Category Archives: Forgetting one’s self

December 14: ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS, Priest & Doctor of the Church.

december-14-st-john-of-the-cross

December 14:
ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS,
Priest & Doctor of the Church.

Born in Hontoveros, Spain, St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), after a number of years as a Carmelite, was persuaded by St. Teresa of Jesus to lead the reform of his Order. He suffered many tribulations. He was a renowned mystic and wrote much on the mystery of the Cross. His body, still incorrupt, was transferred from Ubeda, where he died, to Segovia.

Below you have the 2nd reading of today’s Divine Office. Please do us the kind favor of liking our page so we could reach and help more people. A Holy and Happy Advent to all!
Thanks and God bless!

-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo,
CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS

+++READING STARTS HERE+++

A Spiritual Canticle of St John of the Cross
Recognising the mystery hidden within Christ Jesus

hough holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, and even to be understood by them.

We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.

For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labours, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training.

All these are lesser things, disposing the soul for the lofty sanctuary of the knowledge of the mysteries of Christ: this is the highest wisdom attainable in this life.

Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.

Saint Paul therefore urges the Ephesians not to grow weary in the midst of tribulations, but to be steadfast and rooted and grounded in love, so that they may know with all the saints the breadth, the length, the height and the depth – to know what is beyond knowledge, the love of Christ, so as to be filled with all the fullness of God.

The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.

Responsory

. What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, things beyond our imagining – all that God has prepared for those who love him:* these are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

. The Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God:* these are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

Let us pray.

Lord God, you gave Saint John of the Cross the grace of complete self-denial and an ardent love for the cross of Christ. Grant that by following always in his footsteps we may come to the eternal vision of your glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

 

ORIGINAL PHOTO SOURCE: Domenico Piola, The Vision of Saint John of the Cross, 17th century in http://67.media.tumblr.com/1febc6b8c4e59dd8fccaca7941257f12/tumblr_mr6l6i5JPL1qbhp9xo1_1280.jpg

 

“LORD, RESCUE ME FROM MYSELF (St. Josemaria).”

Lord, rescue me from myself

“LORD, RESCUE ME FROM MYSELF (St. Josemaria).”

Dear brethren in Christ, our life till the end will be a struggle to correspond to God’s grace so that He could work and form the image of Jesus Christ in our soul, in our life. We need to ask His indispensable help to overcome our worst enemy: our self, the old man we carry within us. We could say the same prayer St. Josemaria wrote in “The Forge,” nn. 120, 122:

“Lord, rescue me from myself!
Lord, from now on let me be another: no longer “me”, but that “other person”
you would like me to be.

Let me not deny you anything you ask of me. Let me know how to pray. Let me know how to suffer. Let me not worry about anything except your glory. Let me feel your presence all the time.
May I love the Father. May I hunger for you, my Jesus, in a permanent Communion. May the Holy Spirit set me on fire.”

SEE AS WELL:
PRIDE:THE ENEMY OF LOVE OF GOD AND OF ONE’S NEIGHBOR in https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2015/06/16/pride-the-enemy-of-love-of-god-and-love-of-neighbour/

ORIGINAL PHOTO SOURCE:
Cristo de la Buena Muerte, Hermandad de Los Estudiantes (Sevilla, Spain) in http://www.hermandaddelosestudiantes.es/website/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/quintoquinario.jpg

POPE FRANCIS’ BEAUTIFUL HOMILY: SACRED HEART OF JESUS 2016. JUBILEE FOR PRIESTS. MUST READ BY ALL!

Pope Francis. Sacred Heart 2016. Jubilee for priests.png

 

POPE FRANCIS’ HOMILY
SACRED HEART OF JESUS 2016. JUBILEE FOR PRIESTS.

Dear brethren in Christ, below you’ll find the beautiful must-read for all Vatican-provided translation of the Pope’s prepared homily during the Holy Mass for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 3, 2016, concluding the Jubilee for Priests (June 1-3), in St. Peter’s Square. The off the cuff remarks of the Pope are indicated in brackets and translated by ZENIT.

Happy reading and meditation! Fr. Rolly A.

+++POPE’S HOMILY STARTS HERE.
TITLES, CAPS AND BOLD LETTERS MINE.+++

This celebration of the Jubilee for Priests on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us all TO TURN TO THE HEART, THE DEEPEST ROOT AND FOUNDATION OF EVERY PERSON, THE FOCUS OF OUR AFFECTIVE LIFE AND, IN A WORD, HIS OR HER VERY CORE. Today we contemplate two hearts: the HEART OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD AND OUR OWN HEART AS PRIESTS.

 

  1. THE HEART OF JESUS, THE GOOD SHEPHERD IS MERCY ITSELF; IS LOVE UNLIMITED WHICH NEVER TIRES NOR GIVES UP WITH AN INFINITE AND BOUNDLESS SELF-GIVING; WHICH DESIRES TO EMBRACE ALL AND LOSE NONE.

The HEART OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD IS NOT ONLY THE HEART THAT SHOWS US MERCY, BUT IS ITSELF MERCY. There the Father’s love shines forth; there I know I am welcomed and understood as I am; there, with all my sins and limitations, I know the certainty that I am chosen and loved. Contemplating that heart, I renew my first love: the memory of that time when the Lord touched my soul and called me to follow him, the memory of the joy of having cast the nets of our life upon the sea of his word (cf. Lk 5:5).

THE HEART OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD TELLS US THAT HIS LOVE IS LIMITLESS; IT IS NEVER EXHAUSTED AND IT NEVER GIVES UP. There we see HIS INFINITE AND BOUNDLESS SELF-GIVING; there we find the source of that faithful and meek love which sets free and makes others free; there we constantly discover anew that Jesus loves us “even to the end” (Jn 13:1), –[it doesn’t stop there, [but goes] even to the end] –without ever being imposing.

