Archive for March, 2011

Let’s Us Pray This Psalm Together….

Posted: March 31, 2011 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

Dearest Sisters & Brothers In Christ,

God is our Hope and he is always present when we reach out to him.  Pray this Psalm together with me as we draw closer to Celebration of life at the end of his Lenten journey.

Psalm 63

Comfort and Assurance in God’s Presence A Psalm of David, when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.

2 O God, you are my God– for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, Like a land parched, lifeless, and without water.

3 So I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.

4 For your love is better than life; my lips offer you worship!

5 I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.

6 My soul shall savor the rich banquet of praise, with joyous lips my mouth shall honor you!

7 When I think of you upon my bed, through the night watches I will recall

8 That you indeed are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.

9 My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.

10 But those who seek my life will come to ruin; they shall go down to the depths of the earth!

11 They shall be handed over to the sword and become the prey of jackals!

12 But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by the Lord shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be shut!

 

The Spiritual Offering Of Prayer

Posted: March 31, 2011 by CatholicJules in Memory Book

From the treatise On Prayer by Tertullian, priest

Prayer is the offering in spirit that has done away with the sacrifices of old. What good do I receive from the multiplicity of your sacrifices? asks God. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, and I do not want the fat of lambs and the blood of bulls and goats. Who has asked for these from your hands?

What God has asked for we learn from the Gospel. The hour will come,he says, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. God is a spirit, and so he looks for worshipers who are like himself.

We are true worshipers and true priests. We pray in spirit, and so offer in spirit the sacrifice of prayer. Prayer is an offering that belongs to God and is acceptable to him: it is the offering he has asked for, the offering he planned as his own.

We must dedicate this offering with our whole heart, we must fatten it on faith, tend it by truth, keep it unblemished through innocence and clean through chastity, and crown it with love. We must escort it to the altar of God in a procession of good works to the sound of psalms and hymns. Then it will gain for us all that we ask of God.

Since God asks for prayer offered in spirit and in truth, how can he deny anything to this kind of prayer? How great is the evidence of its power, as we read and hear and believe.

Of old, prayer was able to rescue from fire and beasts and hunger, even before it received its perfection from Christ. How much greater then is the power of Christian prayer. No longer does prayer bring an angel of comfort to the heart of a fiery furnace, or close up the mouths of lions, or transport to the hungry food from the fields. No longer does it remove all sense of pain by the grace it wins for others. But it gives the armor of patience to those who suffer, who feel pain, who are distressed. It strengthens the power of grace, so that faith may know what it is gaining from the Lord, and understand what it is suffering for the name of God.

In the past prayer was able to bring down punishment, rout armies, withhold the blessing of rain. Now, however, the prayer of the just turns aside the whole anger of God, keeps vigil for its enemies, pleads for persecutors. Is it any wonder that it can call down water from heaven when it could obtain fire from heaven as well? Prayer is the one thing that can conquer God. But Christ has willed that it should work no evil, and has given it all power over good.

Its only art is to call back the souls of the dead from the very journey into death, to give strength to the weak, to heal the sick, to exorcise the possessed, to open prison cells, to free the innocent from their chains. Prayer cleanses from sin, drives away temptations, stamps out persecutions, comforts the fainthearted, gives new strength to the courageous, brings travelers safely home, calms the waves, confounds robbers, feeds the poor, overrules the rich, lifts up the fallen, supports those who are falling, sustains those who stand firm.

All the angels pray. Every creature prays. Cattle and wild beasts pray and bend the knee. As they come from their barns and caves they look out to heaven and call out, lifting up their spirit in their own fashion. The birds too rise and lift themselves up to heaven: they open out their wings, instead of hands, in the form of a cross, and give voice to what seems to be a prayer.

What more need be said on the duty of prayer? Even the Lord himself prayed. To him be honor and power for ever and ever. Amen.

 

March 27th, 2011 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 25, 2011 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Sunday Bible Reflections with Dr. Scott Hahn

Striking the Rock

Readings:

Exodus 17:3-7
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
John 4:5-15,19-26,39-42


The Israelites’ hearts were hardened by their hardships in the desert.

