Canonizations: The case for Pacelli

An excellent piece from ‘Rorate Caeli’, broaching a question many faithful Catholics are asking themselves. While there are few who would deny the caliber of the two recent Blessed Popes, John XXIII and John Paul II, who will be canonised on Divine Mercy Sunday, it is puzzling why the failure to recognise the evident sanctity and outstanding merits of Pope Pius XII by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints appears to continue, with no foreseeable change to this situation in the immediate future. 

Pope Pius XII at prayer

Pope Pius XII at prayer


The canonizations of Pope John XXIII and John Paul II will take place this Sunday, with many flocking to Rome to be a part of the historic event.

Without questioning the two already-mentioned canonizations, the question still remains: Why not Pacelli?

Let it not be forgotten that his cause for beatification was expressly launched by Paul VI together with that of John XXIII precisely to combat their “almost being turned into symbols or banners of opposite tendencies within Catholicism”. In beatifying and canonizing one but not the other — does this not imply something about the relative strength of these “opposite tendencies” within the Church?

Clearly, a very strong case can be made for Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli (Pope Pius XII), from a standpoint of sheer numbers alone. (Continue reading….)

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Some Keys to Evangelization as Seen in a Record Number of Converts this Year in The Archdiocese of Washington

By: Msgr. Charles PopeMore than 500 couples renew their wedding vows in Washington, DC

There was an informative and helpful article in the Washington Post this Easter Sunday that demonstrates certain keys to success in evangelization. The focus of the article is the happy fact that the Archdiocese of Washington welcomed a record number of converts this year at the Easter Vigil. But the article also documents important factors that helped that number. Let’s review excerpts of the article and consider some important keys for evangelization. My remarks are in red text. (The Full Article is here: Record Number of Catholic Converts for DC)

Austin Russell [a] University of Maryland sophomore…started dating a Catholic woman and befriended other practicing Catholics, he became interested in the Church’s teachings. He enrolled in a class to learn more, and this weekend, he joined a record number of people in the Washington area taking the final steps to convert to Catholicism. Once he is baptized and receives his first Communion this weekend, “I can really walk into the church and say that I’m a follower like everybody else. It’s going to be exciting….Seventy-two percent of new converts cite marriage as an important reason for coming into the church” (Continue reading…)

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Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat

Christus vincit, regnat,  imperat.

Christus vincit, regnat, imperat.

Christus vincit, regnat, imperat: ab omni malo plemem suam defendat. (Christ conquers, He reigns, He commands; may He defend His people from all evil.)

Pope Sixtus V had these words engraved on the obelisk which stands in the centre of Saint Peter’s Square at Rome. These magnificent words are in the present tense, and not in the past, to indicate that Christ’s triumph is always actual, and that it is brought about in the Eucharist and by the Eucharist.

Meditation by St. Peter Julian Eymard: The Real Presence:

“CHRISTUS vincit. Christ conquers.

Our Lord has fought; He has won control of the field of battle, on which He has planted His flag and pitched His tent: the Sacred Host and the Eucharistic tabernacle. He conquered the Jew and his temple, and He has a tabernacle on Calvary where all the nations come to adore Him beneath the sacramental Species. He conquered paganism and has chosen Rome, the city of the Caesars, for His capital.

He conquered the false wisdom of the sages; the divine Eucharist rose on the world and shed its: rays over the whole earth, darkness withdrew like the shades of night at the coming of day. The idols have been knocked down and the sacrifices abolished. Jesus Eucharistic is a conqueror Who never halts but ever marches onward; He wants to subject the universe to His gentle sway.

Every time He takes possession of a country, He pitches therein His Eucharistic royal tent. The erection of a tabernacle is His official occupation of a country. In our own day He still goes out to uncivilised nations; and wherever the Eucharist is brought, the people are converted to Christianity. That is the secret of the triumph of our Catholic missionaries and of the failure of the Protestant preachers. In the latter case, man is battling alone, in the former, Jesus is battling, and He is sure to triumph.

CHRISTUS regnat. Christ reigns.

Jesus does not rule over earthly territories but over souls, and He does so through the Eucharist. A king must rule through his laws and through the love of his subjects for Him. The Eucharist is the law of the Christian: a law of charity and of love, which was promulgated in the Cenacle in the admirable discourse after the Supper: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

This law is revealed in Communion; the eyes of the Christian are opened in Holy Communion as were those of the disciples of Emmaus, and he under­stands the fullness of the law. The “breaking of bread” is what made the first Christians so brave in the face of persecution and so faithful in practicing the law of Jesus Christ.

Christ’s law is one, holy, universal, and eternal. . It will never change or be impaired in any way; Jesus Christ Himself, its divine Author, is defend­ing it. He engraves it on our hearts through His love; the Legislator Himself promulgates His divine law to each of our souls. His is a law of love. How many kings rule by love? Jesus is about the only one Whose yoke is not imposed by force; His rule is gentleness itself. His true subjects are devoted to Him in life and death; they would rather die than be disloyal to Him.

CHRISTUS imperat. Christ commands.

No king has command over the whole universe; there are other kings equal to him in power. But God the Father has said to Jesus Christ: “I will give Thee all the nations for Thy inheritance.” And our Lord told His lieutenants when He sent them; throughout the world: “All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth. Go and teach ye all nations, teaching them to keep all that I have commanded you.”