The Heart of the Good Shepherd reaches out to us, above all to those who are most distant. There the needle of his compass inevitably points, there we see a particular “weakness” of his love, WHICH DESIRES TO EMBRACE ALL AND LOSE NONE.

  1. WHERE IS OUR HEART DIRECTED? WHAT IS THE TREASURE IT SEEKS?

Contemplating the Heart of Christ, we are faced with the fundamental question of our priestly life: WHERE IS MY HEART DIRECTED? [It’s a question that we priests must ask ourselves many times, every day, every week: Where my heart is directed?] Our ministry is often full of plans, projects and activities: from catechesis to liturgy, to works of charity, to pastoral and administrative commitments. Amid all these, we must still ask ourselves: What is my heart set on? Where is it directed —[What comes to mind is the beautiful prayer of the Liturgy Ubi vera Sunt Gaudia]–, WHAT IS THE TREASURE THAT IT SEEKS? For as Jesus says: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21).  [There are weaknesses in all of us, even sins. But let’s go deeper, to the roots: Where is the root of our weaknesses, our sins, that is to say what precisely is that “treasure” that distances us from the Lord?]

  1. OUR HEART MUST BE SET ON THE LORD AND HIS PEOPLE. AS SUCH WE WILL NO LONGER LOOK TO OURSELF, NOR WILL IT FLUTTER, SEEKING MOMENTARY WHIMS, BUT RATHER ROOTED IN THE LORD.

The great riches of the Heart of Jesus are two: the Father and ourselves. His days were divided between prayer to the Father and encountering people. [Not the distance, the encounter.] So too, THE HEART OF CHRIST’S PRIESTS KNOWS ONLY TWO DIRECTIONS: THE LORD AND HIS PEOPLE. The heart of the priest is a heart pierced by the love of the Lord. For this reason, he no longer looks to himself –[he should not look at himself], BUT IS TURNED TOWARDS GOD AND HIS BROTHERS AND SISTERS. IT IS NO LONGER “A FLUTTERING HEART”, ALLURED BY MOMENTARY WHIMS, SHUNNING DISAGREEMENTS AND SEEKING PETTY SATISFACTIONS. Rather, it is A HEART ROOTED FIRMLY IN THE LORD, WARMED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, OPEN AND AVAILABLE TO OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS. [And there, he resolves his sins]

To help our hearts burn with the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, we can train ourselves to do three things suggested to us by today’s readings: seek outinclude and rejoice.

  1. SEEK OUT FOR THE LOST SHEEP! GO OUT OF YOURSELF AND TRESPASS YOU COMFORT ZONE!

Seek out. The prophet Ezekiel reminds us that God himself goes out in search of his sheep (Ez 34:11, 16). As the Gospel says, he “goes out in search of the one who is lost” (Lk 15:4), without fear of the risks. Without delaying, he leaves the pasture and his regular workday. [And he does not make him pay ‘overtime’], He does not put off the search. He does not think: “I have done enough for today; I’ll worry about it tomorrow”. Instead, he immediately sets to it; HIS HEART IS ANXIOUS UNTIL HE FINDS THAT ONE LOST SHEEP. Having found it, he forgets his weariness and puts the sheep on his shoulders, fully content. [Sometimes, he has to go out looking, talking, persuading; other times, he may have to remain before the tabernacle, wrestling with the Lord for that sheep.] That’s the heart that seeks. It is a heart that does not privatize the times and spaces. Woe to the shepherds who privatize their ministry! Such is a heart that seeks out – a heart that does not set aside times and spaces as private, a heart that is not jealous of its legitimate quiet time and never demands that it be left alone. A SHEPHERD AFTER THE HEART OF GOD DOES NOT PROTECT HIS OWN COMFORT ZONE; HE IS NOT WORRIED ABOUT PROTECTING HIS GOOD NAME, BUT RATHER, WITHOUT FEARING CRITICISM, HE IS DISPOSED TO TAKE RISKS IN SEEKING TO IMITATE HIS LORD. [Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me (Mt 5:11)].

A shepherd after the heart of God has a heart sufficiently free to set aside his own concerns. HE DOES NOT LIVE BY CALCULATING HIS GAINS OR HOW LONG HE HAS WORKED: HE IS NOT AN ACCOUNTANT OF THE SPIRIT, BUT A GOOD SAMARITAN WHO SEEKS OUT THOSE IN NEED. FOR THE FLOCK HE IS A SHEPHERD, NOT AN INSPECTOR, AND HE DEVOTES HIMSELF TO THE MISSION NOT FIFTY OR SIXTY PERCENT, BUT WITH ALL HE HAS. In seeking, he finds, and he finds because he takes risks. He does not stop when disappointed and he does not yield to weariness. Indeed, he is stubborn in doing good, anointed with the divine obstinacy that loses sight of no one. Not only does he keep his doors open, but he also goes to seek out those who no longer wish to enter them. LIKE EVERY GOOD CHRISTIAN, AND AS AN EXAMPLE FOR EVERY CHRISTIAN, HE CONSTANTLY GOES OUT OF HIMSELF. THE EPICENTRE OF HIS HEART IS OUTSIDE OF HIMSELF: [It is decentralized from himself, but only in Jesus] He is not drawn by his own “I”, but by the “Thou” of God and by the “we” of other men and women.

  1. INCLUDE ALL AND EXCLUDE NOBODY. WELCOME EVERYONE, LISTEN PATIENTLY, ACCOMPANY AND DO NOT SCOLD BUT RATHER BE COMPASSIONATE AND FORGIVING TO THOSE WHO STRAY OFF THE WAY!

