This blog is based on references in the Bible to fear. God wills that we “BE NOT AFRAID”. Many theologians state that the eighth deadly sin is fear. It is fear and its natural animal reaction to fight or flight that is the root cause of our failings to create a Kingdom of God on earth. By “the power of the Holy Spirit” we can be witnesses and “communicators” of a new and redeemed humanity “even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7 8). This blog is dedicated to Mary the Mother of God.
From the Gospel according to Saint Matthew 26:62-66
And the High Priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you? But Jesus was silent. And the High Priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the High Priest tore his robes, and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgement? They answered, “He deserves death.”
MEDITATION In every land, there have been innocent persons who suffered, people who died fighting for freedom, equality or justice. Those who struggle on behalf of God’s little ones are promoting God’s own work. For he presses for the rights of the weak and the oppressed. Whoever collaborates in this work, in the spirit of Jesus, brings hope to the oppressed and offers a corrective message to the evildoer himself. Jesus’ manner of struggling for justice is not to rouse the collective anger of people against the opponent, so that they are led into forms of greater injustice. On the contrary, it is to challenge the foe with the rightness of one’s cause and evoke the good will of the opponent in such a way that injustice is renounced through persuasion and a change of heart. Mahatma Gandhi brought this teaching of Jesus on non-violence into public life with amazing success.
PRAYER Lord, often we judge others in haste, indifferent to actual realities and insensitive to people’s feelings! We develop stratagems of self-justification and explain away the irresponsible manner in which we have dealt with “the other”. Forgive us! When we are misjudged and ill-treated, Lord, give us the inner serenity and self-confidence that your Son manifested in the face of unjust treatment. Keep us from an aggressive response which goes against your Spirit. On the contrary, help us to bring your powerful word of forgiveness into situations of tension and anxiety, so that it may reveal its dynamic power in history. “In His will is our peace.”
·Friday arise before the "cock crows" (2 hrs. before sunrise)
meditate on the FOURTH STATION
Jesus is denied by Peter
From the Gospel according to Saint Luke. 22:54-62
Then they seized Jesus and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance; and when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a maid, seeing him as he sat in the light and gazing at him, said, “This man was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man was also with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
MEDITATION Peter claimed to be strong, but he broke down before a servant girl. Human weakness takes us by surprise, and we collapse. That is why Jesus asks us to watch and pray. He urges self-renunciation and closeness to God. There is a rebellious “self” within us. We are often of “two minds”, but we fail to recognize this inner inconsistency. Peter recognized it when his eyes met the eyes of Jesus, and he wept. Later, Thomas, encountering the Risen Lord, acknowledged his own faithlessness and believed. In the light of Christ, Paul became aware of the inconsistency within himself, and he overcame it with the Lord’s help. Going deeper still, he discovered: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”
PRAYER Lord, how easily do we allow a distance to grow between what we profess to be and what we really are! How often do we fail to carry out our own decisions, or even fulfil our most solemn promises! And as a result we often hesitate to make any permanent commitment, even to you! We confess that we have failed to bring into our life that inner discipline that is expected of any adult person and required for the success of any human endeavor. Give sturdiness to our inner determination; help us to bring every good work we have begun to a successful conclusion. Enable us to stand firm, as mature and fully convinced Christians, “in complete obedience to God’s will”.
·Friday after sunrise
meditate on the FIFTH STATION
Jesus is judged by Pilate
A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him”. But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will.
MEDITATION It was not the rightness of an issue that mattered to Pilate, but his professional interests. Such an attitude did not help him, either in this case or in his later career. He was so unlike Jesus, whose inner rectitude made him fearless. Nor was Pilate interested in the truth. He walks away from Jesus exclaiming, “What is truth?” Such indifference to truth is not uncommon these days. People are often concerned about what gives immediate satisfaction. They are content with superficial answers. Decisions are made based not on principles of integrity, but on opportunistic considerations. Failing to make morally responsible options damages the vital interests of the human person, and of the human family. We pray that the “spiritual and ethical concepts” contained in the word of God will inspire the living norms of society in our times.
