Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?


Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."

To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."


As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."


March 31, 2013: Easter Sunday: Resurrection, Recognition, Rebirth

Posted by Jacob


Today, Easter Sunday, we celebrate with great joy the Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ! Alleluia! The Resurrection of the Lord is also the first Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary. We can imagine that Our Blessed Mother, Mary, having been foretold of His birth by an angel, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and suffered with Him as he died on the cross, knew that Her Son, Our Lord, was unlike any other. Her heart—the heart of a mother—died with Christ, but like ourselves, was reborn in the Resurrection!


We, like Christ, die a thousand times in sin, rising again in the forgiveness of Our Lord. Monsignor Romano Guardini writes, “This dying and entombing of the old self is a constant process within us through every struggle against evil, through every conquest of self, through every suffering which is bravely borne, through every sacrifice of love and charity. But through this dying of the old self, the resurrection of the new man is also accomplished.” We are reminded on Easter Sunday that our own lives must be those of conversion and resurrection. That our daily pain and struggle against sin brings us closer to the newness of life. After the pain of Good Friday, and the silent waiting of Holy Saturday, we find the love and forgiveness of the Lord on Easter morning.


1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " 8Then they remembered his words.



9When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him.


17He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?"


19"What things?" he asked.

"About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."

25He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them.
30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"


33They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." 35Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. (Luke 24:1-35)

Jesus is risen, just as He told the disciples He would. Of course, they did not quite understand. More interestingly, they didn’t recognize Him. He was mistaken for a traveler and a gardener. He was mistaken for just an ordinary man. And only when He revealed himself, only when the disciples were given reason to search their hearts and view Him with opened eyes, did they perceive the presence of the Lord.

That may be the message of Easter. The Lord resides within each one of us. He resides in you. He resides in me. Through the Resurrection, we are able to find him both within ourselves and within those we come in contact with. And finding Him there, we are called to live lives of His love, peace, and forgiveness—with ourselves, and with all those we come in contact with. During Lent we embrace penance and self-denial. In the newness of Easter, we offer the all-encompassing love, acceptance and forgiveness, first to ourselves (as Christ is there waiting for us in our hearts!) and then to others. Through the Resurrection we are made new, we are changed, we are blessed. Through the Resurrection we are filled with the grace of God and the Holy Spirit. Through the Resurrection we recognize the Lord in our lives, in our bodies, in our neighbors.


Easter Sunday reminds us to have hearts of conversion and transformation. It reminds us that Jesus Christ, Our Lord, is within each of us—all we have to do is recognize Him there. And it reminds us that our beliefs, the very core of our faith, is the Resurrection. Without belief in the Resurrection, we are nothing. But by believing, we become members of the Body of Christ, His Church on earth, and we revel in the promise of everlasting love!



12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.


20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. (1 Corinthians 15: 12-21)


Alleluia! Alleluia!


March 31, 2013: Easter Joy!

Posted by Jacob


He is not here!
He is risen from the grave.
Alleluia!

Wishing you all a Blessed and Joy-filled Easter!

March 30, 2013: Holy Saturday: Waiting in Silence

Posted by Jacob

Holy Saturday.

The bleakest of days.

Holy Saturday marks the day after. It is the day that the disciples of Jesus stood in shock, in horror, in guilt, in sadness, in utter desolation. It was a day of mourning, of fear, and of silence-- complete silence, as if the entire world had gone quiet. As if the Lord, Himself, had grown silent.

For the disciples, it was a day of hopelessness. All that they had hoped in, all that they had believed, all that they had expected to come to pass had died on a cross. They were deserted. They didn’t know what would happen next. They were afraid.

And they waited.

The first disciples of Jesus didn’t have the hope-giving knowledge that we do. They didn’t know what was about to transpire, how the world was to be changed forever. It is this knowledge that we have that allows us to continue on, to hope, to look forward to the glorious new day about to dawn.

But the disciples sat in disbelief and grief. They no longer had anything to hope in. They sat in silence, hearts broken, lives shattered.

