Sunday, April 8, 2018


Divine Mercy Sunday


Orthodox Easter

Ezekiel, Chapter 32, Verse 10
I will fill many nations with horror; their kings will shudder at you, when I brandish my sword in their faces. They will tremble violently fearing for their lives on the day of your fall.

The opposite of fear is love.  Love should be the foundation of our lives. However, if we are not filled with love; as a result of the vacuum left in our hearts, we will most likely be filled with fear. A people filled with fear have a real danger of becoming a nation ruled by the cycle of violence and the sword. To avoid this cycle of hate we must be merciful as well as just.  

If you have time today would be a good day to pray the Rosary for the United States of America.[1]

Great nations are composed of great families. This is why Pope Francis is so keenly aware of the family and released his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Lætitia.” Pope Francis exhorts us, “It is my hope that, in reading this text, all will feel called to love and cherish family life, for families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity”.

“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots round your table. Thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!” (Ps 128:1-6).

Let those who fear the LORD say, "His mercy endures forever."

Divine Mercy Sunday

Reflect what it took to make Christ the gentle shepherd of our souls: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.


Come to the Feast of Divine Mercy! Calling all Catholics, come to the Feast of Mercy on the Sunday after Easter. Did you know that the Lord said that this feast would one day be the “last hope of salvation”? Have you considered what would happen to you if you suddenly died in the state of mortal sin? Did you know that in the 1930’s Our Lord Jesus, Himself requested through St. Faustina that a very special Feast of Divine Mercy be established in His Church and solemnly celebrated on the First Sunday after Easter every year? In the Jubilee Year 2000, after many years of study, Saint Pope John Paul II fulfilled the will of Christ by establishing this special Feast of Divine Mercy in the Catholic Church and gave it the name of Divine Mercy Sunday! By God’s Providence, Saint John Paul II died on this feast in 2005. What is so special about this new Feast of Divine Mercy you might be asking yourself? It is the promise of the total forgiveness of all sins and punishment for any soul that would go to Confession and then receive Jesus in Holy Communion on that very special Feast of Divine Mercy! Why would Jesus offer us something so great at this time? Jesus told St. Faustina that she was to prepare the world for His Second Coming and that He would be pouring out His Mercy in very great abundance before He comes again as the Just Judge and as the very last hope of salvation. If you have been away from the practice of your Catholic faith, and if you would like to come back into the, one, true Catholic Church, then this is the most perfect opportunity for you, if you are prepared to repent and turn from sin. Many former fallen-away Catholics have taken advantage of this great Feast of Mercy to get a brand new start in life and to be totally prepared to stand before the Lord.

If you have been away from the Catholic faith and if you have any questions about coming back home, then come in and talk to a priest at any Catholic Church. The beauty of the Catholic Church is that its teachings and practices are the same at all the parishes. You may have concerns, such as: marriage outside of the Church; un-confessed abortions; or other issues that could be preventing you from receiving Holy Communion or you may have questions about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Don’t remain in doubt. Call your local parish office to find out the necessary steps to come back to the Catholic faith. Don’t consider yourself as without hope. Our Lord Jesus wants to pardon completely even the worst sinners possible. Remember, Jesus has come for sinners, not the righteous. Jesus said that even if our sins were as numerous as the grains of sand, they would be lost in His Ocean of Mercy. If you are truly repentant of your sins and are well prepared to confess your sins in the Sacrament of Confession, you’ll experience a tremendous peace. You’ll experience a great weight lifted from you and get a brand new start in life! Once you have confessed your sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, then you must continue to practice your faith as a good Catholic. This involves attending Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation, supporting your local parish, and confessing your serious sins at least once a year. In Confession, you must be truly sorry for your sins and you must intend to continue to practice your faith.