PRAYER Lord, give us the courage to make responsible decisions when rendering a public service. Bring probity (correctness) into public life and assist us to be true to our conscience. Lord, you are the source of all Truth. Guide us in our search for ultimate answers. Going beyond mere partial and incomplete explanations, may we search for what is permanently true, beautiful and good. Lord, keep us fearless before the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. When shadows grow deep on life’s wearisome paths, and the dark night comes, enable us to hearken to the teaching of your Apostle Paul: “Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.”
·Friday around 9 am
meditate on the SIXTH STATION
Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
From the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. 27:26-30
Then Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.
MEDITATION Inhumanity reaches new heights. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns. History is full of hatred and wars. Even today we witness acts of violence beyond belief: murder, violence to women and children, kidnapping, extortion, ethnic conflict, urban violence, physical and mental torture, violations of human rights. Jesus continues to suffer when believers are persecuted, when justice is distorted in court, corruption gets rooted, unjust structures grind the poor, minorities are suppressed, refugees and migrants are ill-treated. Jesus’ garments are pulled away when the human person is put to shame on the screen, when women are compelled to humiliate themselves, when slum children go round the streets picking up crumbs. Who are the guilty? Let us not point a finger at others, for we ourselves may have contributed a share to these forms of inhumanity.
PRAYER Lord Jesus, we know that it is you who suffer when we cause pain to each other and we remain indifferent. Your heart went out in compassion when you saw the crowds “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”. Give me eyes that notice the needs of the poor and a heart that reaches out in love. “Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.” Most of all, may we share with the indigent your “word” of hope, your assurance of care. May “zeal for your house” burn in us like a fire. Help us to bring the sunshine of your joy into the lives of those who are trudging the path of despair.
·Friday around 10 am
meditate on the SEVENTH STATION
After Jesus is made an object of fun, he is led out to be crucified
From the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. 27:31
And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to be crucified.
MEDITATION Jesus, at whose name every knee in heaven and earth bends, is made an object of fun. We are shocked to see to what levels of brutality human beings can sink. Jesus is humiliated in new ways even today: when things that are most Holy and Profound in the Faith are being trivialized; the sense of the sacred is allowed to erode; the religious sentiment is classified among unwelcome leftovers of antiquity. Everything in public life risks being desacralized: persons, places, pledges, prayers, practices, words, sacred writings, religious formulae, symbols, ceremonies. Our life together is being increasingly secularized. Religious life grows diffident. Thus we see the most momentous matters placed among trifles, and trivialities glorified. Values and norms that held societies together and drew people to higher ideals are laughed at and thrown overboard. Jesus continues to be ridiculed!
PRAYER We have faith, Lord, but not enough. Help us to have more. May we never question or mock serious things in life like a cynic. Allow us not to drift into the desert of godlessness. Enable us to perceive you in the gentle breeze, see you in street corners, love you in the unborn child. God, enable us to understand that on Tabor or Calvary, your Son is the Lord. Robed or stripped of his garments, he is the Savior of the world. Make us attentive to his quiet presences: in his “word”, in tabernacles, shrines, humble places, simple persons, the life of the poor, laughter of children, whispering pines, rolling hills, the tiniest living cell, the smallest atom, and the distant galaxies. May we watch with wonder as he walks on the waters of the Rhine and the Nile and the Tanganyika.
·Friday around 11 am
meditate on the EIGHTH and NINTH STATION
Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene to carry the Cross
From the Gospel according to Saint Luke. 23:26
The soldiers led Jesus away, and as they were going, they met a man from Cyrene named Simon who was coming into the city from the country. They seized him, put the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus.
MEDITATION In Simon of Cyrene, we have the proto-type of a faithful disciple who takes up the Cross and follows Christ. He is not unlike millions of Christians from a humble background, with deep attachment to Christ. No glamour, no sophistication, but profound faith. Such believers keep rising on the soil of Africa, Asia and the distant islands. Vocations arise from their midst. Simon reminds us of small communities and tribes with their characteristic commitment to the common good, deep rootedness in ethical values and openness to the Gospel. They deserve attention and care. The Lord does not desire that “one of these little ones should perish”. In Simon we discover the sacredness of the ordinary and the greatness of what looks small. For the smallest has some mystic relationship with the greatest, and the ordinary with the most extraordinary!