He issued His commands from the Cenacle. The Eucharistic tabernacle, which is a prolongation or replica of the Cenacle, is the headquarters of the King of kings. All those who fight the good fight receive their orders from there. In the presence of Jesus Eucharistic all men are subjects, all must obey, from the Pope, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, down to the least of the faithful.

CHRISTUS ab omni malo plebem suam defendat.

May Christ defend His people from all evil.

The Eucharist is the divine lightning-rod that wards off the thunderbolts of divine justice. As a tender and devoted mother presses her child to her bosom, puts her arms around it, and shields it with her body to save it from the wrath of an angry father, so Jesus multiplies His presence everywhere, covers the world and envelops it with His merciful presence. Divine Justice does not know then where to strike; it dares not.

And what a protection against the devil! The blood of Jesus which purples our lips makes us a terror to Satan; we are sprinkled with the blood of the true Lamb, and the exterminating angel will not enter. The Eucharist protects the sinner until time for repentance is given him. Ah! Were it not for the Eucharist, for this per­petual Calvary, how often would not the wrath of God have come down upon us!

And how unhappy are the nations that no longer possess the Eucharist! What darkness! What a confusion in the minds! What a chill in the hearts! Satan alone rules supreme, and with him all the evil passions. As for us, the Eucharist delivers us from all evil. Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Chris us imperat; ab omni malo plebem suam defendat!”

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Salve, Festa Dies (an Easter song of praise)

A joyous and blessed Easter to all our visitors and commenters from all of us at Catholicism Pure & Simple. He is Risen! Alleluia, alleluia!

Salve, Festa Dies
R. Salve festa dies toto venerabilis aevo
Qua Deus infernum vicit et astra tenet.

R. Hail, thou festive, ever venerable day!                                                                              whereon hell is conquered and heaven is won by Christ.

Let the whole cosmos dance in praise,
The skies, the oceans, mountains, hills and plains,
Sun and moon and stars in chorus ranged,
Praise Christ now risen from the dead!

Old Adam stirs from ancient sleep,
And Mother Eve stands up to see the sight,
Christ extends his hand to set them free,
And Hades’ caverns bathe in light!

To Abraham the Guest returns
Who long ago was welcomed ‘neath the tree;
Sarah’s joy spills over once again
For Christ is risen from the dead!

He is the First-Born from the dead,
The Lamb by Isaac in the thicket seen
The Lamb once slain upon the mount
The living Shepherd of the sheep!

Now Moses sees him face to face,
The Son called out of Egypt’s narrow place;
The Red Sea crossed, the broad place gained
In Christ now risen from the dead!

The shroud and napkin in the tomb
Love’s face concealed through Sabbath tears and gloom;
The dawn reveals Love’s face in light
And every fear is put to flight.

Come to the waters, all who thirst,
The wellspring flows to wash away the curse;
The Seed, the Sower, and the Bread
Is Christ now risen from the dead!

Baruch his oracle declaims:
With you is wisdom, strength, and length of days;
You send forth light and quick it goes;
You name the stars, for you they glow.

Now hearts of stone are turned to flesh,
The hard and frozen melt beneath his Breath;
The torrent rushes sweet and fresh
For Christ is risen from the dead!

It is the first day of the week;
The bright and deathless Eighth Day let us keep!
Angelic whiteness fill our eyes,
And birdsong tells it to the skies.

Myrrh-bearing women, turn around;
The One you seek by you waits to be found.
Be not afraid, do as I said,
For Christ is risen from the dead.

Let chants of glory roll like waves;
For Christ has led to freedom Egypt’s slaves;
The Father’s thirst at last is quenched,
The Spirit’s dew the Church has drenched.


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Lectio Divina: Resurrection Sunday, Year A

El Greco, the Resurrection

The Grave Could Not Contain Him, Christ Is Risen: Let Us Seek Him Among the Living

Paris, April 18, 2014 ( Monsignor Francesco Follo

A brief introduction:

The Easter that we celebrate today with joy is not simply the commemoration of a past event, but the participation in the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. It is no longer the Head that has to lie down on the cross to rise from the grave; it is his body, the Church, with all its members represented by each one of us. Easter teaches us that Christians in the Church must die with Christ to resurrect with him. Moreover it not only teaches it, it puts it into practice. Easter is the Christ that once died and then rose, making us die of his death and resurrect to his life.

Continue reading

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The Sixth and Seventh Sorrows of Mary

The two final sorrows of Our Blessed Lady are: (6) ‘The deposition from the Cross’, and (7) ‘The Entombment of Jesus‘.

Mary's Martyrdom

Mary’s Martyrdom

The Blessed Virgin Mary was intimately associated with her Son’s Passion.“Yes, O Blessed Mother, a sword has truly pierced your soul. It could penetrate Your Son’s flesh only by passing through your soul. And after Jesus had died, the cruel lance which opened His side did not reach His soul, but it did pierce yours. His soul was no longer in His body, but yours could not be detached from it.” (St. Bernard)

In complete adherence to the Divine Will, Mary stands with Jesus to the end. He is taken down from the Cross, and for a few precious moments, before He must be taken hurriedly to be laid in the tomb before nightfall, she holds her beloved Son’s lifeless Body in her gentle motherly arms. It is that same Sacred Body she had so lovingly cradled that holy night of His birth in Bethlehem, nurtured and watched over during those early years in Nazareth, followed as the first of His faithful disciples during His public life, she now beholds, brutally broken and mutilated on account of the sins of Mankind.  How sharp was the sword that now pierces her Immaculate Heart!