Include. Christ loves and knows his sheep. He gives his life for them, and no one is a stranger to him (cf. Jn 10:11-14).  His flock is his family and his life. He is not a boss to be feared by his flock, but a shepherd who walks alongside them and calls them by name (cf. Jn 10:3-4). He wants to gather the sheep that are not yet of his fold (cf.Jn 10:16). So it is also with the priest of Christ. He is anointed for his people, not to choose his own projects but to be close to the real men and women whom God has entrusted to him. No one is excluded from his heart, his prayers or his smile. WITH A FATHER’S LOVING GAZE AND HEART, HE WELCOMES AND INCLUDES EVERYONE, AND IF AT TIMES HE HAS TO CORRECT, IT IS TO DRAW PEOPLE CLOSER. HE STANDS APART FROM NO ONE, BUT IS ALWAYS READY TO DIRTY HIS HANDS. [The Good Shepherd doesn’t know ‘gloves’]. As a minister of the communion that he celebrates and lives, he does not await greetings and compliments from others, but is the first to reach out, rejecting gossip, judgements and malice. HE LISTENS PATIENTLY TO THE PROBLEMS OF HIS PEOPLE AND ACCOMPANIES THEM, SOWING GOD’S FORGIVENESS WITH GENEROUS COMPASSION. HE DOES NOT SCOLD THOSE WHO WANDER OFF OR LOSE THEIR WAY, BUT IS ALWAYS READY TO BRING THEM BACK AND TO RESOLVE DIFFICULTIES AND DISAGREEMENTS.

  1. REJOICE WITH GOD IN PRAYER. BE A SOURCE OF TRUE JOY FOR OTHERS AND WITH OTHERS. REJECT SADNESS AND HARSHNESS; RATHER, BE MEEK LIKE GOD! SEEK JOY IN THE HOLY MASS WHICH IS THE MEANING OF OUR LIFE. THANK YOU FOR GIVING YOUR LIFE TO GOD!

Rejoice. God is “full of joy” (cf. Lk 15:5). His joy is born of forgiveness, of life risen and renewed, of prodigal children who breathe once more the sweet air of home. The joy of Jesus the Good Shepherd is not a joy for himself alone, but a joy for others and with others, the true joy of love. This is also the joy of the priest. He is changed by the mercy that he freely gives. In prayer he discovers God’s consolation and realizes that nothing is more powerful than his love. He thus experiences inner peace, and is happy to be a channel of mercy, to bring men and women closer to the Heart of God. SADNESS FOR HIM IS NOT THE NORM, BUT ONLY A STEP ALONG THE WAY; HARSHNESS IS FOREIGN TO HIM, BECAUSE HE IS A SHEPHERD AFTER THE MEEK HEART OF GOD.

Dear priests, in the Eucharistic celebration we rediscover each day our identity as shepherds. In every Mass, may we truly make our own the words of Christ: “This is my body, which is given up for you.”  THIS IS THE MEANING OF OUR LIFE; with these words, in a real way we can daily renew the promises we made at our priestly ordination. I THANK ALL OF YOU FOR SAYING “YES,” [for so many hidden ‘yes’s’ everyday, that only the Lord knows. I thank you all for your ‘yes:’]  IN GIVING YOUR LIFE IN UNION WITH JESUS: FOR IN THIS IS FOUND THE PURE SOURCE OF OUR JOY.

[Original text: Italian] [Vatican-provided translation] [Off -the-cuff remarks are in brackets and were translated by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

HOMILY SOURCE: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-homily-at-mass-for-sacred-heart-of-jesus-jubilee-for-priests/

 

 

EASTER SUNDAY: CHRIST’S LOVE IS STRONGER THAN DEATH! A Blessed and Joyous Easter to All!

Easter Sunday 2016

EASTER SUNDAY: CHRIST’S LOVE IS STRONGER THAN DEATH!
A Blessed and Joyous Easter to All!

“The Lord is truly risen, alleluia. To him be glory and power for all the ages of eternity, alleluia, alleluia (Entrance Antiphon, Easter Sunday,Mass during the day).”

St. Augustine once said that it is not difficult to believe that Our Lord died: even the pagans and Jews believe that. The great thing with our faith precisely is to believe that Jesus Christ has resurrected. St. Paul says: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain (1 Cor 15:14).” Vain is our faith, vain is our hope, all our struggles and our efforts.

“EASTER IS A TIME OF JOY — a joy not confined to this period of the liturgical year, but to be FOUND REALLY AND FULLY IN THE CHRISTIAN’S HEART. FOR CHRIST IS ALIVE. HE IS NOT SOMEONE WHO HAS GONE, SOMEONE WHO EXISTED FOR A TIME AND THEN PASSED ON, LEAVING US A WONDERFUL EXAMPLE AND A GREAT MEMORY (St. Josemaria, Christ is Passing By, n. 102)

It is a time of immense joy because Jesus has triumphed over sin and death and  gained for us the new life, transforming us from within, overcoming the life of the old man and making us new creatures with His Own Life. It is a time of joy because HIS LOVE FOR US IS STRONGER THAN DEATH. “’This is the joy of the Easter Vigil: we are free. In the resurrection of Jesus, love has been shown to be stronger than death, stronger than evil (Benedict XVI, “Homily of Easter Vigil 2007).”

Moreover, with His Resurrection, OUR LORD WISHES TO CONFIRM US ON THE TRUTH OF HIS DIVINITY, SHOWING US THAT HE IS TRULY GOD OMNIPOTENT, WHO HAS CONQUERED DARKNESS, DEATH, SIN AND EVIL.

