Question: Where does the Catholic Church stand on images of Christ, statues of saints, pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of Guadalupe, etc.? Is it wrong for me to have these items in my home? I know that our Church does not worship idols. Yet I would like some more information on what we believe.
Answer: When I was a young man, I read a story by Stephen Vincent Benét titled “By the Waters of Babylon.” The mood was one of a traveler finding the ruins of a previous civilization. Throughout the story the hero kept coming across an idol of the God Ashing. At story’s end, the reader discovers Benét has looked into the future and the city of New York, after some great catastrophe. The “idol” is simply the ruins of a bust of George Washington.
My point is simply that people can misinterpret, misconstrue and fail to understand what others are doing or have done.
The next time someone criticizes your use of statues, or accuses you of idolatry, you might ask him if he has a picture of his wife or children in his wallet. If he says yes, ask him why he is worshiping them.
Or ask him if he thinks all those tourists going out to see the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., or the faces of the presidents on Mount Rushmore are guilty of idolatry.
Those statues, like pictures of George Washington in so many courthouses, are ways of honoring heroes from the past. They put us in touch with great people in our history. They become occasions for teaching children about the past and offering examples of great citizens.
Stained-glass windows, statues and paintings have long served these same purposes in the Church. Crucifixes and statues of the Good Shepherd or Sacred Heart remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice and love for us. Statues of Mary and the saints recall the heroism of the saints and suggest to us what we should strive to become.
They are occasions for telling the children of today about the real saints and heroes of the past, for telling children what it means to live out their faith and religion. To all of us they offer the occasion to reflect and pray on the action of God in our lives. They help us to better sentiments of piety, call upon us to express our own faith and love. In honoring the saint we honor God who has worked such good and holy things in and through the saint.
When I graduated from college, someone asked me what was the greatest thing I learned? In truth, the greatest thing I learned was how little I knew about all there was to know.
Faith works like that, too. The more I learn about God, the more I feel there’s so much more to learn and know about Him.
If you live in a country like the USA, as I do, the average person has a home, a car, clothes, and time to travel and to entertain. If the average American wants something special for breakfast, he can go to a restaurant or a food store and buy it. To people who live in poor countries, they might not have any of these things ~ they may not even know what or when they are going to eat from one day to the next.
How blessed we are. Do you ever wonder, like I do, why I live here in comfortable conditions, when others live in poverty?
We know God through His Word, the Bible and His Reasoning. Our Life Plans for us aren’t written in contract form. He does give us many mandates, commandments, parables, and teachings from His Son, Jesus, to give us a pattern and way of living. It doesn’t say anything in the Bible about having the biggest house or the best furniture or making the most money. He does tell us how to have traditional relationships in marriage and love; he tells us how to raise our children, and what makes us happy in life and what is good and what is not good for us. He is our Father.
He sent His Son, Jesus, so we would know what The Father is like so we can communicate with Him.
I ask why has God blessed me so? I’ve had my share of trials and tribulations, but my faith in God has always sustained me. He has given me an abundant life – why does He do that? He loves everybody and we’re all equal in his eyes….why are some in unfortunate situations and others always griping they want more? And why do some who have plenty want more and more?
What about you? Do you live an abundant llife? Do you always want that new car, latest technology, or fashion design? Do you feel blessed? Or are you OK with what you want and have but need something else to make you happy and fulfilled?
Perhaps a quiet time with Our Lord seeking his Will and Plans for you would put your life in a different perspective. The more you get out of your time with Him , the more you will seek it and understand it.
With Christmas coming upon us, an Associated Press poll reveals that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe in Angels, 77 percent of adults to be exact. The Washington Times states that most Americans do believe in guardian angels who keep them safe in a dangerous world. A new study says it’s this belief that keeps them from taking risks.
