Category Archives: Eastertide

Solemnity of the Ascension

-The Ascension, by John Singleton Copley, 1775, oil, canvas, 73.66 x 81.28 cm, located Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Jean & Alexander Heard Divinity Library.

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Jesus, who ascended into heaven, grant that I, too, may live there in spirit.

MEDITATION

The central idea in the liturgy today is the raising of our hearts toward heaven, so that we may begin to dwell in spirit where Jesus has gone before us. “Christ’s Ascension,” says St. Leo, “is our own ascension; our body has the hope of one day being where its glorious Head has preceded it” (Roman Breviary). In fact, Our Lord had already said in His discourse after the Last Supper, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself; that where I am, you also may be” (John 14:2,3). The Ascension is, then, a feast of joyful hope, a sweet foretaste of heaven. By going before us, Jesus our Head has given us the right to follow Him there some day, and we can even say with St. Leo, “In the person of Christ, we have penetrated the heights of heaven” (Roman Breviary). As in Christ Crucified we die to sin, as in the risen Christ we rise to the life of grace, so too, we are raised up to heaven in the Ascension of Christ. This vital participation in Christ’s mysteries is the essential consequence of our incorporation in Him. He is our Head; we, as His members, are totally dependent upon Him and intimately bound to His destiny. “God, who is rich in mercy,” says St. Paul, “for His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us … hath quickened us together in Christ … and hath raised us up … and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). Our right to heaven has been given us, our place is ready; it is for us to live in such a way that we may occupy it some day. Meanwhile, we must actualize the beautiful prayer which the liturgy puts on our lips: “Grant, O almighty God, that we, too, may dwell in spirit in the heavenly mansions” (Collect). “Where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also” (Matthew 6:21), Jesus said one day. If Jesus is really our treasure, our heart cannot be anywhere but near Him in heaven. This is the great hope of the Christian soul, so beautifully expressed in the hymn for Vespers: “O Jesus, be the hope of our hearts, our joy in sorrow, the sweet fruit of our life” (Roman Breviary).

COLLOQUY

“O my God, O my Jesus, You are going away and leaving us! Oh! what joy there will be in heaven! But we have to remain here on earth. O eternal Word, what has Your creature done for You, that You should do so much for him and then ascend into heaven to glorify him even more? Tell me, what has he done for You, that You should love him so much? What has he given You? What do You look for in him? You love him so much that You give Yourself to him, You who are all things, and besides whom there is nothing. You want from him his entire will and intellect because when he gives them to You, he gives You all that he has. O infinite Wisdom, O supreme Good, O Love, O Love so little known, little loved, and possessed by so few! Oh! our ingratitude, cause of every evil! O Purity, so little known and so little desired! O my Spouse, now that You are in heaven, seated at the right hand of the eternal Father, create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me” (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).

“Alas! how long this exile is, O Lord, and how the desire to see You makes it seem longer still! O Lord, what can an imprisoned soul do?… I want to please You. Behold me, Lord! If I have to live longer in order to serve You further, I refuse none of the crosses which may await me on earth. But alas, Lord, alas! These are but words; I am capable of nothing else. Permit my desires, at least, to have some value in Your sight, O my God, and do not regard my lack of merit!

“Ah! my works are poor, my God, even if I could perform many! Then why should I remain in this life, so full of misery? Only to do Your will. Could I do anything better than that? Hope, therefore, my soul, hope. Watch carefully, for you know not the day nor the hour. Everything passes quickly, even though your desire makes a short time seem very long. Remember that the more you struggle, the greater the proofs of love you will be giving to your God, and afterward, the more you will enjoy your Beloved in happiness and felicity without end” (Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 15).”

Love, Glory, & Victory!!!
Matthew

Pascha Nostrum

Alleluia.
Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us;
therefore let us keep the feast,

Not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Alleluia.

Christ being raised from the dead will never die again;
death no longer has dominion over Him.

The death that He died, He died to sin, once for all;
but the life He lives, He lives to God.

So also consider yourselves dead to sin,
and alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Alleluia.

Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

For since by a man came death,
by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.

For as in Adam all die,
so also in Christ shall all be made alive. Alleluia.

Love,
Matthew

Peacocks & Resurrection

Master of Isabella di Chiaromonte. ‘Initial D with Imago Pietatis (Christ on His Tomb with Marks of the Passion),’ ca. 1460. ink, paint and gold on parchment. Walters Art Museum (W.328.101R): Acquired by Henry Walters.


-by Rev John Bartunek, LC

“Peacocks often appear in early Christian art as a symbol of the Resurrection and Eternal Life. There are various levels to this symbolism.

Pagan Roots

The most obvious is a carry-over from ancient pagan religions, some of which held the belief that the peacock’s flesh never decayed, even after it died. Early Christians, therefore, adopted the bird as a symbol of the Resurrection, Christ’s eternal, glorious existence.

Medieval Theories

In medieval times, it was also thought that peacocks molt (shed their feathers) every year, and the new ones that grow are more beautiful than the old ones. Along with this idea, medieval legends included the theory that the gorgeous colors of a peacock’s feathers came from a special diet: It was believed that peacocks could kill and eat poisonous serpents, ingesting the poison and transforming it into the colors of their feathers. This too contributed to their being an apt symbol of Christ’s Resurrection, since Christ “became sin” [cf 2 Corinthians 5:21] for us on the Cross, but then rose from the dead with his glorified body and wounds having conquered the powers of evil.

Regardless of the biological accuracy or inaccuracy of these traditions, they help explain why Christian artists often used peacocks as a symbol of the Resurrection and Eternal Life.

Hidden Splendor

Personally, however, I have always been moved even more deeply by another level of symbolism that we can discover in this intriguing bird.

During the normal activities of a normal day, peacocks are fairly normal looking animals. And yet, all the while they are pecking and clucking like your average fowl, a hidden splendor lies underneath. When they spread their tail-feathers, this magnificence shines forth, revealing their true beauty.

The symbolism here is clear. When you see a Christian walking along the street, you can’t tell the difference between him and someone who has never been baptized. From all external appearances, they are both just human beings making their way through the hustle and bustle of daily life. And yet, underneath that ordinary appearance, the Christian soul enjoys a hidden splendor through the transforming power of God’s grace. The Blessed Trinity actually dwells in the soul who lives in that grace. And the person living the life of grace has also received a plethora of spiritual gifts: the theological virtues and the other infused virtues; the gifts of the Holy Spirit; the sacramental seals coming from baptism and confirmation, etc.

These spiritual realities are habitually and dynamically present in every Christian who lives the life of grace, but they are not visible in the ordinary way. Their full splendor will only become visible when the Christian enters into eternal life and comes to share in Christ’s own glorious resurrection. At that point, the hidden magnificence of each Christian’s soul will be revealed, to the wonderment of all, similar to a sudden spreading of the peacock’s magnificent feathers.

It’s only an artistic symbol, so there isn’t a perfect correlation. But it’s a lovely one, in my opinion.”

Love, and beauty,
Matthew

Salva festa dies – 6th century AD

Salve, festa dies, toto venerabilis aevo. qua deus infernum vicit et astra tenet (Repeat after each verse)

Ecce renascentis testatur gratia mundi omnia cum domino dona redisse suo.

Namque triumphanti post tristia Tartara Christo undique fronde nemus, gramina flore favent.

Legibus inferni oppressis super astra meantem laudant rite deum lux polus arva fretum.

Qui crucifixus erat, deus ecce per omnia regnat, dantque creatori cuncta creata precem. salve, festa dies.

Christe salus rerum, bone conditor atque redemptor, unica progenies ex deitate patris.

Qui genus humanum cernens mersisse profundo, ut hominem eriperes es quoque factus homo

Nec voluisti etenim tantum te corpore nasci, sed caro quae nasci, pertulit atque mori

Fexequias pateris vitae auctor et orbis, intras mortis iter dando salutis opem.

Tristia cesserunt infernae vincula legis expavitque chaos luminis ore premi.