Though they saw His mighty deeds, in their thirst they grumble and put God to the test in today’s First Reading – a crisis point recalled also in today’s Psalm.

Jesus is thirsty too in today’s Gospel. He thirsts for souls (see John 19:28). He longs to give the Samaritan woman the living waters that well up to eternal life.

These waters couldn’t be drawn from the well of Jacob, father of the Israelites and the Samaritans. But Jesus was something greater than Jacob (see Luke 11:31-32).

The Samaritans were Israelites who escaped exile when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom eight centuries before Christ (see 2 Kings 17:6,24-41). They were despised for intermarrying with non-Israelites and worshipping at Mount Gerazim, not Jerusalem.

But Jesus tells the woman that the “hour” of true worship is coming, when all will worship God in Spirit and truth.

Jesus’ “hour” is the “appointed time” that Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle. It is the hour when the Rock of our salvation was struck on the Cross. Struck by the soldier’s lance, living waters flowed out from our Rock (see John 19:34-37).

These waters are the Holy Spirit (see John 7:38-39), the gift of God (see Hebrews 6:4).

By the living waters the ancient enmities of Samaritans and Jews have been washed away, the dividing wall between Israel and the nations is broken down (see Ephesians 2:12-14,18). Since His hour, all may drink of the Spirit in Baptism (see 1 Corinthians 12:13).

In this Eucharist, the Lord now is in our midst – as He was at the Rock of Horeb and at the well of Jacob.

In the “today” of our Liturgy, He calls us to believe: “I am He,” come to pour out the love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. How can we continue to worship as if we don’t understand? How can our hearts remain hardened?

Photos : EMC 2010 & 2011

Posted: March 24, 2011 by CatholicJules in Photos

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DVD St Anthony – The Miracle Worker Of Padua

Posted: March 21, 2011 by CatholicJules in DVD Review

 

DVD Details

Actors: Daniele Liotti, Enrico Brignano, Jose Sancho

Directors: Umberto Marino

Format: Full Screen, Closed-captioned,

NTSCLanguage: ItalianSubtitles: English

Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)

Number of discs: 1Rated: NR (Not Rated)

Studio: Ignatius PressDVD

Release Date: January 1, 2005

Run Time: 95 minutes

Product Description

The first major feature length drama on the life of St. Anthony of Padua, one of the most popular saints in Christian history. Made in Italy with top-notch acting talent, and superb cinematography, this is an outstanding film on the inspiring life of St. Anthony. It presents Anthony as a strong and appealing person who sacrificed wealth, popularity and looks for the Kingdom of God. It beautifully portrays the power of his preaching, the holiness of his life, his love for the poor and oppressed, and the wonders of his miracles. Sure to be a very popular film!

Personal Review

I love this movie for the actors, storyline and cinematography, though I cannot comment on the historical accuracy of the film.   Still the life and the Scripture knowledge of this remarkable Saint is inspiring and I have developed a deep fondness for St Anthony.  I definitely recommend watching it!

Perhaps this extract of a review done by Madeline P Nugent will help with the historical accuracy bit in this movie.

Here are just some of the things that the movie portrayed that are not in any of the histories:

1. That Anthony killed a man in knightly combat.
2. That Anthony had a girl friend by any name (she is called Teresa in the movie)
3. That Anthony was depressed

Here are some wonderful, true incidents in the life of St. Anthony that were not in the movie but, in my opinion, should have been:

1. The power of his preaching. The preaching he is shown giving is sappy, in my opinion, when we actually have volumes of his stirring sermon notes and lofty and beautiful theology. I could have preached better than he did in the movie.
2. The confrontation with heretics (he was called the Hammer of Heretics) yet his love for them. We have hints of this in the movie but don’t get a good sense of why he had enemies (the religious and political controversy involving Catharism is not explained well enough).
3. His miracles such as the poor woman’s broken wine glass restored or the maid that ran through the rain with vegetables for the friars and didn’t get wet or the band of robbers that went to hear him and were all converted.

A great deal of the movie concerned fiction that is not in any of the biographies of the saint while leaving out some of the major and powerful aspects of his life. The movie is worth seeing, but it falls short of the saint. I hope someone remakes a movie of St. Anthony and sticks close to his life as we have it historically because such a movie would be stirring indeed.