The most memorable angel in the movies is the Christmas classic, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life where Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey in the fictional town of Bedford Falls shortly after World War II – a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve gains the attention of his guardian angel, Clarence, who is sent to help him in his hour of need. ‘And whenever an angel gets his wings, a bell rings.’ A great movie.
I’ve always believed that we all had guardian angels; angels who protect us from that close call while driving; or making us aware of things that could be harmful to us or simply keeping us from doing wrong. What does the Bible say?
The Bible mentions angels frequently. Angels are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament. Only two angels–Michael and Gabriel–are mentioned by name in Scripture. These two names are masculine in gender.
According to the Bible, however, angels are spiritual (not physical) beings. Although they can take on human form or appearance (as they do at times in Scripture), they do not have physical bodies like humans and so are neither “male” nor “female” in gender. Angels are essentially “ministering spirits”. Jesus declared that “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have”.
The English word “angel” comes from the Greek ‘angelos’, which means ‘messenger’. The Bible tells us an angel is a pure spirit created by God and although the word “angel” in the Bible, meaning a messenger, nearly always applies to heavenly beings, it can occasionally apply to human messengers.
In the Old Testament, there is mention of belief in angels: the name is applied to certain spiritual beings or intelligences of heavenly residence that were employed by God as the ministers of His will. These ministers or messengers carried out His requests, and special commissions, regarding men and ordinary matters. There is no special teaching in the Old Testament; but the doctrine is expressly laid down in Maccabees. However, in the New Testament the doctrine is precisely stated. Angels are everywhere — the intermediaries between God and man; and Jesus set a seal upon the Old Testament teaching: “See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven”. Matthew 18:10.
It also tell us in the doctrine : ‘even little children have guardian angels, and these same angels are within the vision of God and they have a mission to fulfill on earth.’ There are a whole range of spirits whom God has created, with special categories such as cherubim, seraphim, and the archangel. We are familiar with archangels Gabriel and Michael.
Although the Scriptures give us no indication of the precise time of the creation of angels; their existence is assumed at the earliest times. While the Scriptures themselves give no definite figures, we are told that the number of angels is very great (Daniel, Matthew & Hebrews.) There are many places in the New Testament that allude to ministering of angels: Gabriel announcing the good news of Jesus to Mary; the angel in the Garden of Gethsemane ministering to Jesus; and the angel who delivered Peter from prison. They are sometimes in the form of men and their purpose is very meaningful.
Angels in the Bible never appear as cute, chubby infants! They are always full-grown adults. When people in the Bible saw an angel, their typical response was to fall on their faces in fear and awe. Some Bible passages picture angels with wings. Other verses talk about angels flying, and we assume that the wings would be useful for that flight. But others say that angels may be able to move around without having to depend on wings, somewhat like clouds do. Most references to angels in Scripture say nothing about angels having wings and yet, Daniel and John both refer to angels as ‘flying’ by.
Our Lord often spoke of angels; in the New Testament – and because of this, churches teach that everyone has a guardian angel based on references to them throughout the Bible. “That every individual soul has a guardian angel has never been defined, and is, consequently, not an article of faith; but it is the “mind of the Church”, as St. Jerome expressed it — “how great the dignity of the soul since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” (Comm. in Matt., xviii, lib. II). “No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to His Angels God has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” “For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.”
Some of the activities done by angels are: Worship and praise which is the main activity portrayed in heaven. Revealing by serving as messengers to communicate God’s will to men. They helped reveal the law to Moses and were carriers of much of the material in Daniel and Revelations. Instructing – Angels gave instructions to Joseph about the birth of Jesus, and to travel to Egypt; to the women at the tomb, to Phillip and to Cornelius. Providing – God has used angels to provide physical needs such as food for Hagar, Elijah and Christ after His temptation. Protecting – Keeping God’s people out of physical danger, as in the cases of Daniel and the lions and in the fiery furnace. Getting God’s people out of danger once they’re in it. Angels released the apostles from prison. And don’t forget – we all have one protecting us – that’s lots of angels. Strengthening and encouraging – Angels strengthened Jesus after his temptation and encouraged the apostles to keep preaching after releasing them from prison and gave Paul information about his shipwreck. Answering prayers – God often uses angels as His means of answering the prayers of His people. Caring for believers at the moment of death – In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, we read that angels carried the spirit of Lazarus to “Abraham’s bosom” when he died.