But Mary does not falter in her faith in the words of Her Divine Son. Had He not said many times: “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the ancients and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day rise again” (Luke 9:22)?

Now as she follows Him to His final resting place on Earth, the Holy Sepulcre, her waiting begins. On this day, when the world lies in hushed silence, Mary’s pierced heart of sorrow is tinged with Faith and Hope for the morrow.

O Jesus, I Trust in Thee.

“O Queen of Virgins, you are also the Queen of Martyrs; but it was within your heart that the sword transpierced you, for with you everything took place within your soul.

“Oh, how fair you are to behold during your long martyrdom, enveloped in a majesty both strong and gentle; for you have learned from the Word how those should suffer who are chosen as victims by the Father, those whom He has elected as associates in the great work of the redemption, whom He has known and predestinated to be conformed to His Christ, crucified for love.

“You are there, O Mary, at the foot of the Cross, standing, in strength and courage; and my Master says to me, “Ecce Mater Tua.” Behold your Mother. He gives you to me for my Mother! And now that He has returned to His Father, and has put me in His place on the Cross so that I may fill up those things which are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh for His Body, which is the Church, you are still there, O Mary, to teach me to suffer as He did, to let me hear the last song of His soul which no one but you, O Mother, could overhear” (Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity, Last Retreat, 15).

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The Suffering Servant


Though he was in the form of God,
Jesus did not deem equality with God
something to be grasped at.

Rather, he emptied himself
and took the form of a slave,
being born in the likeness of men.

He was known to be of human estate
and it was thus that he humbled himself,
obediently accepting even death,
death on a cross!

Because of this,
God highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
above every other name,

So that at Jesus’ name
every knee must bend
in the heavens, on the earth,
and under the earth,
and every tongue proclaim
to the glory of God the Father:
Jesus Christ is Lord!

Philippians 2:6-11

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The Divine Mercy Novena begins today

By Judy Keane from Catholic Exchange:

Divine-Mercy-copyIt is available in abundance to everyone if only we would embrace it.  It is an endless and unfathomable gift that flows most profusely on the Sunday after Easter.  It is the devotion of the Divine Mercy and it offers each of us a wonderful chance to begin anew through the Divine Mercy Chaplet Novena.  Begun on Good Friday and completed on Divine Mercy Sunday, this powerful novena offers us a chance to change our lives forever! It is also a powerful way to intercede for our loved ones and the entire world by bringing all before the merciful gaze of Christ.

In 1931, a young Polish nun named Sister Faustina Kowalska, saw a vision of Jesus who, with rays of mercy in the form of blood and water streaming forth from His Heart, told her to paint an image of him and sign it, “Jesus, I Trust in You!” Calling her the Secretary of His mercy, He ordered her to also begin writing a diary so others would come to know of his unfathomable mercy.  In a series of revelations that followed from 1931 through 1938, Jesus taught her about His unlimited ocean of mercy available to even the most hardened of sinners, saying “Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet” (Diary 699).

In her Diary, Jesus told Sr. Faustina, “I desire that during these nine days you bring souls to the fountain of My mercy, that from there they may draw strength and refreshment and whatever grace they need in the hardships of life, and especially at the hour of death” (Diary, 1209). While the Chaplet can be said anytime, the Lord specifically asked that it be recited as a novena, promising that “By this Novena (of Chaplets), I will grant every possible grace to souls” (Diary 796).

During each day of the Novena, which is prayed on Rosary beads, Jesus asked that souls be brought to his merciful heart to be immersed in his “ocean of mercy” for each of the nine days, “On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy … On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for graces for these souls” (Diary 1209).  Specific intentions include all mankind, especially sinners; the souls of priests and religious; all devout and faithful souls; those who do not believe in God and those who do not yet know Jesus; the souls who have separated themselves from the Church; meek and humble souls and the souls of little children; the souls who especially venerate and glorify His mercy; souls detained in purgatory; and souls who have become lukewarm. It is interesting to note that Jesus saves the ninth day of the novena for “lukewarm” souls saying, “These souls wound my heart most painfully.  My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls.  They were the reason I cried out – ‘Father, take this cup away from me if it be your will.’ For them the last hope of salvation is to flee to My mercy (Diary 1228).  

This year’s Divine Mercy Novena is going to be even more meaningful than usual.  Two great servants of mercy, Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, will be canonized saints on Divine Mercy Sunday.  In 1966, through the diligent efforts of then Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), the informative process for beatification of Sr. Faustina was begun. The message of mercy is now being spread throughout the world. On the Second Sunday of Easter of the Jubilee Year 2000, at the Mass for the Canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, Pope John Paul II proclaimed to the world that “from now on throughout the Church” this Sunday will be called “Divine Mercy Sunday.” In speaking of Divine Mercy Sunday in Faustina’s Diary, Jesus said, “On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy” (Diary 699).  Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy” (Diary 965).