PRAYER Lord, it is your wonderful plan to lift up the lowly and sustain the poor. Strengthen your Church in her service to deprived communities: the least privileged, the marginalized, slum dwellers, the rural poor, the undernourished, untouchables, the handicapped, people given to addictions. May the example of your servant, Mother Teresa of Kolkata, inspire us to dedicate more of our energies and resources to the cause of the “poorest of the poor”. May we one day hear these words from Jesus: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
From the Gospel according to Saint Luke. 23:27-28
And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus, turning to them, said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
MEDITATION Before the weeping women, Jesus is self-forgetful. His anxiety is not about his pains, but about the tragic future that awaits them and their children. The destinies of societies are intimately linked to the wellbeing of their women. Wherever women are held in low esteem or their role remains diminished, societies fail to rise to their true potentiality. In the same way, wherever their responsibility to the rising generation is neglected, ignored, or marginalized, the future of that society becomes uncertain. There are many societies in the world where women fail to receive a fair deal. Christ must be weeping for them. There are societies too that are thoughtless about their future. Christ must be weeping for their children. Wherever there is unconcern for the future, through the overuse of resources, the degradation of the environment, the oppression of women, the neglect of family values, the ignoring of ethical norms, the abandonment of religious traditions, Jesus must be telling people: “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
PRAYER Lord, you are the Master of history. And yet you wanted our collaboration in realizing your plans. Help us to play a responsible role in society: leaders in their communities, parents in their families, educators and health-workers among those who need to be served, communicators in the world of information. Arouse in us a sense of mission in what we do, a deep sense of responsibility to each other, to society, to our common future and to you. For you have placed the destinies of our communities and of humanity itself into our hands. Lord, do not turn away from us when you see women humiliated or your image disfigured in the human person; when we interfere with life-systems, weaken the nurturing power of nature, pollute running streams or the deep blue seas or the Northern snows. Save us from cruel indifference to our common future, and do not let us drag our civilization down the path of decline.
·Friday around NOON
meditate on the TENTH STATION
Jesus is crucified
From the Gospel according to Saint Luke 23:33-37 and according to Saint Matthew. 27:46
There they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”, that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
MEDITATION The sufferings of Jesus reach a climax. He had stood fearlessly before Pilate. He had endured the mistreatment of the Roman soldiers. He had preserved his calm under the scourge and the crowning with thorns. On the Cross itself, he seemed untouched by a shower of insults. He had no word of complaint, no desire to retort. But then, finally, a moment comes when he breaks down. His strength can stand no more. He feels abandoned even by his Father! Experience tells us that even the sturdiest man can descend to the depths of despair. Frustrations accumulate, anger and resentment pile up. Bad health, bad news, bad luck, bad treatment – all can come together. It may have happened to us. It is at such moments we need to remember that Jesus never fails us. He cried to the Father. May we too cry out to the Father, who unfailingly comes to our rescue in all our distress, whenever we call upon him!
PRAYER Lord, when clouds gather on the horizon and everything seems lost, when we find no friend to stand by us and hope slips from our hands, teach us to trust in you, who will surely come to our rescue. May the experience of inner pain and darkness teach us the great truth that in you nothing is lost, that even our sins – once we have repented of them – come to serve a purpose, like dry wood in the cold of winter. Lord, you have a master design beneath the working of the universe and the progress of history. Open our eyes to the rhythms and patterns in the movements of the stars; balance and proportion in the inner structure of elements; interrelatedness and complementarity in nature; progress and purpose in the march of history; correction and compensation in our personal stories. It is this harmony that you constantly keep restoring, despite the painful imbalances that we bring about. In you even the greatest loss is a gain. Christ’s death, in fact, points to resurrection.
·Friday around 1 PM
meditate on the ELEVENTH STATION
Jesus promises his Kingdom to the Good Thief
From the Gospel according to Saint Luke. 23:39-43
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
MEDITATION It is not eloquence that convinces and converts. In the case of Peter, it is a look of love; in the case of the Good Thief, it is unresentful serenity in suffering. Conversion takes place like a miracle. God opens your eyes. You recognize his presence and action. You surrender! Opting for Christ is always a mystery. Why does one make a definitive choice for Christ, even in the face of trouble, or death? Why do Christians flourish in persecuted places? We shall never know. But it happens over and over again. If a person who has abandoned his faith comes across the real face of Christ, he will be stunned by what he actually sees, and may surrender like Thomas: “My Lord and my God!” It is a privilege to unveil the face of Christ to people. It is even a greater joy to discover – or rediscover -him. “Your face, O Lord, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me.”
