Easter, Ascension & Pentecost: April 2013 Archives

The Spirit changes us

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At the Sacrifice of the Mass in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis also celebrated the Rite of Confirmation with 44 people from around the world. As we approach Pentecost, this excerpt from his short homily is very instructive. Pay attention. Don't forget to daily ask, no beg, for the Holy Spirit to have a special grace to embrace the day. May the Spirit be with these 44 newly confirmed in the Faith, indeed, all those around the world who are receiving the sacrament of Confirmation these days.

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This is the work of the Holy Spirit: he brings us the new things of God. He comes to us and makes all things new; he changes us. The Spirit changes us! And Saint John's vision reminds us that all of us are journeying towards the heavenly Jerusalem, the ultimate newness which awaits us and all reality, the happy day when we will see the Lord's face - that marvelous face, the most beautiful face of the Lord Jesus - and be with him for ever, in his love.

You see, the new things of God are not like the novelties of this world, all of which are temporary; they come and go, and we keep looking for more. The new things which God gives to our lives are lasting, not only in the future, when we will be with him, but today as well. God is even now making all things new; the Holy Spirit is truly transforming us, and through us he also wants to transform the world in which we live. Let us open the doors to the Spirit, let ourselves be guided by him, and allow God's constant help to make us new men and women, inspired by the love of God which the Holy Spirit bestows on us! How beautiful it would be if each of you, every evening, could say: Today at school, at home, at work, guided by God, I showed a sign of love towards one of my friends, my parents, an older person!

Today, we are observing the 5th Sunday of Easter (John 13:31-35). 

 "'I give you a new commandment', said Jesus: 'love one another.' But how, we may ask, could he call this commandment new? Through Moses, he had said to the people of old, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.'...He showed the novelty of his command and how far the love he enjoined surpassed the old conception of mutual love by going on immediately to add: 'Love one another as I have loved you.' To understand the full force of these words, we have to consider how Christ loved us.'...The law commanded people to love their brothers and sisters as they love themselves, but our Lord Jesus Christ loved us more than himself. He who was one in nature with God the Father and his equal would not have descended to our lowly estate, nor endured in his flesh such a bitter death for us, nor submitted to the blows given him by his enemies, to the shame, the derision, and all the other sufferings that could not possibly be enumerated; nor, being rich, would have he become poor, had he not loved us far more than himself. It was indeed something new for love to go as far as that!"

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

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The Second Sunday of Easter continues the drama of the Resurrection that we first lived last week. Through liturgical history we've called today Quasimodo Sunday, Thomas Sunday, Dominica in albis, and Mercy Sunday. See this past post.

This music text tells the narrative:

Although the doors were closed,

Jesus appeared to his disciples.

He took away their fear and granted them peace.

Then He called Thomas and said to him:

"Why did you doubt My resurrection from the dead? Place your hand in My side; see My hands and My feet.

Through your lack of faith, everyone will come to know of My passion and My resurrection, and they will cry out with you:

My Lord and My God, glory to You!"

The perceived lack of faith Saint Thomas is really the invitation made to all of us to engage our freedom in a new way, and to allow our YES to be coherent before Mercy Himself.

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What was true and real for the Apostles and disciples of the Lord 2000 years ago IS TRUE AND REAL for us today, right now. At least that's what I believe. The Emmaus event is not an abstract account but a true encounter with a clear direction and goal: knowing that the Lord Jesus, once crucified and now risen, is alive as He said. I find myself asking:

Can you say with the same degree of certainty as the disciples of Emmaus came to understand, that it is a true joy to walk with others in and outside the Church over the years in light of the presence of the Risen Lord? Do you really believe it is your vocation to recognize the Risen Lord in the breaking of the Bread, and to help others to the same? How do you account for the joy in knowing the Lord and accepting the reality of the Lord's enduring Presence in the Eucharist? Are ready to enter into worship upon recognizing the Lord at the Supper of Emmaus?

The question becomes for the Christian: what do you really want from the Risen Lord?

Pope Francis makes direct connections between what believe and how we live the sacred Liturgy and the sacraments. It is the consistent teaching of Scripture and the Church that the practice of prayer, personal and liturgical (that is, what makes for a vital relationship with God) necessarily spills over to being an alive Catholic. The connection he's making is consistent with what say in liturgical theology about the "lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi" tradition: the law of prayer (and sacraments) tells us what we believe and how we live.

For the 50 days of Easter when the pope gives a teaching it is called the "Regina Coeli Address" but during the rest of the year it is called "Angelus Address" because during Eastertide we pray the Regina Coeli. The Address:

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Happy Easter to you all! Thank you for coming today, in such large numbers, to share the joy of Easter, the central mystery of our faith. Let us pray that the power of the resurrection of Christ might reach everyone - especially those who suffer - and every place that is in need of trust and hope.

Christ has conquered evil fully and finally, but it is up to us, to people in every age, to embrace this victory in our lives and in the realities of history and society. For this reason it seems important to point out that today we ask God in the liturgy: "O God, who give constant increase to your Church by new offspring, grant that your servants may hold fast in their lives to the Sacrament they have received in faith." (Collect for Monday in the Octave of Easter).

Indeed, the Baptism that makes us children of God, and the Eucharist that unites us to Christ, must become life. That is to say: they must be reflected in attitudes, behaviors, actions and choices. The grace contained in the Sacraments Easter is an enormous source of strength for renewal in personal and family life, as well as for social relations. Nevertheless, everything passes through the human heart: if I allow myself to be reached by the grace of the risen Christ, if I let that grace change for the better whatever is not good in me, [to change whatever] might do harm to me and to others, then I allow the victory of Christ to affirm itself in in my life, to broaden its beneficial action. This is the power of grace! Without grace we can do nothing - without grace we can do nothing! And with the grace of Baptism and Holy Communion can become an instrument of God's mercy - that beautiful mercy of God.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Easter, Ascension & Pentecost category from April 2013.

Easter, Ascension & Pentecost: March 2013 is the previous archive.

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