Depereunt tenebrae Christi fulgore fugatae et tetrae noctis pallia crassa cadunt.

Pollicitam sed redde fidem, precor, alma potestas: tertia lux rediit, surge, sepulte meus.

Non decet. ut humili tumulo tua membra tegantur, neu pretium mundi vilia saxa premant.

Lintea, precor, sudaria linque sepulchro: tu satis es nobis et sine te nihil est.

Solvecatenatas inferni carceris umbras et revoca sursum quidquid ad ima ruit.

Redde tuam faciem, videant ut saecula lumen, redde diem qui nos te moriente fugit.

Sed plane inplesti remeans, pie victor, ad orbem: Tartara pressa iacent nec sua iura tenent.

Inferus insaturabiliter cava gruttura pandens, qui rapuit semper, fit tua praeda, deus.

Evomit absorptam trepide fera belua plebem et de fauce lupi subtrahit agrnus oves.

Rex sacer, ecce tui radiat pars magna triumphi, cum puras animas sancta lavacra beant

Candidus egreditur nitidis exercitus undis atque vetus vitium purgat in amne novo.

Fulgentes animas vestis quoque candida signat et grege de niveo gaudia pastor habet.

Salve, festa dies, toto venerabilis aevo. qua deus infernum vicit et astra tenet.

Hail, thou festive, ever venerable day! whereon hell is conquered and heaven is won by Christ. (Repeat after each verse)

Lo! our earth is in her spring, bearing thus her witness that, with her Lord, she has all her gifts restored.

For now the woods with their leaves and the meadows with their flowers, pay homage to Jesus’ triumph over the gloomy tomb.

Light, firmament, fields and sea, give justly praise to the God that defeats the laws of death, and rises above the stars.

The crucified God now reigns over all things; and every creature to its Creator tells a prayer.

O Jesus! Saviour of the world! Loving Creator and Redeemer! Only ­begotten Son of God the Father!

Seeing the human race was sunk in misery deep, thou wast made Man, that thou mightest rescue man.

Nor wouldst thou be content to be born; but being born in the flesh, in the same wouldst thou suffer death.

Thou, the author of life and of all creation, wast buried in the tomb, treading the path of death, to give us salvation.

The gloomful bonds of hell were broken; the abyss shook with fear, as the light shone upon its brink.

The brightness of Christ put darkness to flight, and made to fall the thick veils of everlasting night.

But redeem thy promise, I beseech thee, merciful King! This is the third day; arise, my buried Jesus!

‘Tis not meet that thy Body lie in the lowly tomb, or that a sepulchral stone should keep imprisoned the ransom of the world.

Throw off thy shrouds, I pray thee! Leave thy winding sheet in the tomb. Thou art our all; and all else, without thee, is nothing.

Set free the spirits that are shackled in limbo’s prison. Raise up all fallen things.

Show us once more thy face, that all ages may see the light! Bring back the day which fled when thou didst die.

But thou hast done all this O loving conqueror, by returning to our world: death lies defeated, and its rights are gone.

The greedy monster, whose huge throat had swallowed all mankind, is now thy prey, O God!

The savage beast now trembling vomits forth the victims he had made, and the lamb tears the sheep from the jaw of the wolf.

O King divine! lo! here a bright ray of thy triumph- the souls made pure by the holy font.

The white ­robed troop comes from the limpid waters; and the old iniquity is cleansed in the new stream.

The white garments symbolize unspotted souls, and the Shepherd rejoices in his snowlike flock.

Hail, thou festive, ever venerable day! whereon hell is conquered and heaven is won by Christ.”

Happy Easter!!!

Love,
Matthew

Why we believe in the Resurrection


-by Trent Horn

“The Bible says that if Jesus did not rise from the dead then the Christian faith is worthless (1 Cor. 15:17). However, if Jesus did rise from the dead then we know Jesus can keep his promise to give everyone who follows him eternal life (1 John 2:25).

But how can we know that Jesus really rose from the dead and that the Bible’s description of this miracle wasn’t just a story someone made up?

