Saturday, March 26, 2005

Great and Solumn Vigil of Easter

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Exult, all creation around God's throne! Jesus Christ, our King is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes forever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory! The risen Savior shines upon you! Let this place resound with joy, echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father, and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood, and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast, when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain, whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night when first you saved our fathers: you free the people of Israel from their slavery and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us, had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us! How boundless your merciful love! To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!
Of this night scripture says: "The night will be as clear as day; it will become my light, my joy."
The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.
Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth and we are reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night, receive our evening sacrifice of praise, your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle, a flame divided but undimmed, a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God. Let it mingle with the lights of heaven and continue bravely burning to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the morning Star which never sets find this flame still burning: Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on us all, your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.


Matthew 28:1-10

And in the end of the Sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and coming rolled back the stone and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror and became as dead men. And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid. And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen. And behold he will go before you into Galilee. There you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you. And they went out quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, running to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them, saying: All hail. But they came up and took hold of his feet and adored him. Then Jesus said to them: Fear not. Go, tell my brethren that they go into Galilee. There they shall see me.


Tonight, the Church enters into the final phase of the Paschal mystery as she celebrates the Rising of the Lord from the Dead. New catechumens will be baptized tonight also, some others, having already committed their lives to Jesus Christ in part, will enter into the Fullness of Faith and Truth as they are received into full communion with the Holy Catholic Church and receive the Sacrament of Conformation and their first Holy Communion.

Whether those entering the Church tonight are new Christians being baptized, or their journey of faith has finally brought them home, it is appropriate that they should receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Feast of the Resurrection. Through Christ's Resurrection, the Church and the world were initiated into the reality of victory over death. When a person is baptized and/or received into the Church, their baptism and reception of the Lord's Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity into their very being makes victory over death through Christ a reality. They are "rising from the dead" in a very real sense, entering into the Blessed Hope of the Great Resurrection on the Last Day.

A Protestant that I know once opined that it made no sense that the Church would celebrate something so profound as the Easter Vigil on the night before Easter Sunday because "Christ rose on Sunday." This is the accepted notion among most people, Protestant or Catholic, and yet a careful study of how the Hebrews reckoned time shows us that yet again, the Church got it right. A new day is reckoned in Scripture as beginning on sundown of the previous evening. This is the reason why Our Lord had to be laid to rest in a hurry on Friday, because sundown (and hence, the Sabbath) was near at hand. Thus, knowing that this was the way that people in biblical times calculated the passing of the days, the "first day of the week" actually began at the setting of the sun on Saturday night. That means that by the time the two Marys saw the empty tomb early on Sunday morning, and thereafter saw the Lord, he very well could have been risen from the dead for several hours! We don't know at exactly what time Our Lord rose, but we do know that Saturday night is actually the earliest he could have awakened.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday of the Lord's Passion

John 18:1-19:42

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. John.

When Jesus had said these things, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where there was a garden, into which he entered with his disciples. And Judas also, who betrayed him, knew the place: because Jesus had often resorted thither together with his disciples. Judas therefore having received a band of soldiers and servants from the chief priests and the Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth and said to them: Whom seek ye? They answered him: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith to them: I am he. And Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them. As soon therefore as he had said to them: I am he; they went backward and fell to the ground. Again therefore he asked them: Whom seek ye? And they said: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered: I have told you that I am he. If therefore you seek me, let these go their way, That the word might be fulfilled which he said: Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost any one. Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. And the name of thee servant was Malchus. Jesus therefore said to Peter: Put up thy sword into the scabbard. The chalice which my father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Then the band and the tribune and the servants of the Jews took Jesus and bound him.
And they led him away to Annas first, for he was father-in-law to Caiphas, who was the high priest of that year. Now Caiphas was he who had given the counsel to the Jews: That it was expedient that one man should die for the people. And Simon Peter followed Jesus: and so did another disciple. And that disciple was known to the high priest and went in with Jesus into the court of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. The other disciple therefore, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the portress and brought in Peter. The maid therefore that was portress saith to Peter: Art not thou also one of this man's disciple? He saith I am not. Now the servants and ministers stood at a fire of coals, because it was cold, and warmed themselves. And with them was Peter also, standing and warming himself. The high priest therefore asked Jesus of his disciples and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him: I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple, whither all the Jews resort: and in secret I have spoken nothing. Why askest thou me? Ask them who have heard what I have spoken unto them. Behold they know what things I have said. And when he had said these things, one of the servants standing by gave Jesus a blow, saying: Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him: If I have spoken evil, give testimony of the evil; but if well, why strikest thou me? And Annas sent him bound to Caiphas the high priest. And Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said therefore to him: Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it and said: I am not. One of the servants of the high priest (a kinsman to him whose ear Peter cut off) saith to him: Did not I see thee in the garden with him? Again therefore Peter denied: and immediately the cock crew. Then they led Jesus from Caiphas to the governor's hall. And it was morning: and they went not into the hall, that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the pasch. Pilate therefore went out to them, and said: What accusation bring you against this man? They answered and said to him: If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee. Pilate therefore said to them: Take him you, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said to him: It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.
That the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he said, signifying what death he should die. Pilate therefore went into the hall again and called Jesus and said to him: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me? Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee up to me. What hast thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence. Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith to him: What is truth? And when he said this, he went out again to the Jews and saith to them: I find no cause in him. But you have a custom that I should release one unto you at the Pasch. Will you, therefore, that I release unto you the king of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying: Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

