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Saturday, April 11, 2020






Holy Saturday
ST. STANISLAUS

Isaiah, Chapter 12, Verse 2-4
2God indeed is my salvation; I am confident and UNAFRAID. For the LORD is my strength and my might, and he has been my salvation. 3With joy you will draw water from the fountains of salvation, 4And you will say on that day: give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; Among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name.

Indeed, Holy Saturday presents the history of Christ’s salvation of his people when in the morning he rises and proclaims His victory over death. Traditionally we baptize those who are confident and unafraid in time’s past. Let us pray that God’s grace is greater than the COVID 19.


Where Love Is Found Grace Abounds[1]

St. Peter's Square and the streets of Rome, deserted, with only a few people with masks against the coronavirus pandemic, mainly police and military. Pope Francis says confessions can take place without seeing a priest while the Vatican has issued new guidelines on forgiveness of sins during the coronavirus pandemic. 

At his early morning Mass, the Pope urged people to “return to the father” and ask forgiveness of their sins even if individual confessions with a priest are impossible. 

Across Europe and the United States public liturgies have been suspended, while social distancing makes receiving the sacrament of reconciliation from a priest problematic. The unprecedented circumstances caused by the spread of Covid-19 is forcing the Church to adapt, making use of digital technology to stream services and find new ways to respond to the spiritual needs of believers.
“I know that many of you go to confession before Easter… Many will say to me: ‘But Father…I can't leave the house and I want to make my peace with the Lord…How can I do that unless I find a priest’?” the Pope said today in his live-streamed Mass in the chapel of his home, the Casa Santa Marta. 

“Do what the catechism says. It's very clear.

If you don't find a priest to go to confession, speak to God. He's your Father. Tell Him the truth: ‘Lord. I did this and this and this. Pardon me.’ Ask His forgiveness with all your heart with an act of contrition, and promise Him, ‘afterward I will go to confession.’ You will return to God's grace immediately.”

Hours later, the Vatican issued new guidelines on “general absolution”, offering forgiveness of sins to groups of people without them having to confess individually to a priest. The Apostolic Penitentiary ruled that in places hard hit by the virus a blanket absolution can be offered: for example, a priest or bishop who is unable to enter a hospital. They should, the guidelines added, use an “amplification of the voice, so that the absolution may be heard”.

Church rules allow for general absolution to be offered in times of “grave need” although in the years following the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council the penitential services where general absolution was offered were more widespread. Anecdotal evidence suggested it led to a rise in individual confessions. But during the 1980s and 1990s the Holy See clamped down on the use of general absolution and sought to heavily restrict its use. 

Along with the absolution guidelines, the apostolic penitentiary also offered plenary indulgences to those “suffering from the Coronavirus, subject to quarantine by order of the health authority, or in their own homes.” According to Catholic teaching indulgences remove all "punishment” in this life or the next for sins that have been confessed and forgiven. 

The conditions for the indulgence for those “with a spirit detached from any sin”, “unite themselves spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, to the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” 

But the new ruling waives the normal requirement to also attend Mass in person and make a personal confession in order to receive the indulgence. It simply says that penitents should have “the will” to fulfil these conditions. 

In Bergamo in northern Italy, at the epicentre of the coronavirus crisis, many of those who have contracted the hospital are dying alone and without a funeral, and with just a blessing from a priest. Coronavirus has killed 3,405 in Italy, more than any other country and at least 18 of them are reportedly priests who have become exposed to the virus during their ministry.  

In a new interview with La Stampa, the Pope likened the coronavirus to the Second World War.
“We have to think that it will be a bit like a post-war period. There will no longer be ‘the other’, but it will be ‘us’. Because we can only get out of this situation together,” he said. 

“I don’t want to make a distinction between believers and nonbelievers. We are all human beings and as human beings we are all in the same boat. And no human thing must be alien to a Christian.” 
He went on: “I think of the Apostles in the storm when they invoke Jesus: ‘Master, we are drowning’. The prayer makes us understand our vulnerability. It is the scream of the poor, of those who are drowning, who feel threatened, alone. And in a difficult situation, desperate, it is important to know that there is the Lord to hold on to”.

Holy Saturday[2]

Holy Saturday (from Sabbatum Sanctum, its official liturgical name) is sacred as the day of the Lord's rest; it has been called the "Second Sabbath" after creation. The day is and should be the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year, a day broken by no liturgical function. Christ lies in the grave; the Church sits near and mourns. After the great battle He is resting in peace, but upon Him we see the scars of intense suffering...The mortal wounds on His Body remain visible...Jesus' enemies are still furious, attempting to obliterate the very memory of the Lord by lies and slander.

