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Monday, April 2, 2018

Introduction to Ezekiel[1]

Wheels with eyes? Four-faced creatures with wings and human hands? Bones that morph into muscle and flesh? It's an acid trip! It's a David Lynch movie! It's…the Book of Ezekiel! Next to the Book of Revelation, Ezekiel's probably the weirdest and most dramatic book of the Hebrew Bible. It combines far-out visions, judgments of violent destruction and death, and predictions of peace and consolation into a spicy prophetic gumbo. Ezekiel makes the other prophets seem almost tame by comparison, with his mysterious four-faced creatures, strange sexual imagery, and giant wheels in the sky. Like the other Major Prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel lived in turbulent times (around the beginning of the 6th century BCE) and was a witness to the Babylonian exile of the Judeans. His book likely contains many of his authentic prophecies, though there were probably contributions by a school of prophets who followed him as well. This makes him a little different from important prophets like Isaiah and Daniel, whose books are largely compilations created over time. Ezekiel was trying to explain why God was letting this catastrophe happen to his people. His God-of-Wrath version of the Deity is seething with rage over Israel's cheatin' ways. He subjects Ezekiel to all kinds of strange experiences to demonstrate the doom that's going to befall Israel as punishment for idolatry and immorality. Ezekiel's really concerned with observance of the rituals and laws of the Temple. Yet at the same time, he's an intense visionary. His famous vision of God's chariot in Chapter 1 inspired countless mystics and poets in the Jewish and Christian traditions. His trances and behavior were so bizarre that some commentators thought he was psychotic and hallucinating. Even the ancient sages who assembled the final form of the Hebrew Bible almost didn't include Ezekiel. It was just too strange and troubling, and it contradicted some of the rules in Leviticus. But they eventually thought it worth including, so here it is. Can anyone who inspired Quentin Tarantino be completely in his right mind? Make no mistake; this is a pretty disturbing book. Check out Ezekiel's visions and see if you think he's a little crazy or the real deal.

Why Should I Care?

Remember that time when you thought you saw Elvis in the cafeteria? Or that time after pulling an all-nighter that you saw those four-faced flying creatures riding in chariots with strange mystical wheels? Ezekiel will probably help put that experience in perspective. The Book of Ezekiel describes what it's like to suddenly encounter someone or something completely strange and different from everything you've known and experienced up until that point. In Zeke's case, the encounter is with "the glory of God," which appears above that four-faced chariot wheel thing. This encounter might seem bizarre or like nonsense at first, but in studying it, you start to find hidden layers of meaning. Ezekiel might help you confront the strange and uncanny in your own lives. Most of us only experience stuff this strange in our dreams. But unexplainable things and premonitions happen all the time, even if they're not as dramatic as hearing God talking to you or getting magically transported to a different city. Maybe you've just had a strong feeling that you should call a friend you haven't seen in a while. What would you do if something hugely mysterious happened to you or a friend? After you were done freaking out, would you try to understand it? Forget about it? Maybe you'd become more religious because of it. It's human nature to try to make sense out of things that don't make sense.

aPRIL 2 Easter Monday

Ezekiel, Chapter 2, Verse 6
But as for you, son of man, do not fear them or their words. Do not fear, even though there are briers or thorns and you sit among scorpions. Do not be afraid of their words or be terrified by their looks for they are a rebellious house.

Ezekiel’s name means “God strengthens” and his own people hated him. He was commissioned by God to be a prophet for the Jews exiled to Babylon for their sins. Ezekiel faced opposition at almost every turn. Opposed because he dared to tell it like it is. The people could not handle the hard truth. Ezekiel compelled the Jews to hear him and struggle with the pressing issues. Ezekiel’s work is a fore shadow of the work of Christ; who would ultimately save the people from their sins.

Tough Times[2]

God sent Ezekiel to a rebellious people who acted like stubborn children and would not listen to the prophet, yet he continued whether they listened or not. How to you lead those who refuse to follow; by staying true to the message and by being persistent. Consider the roles of both God and people:

God’s Role
The Human Role
1.        He calls us into service.
1. People confirm our call.
2.       He gives us gifts and graces
2. People cooperate with their gifts.
3.       He provides words of direction.
3. We use our mind and emotions.
4.       He supplies a compelling fire inside us.
4. Others recognize and respect the fire.
5.       He controls the outcome.
5. We are to be faithful to the end.

Easter Monday[3] was reserved as a special day for rest and relaxation. Its most distinctive feature is the Emmaus walk, a leisurely constitution inspired by the Gospel of the day (Luke 24.13-35). This can take the form of a stroll through field or forest or, as in French Canada, a visit to one's grandparents.

