Tag Archives: lent

The Cross is an expression of Life

cross.jpgIn the Bible the cross is the expression of a life that is completely being for others. It is not man who goes to God with a compensatory gift, but God who comes to man, in order to give to him. He restores disturbed right on the initiative of his own power to love, by making unjust man just again, the dead living again, through his own creative mercy.


In the New Testament the cross appears primarily as a movement from above to below. It does not stand there as the work of expiation which mankind offers to the wrathful God, but as the expression of that foolish love of God’s which gives itself away to the point of humiliation in order thus to save man; it is his approach to us, not the other way about.


Pope Benedict XVI

Being rooted in the Lord is the best thing

The reading at Lauds this morning is both apropos for Lent and for the Solemnity of Saint Benedict. Father Abbot, decorated with a beautiful pectoral cross of ancient days, read Sirach 2:1-18. Without knowing at first where the reading came from, I first thought it to be from one of the Fathers of the Church, or even Pope Benedict; all of what Sirach speaks of resonates strongly for me because it corresponds with what I’ve experienced and know deeply in my heart, and I hope it’s the similarly for you. The text follows:


Sirach.jpgMy son, if you come forward to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation. Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be hasty in time of calamity. Cleave to him and do not depart, that you may be honored at the end of your life. Accept whatever is brought upon you, and in changes that humble you be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.


Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him. You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; and turn not aside, lest you fall. You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not fail; you who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for everlasting joy and mercy. Consider the ancient generations and see: who ever trusted in the Lord and was put to shame? Or who ever persevered in the fear of the Lord and was forsaken? Or who ever called upon him and was overlooked? For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; he forgives sins and saves in time of affliction.


Woe to timid hearts and to slack hands, and to the sinner who walks along two ways! Woe to the faint heart, for it has no trust! Therefore it will not be sheltered. Woe to you who have lost your endurance! What will you do when the Lord punishes you? Those who fear the Lord will not disobey his words, and those who love him will keep his ways. Those who fear the Lord will seek his approval, and those who love him will be filled with the law. Those who fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and will humble themselves before him. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, but not into the hands of men; for as his majesty is, so also is his mercy.

Way of the Cross CD with Liam Neeson Available

Way of the Cross LNeeson.jpgLiam Neeson, one of the leading international motion picture actors of our day, reads the Introduction, written by Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori, and the 14 Stations of the Cross. The 14 Stations and prayers are taken from the classic text, The Way of the Cross according to the Method of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the great 18th century Italian saint, doctor of the Church and founder of the Redemptorists. This text is used by Catholics around the world to retrace the footsteps of Jesus Christ on Good Friday.  


“I had heard about the Redemptorists and their missionary work in the Amazon rain forest of Brazil and in the slums of Lagos and Ibadan, Nigeria,” Liam Neeson said. “I was moved to help because the Redemptorists are living the Gospel message in some of the poorest parts of the world, offering hope to families who have been forgotten or abandoned.”


The Very Reverend Father Thomas D. Picton, provincial superior of the Denver Province said: “It combines the unmistakable voice of Liam Neeson, the glorious hymns of our founder, Saint Alphonsus Liguori (first time being heard in the U.S.), and the brilliant orchestration done by Ray Herrmann, a Grammy-award winner and arguably the world’s finest Catholic recording artist.”


Ray Herrmann, co-founder of Little Lamb Music, has spent the last 20 years playing with and arranging music for some of the biggest names in American music, including: Diana Ross, Chicago, Bob Dylan, Santana, LeeAnn Rimes, Stevie Wonder, George Benson and Herbie Hancock. Ray is also in the house band on the hit television show, American Idol.


Proceeds from the sale of the CD support the work of the Redemptorist missions in Brazil and Nigeria .


To order the CD go to: www.littlelambmusic.com or call (800) 231-1207

Are you keeping the Fast? Will you keep the feast?

Attending to the daily round of the Divine Office the prayers of the psalmist start to make sense and have a certain impact on the soul. Trust in the words of the psalmist is not based on sentiment –that would be a waste of time– but on relationship between faith and reason viz. our relationship with God. We reach out to God and God bends down to touch our hearts. Moreover, the various hymns we sing, especially the ones we frequently sing during a particular liturgical season, begin to have an impact on our spiritual and human life. If they don’t, then we’re wasting our time: empty words lacking conviction and human desire.


