Tag Archives: Easter

The Living Stations of Marriage

23 Mar

aaaHave you ever attended a “living Stations of the Cross”? Many parishes have their youth groups act out the steps of Jesus on His way to His crucifixion and death. Seeing these truths acted out in a dramatic form can be a very powerful experience for the faithful in attendance.

Did you know that as a married couple you are called to the same thing? St. John Paul II said, “Spouses are a permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross” (Familiaris Consortio).

It can be hard to imagine the kind of sacrifice that Jesus made for us, but when we see a couple choose to forgive a serious offense, or pull together during a difficult pregnancy or care for one another during a life-threatening illness, suddenly Jesus’ Passion is played out in front of our eyes.

Likewise, couples mirror the Resurrection. Anyone who has had the honor of celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary has seen the joy that is the fruit of years of suffering offered for the good of the other.

As we begin this Easter season, let us reflect on the crosses in our marriage and choose to bear them as Christ did, that we might show the world that His love brings new life.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Love in the Time of Easter

8 Apr

Image result for easter lilyRecently during Mass, Maggie, my four-year-old daughter, grabbed my hand while we were listening to the homily. I thought she just wanted to hold my hand, but I was wrong. She gave my hand to my wife Libby, so we could hold hands during the homily. It deepened my realization that little ones desperately want their parents not only to be together, but to be “IN LOVE.” It is sometimes easy to forget that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is our dedicated effort to grow in our marriage no matter how good or not so good it already is. No matter where we are or have been in our marriages, the natural instinct of my daughter, Magdalene, can give us deep insight into the supernatural reality of this Easter Season. Let’s explore.

What is it about an “in love” married couple that gives so much security to our little ones? I think it has something to do with the fact that a married couple is intended to be the very reflection and concrete experience of the love and goodness of God. Every married couple is intended to be a window into the life and love of the Holy Trinity. If the reflection that the couple is intended to convey is somehow cloudy, then the very stability that confidence in God’s existence offers is also clouded. Children want to believe that they come from love. If a child knows that their existence is the fruit of love, then they are confident that they exist for a reason.

We all know that children are created out of the love of God and that there is a reason for the creation of every child, but we as parents sometimes forget that we are supposed to be the living and tangible reminder every day to that reality by the way we love one another. It is not just about participating with God in the child’s creation, and then focusing on the child and figuring that our spouse is old enough and can take care of their own needs. When we intentionally choose to nurture the marriage relationship, we create the culture for a child to grow in a stable environment. If we were going to plant a garden, we would not be very successful if we did not tend to the soil. Passionate marriages are the optimal soil for the seed of children to flourish!

Yes, I said “passionate.” Some are scandalized by that word, so let me explain why I purposely chose it. When I say “passionate,” I am not talking about “an urgency to make love.” That is how the world defines it, and it is important to reclaim the language. When I say “passion,” I am talking about the type of passion that we celebrated on Good Friday. And no, I am not saying that marriage is torture. I am saying that the total self-abandonment of Christ on the Cross is the same self-abandonment that a married couple is called to have toward one another. The grace that was won on Calvary and offered through the Resurrection is made present to and through the Sacrament of Matrimony. John Paul II said it best when he said that married couples are a “permanent reminder to the Church of what Christ did on the Cross” (Familiaris Consortio).

The mystery of Christ’s Death and Resurrection is present in every home–what a wonderful plan in the wisdom of God! He knew that the Blessed Sacrament would not be able to make it into every home, but through Baptism and Matrimony, His sacramental presence has the potential to reach every house and neighborhood.

Our marriages are personal but not private. When we embrace the call to love one another as Christ loved the Church, we participate in the sanctification of the world. We can sometimes dismiss evangelization as a good idea that some people should do out there somewhere, or we wait around for our parish priest to form an evangelization committee.