Then therefore Pilate took Jesus and scourged him.
And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon his head: and they put on him a purple garment. And they came to him and said: Hail, king of the Jews. And they gave him blows. Pilate therefore went forth again and saith to them: Behold, I bring him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no cause in him.
(Jesus therefore came forth, bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment.) And he saith to them: Behold the Man. When the chief priests, therefore, and the servants had seen him, they cried out, saying: Crucify him, Crucify him. Pilate saith to them: Take him you, and crucify him: for I find no cause in him. The Jews answered him: We have a law; and according to the law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
When Pilate therefore had heard this saying, he feared the more. And he entered into the hall again; and he said to Jesus: Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.
Pilate therefore saith to him: Speakest thou not to me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and I have power to release thee? Jesus answered: Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above. Therefore, he that hath delivered me to thee hath the greater sin. And from henceforth Pilate sought to release him. But the Jews cried out, saying: If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar's friend. For whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. Now when Pilate had heard these words, he brought Jesus forth and sat down in the judgment seat, in the place that is called Lithostrotos, and in Hebrew Gabbatha. And it was the parasceve of the pasch, about the sixth hour: and he saith to the Jews: Behold your king. But they cried out: Away with him: Away with him: Crucify him. Pilate saith to them: shall I crucify your king? The chief priests answered: We have no king but Caesar. Then therefore he delivered him to them to be crucified. And they took Jesus and led him forth. And bearing his own cross, he went forth to the place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha. Where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title also: and he put it upon the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
This title therefore many of the Jews did read: because the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city. And it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate: Write not: The King of the Jews. But that he said: I am the King of the Jews. Pilate answered: What I have written, I have written.
The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified him, took his garments, (and they made four parts, to every soldier a part) and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said then one to another: Let us not cut it but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled, saying: They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lots. And the soldiers indeed did these things. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Now there was a vessel set there, full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar about hyssop, put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.
Then the Jews (because it was the parasceve), that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day (for that was a great sabbath day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken: and that they might be taken away. The soldiers therefore came: and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side: and immediately there came out blood and water. And he that saw it hath given testimony: and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true: that you also may believe.
For these things were done that the scripture might be fulfilled: You shall not break a bone of him. And again another scripture saith: They shall look on him whom they pierced. And after these things, Joseph of Arimathea (because he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews), besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave leave. He came therefore and took away the body of Jesus.
And Nicodemus also came (he who at the first came to Jesus by night), bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. They took therefore the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now there was in the place where he was crucified a garden: and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein no man yet had been laid. There, therefore, because of the parasceve of the Jews, they laid Jesus: because the sepulchre was nigh at hand.


Today is the day that we call “Good Friday,” although when Our Lord was being given up to death, one has to imagine that his whole entourage of followers was disillusioned. Indeed, we often forget that Jesus had a human nature in addition to his Divine nature. That means that he had the full capacity to feel hurt and betrayal when Judas betrayed him, when Peter denied him, and all of the Apostles abandoned him with the exception of John, who gives us one of the most detailed accounts of the Passion in Scripture. This is with good reason: While the others ran, John stayed close enough by Jesus that when the time came to hang Jesus on the tree, John was there, along with the Mother of Our Lord, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the wife of Clopas.

