he returned to pick up his rifle, it was gone, replaced by a German Mauser.

Outside, the squad was ordered to fix bayonets. With no bayonet or ammunition, Granddad fell out. The others charged around a corner only to be mowed down by British artillery.

“I often wondered who swiped my rifle. In view of the fate of the others, I concluded it was my guardian angel,” he recounted.

My relatives were ready to give their lives for Irish independence in an uprising that had no hope of success, and I am moved by that fact. Others think the Rising was a waste of lives. Ireland would have gotten home rule without the bloodshed, some say. Who knows?

Yet for better or worse, we are where we are today, in some measure, due to the 1,600 men and women who took to the streets to fight for an Irish Republic a hundred years ago.
– – –
Gately is a multimedia correspondent for Catholic News Service.

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