It is important to note that there are three places in St. Faustina’s Diary that record promises from our Lord of the extraordinary graces He will make available through the devout reception of Holy Communion on this Feast Day:

 - I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy(1109).

 - Whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (300).

- The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (699).

The powerful Divine Mercy Novena as ordered above by Jesus gives us the tremendous opportunity to begin again – a fresh start of “complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” that may have otherwise have been due to us in life up to that point.  So powerful is the Chaplet that Christ said, “Even if there were a sinner most hardenedif he were to recite this chaplet only oncehe would receive grace from My infinite mercy. desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy” (Diary, 687).  Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will” (Diary 1731)

Jesus in his unfathomable mercy gives us this grace to begin anew through his passion and death on the cross where blood and water gushed forth from His heart. This Good Friday then, let us take advantage of this powerful novena while there is still time – for the sake of our souls, the souls of our loved ones and a world deeply and desperately in need of Divine Mercy.

Novena prayers and information about the Divine Mercy Sunday Indulgence:

The Divine Mercy Novena

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

Summary of the decree of the Divine Mercy Sunday Indulgence




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Washing of the Feet

Christ Washing Peter’s Feet

Christ Washing Peter’s Feet

“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded . Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” (John 13:3-9)

A Meditation on the Washing of the Feet by Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704), whose great piety and simple eloquence won him renown as one of the greatest preachers of his time.

In the warmer regions of the East bathing was frequent, and after one had washed in the morning and then again during the day, all that remained for the evening was to wash the feet so that the grime of one’s comings and goings could be cleansed. This is the sense in which we are to take the words of the spouse in the Song of Songs: “I had bathed my feet, how could I soil them?”

Jesus makes use of this image to teach His followers that after they had been washed of their greater sins, they still need to take care to purify themselves of those small sins they commit during the normal course of life. A soul that loves God never finds anything that offends Him to be minor. If we neglect to purify ourselves of these faults, they will place our soul in a deadly state, imperceptibly weakening its powers in such a way that little strength will remain to resist great temptations, which can be defeated only by very ardent charity. “He who has bathed does not need to wash except for his feet, but he is clean all over. And you are clean, but not all of you.” By these words Jesus teaches us that we are not permitted to neglect lesser sins, for this is what He wished to signify by the washing of feet.

In order to peer deeply into this mystery we should see that the care He takes to wash the feet of the Apostles at the moment when He is about to institute the Eucharist, teaches us that the time when we ought to purge ourselves of our venial sins is when we are preparing for Communion, that most perfect union with Jesus Christ. To this union our sins are so great an obstacle, that if we were to die before having expiated them, the Beatific Vision would be delayed, perhaps for centuries!

We ought then to feel all the more obliged to purify ourselves of these sins before Communion, because it is by Communion that they are chiefly removed, the greater ones having been removed by the Sacrament of Penance. Neglect of these faults can proceed to such an excess that not only does our attachment to these sins become dangerous, which it always is, but even mortal. For the one who cares only about the sins that would damn him, shows that it is punishment alone that he fears, and that he does not truly love justice – that is to say, he does not love God as he is obliged to do. Such a one should fear to lose what remains to him of the divine fire of charity. Let us then carefully wash ourselves, not only our hands and our head but also our feet before approaching the Eucharist. Jesus teaches His Apostles the seriousness of this obligation when He says to them: “If I do not wash you, you have no part in Me.” This is not only because our sins retard the Beatific Vision and our perfect union with God, but because to neglect to wash them may bring a dangerous chill between our soul and Christ, and even become deadly.

Wash yourself Christian! Wash yourself of all your sins, even the least of them when you are about to approach the Holy Table. Wash your feet with care, renew yourself entirely, lest you eat the Body of the Saviour unworthily. Even when we are not completely unworthy, with that indignity that renders us unworthy of the Body and Blood of the Saviour, we may still be unworthy to receive great graces, without which we cannot overcome great weaknesses, nor the great temptations of which life is full.

Lord, wash my feet, so that I can say with the spouse, “I have bathed my feet, how could I soil them?”

Purity is a magnet for attracting purity, the whiter one’s clothing, the more noticeable are the stains upon it. The cleaner one is, the more one should avoid becoming soiled. Let us desire to be counted among those of whom it is written that they are spotless before the throne of God. To this goal we should aspire, remembering the lovely teaching of St. Augustine that, “although we cannot live here below without sin, we can leave this life without sin, because while our sins are many, the remedies for healing them are not wanting”.

Finally, a word on the need to “wash away sin” by St. John Vianney:

“By sin, my children, we rebel against the good God, we despise His justice, we tread under foot His blessings… By sin we despise the good God; we renew His Death and Passion… We make war upon Him with the means He has given us to serve Him; we turn His own gifts against Him! Let us cast our eyes, my children, upon Jesus fastened to the Cross, and let us say to ourselves, ‘This is what it has cost my Saviour to repair the injury my sins have done to God’.”