Jesus must have felt abandoned and alone. All the people he trusted in the world had disappeared when the going got tough. Even Joseph of Arimathea, who gave up his tomb for Jesus, and Nicodemus, two of Jesus’ followers on the Sanhedrin, were “followers in secret,” at first they couldn’t bear the suffering that might come if they openly declared that they were disciples of the Lord.

This morning on Catholic Answers Live I happened to hear a doctor give a vivid medical description of crucifixion, as well as the damage to the body that other things such as the scourging and the crowning with thorns would have cause to Our Lord’s body. The pain and suffering described in the report was so great that by any standards, it would be unbearable. What’s more, it turns out that the wine mixed with myrrh that was initially offered to Our Lord when he was on the way to Calvary was a painkiller in ancient times. Jesus rejected the analgesic not because it tasted bad, but because even in his debilitated state, he had a full understanding that the pains he was suffering were for the sake of our redemption, and that with every pain came a moment of sacrifice to the Father that would further atone for the sins of mankind. Our Lord’s atoning death was the ultimate sacrifice of love for the human race, and it was God’s way of reaching out to us to prove his love by sacrificing his only Son, the Second Person of His very nature, not merely to atone for our sins, but to prove the nature of His love. Just as God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to prove his love and devotion to God, the Father offered His Son as a sacrifice to prove his love and devotion to humanity. God gave more of himself then he has ever asked any human being to give to him.

No doubt the Apostles understood all of this, yet the earliest Fathers expected that their audience would understand the complexities of the reason for the Passion by understanding that it happened at all. Rather than give us graphic details of the crucifixion, the Gospel simply records it this way; “and they crucified him.” [Mark 15:25]

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Maundy Thursday

Exodus 12:1-14

And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:
This month shall be to you the beginning of months; it shall be the first in the months of the year.
Speak ye to the whole assembly of the children of Israel, and say to them: On the tenth day of this month let every man take a lamb by their families and houses.
But if the number be less than may suffice to eat the lamb, he shall take unto him his neighbour that joineth to his house, according to the number of souls which may be enough to eat the lamb.
And it shall be a lamb without blemish, a male, of one year; according to which rite also you shall take a kid.
And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; and the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice it in the evening.
And they shall take of the blood thereof, and put it upon both the side posts, and on the upper door posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
And they shall eat the flesh that night roasted at the fire, and unleavened bread with wild lettuce.
You shall not eat thereof any thing raw, nor boiled in water, but only roasted at the fire; you shall eat the head with the feet and entrails thereof.
Neither shall there remain any thing of it until morning. If there be any thing left, you shall burn it with fire.
And thus you shall eat it: you shall gird your reins, and you shall have shoes on your feet, holding staves in your hands, and you shall eat in haste; for it is the Phase (that is the Passage) of the Lord.
And I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and will kill every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast: and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments; I am the Lord.
And the blood shall be unto you for a sign in the houses where you shall be; and I shall see the blood, and shall pass over you; and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I shall strike the land of Egypt.
And this day shall be for a memorial to you; and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord in your generations, with an everlasting observance.

1 Corinthians 11:23-29

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread,
And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat: THIS IS MY BODY, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me.
In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice IS THE NEW TESTAMENT IN MY BLOOD. This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.
For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.
Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, SHALL BE GUILTY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF THE LORD.
But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice.
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

John 13:1-15

Before the festival day of the pasch, Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
And when supper was done (the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him),
Knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands and that he came from God and goeth to God,
He riseth from supper and layeth aside his garments and, having taken a towel, girded himself.
After that, he putteth water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to him: Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered and said to him: What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith to him: Thou shalt never wash my feet, Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me.
Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.
Jesus saith to him: He that is washed needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.
For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: You are not all clean.
Then after he had washed their feet and taken his garments, being set down again, he said to them: Know you what I have done to you?
You call me Master and Lord. And you say well: for so I am.
If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.

