On Holy Thursday, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said to His disciple, "...are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."
Today, I ask you: are you asleep? Can you not spend one hour a week watching and praying to Jesus to protect you from tests and trials? Do you find other things to do even though you feel you should spend some time in thanks, praise and prayers in God's House?
Or do you go to church and think of other things while you are there or check out who is attending? Do you listen to the sermon and apply it to your life? If you have a church that has communion, do you receive it and quickly walk out the door once you have and not spent some time in the communion of soul with Christ that you just received?
Once you form a relationship with Jesus, you will feel differently about praying and praising Him. Forming a relationship with Him is easy; simply find a quiet place and talk to Him. In your own words and feelings. Ask Him to lead you, teach you and give you the gift of Himself. He will answer you - he answers in different ways. He may answer you in thought, or feelings, or signs and acts. You will feel it.
Once your spirit is willing, your flesh will no longer be weak. You will be stronger in any and all tests that may come your way. Peace will be yours. He will guide you and hold your hand. You will never be alone again.
We celebrate Easter through His death and resurrection to be the light and inspiration in our lives now and forever.
If you want to know Christ intimately, pray to the Holy Sprit for Wisdom and Understanding and read the Bible - start with the New Testament and Jesus' Words. You will receive a Gift that will save your life. Forever.
"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.
The Thursday before Easter is Holy Thursday - this year observed on April 13th. It ends the 40 days of Lent and enters the Triduum (Latin for ‘three days’). The "Sacred ‘Three Days’ of the Triduum” begin on this evening and are a time of quiet, peace and glory. Gospel readings at services on this day focus on Jesus as the Teacher who humbly ’serves’ his disciples by an extraordinary gesture above and beyond the customs of hospitality — He washes their feet. Jesus’ teaching are reflected at services on Holy Thursday - in observance of the night before Jesus died.
Today, the priests of the church remove their vestments much as Jesus did at the Passover supper, and literally wash the feet of members of the church. In the thirteenth chapter of his gospel (John 13:1-17), John describes the character of Jesus. and how Jesus performed the feet washing on the very last night of his life. The foot washing is an act of love and an act of humility. Jesus was showing an example to his apostles of how His ministry represented by them should be one of humbleness and like that of a servant.
Jesus says of this in verses 13-15: "You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. " Catholics believe this describes how Jesus approached His relationship with God the Father. He was submissive to the Father in everything. God the Father is the greatest servant in the universe. In our behalf, He sustains everything we depend on for our very lives.
After the Passover Last Supper that evening, Jesus and His apostles went to the Garden of Gethsemane. There, Jesus, under pressure from his humanness, agonizes and asks his apostles to stay awake with him. They are exhausted and fall asleep, leaving him alone.
Jesus suffered very much in Gethsemane (Mark 14:50, Luke 22:54-62). Luke tells us that drops of blood fell from Jesus’ body. This was a crisis for Jesus. Jesus had always obeyed God his Father. And Jesus still wanted to obey God. But, In Matthew 26:39 he says, "My Father, if it is possible, do not let this happen. However, I want to do the things that you desire. I choose not to do the things that I desire.’ Judas entered the garden, kissed Jesus as a means of identification and he was arrested. His trial and carrying of the cross to his crucifixion and death followed on the day that is observed as Good Friday.
The second most sacred day is Good Friday (this year observed on April14th) the day that Jesus died. He was innocent, but political intervention from religious leaders who were frightened of his power among the people prevailed and they called for his crucifixion. Jesus’ apostles, disciples and followers believed He was the Messiah, as millions of his followers do today — over 2,000 years later.
On Good Friday, Mass is not celebrated anywhere in the world. Instead, the Lord’s Passion is celebrated usually in the afternoon denoting the time when Jesus died. This liturgy consists of three parts: The Liturgy of the Word, Veneration of the Cross, and Holy Communion.
The Liturgy of the Word: These are readings read from Isaiah, Letters to the Hebrews, and the Passion from St. John’s Gospel. Special intercessions and prayers are said for the church, the unity of Christians, for those in special need and for those who do not believe in God.
Veneration of the Cross: The cross is held up in the midst of the congregation who come forward and individually give a sign of reverence or devotion for the symbolic meaning of the cross. Jesus Christ died for the sins of man and for their salvation and Christians believe that in acknowledgeing Jesus as the Messiah, they will be resurrected in death and join him in Heaven.
Holy Communion: Sacramental distribution of the Bread and Wine to the congregation as demonstrated by Jesus at the Last Supper to his disciples.
Although Good Friday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, most Catholic churches are filled to capacity for this observance of the Passion and death of Jesus Christ. Saturday is a day of rest much as God rested from His Creation; it is Christ’s repose in the tomb; it is Christ’s visit with the dead.
The third Most Sacred Day is joyful - Easter Sunday, this year falls on April 16th. It rejoices with the faithful women at the tomb, then the disciples and eventually all running with the news that Christ has risen from the tomb . . . .This is the "Good News" of Christians all over the world. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ - He Lives.
Practically every parish I know of is struggling with how to evangelize, how to bring people back to the Church. This Easter offers us a perfect opportunity. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics will be sitting in the pews for the first time since Christmas or Ash Wednesday. How can we get them to come back? What message can we give them to bring them back to the faith? What is it that they most need to hear?
What better message can we give them that they can start over? Isn’t this a perfect time to tell them of God’s infinite love and mercy? Isn’t this the perfect time to teach about the Feast of Divine Mercy? So often we wait until the Feast of Divine Mercy when we are preaching to the choir but it is the Christmas and Easter people who most need this message. How many of them know that the Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Divine Mercy?
How many of them know the promises Jesus made through St. Faustina. On that day the floodgates of heaven will open. He promised that grace upon grace will be poured upon the earth. On this feast He wants to bless us beyond our imagination. He wants to wipe out all the punishment for our sins. We can be like a newly baptized person. All of our sins and their punishment can be wiped out. It doesn’t matter how great a sinner we are. Jesus wants to set us free.
This is awesome news. We should be shouting it from the rooftops. Our Easter bulletins and messages should be about the Divine Mercy message. Lay people should be emailing everyone they know especially our lost children. Our churches should be so packed that extra masses and confession times need to be scheduled.
Think about it! We can start over!! It doesn’t matter if we’ve been away from the church for thirty years. It doesn’t matter if we’ve forgotten how to go to confession. Jesus wants to drown us in His mercy, to pour His grace upon us. What better news can we give to the Christmas and Easter people?
In the 1930’s Jesus appeared to a humble Polish nun, St. Faustina and practically begged people to come to Him and trust in His mercy. He passionately wants our salvation. He passionately wants us in heaven with Him. It was at His request that the Feast of Divine Mercy was formally established by John Paul II. He tried to make it as simple as possible for us to receive His graces.
How do we do this? What does Jesus ask of us? He calls us to true contrition for our sins? We need to make a good confession as close to the feast as possible and receive the Lord in the Eucharist. We are called to pass on God’s Mercy to others through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Jesus desires us to celebrate and accept His Mercy. We are called to trust in Him.
We live in a world desperate for God’s Mercy. Turn on the news and learn about another disaster, tsunamis, earthquakes, nuclear dangers, wildfires, rebellions. All of us are uneasy and afraid. We need to trust in God’s Mercy. We need to pray for God’s mercy. We need to get other people to pray for God’s Mercy.
So often we are tempted to wait until later, maybe next Easter we will tell people about God’s Mercy. But what if this year will be the last opportunity for someone to take advantage of the Feast? What if this is someone’s last Easter, their last opportunity to hear this message? Can we afford to wait?