One way is by showing that the Resurrection is the only explanation for the events surrounding Jesus’ death, events that almost everyone, including skeptics, agrees are historical. Even scholars who don’t think the Bible is the word of God admit it is not completely made up.

For example, skeptical scholar John Dominic Crossan denies that Jesus rose from the dead but he says, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”

Similarly, the atheist New Testament scholar Gerd Ludemann said, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.” Lüdemann doesn’t think Jesus actually rose from the dead but that the apostles experienced an hallucination instead. He does think, however, the apostles thought they saw the risen Jesus and this fact of history needs to be explained.

An Atheist Admits the Evidence Is Overwhelming

Antony Flew was at one time one of the most famous atheists in the Western world. His essay “Theology and Falsification” is one of the most widely printed essays in the history of twentieth-century philosophy. That is why it is remarkable that even he admitted in a debate with a Christian that “the evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity.”

For example, the Qu’ran does not record Muhammad performing miracles, and the earliest sources about Buddha say he refused to perform miracles. Both men are described as performing miracles only in legends written centuries after their deaths. This stands in sharp contrast to the accounts of Christ’s Resurrection that we find in the Bible. Unlike the stories of other ancient wonder-workers, these Christian accounts were written decades (not centuries) after the events they describe and are preserved in multiple sources.

“I’m Ready to Be a Christian”

I remember staying up one night in high school watching debates on the Internet between Christians and atheists. One question kept bothering me: How did it all start? Christianity didn’t begin with one person having visions of God that no one else could confirm. It began with the public proclamation that a man had been raised from the dead. It was accompanied by historical evidence like the empty tomb that proved this was not a hoax or a hallucination.

That night I realized Jesus was really alive and he was the God “out there” I had vaguely thought about for so many years. I then bowed my head, opened up my palms, and prayed, “Jesus, if you’re real, help me believe. I’m ready to be a Christian.”

Why We Believe: The Resurrection

Even skeptics admit that Jesus was crucified, buried, his tomb was found empty, his disciples saw him after his death, and they were willing to die for that truth.

Other explanations, like hallucination or fraud, only [attempt to] explain some of these facts.

The most plausible explanation for all these facts is that Jesus really did rise from the dead.”

Love, & Easter Joy!!! He is Risen!!!! He is truly Risen!!!
Matthew

Haec dies

Haec dies quam fecit Dominus:
exultemus et laetemur in ea,
alleluya.

verse for Easter Sunday:
Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus:
quoniam in saeculum misericordia ejus.
[Pascha nostrum Immolatus est Christus.]

verse for Easter Monday:
Dicant nunc Israel, quoniam bonus:
quoniam in saeculum misericordia ejus.

verse for Easter Tuesday:
Dicant nunc, qui redempti sunt a Domino:
quos redemit de manu inimici,
et de regionibus congregavit eos.

This is the day which the Lord hath made:
let us be glad and rejoice therein.
Alleluia.

verse for Easter Sunday:
Give praise to the Lord, for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 118:1)
[Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us.]

verse for Easter Monday:
Let Israel now say, that He is good:
that His mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 118:2)

verse for Easter Tuesday:
Let them say so that have been redeemed by the Lord,
whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy:
and gathered out of the countries.
(Psalm 107:2)

He IS RISEN!!!! Praise Him!!!

Love,
Matthew

Jesus, never leave us

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Do not leave me, O Jesus, gentle Pilgrim; I have need of You.

MEDITATION

God has made us for Himself, and we cannot live without Him; we need Him, we hunger and thirst for Him; He is the only One who can satisfy our hearts. The Easter liturgy is impregnated with this longing for God, for Him Who is from on high; it even makes it the distinctive sign of our participation in the Paschal mystery. “If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). The more the soul revives itself in the Resurrection of Christ, the more it feels the need of God and of heavenly truths; it detaches itself more and more from earthly things to turn toward those of heaven.