Throughout the English-speaking world, today is known as Maundy Thursday, also called Holy Thursday. Today celebrates the institution of many things peculiar to Christianity, but among the most important things instituted today was the Eucharist. Our Lord celebrated the first Mass in an upper room in Jerusalem, where he took the Passover with the Apostles for the final time. In instituting the Eucharist, Our Lord also instituted the Sacred Priesthood. In washing the feet of the Apostles, he gave us an example of humility as the People of God, and the washing of feet reminds the clergy especially that the Office they hold is one of service to the larger faithful. The honors and dignity that they receive as a part of their office are to be used for the benefit of the whole of the faithful. Holiness of the clergy is fostered in the same manner that holiness of the individual is promoted: There can be no holiness without humility. I find being humble to be a struggle, largely because humility is not in our nature, our nature as sinful human beings is to be proud and boastful. I think Jesus understood this, which is why he used a custom that the Apostles would know all about (a Passover meal) to institute a new sacrifice and a new lesson of humility: Our Lord gave us his own Body and Blood using the form and accidents of bread and wine as a way for us to commemorate and show his death until he comes again. He humbled himself twice over, once to give his body to death on a cross for the salvation of the whole world, and once to reduce his very body to the appearance of a simple piece of bread and his very blood in a simple cup of wine for the salvation of our own individual soul. He gave us the Eucharist so that we, individual and ordinary people, could have direct individual and personal contact with Jesus. We could touch, taste, and feel the very body, blood, soul, and divinity of the same Lord who died to save us!

The lack of faith of many of our Protestant brothers and sisters in this great truth is not unlike the lack of faith of many of Jesus’ early followers, when he explained to them that he was the Bread come down from heaven, and that if any eat of this bread, he will live forever. He said “Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” The same passage of scripture tells us that the Jews murmured among themselves “how can this man give us his flesh to eat,” yet Jesus persists, saying: He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. “For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever.” The scripture goes on to say that some disciples (not the twelve) said about Jesus’ description of the Eucharist: “This saying is hard, and who can hear it?” Jesus responded, doth this scandalize you? If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that believe not. Therefore did I say to you that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father.” The scripture tells us that many of these disciples were indeed scandalized because “after this, many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him.” (See John 6:32-70)

Many evangelicals and fundamentalists, while declaring with great confidence that the Bible is the infallible Word of God (and must be interpreted literally in nearly all instances), apparently lack the faith to believe that Jesus meant exactly what he said here. Instead of openly “walking no more with him,” they take the liberty of re-interpreting Scripture to fit their own lack of ability to comprehend the notion that Our Lord could appear under the auspices of bread and wine. In this sense, they lack faith, and in the sense of lacking faith, these same evangelicals have ceased to “walk with him.” To be fair, there are plenty of Catholics who deny the truth of the Eucharistic Christ as well, but these Ones do so out of rebellion and (more likely) lack of good catechesis as much as a lack of faith. For people who follow Our Lord Jesus Christ, however, to say “he is speaking symbolically here, he must be, he can’t possibly be talking about having us literally eat his body and drink his blood. That can’t be!” He never called those followers back for an explanation did he? He did not stop them and say “wait, I was speaking symbolically.” No…both they and he knew precisely what he was saying. When so-called followers of Christ deny that the Eucharist is the actual Body and Blood of Christ, they commit the same sin that those early followers did who “walked no more with him.” They deny Christ himself. The saddest thing about this is that most of them don’t even realize it.

Tonight marks the beginning of the Paschal Triduum, when the Lord begins his passage from death unto life. This is the Passover of the Lord.

Nicole and I try each year to celebrate this in a way that most reflects the spirit of the way the Apostles would have celebrated this night. We roast a breast of lamb, we eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs, and we drink four cups of wine. Although I am certain that we do not do this in the exact manner that Our Lord would have done (tonight, for example, we will braze the lamb in the crockpot as opposed to roasting it in the oven as we did last year, largely due to time constraints), we use the opportunity to do as the Apostles would have done and take the Passover with the Lord. One thing I know we do not do according to both the Scriptural account and the ancient custom of the Church is that in the ancient days, early in the Church, many Christians ate the Holy Thursday meal before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. (For this reason, the customary one hour fast before receiving the Eucharist is dispensed with tonight.) However, taking the lamb and wine after Mass has no less meaning than taking it beforehand, largely because of the fact that in these three days, the Church takes great pains to try and be exact with the timing of how things occur, so as to use Her observances as a way to re-enact (in a sense) the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord. It is thus fair to say that Nicole and I will finish our Passover meal tonight at about the same time the Lord would have, and he would then go to the Garden of Gethsemane for the prayers that would precipitate his arrest and trial…