So — “Do you believe YOU have a Guardian Angel?” I know I do. I can be very klutzy and my angel has prevented a lot of mishaps in my life! I used to say ‘Wow, that was lucky’ and now I say thanks to my angel and to God. For those of you who do believe there is a spirit out there watching over you and protecting you from most things, I found this little prayer…. A Prayer to the Guardian Angels “My good Angel, You come from heaven; God has sent you to take care of me. Oh, shelter me under your wings. Lighten my path, and direct my steps. Do not leave me, stay quite near me and defend me against the spirit of evil. But above all come to my help in the last struggle of my life. Amen”.
Congress has its hands full keeping the Obama administration in check, and in most Americans’ opinion, leaders could use some help — from the church. The key to confronting the President’s agenda may be as simple as encouraging more pastors to speak out. So said 61% of Americans surveyed in FRC’s latest poll — the results of which we announced yesterday at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention (NRB) in Nashville. With Christianity under attack as never before, the country is looking to its spiritual leaders to engage in the fight. As our First Freedom, religious liberty serves as the foundation for all other freedoms — which will all be at risk if it crumbles. If pastors would just speak to the issues from a redemptive heart, most people agree that we would see this country turn around.
Rafael Cruz, director of Purifying Ministries and father of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thinks that more boldness from the pulpit could have a profound effect on the state of our nation. At yesterday’s news conference, he the press, “Too many pastors have been intimidated by a concept of separation of church and state not found in the Constitution.” His comments were echoed by Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, who insisted, “No president in history has launched an attack on religious liberty like President Obama. If pastors remain AWOL on this issue like they have on others, we will lose the war for religious freedom that our forefathers gave their life’s blood to provide.”
Recently I read a local newspaper column that blasted the Boy Scouts for taking so long to accept openly gay scouts. The attitude was that Christians should mind their own business and allow the rest of America to do what they want. Unfortunately too many Americans wish we shut up or go away. But can we do that? Aren’t we affected by the sin around us? Can we really expect God to allow this country to keep going the way it is and do nothing? The Bible says no and can be supported by history.
We seemed to have forgotten the stories in the Old Testament when Israel was punished for its sins. It is history. Israel and Judah were both conquered. The Temple was destroyed. Read the book of Judges, 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings and Chronicles. These books make the point clearly. When the Israelites strayed from the Lord their enemies, the Philistines and others were able to defeat them. When they returned to the Lord their enemies were defeated.
Should we ignore the lessons of Noah and of Sodom and Gomorrah? What about the conquest of Israel by Assyria? What about the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon and the exile? Shouldn’t we learn from the mistakes of the past? Doesn’t the Bible have ramifications for us today?
We are all concerned about Islamic terrorism today. 9/11 and Boston proves we’re not invulnerable. Our defense and security isn’t perfect. We are at risk. We live in a dangerous world. The presence of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons makes the world a deadly place. There’s potential for catastrophic war in Korea and the Middle East. China is a real concern. Our economy is still shaky. It wouldn’t take much to push us back into recession or worse.
We used to be the most blessed country on earth. Look at our history, our victories in World War I and II, the defeat of communism and the strength of our economy through most of the 20th Century. God’s blessings were obvious. Now with all that is going on We have to question if we’ve left God’s protection?
Are we worthy of God’s protection and blessing? Should a nation that has killed fifty million of God’s innocents expect protection? Should a land that blatantly defies His teaching on marriage expect protection? Will God ignore all that is done in the name of greed or prejudice? Should such a country be protected?