Today, we know the truth. We know that the Lord answered their silence with the most profound of words- Resurrection. We know that by tomorrow, the tomb will be empty and Jesus will have risen in glorious triumph over death. And yet, like the first disciples, we remain silent all too often in our lives. We lose hope all too often. We despair all too often. We turn away from the promise of Christ all too often.

And on Holy Saturday we are reminded of this. Good Friday reminds us that our loving God died for our sins and saved us. Holy Saturday reminds us that despite this, we lose faith and turn from God every day in small ways. And Easter Sunday reminds us that God continues to love us, regardless of our sins. He is our light in the time of darkness, our comfort in the time of pain, our hope in the time of loneliness, fear, and despair.

Tomorrow, like the disciples of Christ, we will run joyfully to the empty tomb. But today, Holy Saturday, we are called to sit in our pain. We are called to sit in our loneliness, taking final stock of our lives prior to the dawning of Easter. We are called to pause, while the entire world groans in the pain and suffering of uncertainty and loss. We are called to wait, in silence, for the coming of Our Lord.



22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.


26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. (Romans 8: 22-27)






March 29, 2013: Seven Last Words:Surrender

Posted by Jacob


In the days leading up to today, Good Friday, I have been meditating on the Seven Last Words of Christ.


Lent is a time of solemn contemplation of the Passion of Christ. We may choose to meditate, contemplate, or pray on His suffering for us. One way in which me might do this is through devotion to His Seven Last Words—the seven final phrases uttered by Christ as recounted in the Gospels. These Seven Last Words of the Passion of Christ are understood only in light of the true one Word of Life and Resurrection—the phrases uttered by Jesus before His death take on new life and new meaning following the glory of His resurrection. We sit with the pain and loss of crucifixion during Lent, but look forward to the brightness of new life on Easter.



The Seven Last Words

1. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) (link)
2. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) (link)
3. “Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27) (link)
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34) (link)
5. “I thirst.” (John 19:29) (link)
6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30) (link)
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)



“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

The first four statements of Jesus on the cross fill us with a sense of the beginning of something, the becoming of the kingdom. We start with the fact that we are forgiven, continue to the experience of happiness, of paradise, even today, and recount the rebirth of the family of God, here on earth—all at the foot of the cross! We are left with a profound sense of hope, in spite of the pain and desolation of the crucifixion, and then reminded of the Lord’s unending longing for us. We are, in His love, perfectly unfinished, awaiting His grace to complete us on the last day.

Jesus has been scourged, crowned with thorns, mocked and humiliated. He has carried an unbearably heavy cross up a steep mountain in the blistering heat. He has had his hands and feet nailed to a cross, and has hung upon it for three hours. He has done all of these things willingly, and without complaint. He has done all of these things for us.
And then he says, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."
44It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23: 44-46)

Jesus died as He lived, in complete obedience to His Father. He died in perfect love and perfect trust in His Father. He died with a prayer on His lips, a prayer for His Father:
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth. (Psalm 31:5)

We live in a world where we are taught not to trust people, where our anxiety consumes us despite general assurances of safety and comfort. We are doubtful and disobedient. We like to be in control.

Jesus joyful cry on the cross stands in sharp contrast to our daily lives. He was joyful because His work was done, and He was going home to be with His Father. To rest in Him, as He rests in each one of us. It is in His joy, and at such a cost, that the full measure of Jesus’ trust in His Father’s plan, the full measure of Jesus’ obedience to God’s will becomes perfectly clear. He was going home to rest, as His Father willed it.

We are called to that same rest, eventually in eternity, but in our present lives on earth as well. We are slow to give up our control, to lay down our burdens of anxiety, but that is what the Lord wishes us to do. That is what Father Romanus Cessario declares to be “the only option” for living—the perfect commitment to the will of God. We are reminded of this every time we participate in the Holy Eucharist, when the celebrant raises the transformed body and blood of Jesus Christ high above the alter in an act of surrender. And in the moment, we are called to enact that own surrender in our lives.

