Happy Easter! May the Divine Mercy raise you up in hope and courage!
Mercy Sunday is a special day for those around the world who have made the effort to pray the Divine Mercy Novena beginning Good Friday and culminating the second Sunday of Easter. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy was given to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska on Good Friday in 1935 by Jesus who wanted her to pray it as a Novena (9 days) with special intentions for each of the nine days it was prayed. St. Faustina relates in her Diary that Jesus made several promises to grant many special graces to those who would pray the Novena. This Sunday many of the faithful will begin to realize the graces and gifts that Jesus promised to those who would pray the Chaplet. Those who were included in the intentions will receive life changing graces in their lives as well! I am very happy that we include praying the Chaplet in our parishes, especially at St. Edward where it is prayed with the Rosary before all Masses. Jesus also made promises to those who would display an image of the Divine Mercy which is prominently displayed in our Churches at St. Thomas, St. Bernard and St. Edward. The rays streaming from the heart of Jesus in the image have symbolic meaning: red is for the blood of Jesus which is the life of souls and the pale color is for water and Baptism which justifies souls (diary par. 299). The whole image is symbolic of charity, divine love and forgiveness referred to as the “Fountain of Mercy.”
This Sunday the Divine Mercy devotion will begin at St. Edward at 3:00pm. All are invited to attend. There will be Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and then concluded with Solemn Benediction.
May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter
May the Joy of Easter shine brightly in your hearts!
Through the journey of Lent we have been gathering on Fridays to pray the Stations of the Cross. Many of us have personally experienced the rise and fall rhythm as we struggle with our own crosses and burdens. Through the struggle and the toil, the feelings of confusion and re-orientation, the rise and fall of hope and failure, we have been able to identify and confront some of the forces that have disfigured us. Some of these things are within us and some of them are from people or situations around us. Either way, whatever the source, we have felt the darkness and emptiness of pain and sin. These things have given us a tomb-like experience. We have felt trapped, isolated and unable to change.
Today, by God’s grace, we feel a new freedom! Our faith impels us forth from the confinement of old behaviors to new, better ways of living and loving! In practical daily living, Easter means the experience of tragedy but also joy through the experience of Jesus’ power to transform a tragedy into a new beginning. I think the disciples of Jesus had that type of experience, although much greater. They had placed all their hopes and dreams in Jesus and his promises but then came Good Friday and all their hopes and dreams were smashed to bits when he was taken captive, falsely accused and brutally killed. Their hopes and dreams seemed to finally vanish when he died on the cross. I doubt they fully realized what Jesus was doing for them at the time of the Last Supper—or on the cross. But as the sun rose on Easter morning, Jesus the true light rose with it and appeared to his disciples more fully alive than ever! In that moment, the power of Easter began to transform the lives of his disciples. Incredulity gave way to belief, despair gave way to hope, darkness gave way to light and sorrow gave way to joy, hatred gave way to love! Every Easter Jesus invites us to open our hearts to the transforming power of his love so that he can accomplish in us what he accomplished in his disciples. He sent them into the world renewed and freed from fear or doubt. He made them people of light and filled them with joy! Then he sent them to share the Good News of God’s love and mercy! May God fill you with light, happiness and peace that you may share it with others! +++ Fr. Peter
Grace and peace to you!
Palm Sunday begins Holy Week. It is called Holy Week because through the scriptures this week, we are brought into the historical account of Jesus’ sacrifice and love for us that won our salvation. The liturgies this week take on a special character too. This is partly due to the focus on the passion of Jesus in the readings but also because we engage our physical senses through doing things out of the ordinary like, the reception of the holy oils, the washing of the feet, the empty tabernacle, the use of incense, the veneration of the cross, the ceremony of light with fire and candles and special readings and seasonal hymns. As we incorporate these things, it is important to realize that we are not re-enacting the historical events upon which our faith is grounded, but rather we are enabling ourselves through a fuller use of our senses to enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery. The mystery we enter calls us to reflect upon the events of the past when God delivered his people from oppression and slavery. This mystery compels us to ponder what is now happening in our lives: to recognize the ways that God is leading us on a path of conversion and healing, deepening our faith and our personal relationship with God. Through Lent, we have encountered temptation and some of our faults have been revealed to us. Our lives have changed because God is leading us to a new way of life. This “anamnesis” or remembering-in-a-special-way bolsters our hope and confidence in God’s loving plan of salvation for our future. We know that we are never abandoned nor forgotten and we are always delivered and forgiven when we turn to God for help. My prayer is that we all grow in holiness as we enter this special week in a new and deeper way. God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter
The story of Lazarus helps us enter into a deep and real encounter with Jesus. Although Jesus is the All Powerful Lord and Savior of all, he weeps at the death of his friend and he grieves with Martha and Mary because of their loss. Jesus is not afraid to cry, to weep and to grieve. He is not aloof or separated from our pain, longing or suffering any more than he is separated from our feelings of joy, hope and gratitude! Jesus is not afraid to feel and express his emotions in a healthy way with other people. Jesus’ words to unbind and set Lazarus free are directed to us today.
Let us think about Lazarus for a moment. He is bound up in a dark cave and he is dead. These are the effects of sin and Jesus has come to show that he can free us from these effects if we trust and believe in him!
Close your eyes, try to identify the places of injury on your body or soul that have been damaged or died because of sin. Think about your personal Spirit, has part of it died or been diminished in some way?
If you feel that you are in darkness and have lost sight of hope, If you feel unable to give or receive love, If you can no longer voice your true thoughts and feelings, If you did something bad or were made to do something bad, If you are unable to move forward and make changes in your life, If your mind is constantly dwelling on negativity, fear, guilt, or caught up in anger obsessing on past hurts and trauma, If you feel ashamed, If you have been carrying the burden of an unspoken secret, If part of your body is suffering from the damage of abuse, or anything else– ask Jesus to unbind you!
If you feel that you are cut off from God and are unable to pray: pray in the name of Jesus! Pray with a humble, sincere and repentant heart. Pray from the heart and simply be honest with Jesus. Ask him to help you pray.
Remember: You cannot have lust or a wrongful attachment in your heart. You cannot be effective in prayer if you mistreat your spouse or your children or neglect the poor. You cannot harbor a grudge. You must have faith in your heart and no bitterness toward someone else. Pray with great hope and in secret. Pray according to God’s will with an obedient attitude and live that way. Pray in agreement with other believers and with delight in God’s goodness and love! Fast and pray while abiding in God’s Word, Jesus Christ! May the All-merciful Lord raise you to eternal life! +++ Fr. Peter