Theophilus of Alexandria: 'Crucifixion and the Good Thief'.
The sun of righteousness appeared in the east and gave light to those who were in the darkness and in the shadow of death (Lk. 1:79) ...The powerful lion sprang up out of the wood; all the wild beasts hid in their dens…This, if you like, is the way of Our Lord Jesus Christ, when he saw the real enemy of the whole human race, who is the devil. For the devil invaded the whole earth, and afflicted everyone with many kinds of sins, which he spreads with these great scourges, namely, idolatry, robbery, vanity, fornication, theft, murder, slander, licentiousness, envy, hatred, contempt, anger, sorcery, pollution, fraud, arrogance, perjury, falsehood, corruption, prostitution, deceit and whatever is similar in them. These are the traps which the devil set for humanity, until he brought it to perdition and dispersed it. Well now. Let us consider in what way Christ the king made war against the devil until he released our souls from him and set them free. Let us begin, then, to penetrate the great treasure house full of the fruits of life.
·This is the great holy mystery of the wood of the cross, on which the True God, Jesus Christ, mounted out of love. When he descended into this world, he came to the people of Israel and preached to them saying: 'Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.' (Mt. 4:17)
·But they paid no heed to his holy counsels. After this he performed all the signs of his divinity in their presence, miracles without number. He made the blind see, the lame walk and the deaf hear. He healed lepers. He brought the dead back to life. He drove out demons. He made paralytics stand on their feet and forgave their sins. He made tax gatherers repent. He straightened vainglorious hands. He evangelized the poor. He remitted the sins of adulteresses and purified them with his divinity, restoring them to a virginal state. It was because an adulterous woman was made worthy of this great grace that her hands anointed the feet of him who had created her. (Lk. 7 37-8) From the moment she participated in the purity of his divinity, the voice of God came to her. 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.' (Lk. 7:50)
·In spite of all these things accomplished by him in their presence, they did not give him credence, but seized him and delivered him to be crucified. Having brought him into the court of the High Priest, they treated him with contempt rather than honor. Then the word of scripture was fulfilled. They brought evils upon me instead of blessings, and hatred instead of my love.' (Ps. 108:5)
·What then are the evils which the people he created, the people who killed him, did to him? They are terrible to describe or to hear. My tongue trembles, my eye weeps, my spirit groans, my soul is distressed to utter them. It is God that they have seized, the Lord that they have bound. They have pierced with nails the hands of them who created them. They slapped the face of their Lord. They beat his head with their fists. They placed a crown of thorns on his head. They dressed him in a purple cloak. They gave him vinegar and gall. On this day they did all these things to him. They crucified him with two thieves. One of them, who was unworthy of the division of his divinity, said to the Lord, deriding him: 'If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.' (Lk 23:39).
·The other replied rebuking him with indignation: 'Do you not fear God? We are receiving the reward of our sins which we have committed, but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he said, 'Jesus. remember me when you come into your kingdom.' And Jesus said to him with great joy: 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.' The gate of Paradise has been closed since the time when Adam transgressed, but I will open it today, and receive you in it. Because you have recognized the nobility of my head on the cross, you who have shared with me in the suffering of the cross will be my companion in the joy of my kingdom. You have glorified me in the presence of carnal men, in the presence of sinners. I will therefore glorify you in the presence of the angels. You were fixed with me on the cross, and you united yourself with me of your own free will. I will therefore love you, and my Father will love you, and the angels will serve you with my holy food. If you used once to be a companion of murderers, behold, I who am the life of all have now made you a companion with me. You used once to walk in the night with the sons of darkness; behold I who am the light of the whole world have now made you walk with me. You used once to take counsel with murderers; behold, I who am the Creator have made you a companion with me. 'All these things I will pardon you because you have confessed my divinity in the presence of those who have denied me. For they saw all the signs which I performed, but did not believe in me. You, then, a rapacious robber, a murderer, a brigand, a swindler, a plunderer have confessed that I am God. That is why I have pardoned your many sins, because you have loved much (Lk. 7:47). I will make you a citizen of Paradise. I will wash your body so that it will not see corruption before I resurrect it with me on the third day and take you up with me. The other who has denied me will see you enveloped in glory, but he will be enveloped in pain and same. He will see you surrounded by light, but he will be surrounded by darkness. He will see you in a state of joy and happiness, but he will be in a state of weeping and groaning. He will see you enjoying ease and benediction, but he will be suffering oppression and malediction. He will see you refreshed by the angels, but he will be troubled by the powers of darkness. And in the midst of intense cold the worm that never rests will consume him. Not only did he not confess me, but after having denied me he reviled me. 'For this reason all will receive according to their works. For as I have already said to them explicitly and in public: Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.' (Mt. 10:32-3).