Jesus gave his life. The world came to a sudden end. And then, after what must have seemed like an eternity, the world was reborn in the Resurrection. He has already suffered through the worst of what could ever possibly happen to the earth. In return, we must trust that our daily trials and tribulations will be met with the same rebirth, the same Easter, the same Resurrection—granted to us by our heavenly Father.

Trust.


Obedience.


Surrender.

For many of us, more difficult words have never been spoken. We wish to remain in control. We forget the gift that obedience to the Lord is—peace, love, rest in Him (and He in us!). As Saint Teresa of Avila said, “ I know the power obedience has of making things easy which seem impossible.”

The Lord has called us to Himself. He has loved us so gladly that He gave His only Son that we might live. He calls us to live for Him, to love Him, to center ourselves in Him, to rest in Him. On this, the holiest day of our year, we surrender. And in surrendering, we are victorious. We gain the unending love, grace, and peace of God Our Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, surrender doesn’t seem so bad.



Prayer of Surrender to the Lord (Saint Ignatius of Loyola)
"Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me. I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more. Amen.



March 28, 2013: Seven Last Words: Perfectly Unfinished

Posted by Jacob


In the days leading up to Good Friday, I will be meditating on the Seven Last Words of Christ.


Lent is a time of solemn contemplation of the Passion of Christ. We may choose to meditate, contemplate, or pray on His suffering for us. One way in which me might do this is through devotion to His Seven Last Words—the seven final phrases uttered by Christ as recounted in the Gospels. These Seven Last Words of the Passion of Christ are understood only in light of the true one Word of Life and Resurrection—the phrases uttered by Jesus before His death take on new life and new meaning following the glory of His resurrection. We sit with the pain and loss of crucifixion during Lent, but look forward to the brightness of new life on Easter.



The Seven Last Words


1. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) (link)
2. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) (link)
3. “Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27) (link)
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34) (link)
5. “I thirst.” (John 19:29) (link)
6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)





It is finished.” (John 19:30)

The first four statements of Jesus on the cross fill us with a sense of the beginning of something, the becoming of the kingdom. We start with the fact that we are forgiven, continue to the experience of happiness, of paradise, even today, and recount the rebirth of the family of God, here on earth—all at the foot of the cross! We are left with a profound sense of hope, in spite of the pain and desolation of the crucifixion, and then reminded of the Lord’s unending longing for us.

And then Jesus speaks and says, “It is finished.”

Is this the moment of despair for us? Is this the moment of hopelessness?

The answer must be a resounding no! Jesus does not say, “I am finished.” He says, “It is finished,” and in doing so, completes His work on earth. It is not the whimper of failure or the agony of defeat. It is a cry of victory! In Jesus’ last words, He tells us that His work on earth is done, and ours is just beginning. He has, through his sacrifice on the cross, shown us a perfect, enduring love—a love unlike any other—and in the process granted us the eternity to experience that love.

21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus is finished. He has come into the world, preached, been tortured and humiliated, and now He is ready to die, knowing that He has saved us. As they nailed Our Savior to the cross, our sins were pounded into the wood as well. He carried those sins up the steep climb to Golgatha, and held them in His heart, suffering for all mankind. And in doing so, he redeemed us. He showed us perfect love—a love that we can never be separated from.

38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Upon the cross, having fulfilled the prophesies, having died for our sins, Jesus is victorious. His work is finished. But we are unfinished. We are not perfect. We cannot even begin to approximate the perfection of God’s love for us. But we are called to keep trying. That is not to say that we can improve upon Jesus’ earthly work of salvation—there is no way we could. He exchanged our sinfulness for His life, and we are all the better for it. Because of what He finished, we will remain “unfinished”—perfectly unfinished—until we join the Lord in heaven and we are completed by His grace. At that time, we, too, can shout victoriously, “it is finished!” confident in the Lord’s love for us, acceptance of us, and His pleasure in our faith. Our time on earth may be finished, but we will have accomplished the Lord’s plan for us, and will have eternity to share in His perfect love in heaven.