Mary and the disciples are grief-stricken, while the Church must mournfully admit that too many of her children return home from Calvary cold and hard of heart. When Mother Church reflects upon all of this, it seems as if the wounds of her dearly Beloved were again beginning to bleed.

According to tradition, the entire body of the Church is represented in Mary: she is the "credentium collectio universa" (Congregation for Divine Worship, Lettera circolare sulla preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali, 73). Thus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she waits near the Lord's tomb, as she is represented in Christian tradition, is an icon of the Virgin Church keeping vigil at the tomb of her Spouse while awaiting the celebration of his resurrection.

The pious exercise of the Ora di Maria is inspired by this intuition of the relationship between the Virgin Mary and the Church: while the body of her Son lays in the tomb and his soul has descended to the dead to announce liberation from the shadow of darkness to his ancestors, the Blessed Virgin Mary, foreshadowing and representing the Church, awaits, in faith, the victorious triumph of her Son over death. — Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy

Although we are still in mourning, there is much preparation during this day to prepare for Easter. Out of the kitchen comes the smells of Easter pastries and bread, the lamb or hams and of course, the Easter eggs.

There are no liturgies celebrated this day, unless the local parish priest blesses the food baskets. In Slavic countries there is a blessing of the traditional Easter foods, prepared in baskets: eggs, ham, lamb and sausages, butter and cheeses, horseradish and salt and the Easter breads. The Easter blessings of food owe their origin to the fact that these particular foods, namely, fleshmeat and milk products, including eggs, were forbidden in the Middle Ages during the Lenten fast and abstinence. When the feast of Easter brought the rigorous fast to an end, and these foods were again allowed at table, the people showed their joy and gratitude by first taking the food to church for a blessing. Moreover, they hoped that the Church's blessing on such edibles would prove a remedy for whatever harmful effects the body might have suffered from the long period of self-denial. Today the Easter blessings of food are still held in many churches in the United States, especially in Slavic parishes.
If there is no blessing for the Easter foods in the parish, the father of the family can pray the Blessing over the Easter foods.

It is during the night between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday that the Easter Vigil is celebrated. The service begins around ten o'clock, in order that the solemn vigil Mass may start at midnight.

Activities

·         Today we remember Christ in the tomb. It is not Easter yet, so it's not time for celebration. The day is usually spent working on the final preparations for the biggest feast of the Church year. The list of suggested activities is long, but highlights are decorating Easter eggs and attending a special Easter food blessing.

·         For families with smaller children, you could create a miniature Easter garden, with a tomb. The figure of the risen Christ will be placed in the garden on Easter morning.

·         Another activity for families is creation of a paschal candle to use at home.

·         The Directory on Popular Piety discusses some of the various devotions related to Easter, including the Blessing of the Family Table, Annual Blessing of Family Home, the Via Lucis and the Visit to the Mother of the Risen Christ.

Holy Saturday Vigil [3] We should have during the morning and afternoon, a mournful remembrance of our Lord in the tomb.

Prayer. GOD! Who makest this most sacred night illustrious by the glory of the resurrection of Our Lord, preserve in the new offspring of Thy family the spirit of adoption which Thou hast given them; that, being renewed in body and soul, they may serve Thee with purity of heart.

EPISTLE. Colons, iii. 1-4.

Brethren: 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. For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, Who is your life, then you also shall appear with Him in glory.

GOSPEL. Matt, xxviii. 1-7.

In the end of the Sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulcher. And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven: and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him the guards were struck with terror and became as dead men. And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus Who was crucified. He is not here, for He is risen, as He said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid. And going quickly, tell ye His disciples that He is risen and behold He will go before you into Galilee: there you shall see Him. Lo, I have foretold it to you.

Why is this day called Holy Saturday? Because Jesus Christ, the Holy of holies, on this day rested in the grave, and because on this day the new fire and the baptismal water are blessed.

What is the new fire? It is the fire caught from the sparks of a flint, and then blessed by the priest, from which afterwards the candles and lamps in the church are lighted.

Why is this done, and what does it signify? The fire is first caught from a flint to indicate that Christ, the light of the world, though rejected by the Jews, is the real corner-stone, and, though seemingly extinguished in the grave, arose gloriously and sheds the beams of His blessed light on the world.