So now, brethren, what torment the man who denied the Lord brought upon himself? We should therefore watch over ourselves that we should not be led astray, that for the sake of things of this life, we should not be made strangers to him who has created us. Perhaps there is someone today who is denying God for the sake of riches because the love of money closes the eyes of those who are given to it. Such a person takes the part of Judas, He has sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. It is therefore good for us to direct our concerns towards the Lord since it is he who takes care of us. Let us now turn to the goal proposed to us by the cross. For the ladder which Jacob contemplated that was fixed to the ground and reached up to heaven on which the angel of the Lord ascended and descended (Gen. 28:12), is Our Lord Jesus Christ raised up on the wood of the cross.
PRAYER My cry to you today, O Lord, in tears is this: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” It is for this Kingdom that I fondly long. It is the eternal home you have prepared for all those who seek you with sincere hearts. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”. Help me, Lord, as I struggle ahead on my way to my eternal destiny. Lift the darkness from my path, and keep my eyes raised to the heights!
“Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom. Lead thou me on. The night is dark, and I am far from home. Lead thou me on. Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see The distant scene; one step enough for me.”
·Friday around 2 PM
meditate on the TWELFTH STATION
The Mother of Jesus and the Beloved Disciple at the foot of the Cross
From the Gospel according to Saint John. 19:25-27
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother: “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple: “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
MEDITATION In suffering we long for solidarity. Mother Mary reminds us of supportive love and solidarity within a family, John of loyalty within a community. Family cohesion, community bonds, ties of friendship – these are essential for the flourishing of human beings. In an anonymous society they grow weak. When they are missing, we become diminished persons. Again, in Mary we do not notice even the least sign of resentment; not a word of bitterness. The Virgin becomes an archetype of forgiveness in faith and hope. She shows us the way to the future. Even those who would like to respond to violent injustice with “violent justice” know that that is not the ultimate answer. Forgiveness prompts hope. There are also historic injuries that often rankle in the memories of societies for centuries. Unless we transmute our collective anger into new energies of love through forgiveness, we perish together. When healing comes through forgiveness, we light a lamp, announcing future possibilities for the “life and well-being” of humanity.
PRAYER Lord Jesus, your Mother stood silently at your side in your final agony. She who was unseen on occasions when you were acclaimed a great prophet, stands beside you in your humiliation. May I have the courage to remain loyal even where you are least recognized. Let me never be embarrassed to belong to the “little flock”. Lord, let me remember that even those whom I consider my “enemies” belong to the human family. If they treat me unfairly, let my prayer be only: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” It may be in such a context that someone will suddenly recognize the true face of Christ and cry out like the centurion: “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
·Friday around 3 PM
meditate on the THIRTEENTH STATION
Jesus dies on the Cross
From the Gospel according to Saint Luke. 23:46
Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!” And having said this, he breathed his last.
MEDITATION Jesus hands over his spirit to the Father in serene abandonment. What his persecutors thought to be a moment of defeat proves, in fact, to be a moment of triumph. When a prophet dies for the cause he stood for, he gives the final proof of all that he has said. Christ’s death is something more than that. It brings redemption. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” With that begins for me a mystic journey: Christ draws me closer to him, until I shall fully belong to him.
“As a deer longs for flowing streams, So my soul longs for you, O God… When shall I come and behold the face of God?”
PRAYER Lord Jesus, it is for my own sins that you were nailed to the Cross. Help me to gain a deeper understanding of the grievousness of my sins and the immensity of your love. For “while we were still weak, Christ died for the ungodly.” I admit my faults as the prophets did long ago:
“We have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances; we have not listened to your servants the prophets….”