March 20, 2011 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 19, 2011 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Sunday Bible Reflections by Dr. Scott Hahn

Listen to Him

Readings:

Genesis 12:1-4
Psalm 33:4-5,18-20, 22
2 Timothy 1:8-10
Matthew 17:1-9

Today’s Gospel portrays Jesus as a new and greater Moses.

Moses also took three companions up a mountain and on the seventh day was overshadowed by the shining cloud of God’s presence. He too spoke with God and his face and clothing were made radiant in the encounter (see Exodus 24,34).

But in today’s Lenten Liturgy, the Church wants us to look back past Moses. Indeed, we are asked to contemplate what today’s Epistle calls God’s “design…from before time began.”

With his promises to Abram in today’s First Reading, God formed the people through whom He would reveal himself and bestow His blessings on all humanity.

He later elevated these promises to eternal covenants and changed Abram’s name to Abraham, promising that he would be father of a host nations (see Genesis 17:5). In remembrance of His covenant with Abraham he raised up Moses (see Exodus 2:24; 3:8), and later swore an everlasting kingdom to David ‘s sons (see Jeremiah 33:26).

In Jesus’ transfiguration today, He is revealed as the One through whom God fulfills his divine plan from of old.

Not only a new Moses, Jesus is also the “beloved son” promised to Abraham and again to David (see Genesis 22:15-18; Psalm 2:7; Matthew 1:1).

Moses foretold a prophet like him to whom Israel would listen (see Deuteronomy 18:15,18) and Isaiah foretold an anointed servant in whom God would be well-pleased (see Isaiah 42:1). Jesus is this prophet and this servant, as the Voice on the mountain tells us today.

By faith we have been made children of the covenant with Abraham (see Galatians 3:7-9; Acts 3:25). He calls us, too, to a holy life, to follow His Son to the heavenly homeland He has promised. We know, as we sing in today’s Psalm, that we who hope in Him will be delivered from death.

So like our father in faith, we go forth as the Lord directs us: “Listen to Him!”


I had a strong desire a few years ago to serve in our Church in whatever Ministry that allowed me some form of flexibility in managing my time.  The reason for this, is because I am doing shift work at my employ and so it is almost impossible to commit to a fixed weekly schedule.   To my limited knowledge at that time, I knew a few ministries and almost all of them would require a rather fixed schedule.  So I shelved the idea, thinking it best that I wait till either I find an office hour job or serve when I retire.   Deep in my heart I wanted to serve as an Extraordinary Minister Of Communion, but felt that I was not worthy as I led a rather sinful life.  So in my mind I was considering an alternative, and that it would likely be to serve  in the capacity of a warden.

After a few years had passed and as my elder son was preparing that year to receive his first Holy Communion.  Parents had to meet regularly with the Parish Priest so that all of us could equip ourselves with the knowledge necessary to share our faith with our kids.  While this was going on, our Parish Priest was also started a basic bible knowledge course of which both my wife and I made a commitment to attend, as we were learning so much from him.  That was how I received my calling to the EMC.

I desperately needed to change my lifestyle and my life! But how?  So I prayed earnestly to God to for help and His guidance and was led to join the LISS seminars.  Needless to say that it was life changing, thereafter I developed a deeper and closer relationship with the one triune God.

Close to a year now since I started this journey, I am now serving as EMC.  On the first two occasions that I served during Mass, it was slightly overwhelming because not only was I elated to serve, but had to observe and remember quite a fair bit all while being reverent.  I have pondered and prayed and still pray everyday on how I can serve our Lord to the best of my ability.  The other day as I prayed on how to always remain focussed on Jesus especially when I am serving Mass as EMC, the Holy Spirit led me with this thought, “You are holding Jesus in your hand” then I had a vision of St Anthony holding the child Jesus.  I teared with joy in my heart…….and uttered a resounding AMEN.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I extracted this from a book which I think is wonderful and does an incredible job in describing what it truly means to be a Eucharistic Minister of Holy Communion….

