Archive | April 2011

Easter Sunday

Alleluia!  He is risen!

The Empty Tomb

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. . . the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.’

And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven, and to all the rest.”  Luke 24: 1-9

 

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Triduum, Day 2

Christ Crucified

File:Cristo crucificado.jpg

“…[H]e said, ‘It is finished.’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19: 30

Pieta

 Mary, the Mother of God, receiving the dead body of Jesus Christ your Son taken down from the cross and laid in your arms, receive us, to whom He had given His life, and lay us with Him upon your sinless heart.

We are sinners, but save us from despondency and despair: Save us from the morbidity which kills the soul. Save us from dwelling on the past. Take our heads into your hands and turn them gently to look upon the light of God. Let us feel the warmth and radiance of that healing sun, although we are still too weak to bear the blaze of its glory.

By the dead body of Christ laid in your arms, save us from the death of sin. Ask our Heavenly Father, whose will is your will, to restore us to life, to Christ’s life in our souls, so that in each one of us you may see your only child, the Child Jesus, and give us the heaven of your tender love.

By the passion and death of your only Son, give us His life. Make us new,give us the trust of children, give us the childhood of Christ. Grant to us, Virgin Mother, a new heaven and a new earth, because we see with His eyes, hear with His ears, work with His hands, walk on His feet, trust with His trust in His Heavenly Father, and love with His heart.

— Caryll Houselander

 

 

Triduum, Day 1

The Last Supper

 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” John 6: 53-58

The Agony in the Garden

William Blake The Agony in the Garden circa 1799-1800
“Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Matthew 26: 38-41
 
“… and the angels ministered to him.” Mark 1: 12

Small World

At Mass yesterday, our pastor Fr. Joe Knerr, asked for prayers for St. John Vianney Church in Hacienda Heights which was burned to the ground Saturday night. It turns out that St. John’s is the sister parish of our own parish, St. Bonaventure in Huntington Beach. The design of the church building is identical to our own (for my readers from St. B and environs, you may not even be able to tell any difference between St. John’s and St. Bonaventure — I can’t!)

Certainly this news was troubling, especially since the fire appears to have been the result of arson. You can watch a memorial video of the fire and read an article here. The church is completely destroyed.

But imagine how surprised my husband and I were to here that the pastor at St. John’s is Fr. (now Monsignor) Tim Nichols. 18 years ago, Fr. Tim was assigned to St. James Church is Redondo Beach, California, and was the priest who both prepared us for our marriage and also performed our marriage ceremony and mass. We were both quite fond of Fr. Tim, but lost track of him after he left St. James. I do not believe it is a coincidence that after so many years we find him now as a result of this tragedy, and in our sister parish no less.

I cannot imagine what it must be like for the people and priests of this parish during this difficult time. But as a woman of faith, as much as this event saddens me, I can see also what a difficult, but significant, gift of grace has been bestowed on this community. I have no doubt they will be strengthened through it and that their faith will grow. And entering into Holy Week, we have all been given an opportunity to help.  Our prayers are with Fr. Tim and his congregation and I ask you to pray as well. Donations can be made out to the St. John Vianney Rebuilding Fund, St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 1345 Turnbull Canyon Road, Hacienda Heights CA 91745.

Beauty Break — First Rose

Before the day had barely begun, my son asked if we would be taking a “beauty break” today. The “beauty break” is something he and I have started doing lately — its nothing more than a pleasant break from the daily grind to take in the beauty of nature around us. We take a moment to wander outside just to see what the natural world is up to.  Spring is in full swing in our backyard, so there is always something to see — bees in the lavender, new buds and blossoms in the unlikeliest places, intoxicating scent wafting from the orange tree, giant horned caterpillars we’ve never seen before, swallowtails in the bougainvillea. 

But today I was unwell.  And though I am ashamed to say it, his request to take a beauty break, which normally would have filled me with enthusiasm, merely left me cold, uninspired, indifferent. I was too fogged and ill to care about beauty or anything else, much less make the effort to go and seek it out. But as a parent, sometimes you just have to suck it up and go, whether you feel like it or not. Because your kid is bouncing off the walls, smiling with enthusiasm and eagerness and you know that this will be one of those weird things he remembers when he’s your age — he’ll remember how you used to take “beauty breaks” together. And somewhere inside you know those “beauty breaks” will make him a better, kinder, gentler, more grateful man. So I rousted myself and we took a break. And were rewarded by a completely free gift — the first tea rose.

Not three months ago, this thing was stripped buck naked of all its leaves and cut back within a foot of the soil. As if relieved at being shorn, it immediately began sprouting until it was full and lush with shiny leaves and a riot of walnut sized buds. The bloom is gorgeous and deeply fragrant and reminded me that I had done nothing to deserve such a beautiful gift. I felt grateful. Blessed. Happy. Like all of this had been arranged just for me.

Watching the transformation of the barren thorny stubs of my rose bush into sharp, shiny green leaves and tightly wound buds of what were now unfurling into luscious, silky layers of petals is a message of hope. Lots of things in life may look and feel wasted, soulless, and dead. But there is always hope in the promise of new life, rebirth, and transformation.  There is hope in the promise of change, of starting fresh, in a child’s enthusiasm, in the free gift of beauty right in front of us. This is something I forget more often than not. Taking regular “beauty breaks” seems like a good antidote. Bees help , too!