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The Agony in the Garden


Christ_in_Gethsemane-1This homily was given by Pope Benedict XVI at the Basilica of St John Lateran at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, 5 April 2012. May God bless our beloved Pope Emeritus who celebrated his 87th birthday yesterday and whose profound teachings continue to enrich and inspire the faithful throughout the world:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Holy Thursday is not only the day of the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist, whose splendour bathes all else and in some ways draws it to itself. To Holy Thursday also belongs the dark night of the Mount of Olives, to which Jesus goes with his disciples; the solitude and abandonment of Jesus, who in prayer goes forth to encounter the darkness of death; the betrayal of Judas, Jesus’ arrest and his denial by Peter; his indictment before the Sanhedrin and his being handed over to the Gentiles, to Pilate. Let us try at this hour to understand more deeply something of these events, for in them the mystery of our redemption takes place.

Jesus goes forth into the night. Night signifies lack of communication, a situation where people do not see one another. It is a symbol of incomprehension, of the obscuring of truth. It is the place where evil, which has to hide before the light, can grow. Jesus himself is light and truth, communication, purity and goodness. He enters into the night. Night is ultimately a symbol of death, the definitive loss of fellowship and life. Jesus enters into the night in order to overcome it and to inaugurate the new Day of God in the history of humanity.

On the way, he sang with his Apostles Israel’s psalms of liberation and redemption, which evoked the first Passover in Egypt, the night of liberation. Now he goes, as was his custom, to pray in solitude and, as Son, to speak with the Father. But, unusually, he wants to have close to him three disciples: Peter, James and John. These are the three who had experienced his Transfiguration – when the light of God’s glory shone through his human figure – and had seen him standing between the Law and the Prophets, between Moses and Elijah. They had heard him speaking to both of them about his “exodus” to Jerusalem. Jesus’ exodus to Jerusalem – how mysterious are these words! Israel’s exodus from Egypt had been the event of escape and liberation for God’s People. What would be the form taken by the exodus of Jesus, in whom the meaning of that historic drama was to be definitively fulfilled? The disciples were now witnessing the first stage of that exodus – the utter abasement which was nonetheless the essential step of the going forth to the freedom and new life which was the goal of the exodus. The disciples, whom Jesus wanted to have close to him as an element of human support in that hour of extreme distress, quickly fell asleep. Yet they heard some fragments of the words of Jesus’ prayer and they witnessed his way of acting. Both were deeply impressed on their hearts and they transmitted them to Christians for all time. Jesus called God “Abba”. The word means – as they add – “Father”. Yet it is not the usual form of the word “father”, but rather a children’s word – an affectionate name which one would not have dared to use in speaking to God. It is the language of the one who is truly a “child”, the Son of the Father, the one who is conscious of being in communion with God, in deepest union with him.

If we ask ourselves what is most characteristic of the figure of Jesus in the Gospels, we have to say that it is his relationship with God. He is constantly in communion with God. Being with the Father is the core of his personality. Through Christ we know God truly. “No one has ever seen God”, says Saint John. The one “who is close to the Father’s heart … has made him known” (1:18). Now we know God as he truly is. He is Father, and this in an absolute goodness to which we can entrust ourselves. The evangelist Mark, who has preserved the memories of Saint Peter, relates that Jesus, after calling God “Abba”, went on to say: “Everything is possible for you. You can do all things” (cf. 14:36). The one who is Goodness is at the same time Power; he is all-powerful. Power is goodness and goodness is power. We can learn this trust from Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives.

Before reflecting on the content of Jesus’ petition, we must still consider what the evangelists tell us about Jesus’ posture during his prayer. Matthew and Mark tell us that he “threw himself on the ground” (Mt 26:39; cf. Mk 14:35), thus assuming a posture of complete submission, as is preserved in the Roman liturgy of Good Friday. Luke, on the other hand, tells us that Jesus prayed on his knees. In the Acts of the Apostles, he speaks of the saints praying on their knees: Stephen during his stoning, Peter at the raising of someone who had died, Paul on his way to martyrdom. In this way Luke has sketched a brief history of prayer on one’s knees in the early Church. Christians, in kneeling, enter into Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives. When menaced by the power of evil, as they kneel, they are upright before the world, while as sons and daughters, they kneel before the Father. Before God’s glory we Christians kneel and acknowledge his divinity; by this posture we also express our confidence that he will prevail.

Jesus struggles with the Father. He struggles with himself. And he struggles for us. He experiences anguish before the power of death. First and foremost this is simply the dread natural to every living creature in the face of death. In Jesus, however, something more is at work. His gaze peers deeper, into the nights of evil. He sees the filthy flood of all the lies and all the disgrace which he will encounter in that chalice from which he must drink. His is the dread of one who is completely pure and holy as he sees the entire flood of this world’s evil bursting upon him. He also sees me, and he prays for me. This moment of Jesus’ mortal anguish is thus an essential part of the process of redemption. Consequently, the Letter to the Hebrews describes the struggle of Jesus on the Mount of Olives as a priestly event. In this prayer of Jesus, pervaded by mortal anguish, the Lord performs the office of a priest: he takes upon himself the sins of humanity, of us all, and he brings us before the Father.

