Category Archives: Easter, Ascension & Pentecost

Urbi et Orbi 2013: God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, Pope teaches

The Urbi et Orbi address, 2013, of the Bishop of Rome and Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis.


Francis UrbiAFP PHOTO : VINCENZO PINTO2.jpg

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter! 

What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons…

Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious!

We too, like the women who were Jesus’ disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom.

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Easter: Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present, is projected towards the future

The Transfiguration Lodovico Carracci 1594

Easter is yet again unfolded anew in our lives right now! Here is Pope Francis homily for the great and holy Vigil of Easter at the Vatican Basilica, 2013. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead as He said is a terrifying event in any person’s life. As His Holiness said in his homily, “Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us.” This newness, this new humanity given to us by the resurrected Lord, is a beautiful reminder that all is redeemed by the One who created us and Loves us now.


The key to the Christian journey, to the building of the Kingdom, to the witnessing to your hope is the openness to have the liturgical anamnesis, the awareness of grace being operative, of God’s activity in life, my life, right now; the phrase Francis uses frequently is, “you won’t be disappointed,” the same one John Paul and Benedict used before him so many times.


The question is, can we be open enough to accept the surprises, are you willing not to be disappointed when confronted by a life of grace that contradicts an existence full of nihilism, skepticism, and boredom?


There are several wonderful points the Pope made, not least is this one that reminds me of Father Giussani:


They are asked to remember their encounter with Jesus, to remember his words, his actions, his life; and it is precisely this loving remembrance of their experience with the Master that enables the women to master their fear and to bring the message of the Resurrection to the Apostles and all the others (cf. Lk 24:9). To remember what God has done and continues to do for me, for us, to remember the road we have travelled; this is what opens our hearts to hope for the future. May we learn to remember everything that God has done in our lives. 


Why do you seek the living among the dead? He isn’t here — He is risen!


Francis Easter card 2013.jpg

The homily:


In the Gospel of this radiant night of the Easter Vigil, we first meet the women who go the tomb of Jesus with spices to anoint his body (cf. Lk 24:1-3). They go to perform an act of compassion, a traditional act of affection and love for a dear departed person, just as we would. They had followed Jesus, they had listened to his words, they had felt understood by him in their dignity and they had accompanied him to the very end, to Calvary and to the moment when he was taken down from the cross. We can imagine their feelings as they make their way to the tomb: a certain sadness, sorrow that Jesus had left them, he had died, his life had come to an end. Life would now go on as before. Yet the women continued to feel love, the love for Jesus which now led them to his tomb. But at this point, something completely new and unexpected happens, something which upsets their hearts and their plans, something which will upset their whole life: they see the stone removed from before the tomb, they draw near and they do not find the Lord’s body. It is an event which leaves them perplexed, hesitant, full of questions: “What happened?”, “What is the meaning of all this?” (cf. Lk 24:4). Doesn’t the same thing also happen to us when something completely new occurs in our everyday life? We stop short, we don’t understand, we don’t know what to do. Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us. We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises; we are afraid of God’s surprises! He always surprises us!

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Blessed Easter!

Resurrection Icon.jpg

Victimae paschali laudes

immolent Christiani.

Agnus redemit oves:

Christus innocens Patri

reconciliavit peccatores.

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The loss of the Pentecost octave

The desire and capacity to linger in joy, beauty and truth is liturgically not easy to do these days with the absence of octaves following a major feasts. Eight days are not too long, not too complicated, not too esoteric to extend our prayer! And I don’t mean to merely lament the ansence of an official 8-day period of liturgical prayer. The Church has retained the octaves of Christmas and Easter but the rest are sadly gone. At least for now. I think it was a colossal mistake of the reform of the Missal by Pope Paul VI to jettison the octave, especially the octave of Pentecost.

How often do we need to slowly meditate on the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit and beg for the grace to integrate grace into our lives. We need the opportunity to understand concretely the action of the Spirit in our lives and we need to hear the beautify music, poetry and preaching connected with the Pentecost’s octave. The Pope even he wepted when he realized the change he made without thinking the whole thing through; the implications are significant; the absence of the Pentecost octave is diasasterous event for the Church. Why is it problematic? It is so because we are Church, a people of the Way, who rely on the Holy Spirit to guide each-and-every step we take in living the Gospel and seeking the face of God.

I share the opinion with many others that one of the re-reforms of the Missal that still needs to be investigated is the restauration of the Pentecost Octave. However, I would also advocate the implementation of the Assumption and Epiphany octaves. Apparently, I am not alone: the editor of America magazine Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen is saying the same thing and he’s quoting a friend, Benedictine Father Mark Daniel Kirby in his “Of Many Things” article this week.

More Pentecost to celebrate

pentecost feast.jpg

The Roman Church celebrated Pentecost last weekend thus concluding the Easter season. This weekend the same Church observes the feast of the Most Holy Trinity.

Also this weekend, our Orthodox sisters and brothers are celebrating the Coming of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:1-4).

Let us beg for the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

You may read more about the Spirit’s feast here.

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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