There was nothing in me to deserve your kindness. Thank you for your immeasurable goodness to me. Help me to live for you, to shape my life after you, to be joined to you and become a new creation.
“Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me.”
·Friday before sunset
meditate on the FOURTEENTH STATION
Jesus is taken down from the Cross and placed in the tomb
From the Gospel according to Saint Mark. 15:46
Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
MEDITATION Tragedies make us ponder. A tsunami tells us that life is serious. Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain pilgrim places. When death strikes near, another world draws close. We then shed our illusions and have a grasp of the deeper reality. People in ancient India prayed: “Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.” After Jesus left this world, Christians began to look back and interpret his life and mission. They carried his message to the ends of the earth. And this message itself is Jesus Christ, who is “the power of God and the wisdom of God”. It says that the reality is Christ and that our ultimate destiny is to be with him.
PRAYER Lord Jesus, enable us, as we press forward on life’s weary way, to have a glimpse of our ultimate destiny. And when at last we cross over, we will know that “death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.” God will wipe away all tears from our eyes. It is this Good News that we are eager to announce “in every way”, even in places where Christ has not been heard of. For this we work hard. We work “night and day” and wear ourselves out. Lord make us effective carriers of your Good News. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and in my flesh I shall see God.”
about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the graces that come from
observing First Fridays
is no wonder, therefore, that our predecessors have constantly defended this most
approved form of devotion — the pious devotion of the faithful toward the Most
Sacred Heart of Jesus [and] the custom of receiving Holy Communion on the first
Friday of every month at the desire of Christ Jesus, a custom which now
prevails everywhere.—Pope Pius XI Miserentissimus Redemptor
What’s so special about First Fridays?
parents grew up going to church every First Friday of the month and taking part
in Sacred Heart devotions, but in recent decades the pious practice has fallen
out of practice, and is dismissed by some as an “old-fashioned” anachronism.
main reason for the decline in interest in this devotion is probably rooted in
simple ignorance: people don’t
know what First Fridays all are about; families and parishes may not have
adequately passed down their importance to the next generation. Here are
five things to know.
1. How did the First Friday Devotion begin?
some saints referenced the Heart of Jesus in their writings even centuries
earlier, in 1673, a French Visitandine (Visitation) nun named Margaret
Mary Alacoque had visions of Jesus, wherein he asked the Church to honor His
Most Sacred Heart. In particular, Jesus asked the faithful to “receive Communion on the First
Fridays, for nine consecutive months.”
The request was connected to a specific promise made to all who venerated and
promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart. After Margaret Mary’s death, the First Friday practice
steadily spread in the Church —endorsed by popes and promoted by
saints — but
it greatly increased in popularity when Margaret Mary was canonized a saint in
1920 by Pope Benedict XV.
2. Why nine consecutive months?
number nine is traditionally associated with a novena and finds its origin in
the nine days that the apostles spent in prayer before Pentecost. A novena
provides an extended amount of time for preparation and interior renewal.
3. What am I supposed to do on First Fridays?
to Mass and receive Holy Communion with the intention of honoring Christ’s Sacred Heart. If you are not in a
state of grace, and thus unable to receive, you will also need to go to
4. What are the “promises” connected to this
said to St. Margaret Mary, “In
the excess of the mercy of my heart, I promise you that my all powerful love
will grant to all those who will receive communion on the First Fridays, for
nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my
displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my heart will be their
secure refuge in that last hour.”
This means that if a person faithfully receives communion for nine consecutive
months on First Fridays, Jesus will grant that person extra graces at the time
of their death, making it possible to repent of their sins and receive the last
rites (if needed).
promise is the last of 12 promises connected to the Devotion to the Sacred
Heart, particularly attached to the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in one’s home:
(1) I will give them all the graces necessary in their
state of life.
(2) I will establish peace in their homes.
(3) I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
(4) I will be their secure refuge during life, and
above all, in death.
(5) I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their
(6) Sinners will find in my heart the source and
infinite ocean of mercy.
(7) Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
(8) Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high
(9) I will bless every place in which an image of my
heart is exposed and honored.
10) I will give to priests the gift of touching the
most hardened hearts.