Lastly, we must also pay attention to the content of Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives. Jesus says: “Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet not what I want, but what you want” (Mk 14:36). The natural will of the man Jesus recoils in fear before the enormity of the matter. He asks to be spared. Yet as the Son, he places this human will into the Father’s will: not I, but you. In this way he transformed the stance of Adam, the primordial human sin, and thus heals humanity. The stance of Adam was: not what you, O God, have desired; rather, I myself want to be a god. This pride is the real essence of sin. We think we are free and truly ourselves only if we follow our own will. God appears as the opposite of our freedom. We need to be free of him – so we think – and only then will we be free. This is the fundamental rebellion present throughout history and the fundamental lie which perverts life. When human beings set themselves against God, they set themselves against the truth of their own being and consequently do not become free, but alienated from themselves. We are free only if we stand in the truth of our being, if we are united to God. Then we become truly “like God” – not by resisting God, eliminating him, or denying him. In his anguished prayer on the Mount of Olives, Jesus resolved the false opposition between obedience and freedom, and opened the path to freedom. Let us ask the Lord to draw us into this “yes” to God’s will, and in this way to make us truly free. Amen.


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Tenebrae – Spy Wednesday

Caravaggio – The Taking of Christ

Numerous churches throughout the world will conduct a Tenebrae service on the evening of Wednesday of Holy Week, today. The service will be essentially the anticipated offices of Matins and Lauds for Maundy Thursday, tomorrow.

One of the responsories will be Amicus meus osculi, of which the setting by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611), often called God’s composer,  is below. It tells of the plan of Judas Iscariot to sell our Lord to the authorities and mirrors the Gospel of Palm Sunday just past. It has been suggested that Judas clinched the deal on Wednesday.


Amicus meus osculi me tradidit signo:
Quem osculatus fuero, ipse est, tenete eum:
hoc malum fecit signum,
qui per osculum adimplevit homicidium.

Infelix praetermisit pretium sanguinis,
et in fine laqueo se suspendit.

Bonum erat illi,
si natus non fuisset homo ille.

The sign by which my friend betrayed me was a kiss:
The one I kiss, he is your man; hold him fast.
This was the evil sign he gave,
and through a kiss murder he wrought.

The wretch returned the price of blood,
and in the end he hanged himself.

It had been better for him were that man never born.

For the contemplation of friends of CP&S this coming night before bed. I’m sure we too have been guilty of the odd betrayal of Him this past year.

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Happy is he who is faithful to God in adversity

 Meditation for Wednesday of Holy Week from St Alphonsus Liguori:

stalphonsuslig1Some people think they are beloved of God when all their affairs go prosperously with them and they have no troubles. But St. James says: Blessed is the man that suffereth temptation; for when he is tried, he will receive the crown of life which God hath promised to them that love him. The faithfulness of soldiers is tried, not in repose, but in battle.

The faithfulness of soldiers is tried, not in repose, but in battle. This earth is our battlefield, where every one is placed to fight, and to conquer, in order to be saved: if he conquers not, he is lost forever. Therefore, said holy Job, Every day I now fight; I wait until my change cometh. (Job. xiv. 14). Job suffered in struggling with many a foe, but he comforted himself with the hope that, in conquering and rising from the dead, he would change his whole state. Of this change St. Paul spoke, and rejoiced in speaking of it: The dead shall rise again incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor. xv. 52). Our state is changed in Heaven, which is a place not of toil, but of rest, not of fear, but of security; not of sorrow or weariness, but of gladness and joy eternal. With the hope, then, of so great a joy, let us inspire ourselves, and fight till death, and never give ourselves up conquered to our enemies until our change comes; until the end of our struggle is attained, and we possess a blessed eternity.

The patient man will endure for the time, and then shall gladness be restored to him. Blessed is he who suffers for God in this life; he suffers for the time, but his joy will be eternal in the country of the Blessed. This will end the persecutions, the temptations, the infirmities, the annoyances, and all the miseries of this life; and God will give us a life full of satisfaction which will never end. Now is the time for pruning the vine, and for cutting off everything that hinders its growth towards the promised land of Heaven. But the cutting off produces pain, so that we have need of patience; and then comes the restoration of gladness, when the more we have suffered, the more we shall be filled with consolations. God is faithful; and to him who suffers on earth for His love’s sake, with resignation, He promises that He Himself will be his reward; a reward infinitely greater than our sufferings: Behold, I am thy exceeding great reward. (Gen. xv. i.).

Nevertheless, before we receive the crown of eternal life, the Lord wills that we should be tried with sufferings. Blessed is the man that suffereth temptation; for, when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him. (James i. 12). Blessed, then, is he who is faithful to God in adversity. Some people think they are beloved of God when all their affairs go prosperously, and they have no troubles; but they complain because God does not try the patience and faithfulness of His servants by prosperity, but by adversity, in order to give them that crown which fadeth not away, as all the crowns of this life do fade away. This will be a crown of eternal glory, as St. Peter writes: Ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter v. 4). To whom, then, is this crown promised? St. James says: He shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him. (i. 12). God has promised it again and again to those that love Him, because Divine love makes us fight with courage and win the victory.