Just as physical hunger is an indication of a living, healthy organism, so spiritual hunger is a sign of a robust spirit, one that is active and continually developing. The soul which feels no hunger for God, no need to seek Him and to find Him, and which does not vibrate or suffer with anxiety in its search, does not bear within itself the signs of the Resurrection. It is a dead soul or at least one which has been weakened and rendered insensible by lukewarmness. The Paschal alleluia is a cry of triumph at Christ’s Resurrection, but at the same time, it is an urgent invitation for us to rise also. Like the sound of reveille, it calls us to the battles of the spirit and invites us to rouse and renew ourselves, to participate ever more profoundly in Christ’s Resurrection. Who can say, however advanced he may be in the ways of the spirit, that he has wholly attained to his resurrection?

COLLOQUY

“O my hope, my Father, my Creator, true God and Brother, when I think of what You said—that Your delights are to be with the children of men—my soul rejoices greatly. O Lord of heaven and earth, how can any sinner, after hearing such words, still despair? Do You lack souls in whom to delight, Lord, that You seek so unsavory a worm as I?… O what exceeding mercy! What favor far beyond our deserving!

“Rejoice, O my soul … and since the Lord finds His delights in you, may all things on earth not suffice to make you cease to delight in Him and rejoice in the greatness of your God.

“I desire neither the world, nor anything that is worldly; and, nothing seems to give me pleasure but You; everything else seems to me a heavy cross.

“O my God, I am afraid, and with good reason, that You may forsake me; for I know well how little my strength and insufficiency of virtue can achieve, if You are not always granting me Your grace and helping me not to forsake You. It seems to me, my Lord, that it would be impossible for me to leave You…. But as I have done it so many times I cannot but fear, for when You withdraw but a little from me I fall utterly to the ground. But blessed may You be forever, O Lord! For though I have forsaken You, You have not so completely forsaken me as not to raise me up again by continually giving me Your hand…. Remember my great misery, O Lord, and look upon my weakness, since You know all things.” (Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 7 – Life, 6).

Love,
Matthew

advice for a new Catholic

adult-baptism-rcia

Rachel-Lu-1024x1024
-by Rachel Lu,

“It’s an especially happy Easter for the Lu family this year, since a near and dear relative of mine came into the Church at the Easter Vigil. Eleven years into my Catholic life, I am no longer the only Catholic in my natal family. God is good.

In light of that, I’ve been reflecting on the topic of conversion, and what I as his sponsor really ought to convey. Since everyone’s life is a bit different, it’s hard to know what will really help. Even so, generating advice for neophytes is a healthy exercise in self-evaluation. What have I learned in my time so far as a Catholic? I made a list of the most important things, and would encourage others to make theirs, if only to reflect on where we might improve.

The first and most important thing I would say is that the repeatable sacraments are the bread and butter of Catholic life. No matter what else happens you must keep going to Mass, and to Confession. If you’re in a rut and they don’t seem to be helping, carry on anyway. If you’re busy, make time for it. Every kind of moral and spiritual problem can be worked out over time with the help of God’s grace. But if you discontinue these practices, you are spiritually starving yourself.  (Ed. where is your faith?  Trust Him always!  He will provide.  Assume the position of anticipation, reception, patience and trust.  Trust.  He will gloriously provide in ways we could NOT imagine!  He ALWAYS does.  He always does.  His timing NOT ours!!!  His!!!  Trust not in your own devices or wisdom! (Ps 143:6)  Trust Him!!!  ALWAYS.  ALL WAYS.  Praise Him, Church!  Praise Him.)

Don’t worry too much if you initially feel like you’re “going through the motions” in your sacramental life. Seasoned Catholics sometimes feel this way too, but over time we come to understand that sacraments go on working in our lives in ways we can’t immediately appreciate. Partly, that’s because grace is mysterious.  AMEN!  AMEN!  (Thinking you know it all, or adhering obsessively to ONLY the humanly quantifiable, is a sure way to prevent/resist it!  HUMBLE YOURSELF BEFORE THE LORD!!!!  Ps 51:17  Do NOT DEMAND HIs Presence or action, but patiently await His gifts.  Kings grant their gifts in their own way, in their own time!  Not under duress, or from demands of subjects/sinners!  Allow for the possibility of His love, His grace.  It will come much more swiftly and dramatically to you.  I promise!!  Be careful what you pray for!!  That Holy Spirit is POWERFUL, POWERFUL!!!  And, subtle as the whisper or the breeze. (1Kgs 19:13)  Just ask St Paul.)  🙂  But also, the Church has a lot more wisdom than most people realize. AMEN!  AMEN!  