Could all of the natural disasters we’ve experienced be a wakeup call? Could God be attempting to get our attention? Was Sandy a call to repentance? Most people blindly ignore these or blame them on global warming. Can you explain the violence ripping apart our cities, the shootings at Sandy Hook, Aurora, Colorado and Arizona as global warming? What about Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Columbine and all the other mass murders? Our kids aren’t even safe in school.
So often liberals talk about a God of Love but is it love to allow us to go on hurting ourselves by our sins? Is it love to allow the exploitation of the poor by Planned Parenthood and others? Is it love to allow the slaughter of millions of innocent children for the sake of profit or convenience? Is it love to permit the emotional damage and pain suffered by millions in our society today? Or would love call us to repent of the very sins that hurt us and others?
Maybe it is time to seriously ask ourselves some questions. Have we’ve gone so far in our arrogance and sinfulness that God has abandoned us to the consequences of our sins? Has God accepted our invitation to leave us alone? Is it possible that we do in fact need God, that our problems are too big for our government, that we are doomed as a country without Him? Just look at how well we are doing.
As Christians we can’t be silent. For our own sake and the sake of our country we must continue to speak out against the path of destruction that our nation is following. We must also do more. We need to pray and pray hard every day for the conversion of our nation. It is the most patriotic thing you can do for our country. We need to speak out and take a stand against the immorality in this country, not only with our vote but also with our wallets. We need to refuse to support companies that promote immorality. Don’t just stand by while our country marches to destruction.
**This was published in the October issue of Christian Action News, a pro-life newsletter out of Florida.
Traveling in northern Sicily on the outskirts of it’s capital, Palermo, rising on a hilly area of Mount Caputo overlooking the Conca d’Oro (The Gold Basin) is the town of Monreale From this slope, overlooking the beautiful valley of d”Oro, is a magnificent display in the town of distinct Romanesque, Byzantine and Arab culture. ***Photo by Galen R Frysinger
The name Monreale (pronounced Mohn ree ah’ lay) derives from Latin Mons regalis that means “mountain worthy of the king”. Originally it was an Arabic country house but it gained historical importance when William II built the famous Cathedral, of Northern, Classical, Arab, Byzantine and Norman elements – the best artistic styles of the Christian and Muslim worlds of the 12th century.
The 6,340 square meters of beautiful mosaics within is one of the world’s largest displays of this art only surpassed by Istanbul’s Basilica Saint Sofia. Its mosaics represent the final output of the generation who worked at Cefalù and the Palatine Chapel and is universally considered to be the finest Norman building in Sicily, The result is that the Monreale pictures close the era of the Byzantines and open the way for the great fresco artists of the early Renaissance.
King William hired every master who would come to Sicily and it is thought that some parts of the decorations were even made elsewhere for shipment to Monreale. Throughout are panels depicting biblical history***, portraits of Christ*** and theVirgin Mary , courts of angels, prophets, and saints – all of outstanding expert workmanship*** and beauty.
The cathedral of Monreale has survived almost unchanged for eight centuries. As you approach through the cloisters which are no less artistic than the cathedral and are Arab style. Intricately carved are biblical scenes and figures from the Old and New Testaments***, so much so that it is difficult to take it all in. The cloister columns, too, are completely inlaid with mosaic designs. There are 228 columns in the cloister. Inside the cathedral are scriptural scenes and stories all portrayed by swirling and flowing inlaid mosaic designs. It is beyond words to describe the ethereal beauty.
The day we visited and viewed this treasure we were all silently overwhelmed over the artistic wonders before us. Suddenly, we and other visitors to the Cathedral that day, were interrupted by a bridal party who made their way down the long aisle, complete with family and bridal party. The multitude of visitors collectively stood silent while the bride and groom exchanged their vows in this magnificent cathedral with hundreds of unknown wedding guests. It is a common experience, we were told, and many weddings take place in this way. What a memorable wedding day! See them at the altar in above picture.
