Sunday, April 26, 2009

Third Sunday of Easter

Our readings this weekend remind us that the Scriptures (Moses, the prophets, and the psalms - the Old Testament) speak of Jesus Christ, His life, death, and resurrection. Christ reveals to the Apostles, and to the Church, the understanding of Scripture. With this understanding, we cannot help but see that the Scriptures drip with Christ! Cleopas and his companion (as this Gospel passage follows their story) 'model' the proper response to having the scriptures opened to us: Telling others the Good News.

Let us allow our hearts to burn with love for Christ, and to seek to understand Him in Scriptures, and see Him in the breaking of the Bread. Let us tell all of Christ!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Second Sunday of Easter

"Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." Blessed are the ones who respond to Christ's call, not with hearing His voice, but rather those who walk with faith. The Apostles are incredulous with the Resurrection, but Christ truly was raised and He truly appeared to them. Poor St. Thomas, though, was not so fortunate that first Easter Sunday to be able to see. He responds the way most of us would - unable to believe without the evidence. But when Christ stands in front of them again, he responds with a profound faith. Jesus challenged him, and in doing so, us, too.

We have seen Him, we have received Him. In the Eucharist, He comes to us, too. Like Thomas, we can cry "My Lord and my God."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday is today. I encourage you to pray the chaplet and to ask for the gift of understanding of the devotion to the Divine Mercy of Christ.

Monday, April 13, 2009

O Happy Fault

One of the lines of the Exultet, which I posted for Easter, is a little jarring at first read. A good friend asked for clarification and it seems fitting to offer it here, too. The line in question, is officially translated (what I had posted):
"O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam
which gained for us so great a redeemer."

Had it not been for the sin of Adam, we would not have 'needed' or 'necessitated' Jesus Christ. Adam's sin made the need for a savior. Words have developed in meaning - necessary is one such word that in Latin has a variety of meanings as an adjective (in my Latin dictionary, it means "necessary/needed/essential/indispensable; inevitable, fateful; urgent/critical; unavoidable/compulsory")
The Latin of the verse in question is
"O certe necessarium Adae peccatum,
quod Christi morte deletum est!
O felix culpa,
quae talem ac tantum meruit habere Redemptorem!"

Here's my quick translation:
O, certainly inevitable sin of Adam,
which because of Christ's death is abolished!
O happy fault,
which gained [humanity] to have so excellent and so great a Redeemer."

I also found Fr. John Zuhlsdorf's more 'slavishly accurate' translation
O truly needful sin of Adam,
that was blotted out by the death of Christ!
O happy fault,
that merited to have such and so great a Redeemer!

One quick little fact that the word translated as 'gain' is meruit - merit ("earn; deserve/merit/have right; win/gain/incur; earn soldier/whore pay, serve"). It can be used for the payment made to a prostitute - perhaps it is ill-gotten gains, Adam's sin 'meriting" us the Redeemer! But thank God for the Redeemer!

God is omniscient. Before the creation of Adam and Eve, before He spoke the world into existence, He knew what was going to happen. He knew that the one rule ("Do not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge...") would be violated. He knew that the human experience of His continual call to conversion through the covenants (Noah, Abraham, and Moses) and the prophets would be futile. He knew that humanity could not be allowed into eternity without Christ to open the gates of heaven and His saving action in the World. Yet He had a plan from all eternity for the redemption of humanity to bring them into His presence. When all was ready for the Second Person of the Trinity to enter into time and space, Jesus Christ did so. With His death and resurrection as the Incarnate God, Jesus restores and reconciles man to God, and Heaven is wedded to earth. He gives us more than what was lost - He gives us eternity!

The Resurrection of Christ, and the redemption that He wins for us is so much greater than that for which we could have hoped. The understanding of the Church is that Adam and Eve enjoyed a state of "original justice" before "original sin" - that is, that he enjoyed a natural harmony with God and the rest of creation. With his sin, that harmony was damaged beyond human repair (but not God's, of course) though man still could chose to follow God in this life (still separated from Him in eternity, though not is Hell as a state of torment). All the same, humanity lost earthly paradise. What Christ gives in His incarnation, death, and resurrection, is not the restoration of natural harmony, or Original Justice, or even earthly paradise. He gives supernatural justice, that we can be made perfect and live with God in eternity in heaven. We are given the right to be in the presence of God in Heaven, while Adam only walked with God in paradise!

In this light, we clearly understand that this verse is not a permission slip to 'sin greater' or as Luther said to "sin boldly" mentalities, but a recognition of St. Paul's observation (Romans 5:20), that where sin increased, grace increased all the more. God's loving response is always greater than our sin, because He is perfect. God's perfect love for us means that He would continually call us to holiness even when we sin. God could have been justified on simply allowing us to live and to die, and to spend eternity separated from Him, but He loves us perfectly, and makes us justified through Christ (but we have to respond to it). It is our ability to choose freely to follow God (free will) that makes us human. In Christ, God makes it possible for us to freely choose Him! God so deeply desires us, that He gives the grace to love Him, to follow Him into eternity. Because of Christ, because of His death and resurrection, we receive the call to become saints! All because of Adam's sin!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter's Praise

Happy Easter! Jesus Christ is truly raised, and we are given the hope of eternal life!
Enjoy this piece, the Exultet!

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,

that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday's Silence

From the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday:
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.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

"He saved others; he cannot save himself.
Let the Christ, the King of Israel,
come down now from the cross
that we may see and believe."
The chief priests with the scribes mocked Jesus as He hung on the cross. While they may have thought that the fact of a dying man coming off of the instrument of torture and death might have been something to cause a change in one's belief system. But Jesus remained on the cross, going through it, because it was the will of the Father that He die. But something even more miraculous was to occur, only because Jesus humbled and emptied Himself complete to even death on the Cross!

May we, too, humble ourselves to the saving will of the Father!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pontiff's Message for Vocation Prayer Day

As part of World Day of Prayer for Vocations, His Holiness has released a letter for the day. He has given the letter the name of Faith in the Divine Initiative – the Human Response. In this letter, he urges us to pray for vocations, and that those responding take part in the plan of love and salvation God has for everyone. He encourages prayers and efforts to strengthen families. In contemplating the Eucharist, he reiterates that we can see how our faith in what God has done can lead us to respond. Priests perpetuate this salvific mystery, and every Mass nourishes the faithful and priest to make a response in faith.