After the sadness of Black Saturday, a joyful day ensues. Illumined by the breaking of the day, the triumph of Christ has become a reality through the HISTORICAL EVENT of his Resurrection. JESUS CHRIST IS ALIVE!

Jesus is alive. He is not just a figure to be remembered, a figure which belongs to the past, an abstract mixture of words, actions, promises, empty of content. Rather, JESUS CHRIST IS TRUE GOD AND TRUE MAN WHO WAS BORN IN ORDER TO DIE FOR US SO THAT WE MAY HAVE LIFE. DYING HE CONQUERED DEATH; TO THE DEAD, HE HAS GIVEN LIFE.

As sung in the Easter proclamation:
“This is the night in which even now, throughout the world, sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices and from the gloom of sin, leading them to grace, and joining them to his holy ones.
This is the night when Christ broke the prison-bars of death, and rose victorious from the underworld.
The sanctifying power of this night dispels all wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners.
O truly blessed night, when things of heaven are wedded to those of earth and divine to the· human.”

But let us remember, dear brethren in Christ: The RESURRECTION IS THE FRUIT OF THE CROSS. IN ORDER TO LIVE WITH CHRIST, WE MUST DIE UNTO OURSELVES, AND DIE WITH CHRIST IN ORDER TO LIVE WITH HIM (cf Rm 6:8), as St. Paul says: “For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection… We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus (Rm 6: 5. 9-11).”

  • HENCE, TO LIVE THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST, WE MUST GIVE DEATH UNTO OURSELVES, THE OLD MAN WITHIN US, THROUGH PRAYER, SACRAMENTS AND SACRIFICE IN OUR DAILY LIFE, OVERCOMING OUR DISORDERED PASSIONS SO THAT CHRIST MAY LIVE IN US.
  • WE MUST STRIVE TO REJECT AND EMPTY OURSELVES OF WHATEVER WHICH IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH CHRIST’S PRESENCE IN OUR SOUL SO THAT HE MAY FILL US AND LIVE IN US.
  • WE MUST LEARN HOW TO LOVE CHRIST’S CROSS AND DIE WITH HIM THROUGH PENANCE, SAYING “NO” TO OURSELVES, OUT OF LOVE FOR GOD, SO THAT WE MAY RESURRECT WITH HIM AS WELL.

Let us then pray with the words of Benedict XVI: “Lord, show us that love is stronger than hatred, that love is stronger than death…In my own dark nights, be with me to bring me forth! Help me, help all of us, to descend with you into the darkness of all those people who are still waiting for you, who out of the depths cry unto you! Help us to bring them your light! Help us to say the “yes” of love, the love that makes us descend with you and, in so doing, also to rise with you. Amen! (Benedict XVI, “Homily of Easter Vigil 2007)”

May the Joy of Christ’s Resurrection fill your life and that of your loved ones! May His Glorious Resurrection renew and “resurrect” each one of us to live the new life which Christ gained for us with His Passion and Death on the Cross and stir us to say “yes” to God’s love and to follow Him faithfully in our ordinary daily life!

A Blessed Joyous Easter to all!

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Thanks and God bless! Fr. Rolly A.

ORIGINAL PHOTO SOURCE: http://wallpapershidef.com/wp-content/gallery/images-of-jesus-resurrection/05-jesus-resurrected.jpg

SUGGESTED READING FOR PERSONAL MEDITATION:
St. Josemaría, “Christ’s Presence in Christians”, inhttp://www.escrivaworks.org/book/christ_is_passing_by-chapter-11.htm

 

Benedict XVI, “Homily of Easter Vigil 2007 inhttp://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/homilies/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20070407_veglia-pasquale.html

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ 6. THE CRUCIFIXION AND DEATH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus 6. The Crucifixion.png

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ 6.
THE CRUCIFIXION AND DEATH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

“On the uppermost part of the Cross the reason for the sentence is written: ‘Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews’ (Jn 19:19). And all who pass by insult him and jeer at him. ‘If he is the king of Israel, let him come down here and now from the cross’ (Mt 27:42). One of the thieves comes to his defence: ‘This man has done no evil…’ (Lk 23:41). Then, turning to Jesus, he makes a humble request, full of faith: ‘Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom’ (Lk 23:42). ‘Truly, I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise’ (Lk 23:43). At the foot of the Cross stands his Mother, Mary, with other holy women. Jesus looks at her; then he looks at the disciple whom he loves, and he says to his Mother: ‘Woman, behold thy son.’ Then he says to the disciple: ‘Behold thy mother’ (Jn 19:26-27). The sun ‘s light is extinguished and the earth is left in darkness. It is close on three o ‘clock, when Jesus cries out: ‘Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? That is: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Mt 27:46). Then, knowing that all things are about to be accomplished, that the Scriptures may be fulfilled, he says: ‘I am thirsty’ (Jn 19:28). The soldiers soak a sponge in vinegar and, placing it on a reed of hyssop, they put it to his mouth. Jesus sips the vinegar, and exclaims: ‘It is accomplished’ (Jn 19:30). The veil of the temple is rent, and the earth trembles, when the Lord cries out in a loud voice: ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ (Lk 23:46). And he expires.

Love sacrifice; it is a fountain of interior life. Love the Cross, which is an altar of sacrifice. Love pain, until you drink, as Christ did, the very dregs of the chalice.”

St. Josemaria, The Way of the Cross, 12th station.