Fasting has never made any sense to me unless I made did it with the reasonableness of all of what I believed about the presence of Christ my life, and the relationship I share with Him. Fasting also lacks meaning unless it is rooted in sacred Scripture, of both Testaments, especially and essentially looking to Christ’s own example as a model for me. Now I am a weak man and I rely on grace for much. I suspect this is true not only for me, but for others as well. Furthermore, feasting on sumptuous foods and fine wines is rather meaningless unless there’s been a discipline fast from things that draw our hearts, minds and bodies which opens up our senses for the best the Lord has to offer. Of course, I am not advocating the doing of things that are impracticable, for Aquinas tells of the art of the possible.


A 6th century Latin hymn at Lauds today made me think of fasting given that the Lord had done so when he walked this good earth. The hymn’s author states: “for Christ, through whom all things were made, himself has fasted and has prayed” and then he petitions the Lord: “Then grant us, Lord, like them to be full oft in fast and prayer with thee; our spirits strengthen with thy grace, and give us joy to see thy face.” First we acknowledge the fact that the Lord engaged in fasting to focus His attention on the Divine Will and to ward off temptation. The implication is that we are to imitate the Lord’s example while asking for the grace of strength in an attempt to do spiritual battle with the certain hope of beholding the face of the Redeemer. 


To that end, I was pleasantly surprised to see today’s essay on the First Things blog on fast and feast. Peter Liethart’s essay “Keep the Fast, Keep the Feast” is a superb reflection on the meaning of a Christian’s fast and feast in Lent.


What banquet are you are preparing to eat? Or are you going to eat from the dumpster? What does the fast and feast mean to you? Are you patterning your life according to Christ’s example? In what ways is the Lord preparing you to fully enter into beatitude? Do these Christian practices bring you closer to Christ and the Christian proposal to fully live?

Zeal for your house will consume me: 3rd Sunday of Lent 2009

The gospel proclaimed at Mass today (if you are not doing the 3rd scrutiny) comes from Saint John’s gospel which tells us of the Lord cleaning His Father’s house. Many things can be said about the Lord’s righteous anger, but let’s stick to a few salient points. Consider the strong emotion of the Lord in His attempt to evoke and provoke his hearers to make a substantial change in life. The greater good that the Lord is trying to get us to see is what he sees: the immense zeal (fervor) for God the Father’s house is so important that it moved Him (and it should us) to action; this zeal ought to provoke us to cleanse the temple of our hearts, of our minds, of our habits, of our imagination. What Jesus implores us to do is nothing short of making a total heart and mind. Some things to consider:


Jesus Cleansing temple.jpg-Do we meet the Lord and others in humility?

-Are we faithful to the Lord as are able?

-Do we take time to know what the Lord is saying through the teaching of the Church, his sacrament on earth?

-When someone has a problem in understanding the faith, as we’ve seen recently in Connecticut S.B. 1098 and now with S.B. 899, do we take the time to understand the matter, look for the correct teaching and teach what the Church offers us for the good of our souls and for happiness?

-Are we deaf to the physical and spiritual, culture and social needs of our brothers and sisters?

-In watching the greed of Bernie Madoff unfold, can we might have to overturn the tables of our own greed?
-What are the sacrileges that we cling to so mightily, blasphemies with names like, hate, indifference, unkindness, gossip, unreasonableness, and inertia?

-Do we know what’s happening in our world well-enough to make changes where we stand? Would we be able to stop war, crime, violence, and abuse?
The house of God Jesus cleans is not merely the Temple of long ago; it is our lives, and the areas of our lives that we inhabit, including the Church, politics and society. Is it possible to believe for a moment in the power of Jesus to cleanse the temples of our person? Can we even think of changing our attitudes so totally that we’d never look back to sin? If we don’t have the strength of mind and heart and body and spirit, can we ask for the graces we need carry out the conversion needed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?


If we really believe the Lord’s promises are true, can we rededicate ourselves to God today and accept the fact that the blood of Lamb -Jesus Christ–really saves us and urges us onward?


The Lord is not merely asking us to rearrange the furniture in our lives which may feel a bit comfortable TEMPORARILY, He’s asking us to change the color of our room, the bedding, the artwork, and the flooring we stand on PERMANENTLY. But the permanence is only possible if we ask for the grace to follow the Lord. Zeal for God’s house will consume me.

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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