The reality is that when we love our spouse passionately, we evangelize our children and our communities, and we participate in the redemption of the whole world. I invite every married man and woman, most especially myself, to step up the level of love in our relationship this Easter season. The grace is abundant, and when we take the time to prioritize our marriage, we are entering deeply into the mystery of Christ’s Death and Resurrection. If we enter into this mystery more deeply this Easter season, we will experience the power of Pentecost in a tangible way, and we will be a beacon of light in this world struggles to see the path to authentic happiness.

Chants Occurrence

29 Apr

When my daughter Virginia was about a year old, I twice received calls that she was unconscious and being rushed to the hospital. (I hope you fathers out there never receive such a call.) Thanks be to God, on both occasions, by the time I arrived at the emergency room, she was awake and fine.

The second time she was knocked out, however, the doctors understandably wanted to do a CT scan to ensure that she didn’t have any lingering internal head injury. The problem is keeping a one-year old still during the procedure. The nurses suggested sedating her, but instead I asked if I could just sing to her.

So, I started gently singing various Marian antiphons, from the Ave Maria to the Alma Redemptoris Mater and Regina Caeli. These chants calmed her so that she was perfectly still and relaxed through the entire medical procedure. The nurses were amazed!

I mention these chants here, because now that it’s Easter, the “Marian antiphon” of choice is the Regina Caeli (”Queen of Heaven”), which our family sings each evening after our Rosary. Here are the words for this beautiful chant:

The English translation is:

Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia. The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia, has risen as he said, alleluia. Pray to God for us, alleluia.

Marian antiphons like the Regina Caeli are not only part of our rich Catholic patrimony, but they can also become part of the daily rhythm of our own families’ lives. As the episode with Virginia shows, even on a natural level, these antiphons can be “holy lullabies,” gently leading our children to a deep, filial love for our Blessed Mother.

The Road to Emmaus

23 Apr

Every year on Easter Wednesday Mass we hear St. Luke’s account of Our Lord’s appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

This Gospel passage brings to mind the Eucharistic “amazement” that Pope John Paul II sought to rekindle in the faithful through his final encyclical letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia:

“To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize him wherever he manifests himself, in his many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of his body and his blood. The Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by him she is fed and by him she is enlightened. The Eucharist is both a mystery of faith and a ‘mystery of light.’ Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: ‘their eyes were opened and they recognized him’ (Lk. 24:31).”

Perhaps when praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary this Easter season, we might want to reflect on this episode during the decade devoted to the Institution of the Eucharist, as it vividly connects Holy Thursday with Easter faith.

What Happened on Holy Saturday?

19 Apr

Our Lord’s descent into hell, under whose aegis Holy Saturday stands liturgically in the Church’s year, is an article of faith that is of particular significance to modern man. On Good Friday we contemplated Christ on the Cross, and beginning on Easter Sunday we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection.

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Holy Week Festivities

14 Apr

Yesterday was Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, or more simply “Palm Sunday.” Thus began the period of time known as “Holy Week,” which culminates this Sunday with the celebration of Easter. In between these two Sundays, however, the Church invites us to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s suffering and death through various devotions and liturgical practices.

One major event during Holy Week is the Chrism Mass, where the bishop blesses the oils that will be used throughout the coming year. While it’s traditionally celebrated on Thursday, there is some flexibility when it comes to the date, and most dioceses hold the Chrism Mass in the cathedral on the Monday or Tuesday of Holy Week. Archbishop Naumann will celebrate the Chrism Mass for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas on Tuesday, April 15th, at 11:00 a.m. at the Savior Pastoral Center chapel.

The chrism and the oil of catechumens blessed at the Chrism Mass will then be used in the celebration of the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil.

Wednesday is known as Spy Wednesday because on this day Judas made a bargain with the high priests to betray Jesus for 30 silver pieces (Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10-11; Lk. 22:1-6).