A dear friend of mine and I were talking about the case of
Terri Schindler Schiavo on the telephone last night. He seemed to believe that this terrible tragedy of a legalized murder would be enough to spur a great uprising. I agree that it could spur that, but I question whether it will. I fear that most people outside of the Catholic world (since most of the major characters in this real drama are Catholic: Terri, her parents, her pastor, even Governor Jeb Bush, who is trying so hard in his own way to uphold the teachings of Holy Mother Church) are painfully unaware that this woman is not in a persistent vegetative state, as the pro-death media are reporting. Many good non-Catholic Christians are under the false impression that the adulterer Michael Schiavo is merely carrying out the wishes of his wife, as opposed to murdering her that she might forever be silenced. The case today will go to the Supreme Court of the United States, whose Justices will be Terri’s last hope. Even now Governor Bush is trying to get state custody of Terri so that she may live. Pray for Terri Schiavo…she is truly this year’s Easter victim.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Wednesday of Holy Week (Spy Wednesday)

Regular readers and visitors to The World According to Oatney will take careful note of the fact that this weblog is officially undergoing some house cleaning. I've changed the format and template of the blog to better reflect the kind of traffic that this site is getting, and what I'm hearing from some of you in your private communications that you'd like to see as part of the set-up here. One of the most important changes that the new set-up allows me to make is to have a sidebar for permanent links. As readers may know, I link to a lot of places here at the World, and perhaps it is better to include some of those links in a permanent place on the site than to constantly be putting links in messages every five seconds. The first link, All Pets 24-7, is a new business venture that my wife and myself are undertaking. Nicole's knowledge of pet care and love of animals has springboarded into a site devoted to helping people take better care of their critters. The site is still under construction, and many of its services will be free to users (including free pet chatrooms), but you'll also have the opportunity to advertize your pets for sale, as well as pet products and services, with our new all pets website. If you love pets of all sorts, check out All Pets 24-7!

In addition to the format changes, I'll be adding a "donate" link via papal at some point so that those of you who really enjoy this site can donate to help with its upkeep. The World According to Oatney may be my musings in print online, but I wouldn't continue to do this if I didn't know some of you were reading it. That means that this weblog is brought to you in part by all of you, my loyal readers. Keeping this weblog current and investing the necessary hours into it truly taxes my available daily time, especially considering that because of my CP, I am a naturally slower typist! While many others (including some close friends of mine who have great blogs) do not update their blogs as regularly as they might because of time constraints, my readers know that this blog is updated several times each week (daily when possible). Simply put, I believe in this weblog, and I am investing a lot of time and energy in it. Since that is the case, I have no trouble asking loyal readers to help make this little space on the internet even better. With your help in future, we may even be able to switch servers, and/or engage in many other projects to make this blog one of the premier blogs on the net in the U.S.


Today is known in ecclesiastical parlance as "Spy Wednesday," and it is widely seen to be the day that Judas Iscariot went to the Sanhedrin to arrange the details for the betrayal of Jesus. Judas' big problem was his pride, he was looking for earthly power and glory from an earthly Messiah who would grant his followers earthly rewards. We know from Scripture that Judas felt genuine regret for betraying Our Lord. The sad part of Judas' case is that in reality, his sin was no worse than Peter, who denied the Lord three times, or the other Apostles, who all ran away. Jesus happily forgave all of those people, who had confidence in God's mercy, love, and grace to forgive them. Because Judas had no confidence in God's grace, he took his own life, and thus denied himself the opportunity to witness the Resurrection or to be forgiven. Let us make certain that we do not make the same mistake Judas did, and that no matter how grievous our sin, we have confidence in God's mercy to forgive us.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Tuesday of Holy Week

Tonight, in many dioceses, many of the faithful will gather at their cathedrals for the Chrism Mass (although the traditional day for this is Holy Thursday morning), the liturgy at which the Holy oils used for anointing the sick, the newly baptized, and the conformandi over the course of the next year. It is at occasions like the Chrism Mass where the need for more Holy Priests becomes obvious. If there are no priests in the future to anoint our sick, baptize our children, and most importantly, consecrate the Eucharist, how will the Church survive?

We know it will survive because our Lord promised us that it would. While others want to blame the issue of priestly celibacy and the recent scandals in the Church as the reason for the shortage, it bears noting that the Western Church has had celibacy for a millennium and a half, but the priest shortage is a recent development. Scandals far worse than the one currently rocking the Church in America have yielded no shortage of priests in the past. Instead, we are failing to look at an obvious culprit: birth control. In our day and age, even so-called "good Catholic families" are violating Church teaching by contracepting using artificial means. That means that they are having fewer children, and are thus placing increasing pressure on their sons to marry and provide them with grandchildren. Giving one of your sons to the service of God and His Church is no longer seen as an honor and a privilege, proof of one's goodness as a parent. Until we rid ourselves of our present "contraceptive mentality," neither will we be rid of a shortage of priests.