Why did Jesus appear as a stranger to the two disciples? He appeared to them as a stranger, says St. Gregory, because He meant to deal with them according to their dispositions, and according to the firmness of their faith. They seemed not to have believed in Him as the Son of God, but to have expected a hero or prince who should deliver them from their subjection to the Romans. Thus Christ was, indeed, yet a stranger in their hearts, and chose to appear to them as such, to free those who loved Him from their false notions, to convince them of the necessity of His passion, and to reveal Himself to them, as soon as their understandings should be enlightened, and their hearts filled with desire. Thus God orders the disposal of His graces according to our dispositions; according to our faith and trust according to our love and fidelity. (Goffine’s Divine Instructions)

Visiting Day[4]

In Paschal tide joy, perform works of mercy toward the sick and elderly on Easter Monday. For Easter Monday there is an old custom, still very much alive in the old country, which might well be duplicated here, even though Easter Monday is not generally a holiday, as it is in Europe? In honor of the Gospel of the day, which tells of the two disciples who went to Emmaus and met Our Lord on the way, Easter Monday became a visiting day. Wherever there are old or sick people, they are visited by young and old.


An indulgence is the marriage of divine justice and mercy. We all have sinned and justice demands restitution-justice demands a righting of the wrong in the spiritual realm. We are not just let go of our sin, it is paid not by us but by the blood of Christ and the saints. It is not a forgiveness of our debt; it is paid by others; by Christ, Mary and the Saints from the infinite treasury of their merits. On the cross, Jesus pronounced, “It is finished.” When Christ gave up his life: he empowered us, through the Holy Spirit, to share in his own life, death, and resurrection. He transferred to us everything that he had merited. By his death he entrusted to the Holy Spirit his redemptive work. The Spirit applies to the saints and to all of us what Christ merited through his life, death and resurrection. The greatest of our church is that it also allows us to intercede for the debt of others, even those who have died and are now in purgatory. An indulgence allows us to ask for payment for the debt from this treasury of God’s mercy. We can do this if we are in a state of grace and have fulfilled other conditions of 1) confession 2) communion and 3) prayers for the pope.

On Indulgences[6]

What is an indulgence? It is the remission granted by the Church, in the name of God, and on account of the merits of Jesus Christ and of all the saints, of the temporal punishment which men must suffer, either in this world or in the world to come, for sins that have been already forgiven.

Whence do we know that after sins are forgiven there yet remains a temporal punishment? From Holy Scripture; thus God imposed upon Adam and Eve great temporal punishments, although He forgave them their sin (Gen. iii.). Moses and Aaron were punished for a slight want of confidence in God (Num. xx. 24; Deut. xxxii. 51). David, though forgiven, was obliged to submit to great temporal punishments (n. Kings xii.). Finally, faith teaches us that after death we must suffer in purgatory till we have paid the last farthing (Matt. v. 26).

Can the Church remit all temporal punishments, even those imposed by God Himself, and why? Certainly, by virtue of the power to bind and to loose which Christ has given her (Matt, xviii. 18). For if the Church has received from God the power to remit sins which is the greater she certainly has authority to remit the punishment of them which is the less. Moreover, it is by the bands of punishment that we are hindered from reaching the kingdom of God.

But if the Church can loose all bands, why not this? Finally, Jesus certainly had power to remit the temporal punishment of sins; and the power which He Himself had He gave to His disciples.
Does the Catholic Church teach that if you commit suicide you go to hell?[7] I’ve often been told, usually by someone who has fallen away from the Catholic faith, that the Church teaches that a person who commits suicide automatically goes to hell. It's held up as an example of the Church's intolerance. Does the Church teach that committing suicide automatically results in hell? The short answer is “no”. The Church has NEVER said ANYONE is in hell. The Church has not even made a pronouncement on Hitler or Judas. Even the punishment of Excommunication does not mean the Church proclaims the sinner is automatically going to hell either. Excommunication is a serious warning, that can only apply to a baptised Catholic (you can't ex-communion-icate someone who's never been in communion). It warns them that they are on the wrong track, and they are in grave danger. However, that's a completely separate subject. The slogan “The Catholic Church teaches that suicide=hell” is a popular anti-Catholic slogan found in Quebec, where the suicide rate is among the highest in the world. In all fairness, they have good reason to think that the Church teaches this, due to bad formation of priests in the 50’s. But it’s just not like that. The Catechism has this to say:

2282 “…Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.”

2283 “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.”

All life belongs to God. Even a person’s own life does not belong to them, but rather it was created by God, and although we have free will to do as we wish, we are subject to universal spiritual laws. One of those laws taught by the Catholic Church is that it is wrong to take a life under any circumstance, even your own. Now having said that it is wrong, we have to contemplate what the consequence of that wrong action might be. Well it depends on if it is a grave sin (mortal) or not. For a sin to be mortal it must have three characteristics.