Sacraments were filling deep human needs long before psychologists made up fancy terms for them. Modern people are inclined to lose heart if it doesn’t feel like their worship is sufficiently “authentic.” They should stop worrying so much. AMEN!  AMEN!  THE CHURCH UNDERSTANDS better than you do what is happening in your soul when you follow her advice. Think of her as a spiritual life coach, whose self-improvement program has an excellent track record of helping people over the long run.  (Or, the Instrument, the Bride of Christ on Earth!!!  His Spouse, as I prefer, as is more traditional!!!)

Confession especially can be quite awkward in the beginning. It’s also often disappointing if you’re expecting cinematic moments of stunning sacerdotal insight. (cheap parlor trick grace?  this is your god?  I pity you, truly. 🙁 ) (This, of course, is what the movies lead us to expect.)

Realistically, we probably shouldn’t see the confessional as a regular vehicle for external spiritual direction. (It has a more utilitarian focus, namely, the forgiveness of your sins.  And, there’s a line waiting behind you!)  Some priests really do have a kind of charism for it, and there are innumerable stories of penitents receiving a much-needed word at precisely the right time, enabling them to turn their lives around. It’s certainly good to make oneself available to that kind of grace. But it isn’t simply available on demand, and most of the time you’ll hear something brief, like a Bible verse or a quick platitude (“keep trying!”), followed by a penance and absolution. Don’t be disappointed. The priest has a lot to do and he doesn’t even know who you are.

My early confessions felt like awkward bean counting. Over time though, the regimen of regular confession completely changed my interior life. Sometimes bad habits get nipped in the bud just because I feel shame at the thought I might need to confess them.

I’m painfully aware of which sins are “my regulars,” (You can root out your “regulars”, too, if you are truly serious about it, and we ALL SHOULD BE, we should.  That is NOT to say, we can make ourselves sinless in this life by our own power.  We must let Him be God.  Makes sense, because He is.  His will, His way, even, especially when we do not understand why, especially then, trust, trust, trust.  Because of our fallen nature, sinner that I am, I will sin, again.  But, the power of His grace is AWESOME!!!  DON’T try harder.  Cooperate with grace!!  THIS IS GOD, we’re talking about, here!! If drugs are your problem, or such, STOP taking drugs!!!  Throw away in the trash where neither you nor anyone else can retrieve, EVER!!!  If you ARE going to repeat this sin, again, make it as expensive, and difficult to do so, as humanly possible.  Give yourself a chance, in a temporal way, at least.  Be practical.  Be real.  Deal.  Either you will, or you won’t.  Either way you & God will know the truth.  He ALWAYS DOES!!!  My money’s on God.  Sorry self, not really.  No more self-deception.  No more equivocating.  No more bullshitting yourself & God.  None!!!  Then trust, trust, trust, pray, pray, pray, love, love, love Him, more.  Rinse, and repeat, until He gives you the strength to be sober, to live soberly, and DO HIS WILL!!!  Let Him come to you!!  How sweet, how refreshing, how placid, it is, when He does.  🙂  I promise.  I do.  Literally, as God is my witness!!  I have benefitted.  I have.  I swear.) and at the same time, it often happens during my examination of conscience that I become unexpectedly aware of some failing that I hadn’t even noticed.  (Don’t be neurotic.  Be honest.  Be open.  Love Him more.  It will be easy, because you know He does.)

The most important thing to understand, though, is that confession is not about wallowing in guilt. Quite the contrary, it provides a healthy outlet for channeling justified guilt towards genuine moral growth. Instead of wallowing in an aimless sense of shame and inadequacy, Catholics put themselves on a sacramental “diet” that gives structure to our efforts at moral improvement. As with other healthy life habits, the typical result is less debilitating guilt, not more.