(11) Those who shall promote this devotion shall have
their names written in my Heart.
(12) I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart
that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on
the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance;
they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My
divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
5. Are the First Fridays a “ticket” to heaven?
is not as simple as going to Mass for nine months and then clocking out, never
going to Mass again and leading a sinful life! The entire purpose of this
devotion is to draw a person closer to the heart of Christ. If a person
fulfills these obligations with sincere faith, it is natural for he or she to
be closer to God and better prepared for death. The moment that this devotion
is observed in a superstitious manner, neglecting the need to live a virtuous
life, all bets are off and Jesus’
promise is null and void.
wants us to rest on his heart, like St. John, and the First Friday devotion is
an opportunity for us to encounter him more than just on Sundays and to deepen
our love of him.
to know, love and trust that we may take rest in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and
place our anxieties within, is what the First Fridays are all about.
Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
THIS day is
called the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, because on it Mary visited
her cousin Elizabeth, whom, as the angel had told her, God had blessed with a
son in her old age.
In the Introit of the Mass the Church sings: “Hail,
holy parent, who didst bring forth the King Who rules heaven and earth forever.
My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak of my works for the King.”
Vouchsafe, O Lord, we beseech Thee, unto us Thy servants the gift of Thy
heavenly grace, that, as in the childbirth of the Blessed Virgin our salvation
began, so from the votive solemnity of her visitation we may obtain an increase
of peace. Amen.
Cant. ii. 8-14.
cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills. My beloved is like
a roe or a young hart; be hold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the
windows, looking through the lattices. Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise,
make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. For winter is now
past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land, the
time of pruning is come: the voice of the turtle is heard in our land: the
fig-tree hath put forth her green figs: the vines in flower yield their sweet
smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come: my dove in the cliffs of the
rock, in the hollow places of the wall, show me thy face, let thy voice sound
in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely.
Luke i. 39-47.
At that time: Mary rising up went into the
hill-country with haste, into a city of Juda: and she entered into the house of
Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard
the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled
with the Holy Ghost: and she cried out with a loud voice and said : Blessed art
thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to
me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon as the
voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for
joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be
accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said: My soul doth
magnify the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
1. As soon as Mary heard
that Elizabeth was with child, she hastened to her. The alacrity of the Blessed
Virgin teaches us that we should take part with gladness in the happiness of
our fellowmen, and quickly make ourselves ready to discharge our duties,
sacrificing for that object, if necessary, even our own much-loved retirement,
our devotions and other exercises of piety.
2. Mary visited her cousin
out of real love, not out of unmeaning ceremony. Would that her example was
followed in our visits!
3. By the visit of the
Blessed Virgin John was sanctified in his mother’s womb, and Elizabeth,
enlightened by the Holy Ghost, knew, by the miraculous movements of her child,
that Mary was the Mother of the Lord. Such effects did this visit produce. What
would Jesus effect in us if we received Him with due preparation!
OF THE CANTICLE “MAGNIFICATE” or “MY SOUL DOST MAGNIFY THE LORD.”
In this hymn Mary with joy praises God, the Lord,
that He has regarded her humility, and made her to be the Mother of His
only-begotten Son, wherefore she should be called blessed by all generations;
and she declares the truths and mysteries which the incarnation brought to
light. The mercy of God, namely, reaches from generation to generation to them
that fear Him. He scatters the thoughts of the proud, and puts down from their
seats the mighty; but He exalts the humble. He fills those who hunger for
justice with good things, but those who think themselves rich He sends away
empty. He receives all true Israelites, and performs in them the promises which
He gave to the fathers. This hymn is repeated by the Church every day at
Vespers, in praise of the work of redemption, begun by the incarnation of the
Son of God in Mary. Would that every Christian, since he becomes one only by
Christ being, as it were, born in him, might share those feelings which the
Blessed Virgin and Mother has expressed in this hymn of praise, and, with the
Church, daily praise God for the mystery of the incarnation!
Aspiration. O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Who
didst descend from the highest heavens to the womb of the Virgin Mary, didst
therein rest for nine months, and with her didst condescend to visit and
sanctify St. John, grant that we, by the practice of good works, particularly
of humility, may become partakers of the fruits of Thy incarnation.
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