What is signified by the three candles, or triple candlestick? The Most Holy Trinity, one in the divine nature, but three in person.

Why are all the candles of the church lighted from the triple candle? To signify that all enlightening comes from the Most Holy Trinity.

What does the paschal or Easter candle signify? It represents Jesus Christ, Who died, but rose again, and now lives forever, the light of the world, giving light to all, and delivering us from the darkness of sin. The wax signifies His body, the wick His soul, the light His divinity. The five holes in the Easter candle, in the form of a cross, represent the five holy wounds which Christ retains for our consolation. The five grains of incense inserted therein signify the spices used in embalming the corpse of Our Savior.

What is the signification of the ceremonies used in blessing the baptismal water? They signify the different effects of Baptism.

Why does the priest pour out the baptismal water towards each of the four quarters of the globe? To indicate that as the four streams went forth from paradise to water the earth, so also, according to the command of Christ, shall the stream of grace, through holy Baptism, flow to all parts of the world for the washing away of sin.

What does it mean when the priest breathes three times upon the water? The breathing upon the water denotes the communication of the Holy Ghost.

What does it mean when the priest dips the Easter candle thrice into the baptismal water? The immersion and withdrawal of the candle from the water denote that it is sanctified by Christ to be a means through which the baptized are drawn out of the abyss of sin.

What is the meaning of the mixing of the holy oils with the consecrated water? The holy oils are mixed with the consecrated water partly to indicate the union of Christ with His people, and partly also to denote that the grace of the Holy Ghost, of which the holy oil and chrism are figures, together with faith, hope, and charity, is infused into the heart of the catechumen.

·         ~No Christian should forget to-day to revisit the holy sepulcher, to thank Jesus for His passion and death, and to venerate the sorrowful Mother Mary.

Holy Water[4]

We begin in water; our human form in the amniotic sac, “bag of waters”, in the womb. In the order of nature birth begins when a mothers “water breaks.” So, with water we begin our visits to church and we dip a hand into the holy water font and bless ourselves. When the world was lost to sin and needed cleansing and rebirth, God sent a great flood, and from the flood the family of Noah found new life. When Israel emerged from slavery as a unified nation, it first had to pass through the waters of the Red Sea. Though babies had always been born through “water,” now grown men and women could be “born of water and the Holy Spirit.” The Church Fathers taught that Jesus, by descending into the waters of the River Jordan, had sanctified the waters of the world, He made them living and life-giving, He made them a source of supernatural regeneration, refreshment and cleansing. St. Teresa of Avila wrote that “there is nothing the devils flee from more—without returning—than holy water.”


Priesthood[5]

In the bible a priest is a father—and even more of a father than our own earthly father. In the Old Testament the history of the priesthood had two periods: the patriarchal and the Levitical. The patriarchal was based on the family order that place authority down from father to first born son in the form of a “blessing” and the leadership of the building of altars and for the presenting of sacrifice for the family. Fathers are empowered as priests by nature. Fatherhood is the original basis of priesthood. The firstborn is the father’s heir apparent, the one groomed to succeed one day to paternal authority and priesthood within the family. Imagine the blow to the Egyptian with the last plague which killed the firstborn. The pattern continued into the Exodus. There God declared to Moses, “Israel is my firstborn son”—that is, among the many peoples of the earth, Israel was God’s heir and his priest. God in His mercy made all heirs through Christ and with Christ came a restoration of the natural priesthood of fathers and the establishment of a fatherly order of New Covenant Priests. To Christ, we are “the children God has given me”, the “Many sons”, “his bretheren”, the new “seed of Abraham” who together form God’s “family/household” which Jesus builds and rules as a son. As all Christians are identified with Christ, the Church becomes the “assembly of the firstborn.” (Heb. 2, 3, 12) In the truest sense priests are so much more than managers, they are fathers. True fatherhood involves the communication of life. Natural fathers communicate human life but in the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, a priest communicates divine life and the divine humanity of Jesus Christ. Every Priest therefore requires our respect in spite of their weaknesses or sins and we should pray for them. This is why our Holy Father asks us to pray for him.