Know your enemy

Ever wonder why it is that our enemies in the War on Terror persist in using suicide bombers and killing thousands of innocent people who have little to nothing to do with the people and institutions the terrorists claim to be against? It may be that the reasons for this are much more innocuous than they might otherwise seem. As it turns out, if our enemies actually came out and fought like men, with rifles in hand, against the Armies of the Republic, they likely wouldn't get very far, hence their apparent need to engage in underhanded tactics.

Here is actual footage of two of the enemies of God and America in target practice. (Click the links to see it.) Now, if our enemies shoot like that, no wonder they have to use suicide bombers!

Thanks to Aaron Harris for the footage!

E-mail your best wishes to John Paul II

The Vatican has opened up an e-mail account for the Holy Father so that people from around the world can send him their best wishes and prayers. Won't you join me in sending the Pope some mail at ?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Monday of Holy Week

This past weekend, Nicole and I had occasion to have lunch with Father John Putka, SM, a man who is not only a "Father" in the sense of his priestly title, but one who I am proud to say is among my "fathers in the faith." When I was on the verge of beginning my journey into the Church, Father Putka was there to answer my questions, and he had the patience of Job about it. This is a great task considering that the person about to "swim the Tiber" was the same person who once assumed, as part of my former religious training, that our Holy Father was the Spawn of Satan. Of course, in fairness, by the time I started asking serious questions of Father Putka, I had thrown that notion in the intellectual and spiritual garbage dump (thank God). I credit Father Putka with being the person, unbeknownst to him, who gave me the needed assurance that being a member of Holy Mother Church did not require instant registration as a member of the Democratic Party. As trivial as that may seem, it was important to me, because until I encountered Father Putka, I made the incorrect assumption that the Church's social justice teachings required me to forsake the GOP. I just couldn't see supporting a party that promoted murdering innocent unborn children. Thanks to Father Putka, I realized that Church teaching doesn't really allow anyone of good conscience to support anyone or anything that upholds legal murder.

Now, as much as I think Father Putka has been an angel of spiritual mercy, I'd hate to have a paper due in one of his Political Science classes at the University of Dayton. In his term paper prep sheet, he informs students that only death will prevent them from turning in a term paper to him. Not even the Second Coming will save a student, Father warns, from the consequences of a late paper. Ouch! I suppose when we are all caught up to meet the Lord in the Clouds, once we're settled in, we'll have to meet in Father Putka's office to turn our term papers in.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Matthew 21:1-16

And when they drew nigh to Jerusalem and were come to Bethphage, unto mount Olivet, then Jesus sent two disciples,
Saying to them: Go ye into the village that is over against you: and immediately you shall find an ass tied and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to me.
And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye that the Lord hath need of them. And forthwith he will let them go.
Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
Tell ye the daughter of Sion: Behold thy king cometh to thee, meek and sitting upon an ass and a colt, the foal of her that is used to the yoke.
And the disciples going, did as Jesus commanded them.
And they brought the ass and the colt and laid their garments upon them and made him sit thereon.
And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way: and others cut boughs from the trees and strewed them in the way.
And the multitudes that went before and that followed cried, saying: Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
And when he was come into Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying: Who is this?
And the people said: This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.
And Jesus went into the temple of God and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple and overthrew the tables of the money changers and the chairs of them that sold doves.
And he saith to them: It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.
And there came to him the blind and the lame in the temple: and he healed them.
And the chief priests and scribes, seeing the wonderful things that he did and the children crying in the temple and saying: Hosanna to the son of David, were moved with indignation,
And said to him: Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus said to them: Yea, have you never read: Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

This week, the Church universally begins celebrating the Lord's passion, death, and rising from the dead. It bears noting that just about everyone that was shouting "Hosanna to the Son of David" was going to be shouting "crucify Him" by Friday morning. The apostles would abandon Him.

When we think about the problems and the difficulties that the Church is presently undergoing with the terrible stench of scandal, we ought to remember that this abandonment of the Lord is how the Church began! Yet the Lord not only forgave the apostles for their abandonment of Him, but the Church rose in glory just like the Lord did. There is little reason to believe the Church won't rise again this time around.

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