The splendor of this cathedral, and outlying buildings and cloister remain vivid in my mind. In reality, a gift of a mosaic heart designed by the artisans of Monreale remains in my heart collection shown here > [ mosaic heart ]
Special thanks for permission of photos *** to and by Galen R Frysinger -http://www.galenfrysinger.com/monreale_sicily_cathedral.htm
Other Photos by Wikimedia Commons – – Mosaic Heart photo – by Marie Coppola Ref: “The Cathedral of Monreale” (Italia)
Friends tell me they don’t have time to pray. It’s a busy life, working, spending time with family, going to school, social activities, etc. Besides, they tell me they don’t ‘know’ prayers; they feel disconnected. When you do offer up prayers, you are connecting with God. The more you send up even little prayers, you are opening yourself up to Him; the little prayers will turn into personal prayers and you will soon be having dialogues with Our Lord – and you will both enjoy it.
You don’t have to pray in “thou shalt not” or “thee are”; you pray in plain old English or whatever language you speak in. You can pray in the shower; start by thanking God for that great hot water – if you’ve ever had your water shut off for a couple of days, you will be even more grateful.
Gratefulness makes prayers special. You can pray while stuck in traffic; Maybe God is keeping you from an accident a couple of miles up the road. Look around and find a person nearby to pray for – there will be one there fidgeting with two hands clenched on the wheel, with a red, annoyed face. Pray for them; they need it. Nothing formal; just talk to God — “Lord, please keep that guy there from having a heart attack; give him peace”. Now, that wasn’t hard, was it?
Pray while waiting in the doctor’s office – you can spend lots of time waiting your turn. It’s better to pray for someone in the room with you (I’ll bet there will be someone with a more serious reason than why you are there) — don’t read that old Newsweek from 2006 – pray for someone instead. It may help heal him or her.
Pray while waiting in line at the grocery store. Stop counting the items of the person in front of you to see if they are ‘legal’ for the speedy register and forget about the Enquirer tempting you to pick it up and read it. Look around – especially for older, widowed ladies – you’ll know them – they are alone and don’t smile much. Smile at them and then pray for them. It will lift them up and you, too.
God tells us to give special attention to widows and orphans. Just a “Bless them Lord, and give them hope.” Yes, that is a prayer.
Pray for the kids you see; they’ll have cell phones hanging out their ears and text away like mad; say a pray for their happiness and that they find love and relationships other than through technology. Yes, they dress funny and their underwear is showing, but they are children of God, too. Pray they find their own unique personalities and not need to be just like their peers.
Please pray for your family – they are closest and dearest to your heart – they each have issues in their lives – pray for them – you’ll feel like you’ve helped them. You can say to our Lord, “Please watch over my family and keep them in good health and free from harm”. Short prayer. But God hears it.
And pray for yourself. Ask God to guide you in your life; help you with that presentation that you really don’t want to do; or soften your heart to call your partner who you really yelled at this morning more than you meant to. Become aware that you can contribute to the well-being of so many others. You can open up your heart to Him and He can become your Best Friend. Just by a simple prayer. I’ve just prayed that you will be open to this idea….. can you feel it?
In our fast track world, people like instant gratification, or at least quick results. Disappointments can occur if your expectations are too high. You can become disenchanted with people, places and things. This can happen even in the place you go to for rest, renewal and refuge – your place of worship. For simplification of terms, I will call it a church.
As part of a faith-sharing group, I listened to multi-denominations share their expectations and disappointments regarding their Saturday, Sunday or any day of worship.
1} Many of the group did not like the emphasis of the church asking for money. Some of them complained that it was an on-going practice. We all know that worship establishments have bills like the rest of us. They pay electricity, heating and air conditioning, cleaning, taxes, salaries, etc. Usually the church offers a balance sheet of where the money is going. If not, offer to be part of the Finance Committee. You will see where it goes and have a voice in how it is distributed. If you are not asked to join, most Finance Committees have an open door policy whereby you can sit in and listen to where the money is going. If they don’t, initiate one by addressing it to the building or church administrator.
