Years ago Winston Churchill planned his own funeral, and he did so with the hope of the resurrection and eternal life which he firmly believed in. He instructed that after the benediction a bugler, stationed high in the dome of St Paul's Cathedral would play Taps, the universal signal that says "the day is over." But then came a very dramatic moment, as Churchill had instructed. Another bugler was placed on the other side of the massive dome, and he played the notes of "Reveille", the universal signal that a new day has dawned and it is time to arise. That was Churchill's testimony that at the end of history the last note will not be Taps but Reveille. There is hope beyond the grave because Jesus Christ has opened the door to eternity for us by his death and resurrection.
The Resurrection signals freedom and joy, as well as the tremendous joy of freedom. It is the most perfect act of God's love that we know. This is not Lazarus rising from the dead only to die again eventually. Nor is it the daughter of Jairus, or the son of the widow of Naim, who both rose from the dead and died again. These people were restored to life. Christ was not restored to a life he had before. He was not resuscitated. He was resurrected. The difference is as big as life itself.
The Stations of the Cross are an ancient tradition in the Catholic Church going back to the fourth century when Christians went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Like many of our Catholic traditions, the Stations of the Cross can be rich, deep, and meaningful, but at the same time we can lose sight of their significance and how to relate them to our everyday lives.
Here are eight reasons from our Holy Father on why we should pray the Stations of the Cross:
1. They Allow Us to Place Our Trust in Him
“The Cross of Christ contains all the love of God; there we find his immeasurable mercy. This is a love in which we can place all our trust, in which we can believe…. let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, let us give ourselves over to him, because he never disappoints anyone! Only in Christ crucified and risen can we find salvation and redemption.” (Address, World Youth Day, Way of the Cross, July 26, 2013, #2)
2. They Put Us into the Story
The Holy Spirit is the God of justice and has been breathing on suspecting and unsuspecting disciples from the dawn of creation, from when Jesus handed over his Spirit from the cross, and at the first Pentecost, to name just a few moments.
We see, especially, in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, which some Scripture scholars say should actually be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit, that the Spirit of God breathes life and energy into the early disciples to help them address immediate needs: taking care of widows, healing the sick, and sharing all in common.
The Holy Spirit inspired those disciples as they went from being fearful and pusillanimous to becoming mature women and men who were heroic—thinking and acting in magnanimous ways—all of this coming from the radical inspiration of Jesus in his paschal mystery, into which we are all baptized!
…the Holy Spirit does not really solve the problems we face each day, but as the song goes, stirs and troubles the waters we wade in from the moment of our baptism. What do I mean? Listen to the poetry, “When We Let the Spirit Lead Us,” by Alice Walker: “When we let Spirit lead us it is impossible to know where we are being led. All we know all we can believe all we can hope is that we are going home, that wherever Spirit takes us is where we live.”
Pope Francis has announced that Blessed Mother Teresa, along with three others, will be canonized later in the year, after miracles were recognized for each of them.
Mother Teresa was, in her own lifetime, and still remains, one of the most famous people in the world. But who was she, really? And how did she come to be declared a Saint?
She was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, on August 26, 1910. Her hometown of Skopje was, at the time, part of the Ottoman Empire, though it is now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. As a child she was fascinated by stories of missionaries and was soon convinced that she too should give her life to missionary service in the Church.
She initially joined the Sisters of Loreto, taking the religious name “Teresa” and spent almost twenty years in the order, often in teaching positions across Calcutta.
However, her life changed during a train trip in 1946. It was onboard this train from Calcutta to Darjeeling that she felt what she later described as “Call within the call.” She had long been concerned about the terrible poverty in Calcutta and suddenly felt called to serve those poorest of the poor and to live alongside them whilst she ministered to them.
In a small Benedictine Monastery resting on a hillside in South Africa, there is a very simple but challenging quote hanging on the wall near the entrance to the monks’ chapel which says:
“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story. It is true. If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes and we see it maybe frequently.
“God shows God’s self everywhere, in everything, in people and in things and in nature and in events. It becomes very obvious that God is everywhere and and everything and we cannot be without God. It is impossible. The only thing is that we don’t (physically) see it.”
I certainly do not see this as a denominational statement which has embedded within it tenets of a certain faith. In my view, it is a general reminder that all of us need to attend to those around us – every moment of every day. Buried within these quite ordinary moments, God can speak to us powerfully, inspiring, strengthening and lifting us up.
Editor: For Lent 2016, Bishop Rozanski of Springfield, MA chose to write a Pastoral Letter on Evangelization to those in his Diocese. As I read his letter, I was struck by his openness and honesty in attempting to respond to the real and present needs of his people. This is a brief summary of his longer letter.
Do you believe in a God who forgives? …Pope Francis has been teaching us, through his example, that God looks beyond our faults and failings and loves us just as we are. Can we trust in that love?
…the Church begins the holy season of Lent. This is a unique time in which we are all called, individually and collectively, to both “repent” and to call to mind our human frailty and our need to trust in the Lord’s love and mercy “and believe in the Gospel.” It’s a time to reground ourselves in and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Lent is a time for mercy and evangelization.
In announcing this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis stated, “…In the present day, as the Church is charged with the task of the new evangelization, the theme of mercy needs to be proposed again and again with new enthusiasm and renewed pastoral action… (Misericordiae Vultus, #12).
A top Vatican official reminded world leaders that migrants, regardless of their legal status, are still human beings whose rights and dignity should be respected across territorial borders.
Even before Pope Francis’ recent visit to Mexico and the hullabaloo over papal remarks about the global issue on migration, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, reiterated that the Church will not cease to plead before the international community for a more humane treatment of migrants.
Auza, who hails from Talibon, Bohol, pointed out that “migration is no longer a choice for people, and that an overwhelmingly amount of migrants are forced to flee their homes due to extreme want and grinding poverty, natural catastrophes and environmental degradation, wars and conflicts.”
“Migration has become almost synonymous with misfortunes, violence, and loss of economic gains. The negative narrative on migration exacerbates the plight of migrants, making them face racism, xenophobia, stereotypes, even [becoming] scapegoats for terrorism and economic difficulties,” the prelate told CBCP News.
The Holy See is pleased to participate in the “Supporting Syria and the Region” Conference aimed at responding to the humanitarian crisis in Syria that is now, regrettably and painfully, entering into its sixth year. A crisis that is characterized by ever-increasing human suffering, including extreme cases of malnourishment of innocent children and other civilians, especially among the high number of people who are trapped in hard-to-reach and besieged areas and are deprived of essential humanitarian aid.
Notwithstanding renewed hopes for the political resolution of the crisis, our humanitarian efforts are increasingly focused on not only emergency aid but also the medium and long-term needs of refugees and host countries. Therefore, the Holy See warmly welcomes the emphasis on providing education, jobs and economic development at this pledging conference.
As we address the humanitarian needs of this crisis, …the real cost of this humanitarian crisis is measured by the deaths and suffering of millions of our fellow human beings. In his recent address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, on (January 11, 2015), His Holiness, Pope Francis, recalled:
“the plea of thousands of people who weep as they flee horrific wars, persecutions and human rights violations, or political or social instability…forced to flee in order to escape unspeakable acts of cruelty towards vulnerable persons, such as children and the disabled, or martyrdom solely on account of their religion.”
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Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.
Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.
Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”