Thursday, April 5, 2012

"They have taken the Lord from the tomb"

"Alleluia!" we proclaim this Easter Sunday - April 8, 2012 - as Church. “Alleluia, praise the Lord. Jesus is alive. He is our Savior. He is our Redeemer. And He is ours. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Holy Thursday

Benedict XVI reflected on the Easter Triduum this week calling it the "fulcrum of the entire liturgical year." Yesterday was Holy Thursday. On the night before He died, Marcellino D'Ambrosio, PhD says the Lord Jesus made some startling changes in the ritual of the Passover meal. Instead of being content with the traditional Jewish table blessing over the bread, Jesus proclaimed “take and eat for this is my body.” Over the third cup of wine, known as the cup of blessing, He said “take and drink for this is my blood.” Then He commanded the disciples “do this in memory of me.” Obedient to the wishes of the savior, we remember and reenact this solemn moment in a special way each Holy Thursday, but more frequently in every Mass.

Which brings about a common question: Is the Mass a Sacrifice or Fellowship Meal? Fr. Dwight Longenecker notes that it’s easy to see how this thinking came about, and within the “spirit of Vatican 2″ it’s not hard to draw the conclusion that the Mass is essentially a fellowship meal and a re-enactment of the Last Supper. However, this is not the case.

Today is Good Friday

This is the most sober day of the Triduum. Dr. Isabel Dion, D. Min. reminds us that on this day, we recall and make present Jesus’ death and we seek to enter more deeply into the mystery of His death and resurrection. The Church continues to watch and pray in silence. There is NO Mass. We see the altar bare and there are no candles. We fast and abstain in solidarity with Jesus. God’s Goodness is truly manifested.

During the whole Holy Week and especially today, we also reflect on The Seven Last Words of Christ. They refer not to individual words, but to the final seven phrases that Our Lord uttered as he hung on the Cross. We bring you this set of meditations based on the writings of Archbishop Fulton Sheen in his book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary. We also bring you a separate set of reflections from Fr. John Dear SJ who asks us to listen to the words of Jesus from the cross for clues about following Him faithfully on the way of nonviolence in pursuit of justice and peace. Here's a link to the famous seven last sayings of the crucified, nonviolent Jesus.

Holy Saturday

This is a day of grief and mourning, of patient waiting and hoping. With Mary and the disciples, we grieve the death of the most important member of our Christian community. The faith of Mary and the disciples was strongly challenged on that first Holy Saturday as they awaited the resurrection.

Danielle Bean reminds us that on this day no Mass is offered, not even a Communion service like Good Friday’s. It isn’t an official fasting day, but many Catholics eat modestly this day as we wait to celebrate the Resurrection.

The Meaning of Easter

The lectionary Readings of Easter Day and Easter Week serve up a rich repast of revelation regarding Jesus’ resurrection. Like those of Holy Week, these readings command attention, and if we are awake, hardly allow us to think of anything else.

Light, Word, Water, Eucharist are the four elements of the Easter Vigil Service. Of course, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS clarifies, what we celebrate is only one thing: the resurrection of Christ. But these four elements of our Vigil Service help to highlight the resurrection in its various aspects, and enable our liturgy tonight to be worthy of the holiest night of the year. On Easter Sunday, we see the flowers, the candles, the music, and all the Easter appointments are symbols of the Life worth Living. They are symbols that the world has been transformed by the Power of the Cross. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says it reminds us that there is hope in the world. That Hope is Jesus Christ.

Just why did Christ rise from the dead? St. Thomas Aquinas gives us five truthful reasons. Michael Barber reports.

Christ is risen, though we might not see him. Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us that the miraculous doesn't force itself on us. It's there, there to be seen, but whether we see or not, and what precisely we do see, depends mainly upon what's going on inside our own hearts. Fr. John Foley, S. J. says the light is coming. Morning has eased our faces into daylight, into the soft, humble glow. Christ became the night. Christ is the light.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Easter is not a low-budget Christmas, Joseph Sinasac aptly points out. To the secular world, Easter is a minor holiday, a time of candy, colored eggs and Easter bunnies. But the meaning of Easter is more than springtime and dyed eggs. The significance of Easter, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio tells us, is that not only sin but death has been conquered by the one who foretold his own resurrection before he gave his life for us on Good Friday.

The climax of the Easter gospel and the essence of its implications for us lie in the statement "he saw and believed." Coming to believe in the Risen Lord is the purpose and the point of the entire gospel, Fr. James Gilhooley explains. Father Cusick quotes Tertullian, an African Church Father who converted to Christianity around 197 A.D., who testified: "Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. 'The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live.' "

The Easter Story Moves in Our Lives

Fr. James Gilhooley relates a story about how the thirteenth century Francis of Assisi once had been asked for a coin by a beggar. Francis was coming from Easter services. He embraced the beggar warmly, called him "my brother," and gave him several coins. As Francis left the poor man, he turned back to wave. He saw Jesus Himself standing where the beggar had stood. He waved at Francis with a smile. There was a huge bleeding wound in His hand.

And to this, Paul Dion, STL adds our Burning Question this week: Do you invite the poor to your Easter banquet?

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Do you invite the poor to your Easter banquet?
FEATURED BLOG: Easter is not a low-budget Christmas
PASTORAL HISPANA: Alegra a Toda Iglesia

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