Now that you are Catholic, draw strength from the realization that you are part of an enormous family. It includes the saints in Heaven. It includes the suffering souls in Purgatory. It includes all 1.2 billion of us here in the Church Militant today… and you’re stuck with us. The Church is like the Hotel California that way. (?, uh…ok, whatever.  You get those “moments”, “expressions”, when dealing with the Holy Spirit.  It’s weird.  It is.  Get used to it.  Just roll with it.  It’ll be all good.  🙂

You can be a good Catholic or a bad Catholic, but nobody gets evicted. What is done CANNOT be undone! The mark on your soul is INDELIBLE!!!  (Yay!!!) 🙂

In that spirit, try not to pay too much attention to Church politics. Catholic politics is, well, politics. Unless your profession requires it, you probably don’t need to obsess about it, and there are much more edifying ways to immerse yourself in the faith. But whatever you do, don’t trust journalists to educate you about Catholicism. Far too many Catholics take their cues from the ordinary media instead of their priests and bishops, the Catechism, the saints, reliable historians and theologians, and the wealth of faithfully Catholic media sources. AMEN!

Journalists, as a rule, are as ignorant as they are hostile when it comes to Catholicism. Living in an information age, we have lots of fantastic resources to help us increase our understanding. The New York Times and Huffington Post aren’t among them. Don’t trust anything they tell you about our faith (or any other).

Finally, cherish the realization that your Catholic faith anchors you in something far bigger than you, or the year 2016, or the United States of America, or even the whole world. This may sometimes cause you trouble. Christ has already warned us of that. But fear not! He has conquered the world.(Jn 16:33)”

“Inquire not simply where the Lord’s house is, for the sects of the profane also make an attempt to call their own dens the houses of the Lord; nor inquire merely where the church is, but where the Catholic Church is. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Body, the Mother of all, which is the Spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ” (Catecheses, xviii, 26). St Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386 AD)

Love & Great Welcome!!!,
Matthew

The Octave of Easter – Victimae Paschali Laudes

The first eight days of the Easter season form the Easter octave and are celebrated as solemnities of the Lord. Each day is another little Easter.  While Alleluias (=Hallal Yahweh/Praise the Lord!) were nowhere to be found in Lent, now they resound in multitude.

Victimae paschali laudes
immolent Christiani.

Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
reconciliavit peccatores.

Mors et vita duello
conflixere mirando:
dux vitae mortuus,
regnat vivus.

Dic nobis Maria,
quid vidisti in via?

Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
et gloriam vidi resurgentis:

Angelicos testes,
sudarium, et vestes.

Surrexit Christus spes mea:
praecedet suos [vos] in Galilaeam.

[Credendum est magis soli
Mariae veraci
Quam Judaeorum Turbae fallaci.]

Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
tu nobis, victor Rex, miserere.
[Amen.] [Alleluia.]

Let Christians offer sacrificial
praises to the passover victim.

The Lamb has redeemed the sheep:
The Innocent Christ has reconciled
sinners to the Father.

Death and life contended
in a spectacular battle:
the Prince of Life, Who died,
reigns alive.

Tell us, Mary, what did
you see on the road?

“I saw the tomb of the living Christ
and the glory of His rising,

The angelic witnesses, the
clothes and the shroud.”

“Christ my hope is arisen;
into Galilee, He will go before His own.”

We know Christ is truly risen from the dead!
To us, victorious King, have mercy!
Amen. [Alleluia.]

Love,
Matthew

Photographing the Ascension

13642_Unidentified-German-Ascension-1890-628x378

gabriel_torretta
-by Br Gabriel Torretta, OP

“There’s an interesting feature about many artistic representations of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, common to the works of both run-of-the-mill painters and masters like Rembrandt: namely, they are very boring.