·         It is a gravely wrong action
·         The person knew it was gravely wrong
·         The person did so out of free will

Hell is the consequence of unrepentant Grave (or mortal) sin. It's not “grave” unless all of these factors are present. Modern court has degrees of guilt for the taking of a life. In all cases the life has been lost, but there are degrees of guilt (1st , 2nd , manslaughter, gross negligence, insanity etc...) based on the intention, heart and circumstances of the person who committed the action. The spiritual world is not much different. If someone commits suicide; it is likely that they are experiencing a state of insanity of some sort, even if it is temporary insanity, and it is quite possible that one of the three criteria of a mortal sin are missing and therefore, not a mortal sin. The Church does not teach that it has any power over who goes to hell, or even to guess who is in hell. The only thing the Church can claim is the authority to declare the characteristics that constitute grave or mortal sin (Mat 16:18), and to offer the Sacraments of Reconciliation for those who repent. For those who have committed mortal sin, and are still alive, there is always repentance. God loves us so much, and he wants us to turn to him.Suicide is a particularly difficult issue, because it is the ONLY sin for which a person cannot repent. The issue of assisted suicide adds another layer of complexity because the person presumably has had council with others, has discussed it with their doctor and has had time time to think through the consequences, all of which increase their culpability should they choose to go through with it.

What is required in order rightly to gain an indulgence? In order to gain an indulgence it is necessary:

1.      To be In the grace of God. It is proper, therefore, to go to confession every time that one begins the good works enjoined for the gaining of an indulgence. In granting partial indulgences sacramental confession is not usually prescribed, but if one who is in the state of mortal sin wishes to gain the indulgence, he must at least make an act of true contrition with a firm purpose of going to confession.

2.      It is necessary to have at least a general intention of gaining the indulgences.

3.      It is necessary to perform in person and with devotion all the good works enjoined as to time, manner, end, etc., according to the terms in which the indulgence is granted. To gain plenary indulgences, confession, communion, a visit to some church or public oratory, and pious prayers are usually prescribed. If visits to a church are prescribed, Holy Communion may be received in any church, but the indulgenced prayers must be said in that church in which the indulgence is granted, and on the prescribed day. As to prayers, it is recommended that there be said seven times the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, and Creed.

Prayer for gaining an Indulgence.

“We beseech Thee, O Lord, graciously accept the petitions of Thy holy Church that Thou wouldst deliver her from all adversities, root out from her all heresies, and unite all Christian rulers and princes, and exalt Thy holy Church on earth that we may all serve Thee in peace and quietness.”

Divine Mercy Sunday Decree of Indulgence[8]

O God, your mercy knows no bounds and the treasure of your goodness is infinite..." (Prayer after the "Te Deum" Hymn) 

"The paschal mystery is the culmination of this revealing and effecting of mercy, which is able to justify man, to restore justice in the sense of that salvific order which God willed from the beginning in man, and through man, in the world" (Encyclical Letter Dives in misericordia, n. 7).

"And so with provident pastoral sensitivity and in order to impress deeply on the souls of the faithful these precepts and teachings of the Christian faith, the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, moved by the consideration of the Father of Mercy, has willed that the Second Sunday of Easter be dedicated to recalling with special devotion these gifts of grace and gave this Sunday the name, "Divine Mercy Sunday" (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Decree Misericors et miserator, 5 May 2000).

Plenary indulgence

I. The usual conditions for every plenary indulgence:

·         sacramental confession [according to previously issued norms, within abut 20 days before or after] 
·         Eucharistic communion [according to previously issued norms, preferably on the day, or the days before or after] 
·         prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff [certain prayers are not specified]

II. The specific conditions for this Indulgence

On Divine Mercy Sunday

·         in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honour of Divine Mercy
·         or, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!")

Partial Indulgence

A partial indulgence, granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation. [e.g. Jesus I trust in You. My Jesus mercy. or any other approved invocation]

Those who cannot go to church or the seriously ill

Conditions for a Plenary Indulgence:

·         totally detesting any sin, 
·         the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions of confession, communion and prayers for the Holy Father
·         recite the Our Father and the Creed before a devout image of Our Merciful Lord Jesus 
·         pray a devout invocation to the Merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you).

If it is impossible to do even this:

·         with a spiritual intention unite with those carrying out the prescribed practice for obtaining the Indulgence in the usual way and 
·         offer to the Merciful Lord a prayer and the sufferings of their illness and the difficulties of their lives, with the resolution to accomplish as soon as possible the three conditions prescribed to obtain the plenary indulgence.

Duty of priests

Priests who exercise pastoral ministry, especially parish priests, should 

·         Inform the faithful in the most suitable way of the Church's salutary provision [of a plenary indulgence].
·         promptly and generously be willing to hear their confessions [this does not necessarily have to be on Divine Mercy Sunday itself, since that is not a condition for the indulgence]

On Divine Mercy Sunday, after celebrating Mass or Vespers, or during devotions in honour of Divine Mercy, 

·         lead the recitation of the prayers
·         when they instruct their people, gently encourage the faithful to practise works of charity or mercy as often as they can

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Manhood of the Master-Day 2 week 10
·         Divine Mercy Novena/Hike Day 4
·         Please pray for me and this ministry

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