POINTS FOR MEDITATION:

  1. Our Lord didn’t want to hold anything back but lovingly chose to shed the last drop of His Sacred Blood in order to save us. Look at Christ: total self-giving, supreme oblation, Love! We must not forget that the way of love is a way of sacrifice.
  • If we wish to be true followers of Christ, we should not be surprised to find the Cross along the way. To find the Cross is to find happiness because it is where we could find Christ.
  • But in order to find Christ on the Cross, we must learn how to join our suffering with God’s will: “May thy most just, lovable Will be done, be fulfilled, be praised and exalted above all things for ever, amen!” With this acceptance full of trust of Christ’s Cross, there will be serenity in us, a deep interior peace, a love which is ready for whatever sacrifice, and thus joy for we have the conviction that it is Christ who will carry it for us.
  • Lord, teach me how to “love sacrifice;” for “it is a fountain of interior life”, of intimacy with God.  Teach me how to “love the Cross,” for it “is an altar of sacrifice”,  (ibidem)  of salvation, of virtue, of holiness and of Love!
  1. HISTORICAL AND MEDICAL ASPECTS OF THE CRUCIFIXION: Thompson and Harrub provide us a summary of the historical and medical details of the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord:
  • “The Jewish historian Josephus aptly described crucifixion, following the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 66-70, as ‘THE MOST WRETCHED OF DEATHS’ (War of the Jews, 7.203). The apostle Paul penned these beautiful words describing Christ: ‘And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross’ (Philippians 2:8). Knowing that He had to continue on for humanity’s sake, a beaten and scourged Jesus began that long walk to the site of His death…Golgotha is the common name of the location at which Christ was crucified. In Greek letters, this word represents an Aramaic word, Gulgaltha (Hebrew Gulgoleth), meaning ‘a skull.’ The word Calvary (Latin Calvaria; English calvaria—skullcap) also means ‘a skull.’ Calvaria (and the Greek Kranion) are equivalents for the original Golgotha. This particular area was located just outside the city on a rounded knoll that has the appearance of a bare skull. It was here, flanked by two thieves, that Christ would bear the sins of the world. The Roman guards who accompanied Him in the procession were required to stay with Him until they could substantiate His death (Bloomquist, 1964; Barbet, 1953, p. 50).

 

  • Having suffered considerable blood loss from the scourging, Jesus likely was in a DEHYDRATED STATE when He finally reached the top of this small knoll. Jesus was offered two drinks at Golgotha. The first—a drugged wine (i.e., mixed with myrrh) that served as a mild analgesic to deaden some of the pain—was offered immediately upon His arrival (Shroud, 1871; Davis, 1965, p. 186). However, after having tasted it, Christ refused the concoction. HE CHOSE TO FACE DEATH WITH A CLEAR MIND SO HE COULD CONQUER IT WILLFULLY AS HE SUBMITTED HIMSELF TO THE CRUELTY OF THE CROSS. ‘And when they came to a place called Golgotha, they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it’ (Matthew 27:33-34). This particular drink was intended to dull the pain in preparation for the next step of crucifixion—the nailing of the hands and feet. Thus, it would have been around this time that a battered, bleeding Jesus was thrown to the ground and nailed to the cross.

NAILING THE HANDS

  • …Clearly, from the text we see that Christ’s hands and feet were nailed to the cross. Archaeological data indicate that the specific nails used during the time of Christ’s crucifixion WERE TAPERED IRON SPIKES FIVE TO SEVEN INCHES LONG WITH A SQUARE SHAFT APPROXIMATELY THREE-EIGHTHS OF AN INCH ACROSS (Haas, 1970; Tzaferis, 1970; Clements, 1992, p. 108). Various studies have demonstrated that the bony palms cannot support the weight of a body hanging from them (e.g., Barbet, 1953). The weight of the body would tear quite easily through the lumbricals and flexor tendons—breaking the metacarpal bones as the nails pulled free—allowing the body to fall to the Earth. However, in ancient terminology, the wrist was considered to be part of the hand (Barbet, 1953, p. 106; Davis, 1965, p. 184; Major, 1999, 19:86). At the base of the wrist bones, the strong fibrous band of the flexor retinaculum binds down the flexor tendons. Iron spikes driven through the flexor retinaculum easily could have passed between bony elements and held the weight of a man. This location would require that the nail be placed through either: (1) the space between the radius and carpal bones (lunate and scaphoid bones); or (2) between the two rows of carpal bones (Barbet, 1953, p. 106; DePasquale and Burch, 1963, p. 434; Lumpkin, 1978; Netter, 1994, p. 426).
  • A SPIKE DRIVEN THROUGH THIS LOCATION, HOWEVER, ALMOST CERTAINLY WOULD CAUSE THE MEDIAN NERVE OR PERIPHERAL BRANCHES TO BE PIERCED (see Figure 2), resulting in a condition known as CAUSALGIA… Any damage to this nerve would have caused EXTRAORDINARY PAIN TO RADIATE UP THE ARM, THEN THROUGH THE AXILLA, TO THE SPINAL CORD, AND FINALLY TO THE BRAIN. Primary arteries travel on the medial and lateral aspects of the wrist, and therefore would be spared if the spike had been driven into this location. [Scientific studies—using volunteer college students—have shown that people suspended from crosses with their arms outstretched in the traditional manner depicted in religious art have little problem breathing (Zugibe, 1984, p. 9). Thus, the oft’-quoted idea that death on the cross results from asphyxiation would be a factor only if the hands were nailed in an elevated fashion above the head of the victim.] And so, with His hands firmly nailed to the cross and His back bleeding and emaciated, Christ was hoisted onto the rough-hewn, upright stake.