On Thursday evening, known as Holy Thursday, the Church celebrates the anniversary of the Last Supper, when Christ instituted the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the sacrament of the priesthood. It’s also known as Maundy Thursday, because at the Last Supper Christ instituted the new commandment (Latin, mandatum) to love one another (cf. Jn. 13:34). The call to serve others in imitation of Christ is brought out in the foot-washing ritual during Mass.

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Food for Thought

11 Apr

april showersI don’t know about you, but I have found the daily Mass readings for the second week of the Easter season to be overflowing with food for meditative prayer and daily Christian living. I thought I would share this “top ten” list of verses that have been especially meaningful to me this week, realizing of course that I’m only scratching the surface of these rich passages.

And by the way, we all know that April showers bring May flowers. But what do May flowers bring? The answer is found at the end of this list of verses.

(1) “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe’” (Jn. 20:27, Sunday).

This episode in which Our Lord confronts “doubting” Thomas is perhaps the most compelling post-Resurrection appearance of Christ, which provides solid encouragement for those of us who have not seen, yet have believed.

(2) “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me” (Heb. 10:5, Monday).

This passage, which explicitly applies Psalm 40 to Our Lord, fittingly speaks of the Lord’s Incarnation, which we celebrated on Monday with the transferred feast of the Annunciation. But even more, we see that His becoming flesh, His taking a body, is connected to sacrifice. Our bodies too are instruments of sacrifice: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1; see also Col. 1:24).

(3) “Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word’” (Lk. 1:38, Monday).

The Annunciation is ordinarily celebrated on March 25th, exactly nine months before Christmas, but was moved this year out of deference to Easter, which is an eight-day feast in the Church. So we had a temporary break from St. John’s Gospel as we heard anew Our Lady’s remarkable “fiat,” as she consents to becoming a living tabernacle of the eternal Son of God. We too become living tabernacles whenever we worthily receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.

(4) “The community of believers was of one heart and mind” (Acts 4:32, Tuesday).

The Catechism (no. 2790) links this verse to the Lord’s Prayer: When we pray “our Father,” we acknowledge our communion with all our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

(5) Jesus said to Nicodemus: “‘You must be born from above’” (Jn. 3:7, Tuesday).

This famous episode points to the regenerative waters of Baptism, which truly enable us to become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) and heirs of heaven as God’s beloved children.

(6) “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. . . . whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God” (Jn. 3:16, 21, Wednesday).

Okay, this is a bit of a “two-fer.” Despite its familiarity, John 3:16 should never lose its freshness in our hearts. And God’s love calls forth not only a notional assent, but even more it demands a committed love, such that we not only profess the truth, but live it–even when nobody is watching.

(7) “But Peter and the Apostles said in reply, ‘We must obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:29, Thursday).

Even though this passage gets misused at times, the premise here is a crucial one. Often we can live the ambiguity, in a sense obeying both God and man. But when push comes to shove, when our faith calls us to a higher standard, do we have the integrity of St. Thomas More to obey God, not men?

(8) “He does not ration his gift of the Spirit” (Jn. 3:34, Thursday).

God is more generous, more powerful, and even more present than we often give Him credit for, at least in practice. The Christian life, when all is said and done, is life in the Spirit. If our faith isn’t all-encompassing, it’s because we’re rationing God, and not that God is rationing His Spirit.

(9) “If this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39, Friday).

These remarkably wise words of Gamaliel have proven to be prophetic, haven’t they? In addition, wisdom has a timeless quality, and so Gamaliel’s words provide sound guidance whenever we encounter purported private revelations, new spiritual movements, or other religious enterprises of questionable origin.

(10) “Jesus said, ‘Let the people recline’” (Jn. 6:10, Friday).

Okay, this one is a little tongue-in-cheek. My daughter Brenda likes to cite this verse whenever I ask her to get off the sofa and do something. But even this lighthearted anecdote shows how Scripture verses can be manipulated and taken out of context when removed from their natural habitat (i.e., the liturgy) and interpreted apart from the authority of the Church.

And by the way, the answer to my question at the beginning of this post is . . . pilgrims!