Jesus is in the Confessional

One of the most reassuring things Our Lord Jesus revealed to us through Saint Faustina includes the several times when He indicated to her that He is really there in the Confessional when we are making our individual Confessions to the priests. Jesus said that every time we enter the Confessional, that He Himself is there waiting for us, and that He is only hidden by the priest. Jesus said never to analyze what sort of a priest that He is making use of, but for us to reveal our souls to Him and that He will fill us with His peace and light. Some have wondered why Jesus would want us to confess our sins to a priest, but the answer is in the very first instruction that Jesus gave to His Apostles directly after His Resurrection from the dead. On the evening of the Resurrection, Jesus walked through the door of the Upper Room where the Apostles were hiding and said to them “Receive the Holy Spirit, what sins you forgive are forgiven them, what sins you retain are retained”. This was the start of Confessions. For sure, that command was not only for the Apostles to be able to forgive sins, and then to be forgotten, but for that power to be passed on to all the ordained priests of today in the Catholic Church. Jesus said that the greater the sinner, the greater the right they have to His mercy! Don’t continue to carry your sins, Jesus forgives!

To properly celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy and to receive the forgiveness of all sins and punishment, you must go to Confession to a Catholic priest within 20 days before or after Divine Mercy Sunday. Or if you are in the state of very serious or mortal sin, you must always confess them before receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, or you will also commit a sacrilege, which is also a very serious sin. If you haven’t been going to Sunday Mass without any good reason, you may be in a state of serious sin and you must confess before receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. For more information about the Feast of Divine Mercy and a Confession Guide, go to: http://www.DivineMercySunday.com or call 772-873-4581.

Divine Mercy Sunday Top Events and Things to Do[2]

·         If you are Roman Catholic, left the church, and want to come back, ask a priest to give you the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It is offered in churches throughout the year, but is particularly appropriate on Divine Mercy Sunday.

·         Go to confession.  Understanding that every person falls short is an important part of Christianity.  In the Catholic Church, priests give acts of penitence after confession, which often involves prayer.  They also offer forgiveness.

·         After confession take Holy Communion

More Things to Do[3]

·         Read Dives in misericordia, the encyclical Letter of John Paul II on Mercy.

Orthodox Easter[4]

Orthodox Easter commemorates Jesus' resurrection three days after his crucifixion and death. Following his death, he was removed from the cross and hastily buried in a tomb. On Sunday, it was discovered that Jesus' tomb was empty and angels informed onlookers that Jesus had risen. Throughout the next 40 days, Jesus appears to his apostles and disciples before finally ascending to heaven. Orthodox Easter is the highest and holiest of holidays in the Christian Orthodox faith. Orthodox Easter follows the Julian calendar and must take place after the Jewish Passover. For these reasons, Orthodox Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, following the vernal equinox and always after Jewish Passover.

Orthodox Easter Facts

·         Easter is often called Pascha in the Orthodox tradition.   Pascha normally falls either one or five weeks later than the feast as observed by Christians who follow the Gregorian calendar.  However, occasionally the two observances coincide, and on occasion they can be four weeks apart.

·         Eggs represent new life as well as Jesus' tomb.  In some Orthodox churches eggs are dyed red to symbolize either the blood of Christ or the red cloak Roman soldiers put on Jesus as they tortured him.

·         In the Orthodox tradition, the Easter season lasts for 100 days.  It begins as a time of preparation, 49 days before the holiday.  The proceeding 50 days after Easter is dedicated for strengthening faith in Jesus Christ.

·         The final worship service of Pascha is usually held at noon on Sunday.  Called the Agape Vespers, the service highlights St. Thomas' encounter with the risen Jesus.  Thomas doubted that the resurrection was real until Jesus told him to touch his wounds.  Thomas' story is usually read in a number of languages to emphasize the universal nature of Christ's life, death, and resurrection.

Orthodox Easter Top Events and Things to Do

  • ·         Stay up late and go to an Orthodox vigil service.  Bringing light into the church is a dramatic and joyous occasion.
  • ·         Wear some new clothes to church.  This is an ancient tradition that goes back to the early church when newly baptized persons were given a white gown to wear on Easter.
  • ·         Take an Easter basket to an Orthodox church and have it blessed.  Some Eastern Orthodox Church members put together special baskets with particular items that symbolize different aspects of their faith.  These items often include bread, wine, salt, cheese, ham, and horseradish.
  • ·         Russian Orthodox believers often visit the cemetery on Easter, placing a dyed red egg on each loved one's grave.  The eggs are dyed red because of a tradition that says Roman soldiers put on Jesus' red cloak after he was crucified.  Consider paying homage to your deceased loved ones on Easter.