NAILING THE FEET

  • THE PAIN CHRIST MUST HAVE EXPERIENCED UP TO THIS POINT WOULD HAVE BEEN EXCRUCIATING, AND YET THE ROMAN SOLDIERS WERE ABOUT TO DELIVER EVEN MORE. There were many ways to nail the feet to the stipes, but most required the knees to be flexed and rotated laterally. It is likely that the spikes were driven through either the: (1) tarsometatarsal joint (between the metatarsal bones and cuneiform bones); or (2) the transverse tarsal joint (between the calcaneus and cuboid or navicular bones). While this placement undoubtedly would prevent the bones of Christ’s feet from breaking, it nevertheless would cause severe injury to the deep peroneal nerve or lateral plantar nerve (and artery), and certainly would pierce the quadratus plantae muscle (Netter, 1994, p. 509).

 

  • IT WOULD NOT BE UNCOMMON BY THIS TIME FOR INSECTS TO BURROW INTO OPEN WOUNDS OR ORIFICES (SUCH AS THE NOSE, MOUTH, EARS, AND EYES) OF A CRUCIFIED VICTIM; ADDITIONALLY BIRDS OF PREY FREQUENTLY WERE KNOWN TO FEED OFF THE TATTERED WOUNDS (Cooper, 1883). It was in this position, with His precious blood seeping down the cross, that Christ uttered the amazing statement: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34).

 

BREATHING ON THE CROSS

  • Even though blood poured from His lacerated back, ONE MAJOR PATHOPHYSIOLOGICAL IMPAIRMENT JESUS FACED DURING CRUCIFIXION WAS NORMAL RESPIRATION (i.e., breathing). Maximum inhalation would have been possible only when the body weight was supported by the nailed wrists of the outstretched arms. When Christ first was lifted onto the splinter-covered surface of the cross, His arms and body were stretched out in the form of a ‘Y.’ A momentary ‘T’ position would be required to allow proper support for inhalation. Thus, in order to breathe He was required to lift His body using His nailed wrists for leverage. Exhalation would be impossible in this position, and the immense pain placed on the wrists quickly would become too great; therefore, Christ would have to slump back into a ‘Y’ position to exhale. Jesus would be forced to continue alternating between the ‘Y’ and ‘T’ positions with every breath, trying all the while not to reopen the wounds He had received from the scourging. Fatigued muscles eventually would begin to spasm, and Christ would become exhausted from these repeated tasks, slumping permanently into the shape of a ‘Y.’ In this position, chest and respiratory muscles soon would become paralyzed from the increased strain and pain. WITHOUT STRENGTH FOR BREATH, CHRIST’S BODY WOULD BEGIN TO SUFFER FROM ASPHYXIA.” Bert Thompson, Ph.D. and Brad Harrub, Ph.D. , in “An Examination of the Medical Evidence for the Physical Death of Christ”in https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=145

 

“Foolish child, look: all this… He has suffered it all for you… And for me. Can you keep from crying?” St. Josemaria, Holy Rosary, 5th Sorrowful Mystery.

 

Dear friends: “To love the Cross means being able to put oneself out, gladly, for the love of Christ, though it’s hard — and because it’s hard. You have enough experience to know that this is not a contradiction.” (St. Josemaria, Furrow, n. 519).

Dear Lord, our immense gratitude to your unfathomable love. May we learn how to correspond to your generous sacrifice for our salvation by abandoning our old ways and faithfully living the new life which you have gained for us through your Passion and Death on the Cross.

Mother, Our Lord, out of love, entrusted us to your care. Grant us the same fortitude so as to be always beside Our Lord on the Cross. May we as well be loving children of yours, as Our Lord entrusted you to us at the foot of the Cross. Amen.

SEE AS WELL:

  1. THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/14/the-passion-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-the-agony-in-the-garden/
  2. THE JEWISH AND ROMAN TRIALS: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/15/the-passion-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-jesus-sufferings-during-the-jewish-and-roman-trials/
  3. THE SCOURGING AT THE PILLAR: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/16/the-passion-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-3-the-scourging-at-the-pillar/
  4. THE CROWNING WITH THORNS: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/21/the-passion-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-the-crowning-with-thorns/
  5. THE CARRYING OF THE CROSS: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/23/the-passion-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-5-the-carrying-of-the-cross/
  6. GOOD FRIDAY: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/24/good-friday-it-is-finished-jn-1930/
  7. HOW TO MEDITATE ON THE PASSION OF OUR LORD: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/13/how-to-meditate-on-the-passion-of-our-lord/
  8. SUMMARY OF CATHOLIC TEACHING. THE PASSION AND DEATH ON THE CROSS: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/19/summaries-of-catholic-teaching-topic-10-the-passion-and-death-on-the-cross-of-our-lord-jesus-christ/

 

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ORIGINAL PHOTO SOURCE: Cristo de la Misericordia (Cadiz, Spain) in http://fotos.lavozdigital.es/200908/110-640x640x80.jpg

 

 

2nd Sunday of Lent: THE TRANSFIGURATION. FOLLOW CHRIST NOT ONLY TO TABOR BUT ALSO TO CALVARY.

Lent- 2nd SUNDAY. Transfiguration

2nd Sunday of Lent:
THE TRANSFIGURATION.
FOLLOW CHRIST NOT ONLY TO TABOR BUT ALSO TO CALVARY.

The Gospel of the 2nd Sunday of Lent (Luke 9:28b–36) speaks to us about the TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST on Mt. Tabor in the presence of Peter, James and John six days after Jesus foretold them of His Passion, Death and Resurrection. Before them, Jesus was transfigured and “his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them…And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “THIS IS MY SON, MY CHOSEN; LISTEN TO HIM!” (Lk 9, 35).” Upon seeing briefly the splendor of glory of the transfigured Christ, Peter exclaimed with awe and joy, wanting to prolong the experience: “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah (Lk 9:33).”

We are in the 2nd week of Lent and perhaps one may wonder: WHY THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD IN THIS SEASON OF LENT? WHY DID OUR LORD GIVE A GLIMPSE HIS DIVINE GLORY TO HIS THREE APOSTLES AND WHAT IS ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LENTEN SEASON?

