Friday, February 27, 2009

Why Are Catholics Focused On The Crucified Lord?

I was asked one day 'why do Catholics have such a fixation on the gruesome scene of a Cross'?

I've never thought about the Cross as gruesome. Rather, it's about the love of God, and in return, I love Jesus for what He did - dying for our sins.

The passion of our Lord is recreated every year, beginning on Holy Thursday. That evening, Jesus entered Jerusalem and ate the Paschal supper with His apostles. It is called the Last Supper because it was the last meal He ate before His death. After the supper, Jesus then washed the feet of the apostles to teach them humility. After the washing, Jesus instituted the Blessed Eucharist and said the first Mass and gave His Apostles their first Holy Communion.

Of course next came the kiss from Judas and Jesus was led away, to be scourged at the pillar. They then placed a crown of thorns on His head. He stayed silent, suffering for us. How can anyone not appreciate this fact and love the Lord because of it?

The redemption for our sins means that Jesus Christ, as Redeemer of the whole human race, offered His sufferings and death to God as a fitting sacrifice in satisfaction for the sins of men, and regained for them the right to be children of God and heirs to heaven. No other creature could do this.

Sin offends our infinite God. Many people today believe that they are saved, despite their sins. They believe that Christ's death on the cross is all that is needed for them to go to heaven.

But Scripture tells us a different story. That story is, that sin offends God and needs satisfaction. What Christ did was opened up the gates to heaven that had been closed after the fall of Adam and Eve. Christ did die for all men, without exception. But that does not mean that all men are saved because not all accept the graces which Christ merited for us by His death. Many also do not believe in Him. Of those who believe, many lead sinful lives.

Many of us who saw the movie, The Passion of Christ, were shocked at how bad Christ looked when He was beaten and nailed to the Cross. It brought tears to many people, to see how Christ suffered. And that portrayal was probably nothing compared to how it really was and people need to see this. It should bring us all to our knees in complete and humble thanksgiving for what Christ did for us that day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Saint Blaise Feast Day

I completely forgot that Feb. 3 is the feast day for Saint Blaise along with Saint Ansgar. For those that don't know who Saint Blaise is, he is the patron saint for those suffering from Throat Ailments.

Each year on this day, our throats are blessed at Mass. Because Feb. 3 is also the anniversary of my mother's death, I attended Mass and was pleasantly reminded of the feast and the blessing. Both of our priests were at this daily mass and it gave me goosebumps to see them bless each other.

From This Website - Information on St. Blaise

Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, devoted the early years of his life to the study of philosophy and became a physician. Then, receiving a call from God, he was ordained to the priesthood and made Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia.

At about this time, a new persecution of Christians began under the reign of Licinius. Saint Blaise was told in a message from God to go into the hills to escape this persecution, so that he might minister to the flock. Saint Blaise went into the mountains and took refuge in a cave.

The governor of the region, called Agricolaus, sent men into the hills to hunt Saint Blaise. When these hunters came across the cave, they found it surrounded by wild animals, all suffering from illnesses. Saint Blaise moved about them, healing the animals, and unharmed by them.

The hunters seized Saint Blaise and took him back to the governor. Along the way, Saint Blaise continued to perform miracles. He cured a woman's son, who was choking to death on a fish bone. He persuaded a wild wolf to release a poor woman's pig. In gratitude, this woman followed Saint Blaise and brought him candles and food while he was imprisoned.

Finally, Saint Blaise was ordered executed by the governor, and was beheaded along with seven Christian women. The Roman Catholic date of his feast day is February 3rd, while in the Eastern rite, his feast is celebrated on February 11th. Because of the miracles he performed, devotions to Saint Blaise for healing of throat ailments grew through the centuries and are still performed today.
Almighty God enriched the Blessed Virgin with the gifts of his grace more abundantly than He enriched any other creature. He chose her from all mankind and at the word of an angel elevated her to the ineffable dignity of dignity of the Mother of God.
- Benedict XIV, Gloriosae Dominae, September 27, 1748

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lent Draws Near

It seems like we fly through the Church seasons. We barely finish with Advent, and then it's the Christmas season for a few weeks. A little over a month later, Ash Wednesday is upon us and then it's 7 weeks of Lent, then the Easter Triudum, then eight weeks for the Easter season until Pentecost. I always look forward to these seasons because sometimes I think ordinary time gets to be a tad boring. It's fun to see the Church decorated for each event and it always seems to bring new life into our Churches.

I know you've seen these before, but here is a refresher on the guildelines for fast and abstinence during Lent. Ash Wednesday falls on February 22 this year, with Easter falling on April 9.

ABSTINENCE: Abstinence is a penitential practice consisting of refraining from the consumption of meat and is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age and older. Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and the Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence. Pastors and parents are encouraged to see that children who are not bound by the obligation to fast and abstain are led to appreciate an authentic sense of penance.

FAST & ABSTINENCE: In addition to abstinence, fasting is to be observed by all Catholics between the ages of 18-59 years (inclusive). On days of fasting, one full meal is allowed. Two smaller meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to one's needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. Note: If a person is unable to observe the above regulations due to ill health or other serious reasons, they are urged to practice other forms of self-denial that are suitable to their condition.