For special ministers of Holy Communion, there is another dignity and responsibility: you must become what you give.  You must become and live as the Body of Christ that you give to your brothers and sisters.  In you as in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, God the Father starts with the human and brings out the beyond-the-human.  God the Father gives you a share in a ministry that humans could not deserve and would not dare ask for their own! Your call to serve is as unexpected and as undeserved as the young boy’s at the multiplication of the loaves and fishes out of thin air. (John 6:1-15) He could have, but didn’t.  When Jesus wanted to feed the large, hungry crowd of his hearers, he didn’t ask the Father to create loaves and fishes out of thin air.  He could have, but he didn’t.  Jesus began this great miracle with loaves and fishes provided by a young boy.  How happy and surprised that boy must have felt in knowing that Jesus had chosen to use his loaves and fishes in so great a miracle!  The boy and the crowd that shared his lunch realized that God likes to start with the human when he is acting for and with human beings,  God starts with the human-with-us to lead us beyond human possibilities.  That is what Jesus did for the hungry crowd on the hillside in Galilee; that is what Jesus does for us who accept God’s call to ministry and for those we serve.

Through your humble service as minister of Communion, God unites you to your fellow members of the Body of Christ and actually forms all of you into that Body.  But God doesn’t do this without the human: God loves the human too much to ignore it! A special minister’s human, personal, interior qualities will either build up or tear down the Body of Christ, that temple for God in the Spirit made up of brothers and sisters in Christ.  The “Rite of Commissioning Special Ministers of Holy Communion” contains words that are worth recalling often: “In this ministry, you must be examples of Christian living in faith and conduct; you must strive to grow in holiness through this sacrament of unity and love.  Remember that, through many, we are one body because we share the one bread and one cup.”

There must be an essential unity between your life inside and outside the liturgy, as the liturgical scholar Aidan Kavanagh states: “The common end for which the diverse liturgical ministries work is not a ceremony but a corporate life in faithful communion with all God’s holy people and holy things.  For this reason liturgical ministers should never be seen to do in the liturgy what they are regularly seen to do outside the liturgy.”  To put his another way: your service as ministers inside the liturgy should only make visible the faith and love you are seen to manifest outside the liturgy.  Generous self-giving, conformed to the pattern of Chris’s self giving unto death, must mark both your interior and exterior life both inside and outside the liturgy.

St Augustine exhorted his hearers to such self-giving while praising St Lawrence , deacon and martyr , who had ministered the chalice of the Lord’s Blood:”Just as he had partaken of a gift of self at the table of the Lord, so he prepared to offer such a gift. In his life he loved Christ; in his death he followed his footsteps.”  Similarly, your love for Christ present in the Eucharist and in his people will make the bread and wine you minister to others genuine signs of Christ’s self-sacrifice and your own.  The bread and wine that you minister to others will be outward signs of the love that flows from the heart of Christ and from your own heart.

“If then, you want to understand the body of Christ,” says Saint Augustine, “remember what the Apostle says: ‘You are the body of Christ and members thereof’(1Cor 12:27).  If, then, you are the body of Christ and his members, it is your mystery which is set forth on the Lord’s table; it is your own mystery that you receive.  You say ‘Amen’ to what you are, and in saying ‘Amen’ you subscribe to it.  For you hear the words ‘The body of Christ,” and you answer ‘Amen.’ Be members of the body of Christ then, so that your ‘Amen’ may be authentic.”  As special ministers of Holy Communion, you join with your brothers and sisters to say “Amen” to Christ as you receive him in the Eucharist; you also lead your brothers and sisters, through their “Amen,” to make a personal act of faith in the Christ who is present in the Eucharist and in themselves. Let your “Amen” to being a member of the Body of Christ be true, so that you can help make others’ “Amen” to being members of the Body of Christ also be true.  This true “Amen” is a Christian Commitment: the liturgical ministries, ”As special ways of living out the baptismal life of faith….demand a renewal of faith in view of the new charge given by the community to the individual.  These moments of personal dedication demand reflection, prayer, and discernment so that the decisions to be made may be truly responsive to God’s call.

Such reflection, prayer, and discernment are not one-time only nourishment, but a necessary diet for sustaining a life of generous service to God’s people, both inside and outside the liturgy.  Your life as a special minister of Holy Communion must be one of both being and giving the Body of Christ .  Let your “Amen” to that life of service be real and complete.  Then you will find great joy in the Lord who chooses to be present in you, in those your serve, and in the Eucharist that forms you into his Body.