Now I don’t want to blame the great masters and their lesser counterparts for phoning in their treatment of the subject; it’s just almost impossible to represent the Ascension in an artistically meaningful way. After all, at the Ascension the disciples witness Jesus pass from the visibility of his life on earth to the invisibility of his life in heaven, which is not really an event that tangible arts can represent easily.

Nor, to be honest, is the Ascension an event that we can easily wrap our minds around, even forgetting the question of art. After all, if the thirty-three years of Jesus’ earthly life and the forty days after his resurrection were able to plant the seeds of the Church and win the redemption of mankind, doesn’t it seem reasonable to expect that Jesus’ best move would have been to stick around visibly on earth, letting everyone see him resurrected, not aging as the ages pass, thus forcing all reasonable people to conclude that this immortal man must in fact be the Son of God? Wouldn’t a Jesus who reigned in his resurrected body on earth have won more souls to heaven, simply by the undeniability of his presence? To put it simply: isn’t the spiritual character of Christ’s Ascension the very obstacle that we physical beings stumble over and thus fall into unbelief?

Happily, there’s a very strange artistic representation of the Ascension that solves the difficulties of the preceding paragraphs, by being both compositionally fascinating and theologically illuminating. It’s the image that appears as the featured image for this post: titled simply Ascension, it is a photograph produced by an unknown German in 1890, currently held by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Everything about this image is odd. First, it’s a photograph, which is fairly strange unless we accept that Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was actually a documentary all along. Second, the actual composition of the scene is unusual: although the scriptural accounts specify that the only witnesses to the Ascension were the eleven disciples (Mt 28:16, cf. Acts 1:1-11), here we have Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of Jesus thrown in as well. So what’s going on here?

The image can reasonably be put into the pictorialist school of photography, which sought to compose photographs in the manner of a painting, rather than merely recording events that passed a camera’s lens. That is, the pictorialists sometimes—as in this photograph—sought to capture the uncapturable, to photograph the unphotographable, making visible what is invisible either by its nature or because it has passed in time. As a result, this idiosyncratic and short-lived art form was perhaps uniquely well-suited to represent the simultaneously fleshly and spiritual character of the Ascension, when Jesus’ resurrected humanity really went to heaven in his physical body, where he still reigns in perfect equality with the Father and the Spirit.

In this image, the spiritual reality of the Ascension is revealed in its full splendor precisely as visible; Jesus’ bristling, bushy beard won’t be denied, and neither will the bony leg that juts out from underneath his tunic, nearly making contact with Mary’s outstretched arm. Jesus’ humanity will not be denied here, even as it is being taken up into the ethereal realm of the painted whorl of cherubim on the backdrop wall. Moreover, the visible composition of the scene itself reveals the inner spiritual reality of the event, by the particular imposition of Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of Jesus. That is, with the insertion of those two figures, the artist creates a perfect echo with the crucifixion, where John (to Mary Magdalene’s left here) and the two Marys are often depicted in precisely these positions and poses. The additional presence of the remaining ten disciples from the Ascension scene conflates the two, signaling both the unity of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the Cross and the Ascension, as well as the particular instantiation of redemption in the lives of the apostles who had fled the earlier event. The visible, then, is the key to the invisible, just as the invisible is the key to the visible; neither makes sense without the other.

This is the inner dynamic of the Ascension, and of the very redemption of Christ. Jesus did not want to remain in his visible, risen humanity on earth forever, lest men and women forget that something more remains for us; he came not to make a permanent base out of the waystation of earth, but to lead us to the more perfect homeland of heaven, drawing us through his Incarnation to share in his divinity. With the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, the visible is now shot through with the glorious reality of heaven—where we will be in the closest spiritual presence to the invisible God—and we in turn are only drawn to that spiritual perfection in and through our bodily existence. We go to God not as angels, severed from our bodiliness, but as redeemed men and women, living a share in the life of heaven already on earth by grace. Christ’s ascension into heaven makes this reality known to us, as his reign in heaven makes his grace accessible to us.

So next time you find yourself in a muddle about the meaning of the Ascension, take a trip back in time with our nineteenth-century German friend, and let your eyes behold in faith the visibility of the invisible God.”

Love,
Matthew