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:7-12)

March 27, 2013: Seven Last Words: Longing

Posted by Jacob


In the days leading up to Good Friday, I will be meditating on the Seven Last Words of Christ.



Lent is a time of solemn contemplation of the Passion of Christ. We may choose to meditate, contemplate, or pray on His suffering for us. One way in which me might do this is through devotion to His Seven Last Words—the seven final phrases uttered by Christ as recounted in the Gospels. These Seven Last Words of the Passion of Christ are understood only in light of the true one Word of Life and Resurrection—the phrases uttered by Jesus before His death take on new life and new meaning following the glory of His resurrection. We sit with the pain and loss of crucifixion during Lent, but look forward to the brightness of new life on Easter.



The Seven Last Words

1. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) (link)
2. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) (link)
3. “Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27) (link)
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34) (link)
5. “I thirst.” (John 19:29)
6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)




“I thirst.” (John 19:29)

The first four statements of Jesus on the cross fill us with a sense of the beginning of something, the becoming of the kingdom. We start with the fact that we are forgiven, continue to the experience of happiness, of paradise, even today, and recount the rebirth of the family of God, here on earth—all at the foot of the cross! We are left with a profound sense of hope, in spite of the pain and desolation of the crucifixion.

And then Jesus said, “I thirst.” It is the shortest of the seven last words. It is the most human. In this moment of physical pain, Jesus embraces the totality of His humanity, including his torture and death. And in that moment, we know that God understands our physical pain, our emotional pain, our spiritual pain—because He endured it, in human form, for us.

As David Tracy (Professor of Catholic Studies and Theology) wrote, “The symbolism of John, even in the words of his Jesus’ “I thirst” is unmistakable to any attentive reader of John’s rhythmic, meditative, iconic account of the death of Jesus. And yet the words of Jesus’ “I thirst” are not merely symbolic. “I thirst” is the cry of a dying man whose mouth is parched in the moments left from his approaching death-- a death of shame and tortured pain. The cry of Jesus disrupts even John’s profoundly symbolic and all too continuous account with a moment of unmistakably human-- all too human-- pain.”

But we would never, in a million years, be able to endure that kind of pain. We would never be able to suffer what Jesus did for us. Throughout the Gospel depictions of the Passion of Christ, we read about the terrible pain he suffered—the scourging at the Pillar which left 39 ragged, bleeding gashes; the crowning with thorns, sharp spikes cracking through His skull into brain; the brutal carrying of a heavy cross for miles up a steep hill in the blazing sun; and nearly three hours, hanging on a cross with nails through His hands and feet, before he says, “I thirst.” These are human words, but He is also divine.

Throughout the torture, throughout the Passion, Jesus does not complain, he does not cry out. It isn’t until he is close to death that He shouts—not a death whisper, not a gasp—“I thirst.” This physical and emotional strength should not exist at that moment, but in His pain, we see the glory of the Lord, the power and strength of our God. We see that His ways are not our ways. We see that anything is possible.

And we see beyond the human suffering, the need for water. In the two simple words of Jesus, we hear the true call of God. He loves us so much that He yearns for us, He longs for us, He thirsts for us.

He longs for our love, the love that Jesus taught us to share with one another, and direct toward the Lord: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27). As we continue our Lenten journey, we contemplate our own humanity, our own love, and our own thirst for the Lord.



1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?


3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"


4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.


5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and 6 my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.


7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.


8 By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.


9 I say to God my Rock,
"Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?"


10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"


11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
For I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42)



March 26, 2013: Seven Last Words: Hope

Posted by Jacob


In the days leading up to Good Friday, I will be meditating on the Seven Last Words of Christ.


Lent is a time of solemn contemplation of the Passion of Christ. We may choose to meditate, contemplate, or pray on His suffering for us. One way in which me might do this is through devotion to His Seven Last Words—the seven final phrases uttered by Christ as recounted in the Gospels. These Seven Last Words of the Passion of Christ are understood only in light of the true one Word of Life and Resurrection—the phrases uttered by Jesus before His death take on new life and new meaning following the glory of His resurrection. We sit with the pain and loss of crucifixion during Lent, but look forward to the brightness of new life on Easter.