  1. We have mentioned above that the Transfiguration occurred SIX DAYS AFTER JESUS’ FIRST PROPHETIC FORETELLING OF HIS PASSION, DEATH AND RESURRECTION in Lk 9:21-22 where Jesus told the Apostles that He “must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again (Lk 8: 21) and that ““If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Lk 9:23).”
  2. In this context and realizing that his death would demoralize and scandalize the Apostles, Jesus gave his 3 disciples a dazzling glimpse of his divine glory in heaven in order to ENCOURAGE, CONSOLE AND STRENGTHEN NOT ONLY THE 3 DISCIPLES ─who were to be pillars of His Church─ BUT ALL CHRISTIANS, OF WHAT LIES AHEAD IF ONE IS TO FOLLOW CHRIST FAITHFULLY. St Bede, this Gospel passage, says that Our Lord, “in a loving concession allowed Peter, James and John to enjoy for a very short time the contemplation of the happiness that lasts forever, so as to enable them to bear adversity with greater fortitude (St Bede, Commentary on St Mark, 8; 30:1,3).”

SIX DAYS HAVE PASSED when Jesus foretold the Apostles of His Passion, Death and Resurrection…six days of anxiety, of doubt, of sadness….With his Transfiguration, He wanted to CONSOLE the Apostles by showing them His divine glory and also FORTIFY AND CONFIRM them in their faith in Him, being the Beloved Son of the Father whom they must listen to. CHRIST MANIFESTED HIS GLORY IN THE TRANSFIGURATION TO MOVE US TO DESIRE THE DIVINE GLORY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN US SO THAT, HAVING THIS HOPE, WE TOO CAN UNDERSTAND “THAT THE SUFFERINGS OF THIS PRESENT TIME ARE NOT WORTH COMPARING WITH THE GLORY THAT IS TO BE REVEALED TO US” (Rm 8:18).

  1. CHRISTIAN LIFE is all about having a PERSONAL LOVING ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS CHRIST, following his footsteps, identifying ourselves with him, our life with his life. It is A CONTINUOUS CALL TO CONVERSION AND PENANCE OUT OF LOVE FOR GOD, A CALL TO FOLLOW HIM CLOSELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY (see 1st reading on Abraham’s sacrifice) TILL THE END: THIS IS WHAT THE LENTEN JOURNEY IS ALL ABOUT.

For this reason, while following our Lord, WE SHOULD NEVER BE SURPRISED IF ALONG THE WAY WE ENCOUNTER DIFFICULTIES, TRIBULATIONS AND SUFFERINGS. CHRISTIANITY WITHOUT THE CROSS IS NOT CHRISTIANITY AT ALL BUT AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THING. “When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly (Pope Francis, Homily, March 13, 2013).”

  1. WE CANNOT REMOVE THE CROSS NEITHER FROM CHRIST’S LIFE NOR FROM OURS IF WE WANT TO BE FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS. Let us then LOSE OUR FEAR OF THE CROSS AND ALL THAT IT SIGNIFIES: sickness, tiredness, calumny, persecution, daily contradictions, self-denial, moral suffering, pain, exterior and interior obstacles we experience in living a life coherent to our Christian faith…

WE MUST LEARN HOW TO TAKE UP OUR DAILY CROSS, ACCEPTING SUFFERING AND TRIBULATIONS FOR LOVE, BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT CHRIST’S LIFE WAS ALL ABOUT. And while doing so, He wants us TO FIX OUR GAZE ON THE HAPPY GOAL FOSTERING THE HOPE OF WHAT AWAITS US IN HEAVEN. IN THE MIDST OF THE GREATEST SUFFERINGS HE GIVES US THE CONSOLATION WE NEED TO KEEP GOING FORWARD knowing that “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? (Rm 8: 31b).” This is why Our Mother Church saw it convenient to use the Gospel of the Transfiguration of Our Lord in the Mass of the 2nd Sunday of Lent.

  1. Our Lord’s life on earth did not end with his Death but rather in his Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, and so shall be the life of a Christian who faithfully follows Christ till the end. To this regard, HIS TRANSFIGURATION WAS IN SOME WAY AN ANTICIPATION NOT ONLY OF HIS GLORIFICATION IN THE RESURRECTION BUT ALSO OF OURS. As St Paul says, “it is the same Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, PROVIDED WE SUFFER WITH HIM IN ORDER THAT WE MAY ALSO BE GLORIFIED WITH HIM (Rom 8:16-17).”

Dear friends, in this 2nd Sunday of Lent, Our Mother Church wants to remind us THAT AFTER THE CROSS COMES THE GLORY OF THE RESURRECTION. Let us faithfully tread on the same footsteps of Christ in an unconditional manner, following him not only towards Mt. Tabor ─when circumstances are favorable─ but also suffer with Him in Calvary ─ when the going gets tough─ so as to be glorified with Him in His Resurrection as well.

As Christians, we MUST LEARN HOW TO SUFFER FOR LOVE LIKE CHRIST DID, to embrace the crosses He sends us along our way, to bear the adversities and hardships we encounter in our life as committed Christians, filled with serene joy and hope and having our gaze fixed towards heaven. Let us then embark on this Lenten journey by being more generous in our spirit of penance and sacrifice, done out of love for God, convinced of the glory which Our Lord promised to those who persevere till the end.

 

Cordially inviting you to visit and like our FB page in http://www.fb.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness or sign-up to our website,www.catholicsstrivingforholiness.com, so we can have a wider apostolic reach and thus help more people in their Christian life. Thanks! Fr. Rolly A., priest of Opus Dei.

