Tag Archives: lent

In that crucified Man, … the Son of God, even death itself takes on new meaning and purpose: it is redeemed

the Cross of Christ.jpg

Once more in meditation, prayer and song, we have recalled Jesus’s journey along the way of the cross: a journey seemingly hopeless, yet one that changed human life and history, and opened the way to “new heavens and a new earth” (cf. Rev 21:1).  Especially today, Good Friday, the Church commemorates with deep spiritual union the death of the Son of God on the cross; in his cross she sees the tree of life, which blossoms in new hope.

The experience of suffering and of the cross touches all mankind; it touches the family too.  How often does the journey become wearisome and difficult!  Misunderstandings, conflicts, worry for the future of our children, sickness and problems of every kind.  These days too, the situation of many families is made worse by the threat of unemployment and other negative effects of the economic crisis.  The Way of the Cross which we have spiritually retraced this evening invites all of us, and families in particular, to contemplate Christ crucified in order to have the force to overcome difficulties.  The cross of Christ is the supreme sign of God’s love for every man and woman, the superabundant response to every person’s need for love.  At times of trouble, when our families have to face pain and adversity, let us look to Christ’s cross.  There we can find the courage and strength to press on; there we can repeat with firm hope the words of Saint Paul: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom 8:35, 37).

In times of trial and tribulation, we are not alone; the family is not alone.  Jesus is present with his love, he sustains them by his grace and grants the strength needed to carry on, to make sacrifices and to overcome every obstacle.  And it is to this love of Christ that we must turn when human turmoil and difficulties threaten the unity of our lives and our families.  The mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection inspires us to go on in hope: times of trouble and testing, when endured with Christ, with faith in him, already contain the light of the resurrection, the new life of a world reborn, the passover of all those who believe in his word.

In that crucified Man who is the Son of God, even death itself takes on new meaning and purpose: it is redeemed and overcome, it becomes a passage to new life.  “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24).  Let us entrust ourselves to the Mother of Christ.  May Mary, who accompanied her Son along his way of sorrows, who stood beneath the cross at the hour of his death, and who inspired the Church at its birth to live in God’s presence, lead our hearts and the hearts of every family through the vast mysterium passionis towards the mysterium paschale, towards that light which breaks forth from Christ’s resurrection and reveals the definitive victory of love, joy and life over evil, suffering and death.  Amen.

Pope Benedict XVI

Address following the Via Crucis

Good Friday

6 April 2012

Palm Sunday, the donkey and the Christian

Those of you who attended the Palm Sunday Mass today heard the Passion according to Saint Mark. It is the briefest of the synoptic passions; even in the economy of the gospel it is incredibly rich for lectio divina. Saint Mark, for me, is a true delight to listen to and to meditate on but not because of its brevity but because of compact unity; it’s stress on evangelization. Do you remember Alec McCowen’s one-man performance in the black box of the Gospel of Mark? You should see if you have not.

From today’s proclamation of Mark’s gospel you heard mention of the donkey; an uncommon beast, or at least a beast that doesn’t garner too much respect. Seemingly it is more tolerated than truly appreciated. But you may recall, that the donkey even protects the infant Divine Babe, Jesus. Later in the Passion the donkey bears the Lord into Jerusalem that leads to the Cross, to glory.


We know from others that donkeys are used to protect cattle, but they also are recognized as being docile and friendly and they don’t eat like horses; but donkeys are instinctively hostile to wolves and coyotes. Archbishop Chaput told his evening congregation that Christians ought to be like donkeys in the daily living of the Christian life: we are to be docile (being humble, and open enough to learn from others), friendly to other Christians and to the good things of the world and yet instinctively hostile, that is, protective of those who are vulnerable toward the weak of heart, mind or body, and to protect the Truth and dignity of man and woman from being trampled. Moreover, we are to bear the Lord in every aspect of our lives.

I don’t know about you, I like donkeys; they are quite likable creatures.

GK Chesterton’s poem, The Donkey, is a fine reminder of what we celebrate today: 

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Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Entry in Jerusalem Duccio.jpg

Almighty ever-living God, who as an example of humility for the human race to follow caused our Savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross, graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering and so merit a share in his Resurrection.

Lazarus Saturday

Raising of Lazarus Duccio.jpgBefore Your own death, O Christ, You raised from death
Lazarus, who was four days dead, and You have shaken the dominion of death. Through
the one man whom You loved, You have foretold the deliverance of all from
corruption. We therefore worship You and cry: Blessed are You, O Savior! 
Have mercy on us!

The observance of Lazarus Saturday is really more a Byzantine Church observance on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, but you will find it in the West, too. As the antiphon above notes, Jesus shows us what is come for us who believe in Him: triumph over death by death itself. As Jesus approaches His own death on the Cross, and then the Resurrection, we who believe in the Lord encounter the same fact.

Prayer of Intercession

Queen Esther AdelCastagno.jpg

Lent is a perfect time to pray more intensely. It is a seen as a time for greater discipline that may also bear fruit in other times of the year. Yesterday’s reading of Scripture for Mass had us focus on penance. Today, the Church gives us good example of asking God for the things we need. Queen Esther is our liturgical protagonist (aside from God, that is) in interceding for others.

What is prayer of intercession? Well, prayer of intercession is known along side other types of prayer like blessing and adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise.

The Catechism teaches us that Jesus practiced intercessory prayer in praying to His Father for all of us. We believe this is what the Holy Spirit does for us and for the whole world. This type of prayer is practiced by priests especially when they offer the Sacrifice of the Mass and pray the Divine Office. The laity exercise the priesthood of the believers by virtue of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation by offering a prayer for another. The saints do intercessory prayer in approaching the Throne of Grace when we ask them to. 

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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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