To the love of God we must also join humility. The Preacher says, Gold and silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation. (Ecclus. ii. 5). It is in humiliation that Saints are revealed, in which it is made known whether they are gold or lead. Such a one has been counted a Saint; but when he receives an injury from another, he is all in agitation; he complains of it to everyone; he says he will make him repent of it. This is a sign of what he is; it is a sign that he is lead. The Lord said, In thy humility have patience. (Ecclus. ii. 4). The proud man, whatever humiliation he receives, considers it a great injustice, and therefore cannot endure it; but the humble man, accounting himself deserving of every evil treatment, suffers all with patience. Let him who has committed a mortal sin cast a glance upon the hell that he has deserved, and thus he will suffer with patience every contempt and every pain.

Let us, then, love God, and be humble; and whatever we do, let us do it, not to please ourselves, but only to please God. O cursed self-love, which intrudes itself in all our works. Even in our spiritual exercises, in meditation, in works of penance, and in all our pious works, it goes about seeking its own interests. Few are the devout souls who do not fall into this defect: Who shall find a valiant woman? Far and from the uttermost coasts, is the price of her. (Prov. xxxi. 10). Where shall we find a soul so brave that, despoiled of every passion, and of all concern for its own interests, continues to love Jesus Christ in the midst of sighs, pains, desolation of spirit, and weariness of life? Solomon said that these are gems of great price; they come from the very ends of the world, and therefore are most rare.

crucifixion4O my crucified Jesus, I am one who, even in my devotions, have been seeking my own pleasure and satisfaction, all so unlike Thee, Who, through love of me, passed a life of sorrow and deprived of every alleviation. Give me Thy help that henceforward I may seek only Thy pleasure and Thy glory. I would love Thee without any other reward; but I am weak, and Thou must give me strength to accomplish this. Behold, I am Thine! Dispose of me as Thou pleasest. Make me love Thee and I ask for nothing more. O Mary, my Mother, by thy intercession, obtain for me fidelity to God. Amen.


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The Mercy of God to a Penitent


St. Maximus the Confessor:

“God’s will is to save us, and nothing pleases him more than our coming back to him with true repen­tance. The heralds of truth and the ministers of divine grace have told us this from the beginning, repeating it in every age. Indeed, God’s desire for our salvation is the primary and preeminent sign of his infinite good­ness. It was precisely in order to show that there is nothing closer to God’s heart that the divine Word of God the Father, with untold condescension, lived among us in the flesh, and did, suffered, and said all that was necessary to reconcile us to God the Father, when we were at enmity with him, and to restore us to the life of blessedness from which we had been exiled.

He healed our physical infirmities by miracles; he freed us from our sins, many and grievous as they were, by suf­fering and dying, taking them upon himself as if he were answerable for them, sinless though he was. He also taught us in many different ways that we should wish to imitate him by our own kindness and genuine love for one another.

So it was that Christ proclaimed that he had come to call sinners to repentance, not the righteous, and that it was not the healthy who required a doctor, but the sick. He declared that he had come to look for the sheep that was lost, and that it was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel that he had been sent. Speaking more obscurely in the parable of the silver coin, he tells us ‘that the purpose of his coming was to reclaim the royal image, which had become coated with the filth of sin. You can be sure that there is joy in heaven, he said, over one sinner who repents.

To give the same lesson, he revived the man who, having fallen into the hands of brigands, had been left stripped and half-dead from his wounds; he poured wine and oil on the wounds, bandaged them, placed the man on his own mule and brought him to an inn, where he left sufficient money to have him cared for, and promised to repay any further expense on his return.

Again, he told of how the Father, who is goodness itself, was moved with pity for his profligate son who returned and made amends by repentance; how he em­braced him, dressed him once more in the fine garments that befitted his own dignity, and did not reproach him for any of his sins.

So too, when he found wandering in the mountains and hills the one sheep that had strayed from God’s flock of a hundred, he brought it back to the fold, but he did riot exhaust it by driving it ahead of him. In­stead, he placed it on his own shoulders and so, com­passionately, he restored it safely to the flock.

So also he cried out: Come to me, all you that toil and are heavy of heart. Accept my yoke, he said, by which he meant his commands, or rather, the whole way of life that he taught us in the Gospel. He then speaks of a burden, but that is only because repentance seems difficult. In fact, however, my yoke is easy, he assures us, and my burden is light.

Then again he instructs us in divine justice and goodness, telling us to be like our heavenly Father, holy, perfect and merciful. Forgive, he says, and you will be forgiven. Behave toward other people as you would wish them to behave toward you.”



A certain Franciscan ponders on this greatest attribute of God: His infinite mercy. Never does Our Lord say no to a sinner who asks for forgiveness. Never. It is not even possible. No soul must ever despair of His great forgiveness and mercy; to even think along this liine is a great temptation of the devil and we know he is a liar.

What heart can fathom the love of a God who came to earth to make atonement for His wayward children? God became Man so that by His suffering and death, we could be redeemed!And as if that were not enough, He remains with us under the form of a small Host so that He can continue to unite Himself with His beloved children. Such a One never says no to a soul who turns to Him.

And yet so many say no to Him! No thanks to the Church, no thanks to the Sacraments, no thanks for confession or for the Holy Communion that makes us one with our Savior. And mostly it is not even ‘no thanks’ but just NO. Just no. No to His ways and the embracing of sinful pleasures. Why are we so blind to the goodness of God? Our human frailties make it so easy to say no.

