Archives for April 2006

Christ is Risen!


If any man be devout and love God,
let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.

If any man be a wise servant,
let him enter rejoicing into the joy of his Lord.

If any have labored long in fasting,
let him now receive his recompense.

If any have wrought from the first hour,
let him today receive his just reward.

If any have come at the third hour,
let him with thankfulness keep the feast.

If any have arrived at the sixth hour,
let him have no misgivings,
because he shall in no wise be deprived.

If any have delayed until the ninth hour,
let him draw near, fearing nothing.

If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour,
let him also be not alarmed at his tardiness;
for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor,
will accept the last even as the first;
he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour,
even as unto him who has worked from the first hour.

And He shows mercy upon the last,
and cares for the first;
and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts.
And he both accepts the deeds,
and welcomes the intention,
and honors the acts and praises the offering.

Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord,
and receive your reward,
both the first and likewise the second.

You rich and poor together,
hold high festival.

You sober and you heedless,
honor the day.

Rejoice today,
both you who have fasted
and you who have disregarded the fast.

The table is fully laden;
feast sumptuously.

The calf is fatted;
let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy the feast of faith;
receive all the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one weep for his iniquities,
for pardon has shone forth from the grave.

Let no one fear death,
for the Savior’s death has set us free:
he that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.

By descending into hell, he made hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of his flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, cried:
“Hell was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions.”

It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

The Paschal Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom, recited in Eastern Churches across the world on Easter Sunday. This sermon is available at www.ancient-future.net/chrysoseaster.html

The Magic of Holy Saturday

The magic of Holy Saturday.

The chaotic fountain remains directionless. Could this be the residue of the Son’s love which, poured out to the last when every vessel cracked and the old world perished, is now making a path for itself to the Father through the glooms of nought?

Or, in spite of it all, is this love trickling on in impotence, unconsciously, laboriously, towards a new creation that does not yet even exist, a creation which is still to be lifted up and given shape? Is it a protoplasm producing itself in the beginning, the first seed of the New Heaven and the New Earth?

The spring leaps up even more plenteously. To be sure, it flows out of a wound and is like the blossom and fruit of a wound; like a tree it sprouts up from this wound. But the wound no longer causes pain. The suffering has been left far behind as the past origin and previous source of today’s wellspring.

What is poured out here is no longer a present suffering, but a suffering that has been concluded–no longer now a sacrificing love, but a love sacrificed.

Only the wound is there: gaping, the great open gate, the chaos, the nothingness out of which the wellspring leaps forth. Never again will this gate be shut. Just as the first creation arose ever anew out of sheer nothingness, so, too, this second world – still unborn, still caught up in its first rising – will have its sole origin in this wound, which is never to close again…

High-vaulted triumphal Gate of Life! Armored in gold, armies of graces stream out of you with fiery lances. Deep-dug Fountain of Life! Wave upon wave gushes out of you inexhaustible, ever-flowing, billows of water and blood baptizing the heathen hearts, comforting the yearning souls, rushing over the deserts of guilt, enriching over-abundantly, overflowing every heart that receives it, far surpassing every desire.

-Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Hat tip/full text posted at Titusonenine (Kendall Harmon)

Photo from National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation; taken by Jonathan Bennett

For Holy Saturday – He Descended Into Hell


Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all”. Christ answered him: “And with your spirit”. He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”.

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

From the Sermon of an anonymous Eastern Church Father. Traditionally read during the Liturgy of the Hours on Holy Saturday in the Western Church. Image taken by David Bennett.

Divine Mercy Novena

Today begins the Divine Mercy Novena which is a powerful nine day set of prayers beginning on Good Friday and ending on Divine Mercy Sunday (the second Sunday of Easter). Jesus appeared to St. Faustina on several occasions as she relates in her diary. Regarding the novena, she wrote that Jesus revealed to her:

On each day of the novena you will bring to My Heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy… On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls. By this novena I will grant every possible grace to souls.

To participate in this wonderful practice, you can visit this Divine Mercy Novena page (also used as a source for the above quote). For more information on the chaplet associated with St. Faustina and the novena, you can visit this page on the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

I participated in the chaplet and novena last year and can say that it is a wonderful spiritual practice. I am excited about doing it again this year!

We’re Back!

We’re Baaaack. Blogger has restored the old Per Christum, saving us from rebuilding the whole thing. Thank you blogger!

Mother of Sorrows


As we enter into Holy Week it’s hard not to be impressed by the devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her suffering Son throughout the last moments of his life. She was with him through the cruel tortures, through the way of the Cross, and through his final moments on the Cross. Mary suffered along with her Son as he suffered and died for sins of humanity. What a perfect model of Christian humility and sharing in the suffering of Christ. As our Lord, Jesus knows the pain of suffering and so can identify with us as our great high priest. Likewise, in Mary we have one who knew the greatest suffering and is a powerful intercessor and Mother for those who suffer.

O all ye
that pass
by the way
attend
and see
if there be any
sorrow
like to
my sorrow

Photo from the National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation. Taken by Jonathan Bennett.

Please Pray for all Catechumens and Candidates

On Easter Sunday, many people will be entering the Catholic Church, whether through baptism, reception, and/or confirmation. This is an exciting time in the life of these converts and the Church. Please keep all of these folks in your prayers.

Take a look over at the comments section on a recent Pontifications post. The number of Pontifications readers entering the Catholic Church is amazingly high. Our own Jason Sims will enter the Church next Sunday, as will one of our readers, Danny Garland Jr. Their families will be entering with them. Funny thing is, I thought Danny was already Catholic! Welcome home guys (and gals).

Palm Sunday: Lord, Forgive Us

Today is Palm Sunday, the day when we commemorate the entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem as King. Palm Sunday is an important contrast to the events of the rest of Holy Week, especially Good Friday. It’s amazing how human nature can welcome a man with "blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" and then only a few days  later demand his blood with loud shouts of “crucify him.”

We cannot merely pass this event off as something that happened nearly 2000 years ago and the liturgical reading of the Passion on Palm Sunday reminds us of that. The community reads about Jesus being welcomed as king with palm branches and then each individual, playing the role of the crowd during the trial of Jesus, demands: "crucify him." Our sinfulness caused the death of our Lord and the Palm Sunday liturgy helps us recall that vividly. Sadly all of us also welcome Jesus as Lord daily in our personal lives only to deny him at a later point through our sinfulness. All I can think of as I go through Palm Sunday and Holy Week is: Lord forgive us for what we have done to you!