 

PHOTO SOURCE: Del Parson, “Perfect Love” detail in https://deseretbook.com/p/perfect-love-del-parson-71669?variant_id=27585-print

 

 

3rd Sunday of Advent: “GAUDETE” OR REJOICE! SUNDAY

Gaudete Sunday

3rd Sunday of Advent
“GAUDETE” OR REJOICE! SUNDAY.

This coming Sunday marks the 3rd Sunday of Advent, also known as “Gaudete” (Latin for “Rejoice!” or “Be glad/happy!”) Sunday. This is the reason why in some ADVENT WREATHS, there is a PINK CANDLE which differentiates it from the rest. In some Churches as well, instead of using the purple vestments, PINK priestly vestments will be utilized (if the church has them).

The Church encourages us to be glad and happy and for what reason? The answer can be found in the Entrance Antiphon of the Holy Mass: REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS; AGAIN I SAY, REJOICE. INDEED, THE LORD IS NEAR! (Phil, 4:4-5)

THE NEARNESS OF OUR LORD IS THE REASON OF OUR JOY. At the same time, Scriptures also reminds us that THE TRUE and LASTING OBJECT OF OUR HAPPINESS IS NOTHING ELSE BUT GOD. REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS!

Pope Benedict XVI commenting on these words of St. Paul said: “If the loved one, love, the greatest gift of my life, is close to me, if I can be convinced that the one who loves me is close to me, even in situations of suffering, JOY THAT REMAINS IN THE DEPTH OF MY HEART IS EVER GREATER THAN ALL SUFFERINGS (Benedict XVI, FIRST GENERAL CONGREGATION OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS, Oct. 3, 2005).”

With the words of St. Paul, OUR MOTHER CHURCH TELLS US TO REJOICE BECAUSE BECAUSE THE LORD IS CLOSE TO EACH ONE OF US; much better, He is IN US, in our SOUL IN GRACE or when we receive Him in HOLY COMMUNION; He is WITH US in the TABERNACLE and if we are keen enough to seek Him, He is with us IN ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND EVENTS OF OUR LIFE. We need to be aware of the -hidden but real- presence of Christ in us, in our daily affairs and in the Eucharist which is a fountain of real and profound joy.

However, this interior joy disappears when we separate ourselves from Our Lord and start living only for our self. “For a Christian, joy is a treasure. ONLY BY OFFENDING GOD DO WE LOSE IT, BECAUSE SIN IS THE FRUIT OF SELFISHNESS, AND SELFISHNESS IS THE ROOT OF SADNESS. (St. Josemaria, “Christ is Passing By”, n. 178).” “You are unhappy? Think: there must be an obstacle between God and me. You will seldom be wrong. (St. Josemaria, “The Way”, n. 662).” “You are not happy because you make everything revolve around yourself as if you were always the centre: you have a stomach-ache, or you are tired, or they have said this or that …HAVE YOU EVER TRIED THINKING ABOUT HIM, AND THROUGH HIM, ABOUT OTHERS? (St. Josemaria, Furrow, n. 74).”

Selfishness, egotism, living for one’s self, ultimately result to sadness, in spite of all the worldly pleasures which a materialistic, individualistic and hedonistic lifestyle could provide. The reason is simple: THE MATERIAL CAN NEVER BE ABLE TO SATISFY THE SPIRITUAL LONGINGS OUR HEART WAS MADE FOR. IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE HAPPINESS, WHAT WE NEED IS NOT AN EASY, COMFORTABLE LIFE, BUT RATHER, A HEART WHICH IS IN LOVE (cf. St. Josemaría, Furrow, n.795).

Moreover, SADNESS HAS NEFARIOUS CONSEQUENCES: it leads one to seek worldy compensations to fill in the void he has in his soul; his dealings with others are characterized by anger and pessimism; it gives way to impurity, envy, egotism, indifference, division and so on…Hence, WE HAVE TO FIGHT AGAINST SADNESS as well. How? Let us seek God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Joy, the Sacrament of Confession so as to be able to receive the fountain of Joy in the Sacrament of the Holy

DON’T FORGET THAT AUTHENTIC HAPPINESS HERE ON EARTH IS THE RESULT OF THREE INSEPARABLE ELEMENTS:

  • UNION WITH GOD;
  • INTERIOR STRUGGLE TO OVERCOME ONE’S SELF FOR LOVE OF GOD AND OTHERS;
  • AND, LIVING A LIFE OF SERVICE FOR OTHERS.

Behold, “I knock at your door, listen to me, open up to me (Rev 3:20).” Let us not be deaf to Our Lord who invites us to attain real happiness. Only can we hear his invitation if we silence the mundane noise in brought about by our worldly lifestyle. Only when we clean our heart inside out, purifying it from sin and removing what is not essential, can the Lord have a place in our heart.

Dear friends: Let us end with a prayer making use of the words of Benedict XVI: “LORD MAKE US BE SENSITIVE TO YOUR PRESENCE, HELP US TO FEEL NOT TO BE DEAF TO YOU, HELP US TO HAVE A FREE HEART AND BE OPEN TO YOU (Benedict XVI, First General Congregation of the Synod Of Bishops, Oct. 3, 2005).” “O GOD, WHO SEE HOW YOUR PEOPLE FAITHFULLY AWAIT THE FEAST OF THE LORD’S NATIVITY, ENABLE US, WE PRAY, TO ATTAIN THE JOYS OF SO GREAT A SALVATION, AND TO CELEBRATE THEM ALWAYS WITH SOLEMN WORSHIP AND GLAD REJOICING
(Opening Prayer, Mass of 3rd Sunday of Advent).”

-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei, CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness. Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.

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PHOTO SOURCE: beckydurham.net