The Seven Last Words

1. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) (link)
2. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) (link)
3. “Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27) (link)
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)
5. “ I thirst.” (John 19:29)
6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)




“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)



The first three statements of Jesus on the Cross fill us with hope, we sense that beginning of something, the becoming of the kingdom. We start with the fact that we are forgiven, continue to the experience of happiness, of paradise, even today, and recount the rebirth of the family of God, here on earth—all at the foot of the cross!

And then, we hear the words of Jesus, having emptied himself of all His earthly ties, hanging on the cross, suffering for the sins of all mankind—we hear His words of desolation and agony: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”

At first glance, it is easy to interpret this statement as Jesus feeling abandoned by Our Heavenly Father, left alone to die. We can imagine the human suffering, the emotional emptiness, the pain—but we cannot comprehend it. Jesus was feeling not only His pain, but our pain; not only the weight of His body, but the weight of our sins. And in the midst of this horror, He clings to what He knows—His Father in heaven.

Jesus’ words are important. He starts where He is centered—in God. Even in the depths of sorrow, Jesus holds onto what He knows is true: His Father, God, is His God. The relationship has not ended. Despite the pain and suffering, the relationship persists. Even though we might be tempted to question or even renounce the Lord when our suffering becomes to much to bear, wondering if He is there, wondering how He could let such pain exist, Jesus never does this. He acknowledges the power and might of the Lord, the presence of God, even in His last moments. By calling out to Him, against models for all of us that the Lord is our center, our rock, our hope.

And we must not forget this. We must have confidence in the Lord, even in the most difficult of circumstances. We must remember in our darkest moments, in the bleakest of circumstances, the Lord remains beside us, within us. We must look to Him. We must have hope.

So, why did Jesus make such a statement on the cross? Why would He allude to abandonment, while remaining centered in His Heavenly Father? For this, there is no easy answer. It is impossible of us, in our modern times, to conceive of the pain and humiliation of crucifixion. And considering such a death for one person pales in comparison to what Jesus endured—death on the cross for all people. The physical pain must have been too much to suffer, but the emotional pain, the spiritual pain that Christ undertook on the cross is debilitating to even think about. If we reflect on our own lives, sincerely and thoughtfully, we come face-to-face with our humanity, our sinfulness, our past transgressions. That alone is emotionally overwhelming. Now consider experiencing that awareness and pain on a larger level, on the level of all people who ever lived. The degree of pain and suffering that Christ endured in those moments on the cross, in atoning for all our sins, in holding the wrong-doings of the entire world is impossible to conceptualize, let alone being to experience. And despite this, despite the overwhelming pain, He calls out to His Father.

And in calling out, He chooses His words so carefully. He understands that the Lord is His God. He understands the why of why He must die. But His is not a rhetorical question. He, in His moment of agony, is fulfilling the Scripture. He is quoting the Scripture, Psalm 22, the most accurate prediction of His death, written over 1000 years prior to His life.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 "He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother's breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.

Jesus recognizes that His suffering, His death, His punishment leads, in the end, to the glory of God, a new hope for mankind. They who seek the Lord will praise Him, until the ends of the earth! In dying, Jesus has crushed sin once and for all, and we are left not with abandonment, not with forsakenness, but with hope—hope in the love of a God who hates sin so much, He offers His Son to redeem the world.

March 25, 2013: Seven Last Words: Family

Posted by Jacob


In the days leading up to Good Friday, I will be meditating on the Seven Last Words of Christ.


Lent is a time of solemn contemplation of the Passion of Christ. We may choose to meditate, contemplate, or pray on His suffering for us. One way in which me might do this is through devotion to His Seven Last Words—the seven final phrases uttered by Christ as recounted in the Gospels. These Seven Last Words of the Passion of Christ are understood only in light of the true one Word of Life and Resurrection—the phrases uttered by Jesus before His death take on new life and new meaning following the glory of His resurrection. We sit with the pain and loss of crucifixion during Lent, but look forward to the brightness of new life on Easter.