2} Closely related to regular collections is the matter of tithing. How much treasure do you tithe? Tithing is explained in Deuteronomy 14:22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.” The definition of the tithe was very simple and plainly laid out for Israel. They were to gather their harvest and count the tithe out from what they’ve gathered. For instance, if you had 100 apples, you must count them out from one-to-ten, and the tenth one you set aside for the Lord – Leviticus 27:32. Today, many denominations pay heed to the 10% of income for church tithing. And many people complain that they cannot afford that. I am not here to argue church’s expectations of tithes or what you should give. I believe that it is an individual choice – some give more; some give less and it should be a personal, private choice and not made public. What you give is between you and God no matter how much or how many times you are asked.
3} Some of the group complained of their leader, minister, pastor or priest. They simply did not like him or her. They did not feel (s)he was leading the congregation correctly, said improper things, was insensitive, and many other things. In other words, (s)he was imperfect. We all are imperfect. Even church leaders. It is a difficult life for many of these leaders; it is a solitary life, especially if they don’t have partners to share stress with. And there is a lot of work and stress. Besides juggling the church’s expenses, administration, activities and worship programs, the church leader also give counsel, oversees funerals, weddings, christenings, baptisms, etc. etc. They are very busy people and churches are usually short-handed. If you don’t like the leader’s mode of operation, volunteer to do some of the leg work he or she does routinely. We have ministry programs to give communion to hospital or shut-ins, bereavement committees help with funerals; there are countless things you can do to help an overworked religious leader. And they LOVE home-cooked meals AND the company – invite them to dinner; you may see another side of them.
4} Everyone complained about children and small babies at church. Especially the fidgety and wailing variety. I admit that I use to complain about this, too. Religious leaders always welcome children to church – some churches have separate glassed rooms for young ones to prevent disrupting the congregation. My feeling is that children who attend church with their parents from an early age quickly adjust and become part of the church family/community easily and lovingly. It is natural for them to be there with family and most likely will duplicate this faith with their own families someday in the same way.
5} Some of the group complained they did not like the people in their church community; they were too high class, too low-class, too gossipy, and the beat goes on. We don’t go to church for the people – we go to church for God.
They lament they will go to another church. There are people all around us we may not care for – maybe even in our own families, but we don’t go look for another family. Many times, the dislikes you feel are cosmetic; you may not really know the other people and let’s face it, you don’t have to socialize with them. You attend church with them, same as attending college or any social gathering. Focus on why you are in church; and don’t focus on the people. You can be friendly and sincere, but you don’t have to live with them. Even Jesus had altercations with his twelve disciples. Peter and James wanted the honor of being on His right and left side in heaven to the consternation of the other ten. Another time, ’An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.” Jesus didn’t replace them; and he didn’t go to another town looking for 12 different disciples. There will always be church members in ANY church you may not see eye to eye with, but you are there to worship and they are part of the community. Maybe they harbor similar feelings about you. Bloom where you are planted and try to grow in faith with everyone, especially those who are different from you. You are there to worship; not judge your brothers and sisters.
Pastor Bob delivered a beautiful homily at church today; I will try to recreate the message he shared with us.
He reflected on the past three Sundays Readings and Gospels which give the accounts of Jesus’ visits with his disciples after his resurrection and before his ascension into Heaven.
He noted that Jesus did not go into the teachings of his past three year’ ministry with his disciples, reviewing with them all the facets of the faith he spoke through his Father. It would seem he would warn them or remind them of parables addressing the continual harassment by the scribes and Pharisees who constantly badgered him.
Instead, Jesus spoke simply to the disciples of the Father, his Love , Peace and the Holy Spirit. Twice Jesus told them, “If you love me, you will ‘keep’ my words” and the Father will reward that person by making his home with them.
When we become like Christ, we automatically do the right thing.
