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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.

 

“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."

 

Candles[2] 

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[3] 

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.

 

Armed Forces Day Build Up

 

US Air Force[4]

Fighting at 25,000 feet in thin, freezing air that no warriors had ever encountered before, bomber crews battled new kinds of assaults on body and mind. Air combat was deadly but intermittent: periods of inactivity and anxiety were followed by short bursts of fire and fear. Unlike infantrymen, bomber boys slept on clean sheets, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the swing music of Glenn Miller’s Air Force band, which toured U.S. air bases in England. But they had a much greater chance of dying than ground soldiers. In 1943, an American bomber crewman stood only a one-in-five chance of surviving his tour of duty, twenty-five missions. The Eighth Air Force lost more men in the war than the U.S. Marine Corps. The bomber crews were an elite group of warriors who were a microcosm of America — white America, anyway. (African Americans could not serve in the Eighth Air Force except in a support capacity.) The actor Jimmy Stewart was a bomber boy, and so was the “King of Hollywood,” Clark Gable. And the air war was filmed by Oscar-winning director William Wyler and covered by reporters like Andy Rooney and Walter Cronkite, all of whom flew combat missions with the men. The Anglo-American bombing campaign against Nazi Germany was the longest military campaign of World War II, a war within a war. Until Allied soldiers crossed into Germany in the final months of the war, it was the only battle fought inside the German homeland.

Apostolic Exhortation[5]

Veneremur Cernui – Down in Adoration Falling

of The Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix,
to Priests, Deacons, Religious and the Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Phoenix on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist

My beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. I wish to speak to you about the most important and central teaching of our faith. What I share is “not too high for you.” It is not theology that is only meant for theologians and priests. This concerns the most important reality of our lives – the saving presence of our Lord. This is not a teaching that can be dumbed down or over simplified. This is a truth that we need to be clear and certain about. Be bold, then! Take up and read, drink in the truth, discuss and share it with others and allow Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist, to conform you further to Himself and fulfill the deepest longings of your heart.

2. From the time I was a little child, I knew Jesus was present in every Catholic Church. I could not have explained it, but I was certain He was there. The way my father genuflected before the Tabernacle, the quiet reverence of my mother, the way our pastor Father Daly sang the Tantum Ergo with such gusto and a thick Irish brogue, it was these actions and God’s grace, more than words, that imbedded in my heart a solid conviction about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. And because our farm family prayed together every evening, during thunderstorms or blizzards, whether we had a bumper crop or hardly anything at all from drought-stricken soil, no matter what, we knew that the Lord Jesus we received at Mass was with us, every day and night, and that whatever we faced, all would be well because of Him.

3. Of course, that faith in the Eucharist has been tested many times over the years. As a seminarian in Tours, France, for example, during two months of intensive French language study, some classmates learning of my practice of daily Mass accosted me, sneering with venom, “You really believe Jesus is present in that piece of bread?” Shocked by their hate-filled tone, I could say nothing for what seemed like eternity; but after probably less than a minute, I managed to stammer, “Yes… I do.” That shocking and embarrassing moment, to my surprise, led ever so gradually to new gratitude for the gift of the Eucharistic faith and a deeper conviction about daily Mass and Eucharistic adoration. It also taught me to expect my faith in our Eucharistic Savior to face scorn and contradiction.

4. I invite you in this Exhortation to “put out into the deep” (Lk 5:4). Whether your faith in the Eucharist is strong or weak, whether you consider the Church your Home or you have recently decided to disassociate, or even if you have no faith at all, my sincere hope is that a true “Eucharistic amazement” will be ignited within you.

5. The People of Israel faced many obstacles, challenges, and sufferings as they crossed the desert and entered the Promised Land. But God had assured them of His presence and guidance on their arduous sojourn. In the Ark of the Covenant, they recognized the presence of God. Into battles and in dangerous lands, wherever the Israelites went, the Ark went with them because it assured them that God would be with them to fight their battles, to care for them and protect them. For this reason, the Ark became a powerful and enduring image of God’s presence.

6. When the People of Israel were preparing to cross the Jordan river and enter the Promised Land, Joshua stressed the importance of following the Ark: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord being carried, you are to set out from your positions and follow it… so that you can see the way to go, since we have never been this way before” (Josh. 3:2-4). This instruction was addressed to a people who would face the dangers of the crossing and the challenges and threats that awaited them in an unknown land.

To be continued…

Catechism of the Catholic Church

PART ONE: THE PROFESSION OF FAITH

SECTION TWO I. THE CREEDS

CHAPTER TWO-I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY SON OF GOD

Article 6 "HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN AND IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER"

IN BRIEF

665 Christ's Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus' humanity into God's heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides him from the eyes of men (cf Col 3:3).

666 Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father's glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him forever.

667 Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Daily Devotions

·       Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Conversion of Sinners

·       Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

·       Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·       Total Consecration to Mary Day 22

·       Drops of Christ’s Blood

·       Universal Man Plan

·       Nineveh 90-Day 34

·       Rosary

 



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