SGCatholics Iphone App

Posted: March 17, 2011 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Memory Book
Tags:

This is a great, easy to use, easy to update IPhone App for both Catholic Tourists and locals who want to attend the Eucharistic celebration here in Singapore.

It has a list of all the churches here and maps which can be launched manually or by location service. It also not only provides timings for mass but devotions as well.

Now if only their next update will include how to get there i.e. Bus nos nearest MRT stations. Hmmmm

The friendship of God

Posted: March 15, 2011 by CatholicJules in Memory Book

From the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop

 

Our Lord, the Word of God, first drew men to God as servants, but later he freed those made subject to him. He himself testified to this: I do not call you servants any longer, for a servant does not know what his master is doing. Instead I call you friends, since I have made known to you everything that I have learned from my Father. Friendship with God brings the gift of immortality to those who accept it.

In the beginning God created Adam, not because he needed man, but because he wanted to have someone on whom to bestow his blessings. Not only before Adam but also before all creation, the Word was glorifying the Father in whom he dwelt, and was himself being glorified by the Father. The Word himself said: Father, glorify me with that glory I had with you before the world was.

Nor did the Lord need our service. He commanded us to follow him, but his was the gift of salvation. To follow the Savior is to share in salvation; to follow the light is to enjoy the light. Those who are in the light do not illuminate the light but are themselves illuminated and enlightened by the light. They add nothing to the light; rather, they are beneficiaries, for they are enlightened by the light.

The same is true of service to God: it adds nothing to God, nor does God need the service of man. Rather, he gives life and immortality and eternal glory to those who follow and serve him. He confers a benefit on his servants in return for their service and on his followers in return for their loyalty, but he receives no benefit from them. He is rich, perfect and in need of nothing.

The reason why God requires service from man is this: because he is good and merciful he desires to confer benefits on those who persevere in his service. In proportion to God’s need of nothing is man’s need for communion with God.

This is the glory of man: to persevere and remain in the service of God. For this reason the Lord told his disciples: You did not choose me but I chose you. He meant that his disciples did not glorify him by following him, but in following the Son of God they were glorified by him. As he said: I wish that where I am they also may be, that they may see my glory.

 

March 13, 2011 – 1st Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 12, 2011 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Sunday Bible Reflections by Dr. Scott Hahn

Tale of Two Adams

Readings:
Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Psalm 51:3-6; 12-14,17
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11

 In today’s Liturgy, the destiny of the human race is told as the tale of two “types” of men – the first man, Adam, and the new Adam, Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 45-59).

Paul’s argument in the Epistle is built on a series of contrasts between “one” or “one person” and “the many” or “all.” By one person’s disobedience, sin and condemnation entered the world, and death came to reign over all. By the obedience of another one, grace abounded, all were justified, and life came to reign for all.

This is the drama that unfolds in today’s First Reading and Gospel.

Formed from the clay of the ground and filled with the breath of God’s own Spirit, Adam was a son of God (see Luke 3:38), created in his image (see Genesis 5:1-3). Crowned with glory, he was given dominion over the world and the protection of His angels (see Psalms 8:6-8; 91:11-13). He was made to worship God – to live not by bread alone but in obedience to every word that comes from the mouth of the Father.

Adam, however, put the Lord his God to the test. He gave in to the serpent’s temptation, trying to seize for himself all that God had already promised him. But in his hour of temptation, Jesus prevailed where Adam failed – and drove the devil away.

Still we sin after the pattern of Adam’s transgression. Like Adam, we let sin in the door (see Genesis 4:7) when we entertain doubts about God’s promises, when we forget to call on Him in our hours of temptation.

But the grace won for us by Christ’s obedience means that sin is no longer our master.

As we begin this season of repentance, we can be confident in His compassion, that He will create in us a new heart (see Romans 5:5; Hebrews 8:10). As we do in today’s Psalm, we can sing joyfully of our salvation, renewed in His presence

Prayer Is The Light Of The Spirit

Posted: March 12, 2011 by CatholicJules in Memory Book

From A Homily By Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop

 

Prayer and converse with God is a supreme good: it is a partnership and union with God. As the eyes of the body are enlightened when they see light, so our spirit, when it is intent on God, is illumined by his infinite light. I do not mean the prayer of outward observance but prayer from the heart, not confined to fixed times or periods but continuous throughout the day and night.