Then he told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would dwell within them and would enable them to remember the words and incidences of Jesus and to record them for future posterity. The promised Holy Spirit would enable the apostles to discern the truth, clarify the doctrine and encourage the new believers in faith, the Gentiles.
The priest explained how in the First Reading, some were teaching that ‘unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29.) They were preaching from their previous teachings. Even Paul at one time believed that all new believers should convert to Judaism before they became Christians, relying on previous teachings. With aid of the Holy Spirit, Paul and Barnabas sent men out to maintain Jesus’ doctrinal purity.
Today is the same: we are guided by the Holy Spirit to maintain doctrinal purity by the Magisterium, the Teaching Authority of the Church. It consists of the Pope and Bishops. Christ promised to protect the teaching of the Church: “He who hears you, hears me; he who rejects you, rejects me, he who rejects me, rejects Him who sent me”. (Luke 10.16)
In the Gospel Reading today (John 14:23-29) Jesus tells us, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.”
“These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Simple faith – simple words. Do not add or take away from them ~ This is our faith:
"Wherever or whenever you are experiencing darkness of the soul, Jesus is there, a Light shining in darkness. We need not see and believe, but instead we have the opportunity to believe and see." Blessings for a Light-filled Easter. He Lives!
“Easter, when delight was turned to disappointment and disappointment was turned to delight. Surely Satan and the forces of evil must have thought they had won the great battle. If the forces of evil could have danced, surely they must have been dancing in the streets. They thought they had killed the Son of God.
Darkness seemed to have been reigning supreme from the time when Judas and an armed crowd, came to arrest Jesus under the cloak of darkness. Darkness provided the cover for the evil intentions of those persecuting Jesus but also for the shameful abandonment of Jesus by his disciples. Even Peter had to slink away into the darkness to hide his shame.
How the forces of evil must have rejoiced as “from noon onward there was darkness over the whole land,” until at last Jesus “gave up his spirit.” How they must have believed that this darkness was just a foretaste of the spiritual darkness which would envelope the earth unabated by the Light of the World. But God had another plan and turned their delight to disappointment.
While darkness still seemed to reign, Mary Magadalene and her companions, and later Peter and John, came “while it was still dark” only to find an empty tomb. Disappointment upon disappointment, or so it seemed at first. But when they realized that the face cloth was separate from the other burial wrappings, a ray of hope and light pierced the darkness, never to be extinguished again. Rather, it was a ray of hope and light which was to grow in brilliance as Christ’s resurrection became known and its meaning understood. Praise God, disappointment is now turned to delight!
“The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits’, the ‘pioneer of life’. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.” (C.S. Lewis, from Miracles)
Christ’s arrest, suffering, death, burial and resurrection introduced a new creation, a new life that has not only escaped the bonds of death but also the chains of enslavement to our natural passions and their subsequent evil behavior. With Jesus’ resurrection comes power to live differently. Jesus introduces a whole new perspective and purpose to life—life lived in union and communion with the Trinity. This new-creation life is described in Ephesians 5 as walking in the Light because through the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence we are able to see life with new insight. In addition, walking in the Light implies a life of holiness is possible, free from the shadows of darkness.
Wherever or whenever you are experiencing darkness of the soul, Jesus is there, a Light shining in darkness just as John said in the beginning of his Gospel. We should no longer shrink into our fears believing the lie that evil will triumph, but follow the disciples’ example and seek out the resurrected Christ. He is risen, he is triumphant, we are in him, full recipients of his victory. In Christ, we are a new creation, and can experience living as a new creation in the peace and power of Jesus. ….we need not see and believe, but instead we have the opportunity to believe and see.”
Ref: Excerpt from Reflecting on Sunday’s Readings ~Easter Sunday
Scripture text is from the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, (New York: The National Council of Churches) 1997, c1994; Reflecting On Sunday’s Readings, Copyright 2002-2013, Richard A. Cleveland.