Ash Wednesday

 

 

 

Want to know more about the Passion of Jesus, a mystery that helps us know the mysteries of our lives? Follow the commentaries of Donald Senior, CP. 

Want to know more about the Stations of the Cross? Look into the history of this devotion and some examples of it.

 

The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden

Mount Olives 3

Then going out Jesus went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not undergo the test.’

After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.’ And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.

When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.’ Luke 22, 39-46

The Passionists remember The Prayer of Our Lord in the Garden in their liturgical calendar on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time of prayer for the church. At this time, St. Paul of the Cross and other Passionist missionaries prepared for ministry in the lenten season. Leaving  their “retreats” they went out to awaken “those who sit in darkness…through the trumpet of God’s word.”

That can’t be done without prayer.

On the Mount of Olives Jesus prayed in the Garden before his arrest and crucifixion. He prayed while his disciples, who would soon abandon him, slept a short distance away. The executioners had not yet come, no scourging, no thorns, no nails had touched him, but here in the dark, Jesus faced death in all its many forms.

He saw before him an awful death by crucifixion, which a criminal faced. The Romans publicized that kind of death to frighten and keep order. They crucified their victims with great publicity outside the city gate. The execution place was chosen for all to see.

Jesus faced other forms of death too. He faced the question prophets faced: “Have I toiled in vain?” The sleeping disciples nearby, the towns that forgot the healing signs he worked, the powerful enemies who sought to destroy him and rejected his teaching. “Have I toiled in vain? Have I failed, have I accomplished anything ?”

Jesus does not pray in many words or set forms. “Father,” he prays to God who cares from him.

“Let this cup pass from me,” he prays from his fears and hopes. “Not my will but yours be done,” he gives himself into his Father’s hands.

His fears are real, so real that “his sweat becomes like blood falling to the ground.” St. Vincent Strambi says Jesus’ bloody sweat is “the voice of his heart, proclaiming his great love and sorrow.”

“An angel came to strengthen him.” God hears and cares and strengthens. “Pray, persevere in prayer.”

 

 

 

 

My Father’s Son

Contemplative Philosophy

Paolo_Veronese_-_Portrait_of_Count_Giuseppe_da_Porto_with_his_Son_AdrianoPaolo Veronese, “Portrait of Count Giuseppe da Porto with his Son Adriano” (1720)


It was the end of a day.

I’d say “long day” but that would be melodramatic.

It was the end of a day. A day, like most, occupied with the busyness of life.

I was in the kitchen and I made a quick motion with my arm. I smelt something.

It is my father.

I’m back in my parents’ orange-wallpapered kitchen in suburban Long Island. I’m about 5 or 6 years old. My father came home from work a few minutes ago. He’s sitting at the head of the kitchen table, getting ready to eat or smoke a cigarette. I stand by his side, leaning against him, one half of my small buttocks on the edge of his chair, my side against his side, my face just under his outstretched arm.

I am my father’s son.


—Howard Hain

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Following Jesus Christ in Lent

Lent 1

Lent is coming. Let’s join those disciples in our picture above following Jesus. One way to follow him is by reflecting on the lenten scriptural readings recommended for the Sundays and weekdays till Easter. They’re the basic book for lenten reading.

On the 1st Sunday of Lent, this coming Sunday, Mark’s gospel takes us to the Jordan River where Jesus is led into a deserted place by the Spirit and tempted for 40 days after his baptism. Our journey  begins  in a desert. Readings from Mark’s Gospel lead us through the Sundays of Lent this year.

The weekday gospels for the first three weeks of lent are mostly from Matthew, the early church’s favorite gospel for catechesis during Lent. They bring us to Galilee where Jesus began his ministry. Most are from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus speaks “the words of eternal life.”  (Matthew 5-7) Be faithful to prayer and you will grow in wisdom, Jesus says.  ( Tuesday and Thursday, 1st week of Lent)  Love your neighbor, even your enemies and “the least,” whom we easily overlook. ( Monday, Friday, Saturday, 1st week of Lent)

Peter’s confession at Caesaria Phillipi is the highpoint of the first part of Matthew’s gospel. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Peter says to Jesus. “You have the words of everlasting life.” Lent invites us to join him in that same confession.

But can we possibly love and believe that way, so lofty and challenging? We’re rather weak disciples. The reading for Saturday after Ash Wednesday reminds us, though, that Jesus doesn’t call perfect disciples. He called  Matthew the tax collector and people like him–not very good keepers of the law. Outsiders and sinners like them welcome us to the lenten season. (Luke 5, 27-32)

Matthew’s gospel takes us up the Mount of the Beatitudes. Like most sacred writers, Matthew likes mountains. You see ahead  more clearly from them. On the 2nd Sunday of Lent, we go up to the Mount of the Transfiguration to glimpse the  glory found ahead.

By the 4th week of Lent,  we arrive  in the Holy City, Jerusalem, to the temple mount and  then the Mount of Calvary. Starting with the 4th week most of the weekday lenten gospels will be from the Gospel of John. I’ll say something about them before we get there.

You can follow the lenten readings online here.

Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ

Sign

The Passionists celebrate the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Friday before Ash Wednesday as the Lenten and Easter seasons begin.

“The Catholic Church glories in every deed of Christ. Her supreme glory, however, is the cross. Well aware of this, Paul says: God forbid that I glory in anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!

“At Siloam, there was a sense of wonder, and rightly so: a man born blind recovered his sight. Yet still, how many blind people are left in the world! Lazarus rose from the dead, but even this affected only Lazarus: what of the countless numbers who die because of their sins? Those miraculous loaves fed five thousand people; yet this is a small number compared to all those now still starving in ignorance.

“For us all, however, the cross is the crown of victory. Indeed, it has redeemed the whole of humanity!” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem)

“A book of life, it teaches the way to life and communicates life,” the Passionist bishop Vincent Strambi writes. “The one who reads this book day and night is blessed.”

“The Passion of Jesus is a “sea of suffering” by also a “sea of love,” St. Paul of the Cross writes. So many do not know the depths of this mystery.  “Like people living in a swamp,” he says,  an image probably suggested by the swamp lands of the Tuscan Maremma in Italy where Paul ministered  much of his life.

“We must awaken them from their sad state. We must send them quickly zealous workers, truly poor in spirit and detached from every creature, that by the trumpet of God’s word they might, through the holy Passion of Christ, awaken those who ‘sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

Almighty God,

awaken within us a spirit of prayer.

Give us devotion to the Passion of your Son

and the grace of fostering it in others

by our preaching and example,

and we ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.