St. Stanislaus[6]


I shall content myself with relating the history of St. Stanislaus, Bishop of Cracow, Poland, who restored to life a man who had been dead for three years, attended by such singular circumstances, and in so public a manner, that the thing is beyond the severest criticism.... This incident was known by countless persons and by all the court of King Boleslaus II (reigned 1058-1080) St. Stanislaus, bought from a man named Piotr [Peter] an estate situated on the banks of the Vistula in the territory of Lublin for the use of his church at Cracow. The Prelate gave the full price of it to the seller. This was done in the presence of witnesses, and with the solemnities required in that country, but without written deeds, for written accounts of transactions of this kind were seldom made in Poland at that time. They contented themselves with having witnesses. Stanislaus took possession of this estate, and his church enjoyed it peaceably for about three years. In the interim, Piotr, who had sold it, happened to die. The King of Poland, Boleslaus, had conceived an implacable hatred against the holy Bishop because he had frequently reproved him for his excesses. Therefore, seeking to cause him trouble, the King excited the three sons of Piotr, his heirs, against their father and told them to claim the estate which their father had sold, on the pretense that it had not been paid for. He promised to support their demand, and to cause the estate to be restored to them. Thus, these three men had the Bishop cited to appear before the King, who was then at Solec, occupied in rendering justice under some tents in the country, according to the ancient custom of the land, in the general assembly of the nation. The Bishop was cited before the King and maintained that he had bought and paid for the estate in question. The day was beginning to close, and the Bishop ran great risk of being condemned by the King and his counselors. Suddenly, as if inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Bishop promised the King to bring before him in three days Piotr, the deceased man who had sold it to him. The condition was accepted mockingly, as a thing impossible to be executed. The holy Bishop retired to his Church a distance away, where he prayed and fasted with his household for three days. On the third day, he went in his pontifical robes, accompanied by his clergy and a multitude of people, ordered the gravestone to be raised, and made them dig until they found the corpse of the defunct, all fleshless and corrupted. Then St. Stanislaus commanded him to come forth and bear witness to the truth before the King's tribunal. The Bishop touched the bones with his crosier, and they filled out with flesh. The dead Piotr rose; they covered him with a cloak. The Saint took him by the hand and led him alive to the feet of the King. No one had the boldness to interrogate him. But Piotr himself spoke out freely and declared that he had in good faith sold the estate to the Prelate and that he had received the value of it. After stating this, he severely reprimanded his sons, who had so maliciously accused the holy Bishop. Stanislaus asked Piotr if he wished to remain alive to do penance. Piotr thanked him and said he would not expose himself anew to the danger of sinning. Stanislaus re-conducted him to his tomb, where he again fell asleep in the Lord. It may be supposed that such a scene had numerous witnesses, and that all Poland was quickly informed of it. The King was only the more irritated against the Saint. Sometime after [on May 8, 1079], he killed the Bishop with his own hands as he was coming from the altar in Wawel Castle outside the walls of Cracow. He then ordered that the Prelate’s body be hacked into 72 pieces so that they might never be collected together to be paid the honor due to them as the body of a martyr for the truth and for pastoral liberty. St. Stanislaus was canonized in 1253 by Pope Innocent IV. He is the patron of Poland and of the city and Diocese of Cracow and is invoked in battle.
Things to Do:[7]
·         Sometimes evil has to be confronted boldly, whatever the consequences. Brave men like St. Stanislaus of Cracow risked death in facing evil. There is little chance today that we will ever be in that danger, but we must always be willing to defend the truth, and it should be very clear, in the face of genuine evil, where we stand. Christ our Lord can expect no less from us. Say an extra prayer today for the gift of fortitude.
·         Learn a little more about the city of Kracow where both St. Stanislaus and Pope John Paul II came from.
·         For those who are extremely interested in knowing more about Polish history this online book, Polish Americans and Their Communities of Cleveland may prove to be a good source of information.
·         The final work of Franz Liszt is the unfinished oratorio St. Stanislaus, for which he left two scenes (one and four) and two polonaises. Learn more about this oratorio here and if you are able find a copy and listen.
Divine Mercy Novena[8]

Second Day - Today Bring Me the Souls of Priests and Religious.

Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in us, that we may perform worthy works of mercy, and that all who see us may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father turn Your merciful gaze upon the company [of chosen souls] in Your vineyard - upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation, and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.

Daily Devotions

·         Manhood of the Master-week 9 day 6
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Iceman’s 40 devotion




[2]https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2020-04-11
[3] Goffine’s Divine Instructions, 1896.
[4] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 1. Holy Water.
[5] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 21. Priesthood.
[7]https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2019-04-11
[8]https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/prayers/view.cfm?id=1032



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