This Lent, this day, may we say yes. Yes, Lord, I need Your mercy. Yes, Lord, I am too weak to keep my resolutions. Yes, Lord, without You hope is diminished. Yes, Lord, to all You are doing in my life. Help me, Lord, help me to say yes.

From ‘Air Maria Meditations‘ (Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate)

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I will go before you

A beautiful meditation on this Monday of Holy Week on the Liturgical readings from the monks of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland 

There You Shall See Meflagellazione-di-cristo-thumb-300x324-9008

The bright eighth mode intervals of last evening’s Magnificat Antiphon still echo in our hearts: “It is therefore written: I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed; but after I shall be risen, I will go before you into Galilee. There you shall see me, says Lord.” Over the words, postquam autem resurrexero — “but after I shall be risen” the melody leaped upward in an uncontainable burst of paschal triumph, ringing out an irrepressible joy.

No One Will Take Your Joy From You

Yesterday, we were in Jerusalem, the holy city of the sufferings of Christ, but the Magnificat antiphon at Second Vespers already promised us a reunion with the risen Lord in Galilee. “There you shall see me.” Through the text and melody of the antiphon one hears that other promise of the Lord in Saint John’s gospel: “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).

Dicit Dominus

The cadence over the words, dicit Dominus — “says the Lord,” is strong and full of hope, leaving us utterly certain of the outcome of this Great Week’s bitter agony and sufferings. “This is our comfort,” writes Dame Aemiliana Löhr, “we shall see him again. First Judea and Jerusalem, judgment, death, the tomb. Then Galilee, life and sight. . . . Life hangs on the issue of death; whoever goes with the Lord to die, goes with him to live and rule; whoever dares to go the way to Jerusalem will not miss the way to Galilee.”


It is necessary that we hold fast to the promise given us last evening: “There you shall see me, says the Lord.” This is necessary not only in the sacred drama of the liturgy but in all of life’s struggles to the death: the struggles with weakness, temptation, and sin; the struggles against fear, and selfishness, and despair. It is in our lives that “Death and Life contend in the combat stupendous”; it is in our lives that “the Prince of Life, who died, reigns alive” (Sequence, Victimae paschali laudes). “For we are not contending against flesh and blood,” says Saint Paul, “but against the principalities, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).


Our own experience of struggle and of wrestling with evil allows us to enter into the prayer of Christ given us in the Propers of today’s Mass, not as spectators looking on from the sidelines, but as participants. Today’s Introit is taken from Psalm 34, a passionate appeal for vindication. “Judge, O Lord, those that wrong me, fight against those that fight against me: take hold of arms and shield, and arise to help me, O Lord, the strength of my salvation” (Psalm 34:1-2). This is the prayer of the suffering Christ to the Father; because it is his prayer, it is ours. “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear” (Hebrews 5:7). It is precisely this prayer of Christ, his costly, agonizing prayer “out of the depths” (Psalm 129:1), that is given us in the psalms.

Prayer of the Suffering Christ

By giving us the prayer of the suffering Christ in the psalms, the Church offers us a holy communion with him. The substance of the prayer of Christ is given us under the humble species of human language in the words of the psalms. The psalms of the suffering Christ are for us a holy communion with his Passion, a way of entering deeply into the sentiments and sorrows of his heart, a way of allowing ourselves to be inhabited by the power of his prayer to the Father.

Communion Antiphon

The Communion Antiphon, like the Introit, is taken from Psalm 34: “Let them be shamed and brought to disgrace those who rejoice at my misfortune: let them be put to shame and fear, those who speak wicked things against me” (Psalm 34:26). This is the prayer of a man brought low, of a man caught in the grip of a mortal terror; it is the prayer of the suffering Christ — of the whole suffering Christ. Paul entered into this prayer: “We do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:7). The Head who suffered once, suffers still in his members. The prayer made once by the Head becomes each day the prayer of the members “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested” (2 Corinthians 4:8-11).

His Mystery in Us

The Word of God gives us the filial and priestly prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ. We, by ingesting the words of the psalms, allow Christ’s prayer to indwell us as it indwells the whole Church who breathes it forth again and again in the power of the Holy Ghost. The adorable Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood gives us the whole mystery of Christ’s blessed Passion and glorious Resurrection; it gives us Christ himself. He comes to live out his once-and-for-all Mystery again and again in us, uniting us in one Spirit to himself. Let us receive both the Word of God and the Most Holy Sacrament today confident of the glorious outcome of every bitter struggle with sin and death. We shall see Him again in Galilee, even as he promised.

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Lectio Divina: Palm Sunday, Year A

The Greatness of God’s Passionate Love

Paris, April 11, 2014 ( Monsignor Francesco Follo

1) Palm branches to commemorate not for a show

Today’s liturgy begins with the procession of palms. The people who carry these palm branches are not the extras of a folkloric show, but the followers of Jesus commemorating Him who does not stay in the sepulcher after the defeat of the Good Friday but emerges victorious from the tomb on Easter Sunday. The triumph of today is the prelude to the Easter’s one when we celebrate the triumph of mercy. The cross did not bring Christ to death, but to life.

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