The Seven Last Words


1. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) (link)
2. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) (link)
3. “Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27)
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)
5. “ I thirst.” (John 19:29)
6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)




“Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27)

As all the moments in the Passion of Our Lord, this moment seems heart-wrenching. It is deeply personal. It is reflective of a deep loss, for both Jesus and Our Blessed Mother. In saying these words, Jesus severs the last of His earthly ties, He empties Himself of all the love left inside of Him for his mother, He awaits His death in complete poverty.

And Mary, His mother, and now our mother, must do the same. The center of her life, her purpose for living, her reason for being, the meaning and core of her existence, has been taken from her in this brutal and ultimate act of sacrifice. She stands broken beneath the cross, a mirror of the brokenness of her Son.

And we must do the same, placing ourselves with John and Mary, standing with them beneath the cross on which hangs our Lord and Savior. We must empty ourselves, as He emptied Himself. We must sever the ties that bind us, as He did. We must feel the loss, the sorrow, the emptiness that His death leaves in our hearts.


25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," 27and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19: 25-27)

And in that moment of utter desolation, we also must realize that we are not alone. In speaking, in creating distance between Himself and His mother, Jesus has created a new family on earth- a family born of pain and death, a family born of suffering, a family borne in His love for us. And we are all called to His family, to become sons and daughters of Mary, brothers and sisters to John and to each other. This family, watered by the blood of His cross, is the core of the Church, His Church, our Church.

Jesus hasn’t limited His family to those at the foot of the cross at the moment of death. He has extended an invitation to all the people of the world, just as he extended the “good thief” an invitation to paradise. At a time when society-- even the Church-- is split by politics, by judgment of individuals and whole groups of people, by prejudice and ostracism, Jesus’ declaration of a new family is more important than ever. It is a new receptacle of His love, love between brothers and sisters in the faith. It is healing. It is redemptive. It is the rebirth of a people, there beneath the cross.

Jesus came to His Passion and death on a long road of love for each us. In His death he gave us each other, united in His love, called to love one another. And He gave us something more, as well. As Pope John Paul II said, in regards to Jesus’ words on the cross, “The reality brought about by Jesus' words, that is, Mary's new motherhood in relation to the disciple, is a further sign of the great love that led Jesus to offer his life for all people. On Calvary this love is shown in the gift of a mother, his mother, who thus becomes our mother too.”

We gain a family. We gain a mother who advocates and intercedes for us with the Lord. And all of this we gain through the blood of the cross, the blood that flows through each of us, the blood that we are reminded of during the Eucharist. United by the blood of Christ, one with Him and with each other, we dare hope, we dare pray, we dare look to the Resurrection.

March 24, 2013: Seven Last Words: Today

Posted by Jacob




In the days leading up to Good Friday, I will be meditating on the Seven Last Words of Christ.


Lent is a time of solemn contemplation of the Passion of Christ. We may choose to meditate, contemplate, or pray on His suffering for us. One way in which me might do this is through devotion to His Seven Last Words—the seven final phrases uttered by Christ as recounted in the Gospels. These Seven Last Words of the Passion of Christ are understood only in light of the true one Word of Life and Resurrection—the phrases uttered by Jesus before His death take on new life and new meaning following the glory of His resurrection. We sit with the pain and loss of crucifixion during Lent, but look forward to the brightness of new life on Easter.













The Seven Last Words


1. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) (link)

2. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
3. “Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27)
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)
5. “ I thirst.” (John 19:29)
6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)



“Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)



We all know the story. Two wrong-doers, crucified on either side of Jesus, suffering and dying with Him on the cross.   One mocks Him, one calls out to Him.



39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
40But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (Luke 23: 39-42)



And this is when Jesus makes the promise of eternity, a promise which doesn’t wait until His own death and resurrection—a promise made available that day. The promise of paradise. Of happiness.