Our spirit should be quick to reach out toward God, not only when it is engaged in meditation; at other times also, when it is carrying out its duties, caring for the needy, performing works of charity, giving generously in the service of others, our spirit should long for God and call him to mind, so that these works may be seasoned with the salt of God’s love, and so make a palatable offering to the Lord of the universe. Throughout the whole of our lives we may enjoy the benefit that comes from prayer if we devote a great deal of time to it.

Prayer is the light of the spirit, true knowledge of God, mediating between God and man. The spirit, raised up to heaven by prayer, clings to God with the utmost tenderness; like a child crying tearfully for its mother, it craves the milk that God provides. It seeks the satisfaction of its own desires, and receives gifts outweighing the whole world of nature.

Prayer stands before God as an honored ambassador. It gives joy to the spirit, peace to the heart. I speak of prayer, not words. It is the longing for God, love too deep for words, a gift not given by man but by God’s grace. The apostle Paul says: We do not know how we are to pray but the Spirit himself pleads for us with inexpressible longings.

When the Lord gives this kind of prayer to a man, he gives him riches that cannot be taken away, heavenly food that satisfies the spirit. One who tastes this food is set on fire with an eternal longing for the Lord: his spirit burns as in a fire of utmost intensity.

Practice prayer from the beginning. Paint your house with the colors of modesty and humility. Make it radiant with the light of justice. Decorate it with the finest gold leaf of good deeds. Adorn it with the walls and stones of faith and generosity. Crown it with the pinnacle of prayer. In this way you will make it a perfect dwelling place for the Lord. You will be able to receive him as in a splendid palace, and through his grace you will already possess him, his image enthroned in the temple of your spirit.

Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat 21 Mar 11 – 23 Mar 11

Posted: March 11, 2011 by CatholicJules in Upcoming Events

Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats are a beautiful opportunity for any person struggling with the emotional or spiritual pain of an abortion. The retreat helps a person to find healing and courage in their life journey.

Date: Monday, 21 Mar 2011 to Wednesday, 23 Mar 2011
Venue: Kingsmead Hall
(behind church of St Ignatius),
8 Victoria Park Road

Event Date : 21 Mar 11 – 23 Mar 11
Location : Kingsmead Hall (behind church of St Ignatius), 8 Victoria Park Road
Organised By : Rachel’s Vineyard
Booking information : For more information, please contact Rose Boon at 98185102 or drop her an email at rachelvineyard@familylife.sg
Contact Email : rachelvineyard@familylife.sg
Website : http://www.rachelsvineyard.sg

Miracles Are Real Today…

Posted: March 11, 2011 by CatholicJules in Videos/Audio

My Lenten Prayer For You..

Posted: March 10, 2011 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

I pray for you my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as I hope you’d pray for me….
That as we have embarked on this Lenten journey, we never lose focus on Jesus our Lord and Saviour who is leading us closer and deeper into our Father’s bosom.
That we remain humble, prayerful and steadfast in relinquishing all bonds we have that is of our kingdom, for it is His kingdom we seek to rest in. Let us be beacons of light for one another instead of candle snuffers. May the Grace of God be upon us and may He unite all of us in His love.
Amen.

ash-wednesday11

Ask most Catholics and they will tell you that Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent and that it is a day of abstinence and fasting.  And if they have gone to mass before work on Ash Wednesday then you would notice a cross like mark made with ash on their foreheads, but not all of them know the history behind the symbolic ritual.

Why smudge ash on our foreheads? Why is it a symbol of Lenten repentance?  In search of answers to this questions, we need to look to our past, but before we do that  here is a little excerpt I found, which may bring greater clarity as we journey back….

In Jewish and Christian history, ashes are a sign of mortality and repentance. Mortality, because when we die, our bodies eventually decompose and we become dust/ dirt/ash/whatever. Repentance:, because long ago, when people felt remorse for something they did, they would put ashes on their head and wear “sackcloth” to remind them that sin is pretty uncomfortable and leads to a sort of death of the spirit. This was their way of confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness.