Candles[5]

When the people of Israel offered worship, in the Old Testament they did son amid the flicker of many lights. So important were these lights that the main one, the temple menorah became the most recognizable symbol of Judaism. The Christian church is a temple and as such lights play an important part in worship. In fact lamps and candles are a symbol of the person of Christ. “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn. 8:12) At the church’s greatest celebration on the Easter Vigil the priest holds the paschal candle aloft and proclaims “Christ our light!” three times. The lamp is a symbol of Christ, God’s presence among us. The lighting of votive candles is the “offering” of the faithful.


The Use of Candles in the Orthodox Church[6]


Question: Why do we light candles in the Orthodox Church?
Answer: There are typically two types of candles that Orthodox are familiar with. First there are the genuine pure beeswax candles made from the combs of hives. Secondly, there are the paraffin wax candles made from petroleum. When the Fathers of the Church speak of the Orthodox use of candles, they are referring to the pure beeswax candles and not the latter. Paraffin wax produces carcinogens and soot when burned. In fact, one air quality researcher stated that the soot from a paraffin candle contains many of the same toxins produced by burning diesel fuel. With this information in mind, we can better understand the six symbolic representations of lit candles handed down to us by Saint Symeon of Thessaloniki:

·         As the candle is pure (pure beeswax), so also should our hearts be pure.
·         As the pure candle is supple (as opposed to the paraffin), so also should our souls be supple until we make it straight and firm in the gospel.
·         As the pure candle is derived from the pollen of a flower and has a sweet scent, so also should our souls have the sweet aroma of Divine Grace.
·         As the candle, when it burns, mixes with and feeds the flame, so also we can struggle to achieve theosis (union with God).
·         As the burning candle illuminates the darkness, so must the light of Christ within us shine before men that God's name be glorified.
·         As the candle gives its own light to illuminate a person in the darkness, so also must the light of the virtues, the light of love and peace, characterize a Christian. The wax that melts symbolizes the flame of our love for our fellow men.

Besides the six symbolic representations above, Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite gives us six different reasons why Orthodox light candles:

1.       To glorify God, who is Light, as we chant in the Doxology: "Glory to God who has shown forth the light..."
2.       To dissolve the darkness of the night and to banish away the fear which is brought on by the darkness.
3.       To manifest the inner joy of our soul.
4.       To bestow honor to the saints of our Faith, imitating the early Christians of the first centuries who lit candles at the tombs of the martyrs.
5.       To symbolize our good works, as the Lord said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in the heavens." The priest also gave us this charge following our baptism.
6.       To have our own sins forgiven and burned away, as well as the sins of those for whom we pray.

For all these reasons cited by our Holy Fathers, let us often light our candles and make sure as much as possible that they be pure candles. We should abstain from all corruption and uncleanness, so that all of the above symbolism is made real in our Christian lives. At one point during the Presanctified Divine Liturgy the liturgist holds a lit candle, and facing the people he proclaims: "The light of Christ shines on all". Christ is "the true light who enlightens and sanctifies all men". Are we worthy recipients of this light? The saints themselves constantly sought after this light. Let us then also imitate the saints and like Saint Gregory Palamas continuously supplicate the Lord in the following words: "Enlighten my darkness".

Question: Is there any other reason why we light our candle in church?
Answer: Besides the higher spiritual reasons mentioned above for why we light candles, there is another simpler and practical reason: to make a financial offering to the church. When we go to light our candle, we should also give an offering for the various services and expenses of the church. The church gives us the candle as a blessing for our offering and allows us to ignite the flame of the symbolisms mentioned above.

Question: Should we light candles outside the church as well?
Answer: It is good and laudable to light candles at home when we pray, when the priest visits for a house blessing with Holy Water or Holy Unction, and even light a candle when we visit the grave of a loved one.

Question: Is there any other purpose to the candle?
Answer: When we light a candle in the church, we are making an offering to the church or to a particular icon to beautify it and show through physical light the symbolization of the uncreated light of God's house or the saint depicted in the icon. It is also customary for the faithful to offer pure beeswax candles at the Consecration of a new church.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Manhood of the Master-Day 1 week 11
·         Please pray for me and this ministry



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