How often do we, today, search for happiness. We look for our own paradise here on earth, in our material possessions, relationships, successes, achievements. We look to create our happiness, as if it is a destination at the end of a journey, something to be gained, something to be earned.

We forget that Jesus offers it to us today.

Today.

Even in the midst of Lent, even in the midst of the suffering of our Lord, His offer of happiness, of paradise, of the beginning of an eternity in His presence hangs in front of us. And He waits for us to accept that offer. He offers time and time again. All we need to do is answer with a joyful “Yes!” All we need is what German theologian Paul Tillich would name, “the courage to be”—the acknowledgment that what we are can only be understood as the a creation, an extension of God. And that the joy that comes from that knowledge, the joy that comes from the Lord is the “emotional expression of the courageous Yes to one’s own true being.”




So we can be joyful. But this joy is oftentimes accompanied by sorrow, by pain, by the acute awareness of the suffering of others. For to live courageously in the presence of Christ, to accept His offer of happiness, means to accept His cross as well. The pain and the suffering of His cross, like the crosses that so many continue to struggle beneath today, broaden our hearts, expand them to hearts of service, hearts of empathy, hearts of charity, hearts of love. And in those moments of charity, empathy, love, and service, we find the true presence of Christ, and the true joy of His salvation. We get a foretaste of paradise.

Today.

All we have to do is recognize our Savior, call out to Him, ask Him to remember us. We courageously embrace His cross, emptying ourselves for others, and in that way, create within ourselves room to grow in His love. And in that moment, we encounter our Lord, within us, paradise on earth.



March 23, 2013: Seven Last Words: Forgiveness

Posted by Jacob


In the days leading up to Good Friday, I will be meditating on the Seven Last Words of Christ.


Lent is a time of solemn contemplation of the Passion of Christ. We may choose to meditate, contemplate, or pray on His suffering for us. One way in which me might do this is through devotion to His Seven Last Words—the seven final phrases uttered by Christ as recounted in the Gospels. These Seven Last Words of the Passion of Christ are understood only in light of the true one Word of Life and Resurrection—the phrases uttered by Jesus before His death take on new life and new meaning following the glory of His resurrection. We sit with the pain and loss of crucifixion during Lent, but look forward to the brightness of new life on Easter.
The Seven Last Words

1. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
2. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
3. “Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27)
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)
5. “ I thirst.” (John 19:29)
6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)






“Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Jesus started with forgiveness. His whole life was a steady march towards the ultimate sacrifice for our forgiveness, His brutal crucifixion at the hands of man. It makes sense, therefore, that His seven last words begin with forgiveness.

But if we look a little deeper, we realize something incredible about this phrase. Jesus spoke this before He was crucified, before the humiliation of hanging on a cross for public display, before the outrage of His death. He came into this world to bring forgiveness, to create new life from death, to make the barren wood of the cross flower with abundance. And this is the bittersweet mystery of Christ’s act of sacrifice—we are forgiven, despite the fact that we are the ones who killed Him.

We are forgiven.
We don’t need to ask for it.
We don’t need to earn it.
We don’t need to do anything.
We are forgiven.

But does this give us license to do anything we want, without regard for others, because we are already forgiven? Does this render our actions and our motivations meaningless? The answer, of course, is no. It is quite the opposite. Only because we have been forgiven do we dare look back at our lives, at the history of mankind. Only because we have been forgiven by a loving creator, do we dare sit in church and contemplate the Passion of Jesus Christ. Only because we are forgiven do we have the ability to turn our gaze inward, considering our sins, how we have wronged others, how we continue to wrong others. Without the grace of forgiveness we would break. We would avoid. Our lives would be without meaning. But through forgiveness, through opening the doors to our innermost selves, we are transformed. Like the brutal cross covered with the shoots of new life, our ugliness is made beautiful in the eyes of the Lord.

God has forgiven us our many sins. But this only serves to remind us that we, too, need to forgive—others who wrong us, and more importantly, ourselves for our won wrongdoings. In forgiveness, we find the sorrow of the cross, and the joy of the resurrection.