*In the period of the Old Testament, the prophets of Israel often speak of ashes as a symbol of repentance. Jeremiah for example, calls for repentance as the enemy threatens Jerusalem: “O daugther of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes” (Jeremiah 6:26). Daniel when he prayed for Israel’s deliverance used ashes too: “I turned to the Lord God pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” The preaching of Jonah in Nineveh was so effective in bringing about the conversion of that city that the text says, “When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes” (Jonah 3:6).

The prophet Isaiah challenges the sincerity of wearing sackcloth and ashes, but in doing so he indicates that it was a recognized  custom in Israel:” Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: that a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?” (Isaiah 58:5)

In the New Testament , Jesus attests to this practice, too: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes” (Matthew 11:21, Luke 10:13)

Once we move beyond biblical times, the use of ashes does not appear clearly in Church documents until about the sixth century after Christ.  We discover then that it first used as part of a ritual of admitting people into the Order of Penitents.  This Order in the church was modeled on the catechumenate as a process of conversion.  As the catechumenate sought the initial conversion of those seeking Baptism, the Order of Penitents sought a renewed conversion of those who had fallen into serious sin after Baptism.  Penitents would confess their sins to the bishop or his representative and then be assigned a penance to be done over a period of weeks or months.  The penance was intended to foster a true conversion and a change of heart and behavior.  After the penance was completed, the penitents would be formally reconciled by the bishop in the presence of the community, often in Holy Thursday.

Though the confesstion was private, the rest of the process was a communal one.  The whole community prayed for the penitents and then welcomed them back to Communion when they were reconciled.  One of the symbols used in enrolling people in this Order was the imposition of ashes.

By the 11th century, it had become customary for all the faithful to receive ashes at the beginning of Lent, cleary imitating the penitents and expressing their own need for forgiveness and renewal.  At the end of the century, Pope Urban II called for the general use of ashes on the Wednesday before the First Sunday of Lent, and later the day came to be known as Ash Wednesday.

Though we do not have formal penitents in most of our communities today, our reception of ashes commits us to a ‘conversion’ journey similar to theirs.  We acknowledge our sinfulness and our need of forgiveness.  We admit that we had not fully lived up to the commitments of our Baptisms, so we seek healing and renewal.  We must always remember that Lent is a baptismal time.  Some Church documents speak of it as both baptismal and penitential, but the penitential dimension is based on the baptismal.  We do penance and we celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation because we need to renew our baptismal commitment.

It is appropriate then, for those who are already baptized to include the celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation as part of their journey through Lent.  This may be part of a parish penance service or it might be a time for individual Confession.  If the celebration is to be truly fruitful, it is important to prepare for it well.*

The Ashes
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

*Main Source* from an article by Father Lawrence E. Mick Archdiocese of Cincinnati

Additional Notes *

Abstinence is not about NOT Watching TV or NOT GOING to the PUB, it is about doing more this Lentern period as we journey towards forgiveness and moving closer to God.  That means not just saying/doing I will Not Watch TV but it is because I want to read the bible or saying I will NOT go to the pub this lentern period because I want to reflect and pray.

Fasting is not about losing weight, it is about emptying ourselves of worldly pleasures etc. so that we can meditate and reflect in prayer as we ask for forgiveness for our sins.

Alms Giving is not just about Money, there is more to it than that.  Making time for a friend in need is alms giving, taking care and consoling the sick is alms giving etc..

March 6, 2011 – 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: March 5, 2011 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Sunday Bible Reflections with Dr. Scott Hahn

Solid Rock

Readings:
Deuteronomy 11:18, 26–28
Psalm 31:2–4, 17, 25
Romans 3:21–25, 28
Matthew 7:21–27


This Sunday’s Gospel takes us to the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Like Moses in this week’s First Reading, Jesus climbed a mountain to deliver the Word of God’s covenant to His people (Ex 24:12–18). This covenant Word requires a great deal from us. Far more than our simple hearing and acceptance of Jesus’ “message.”

That’s because the Gospel is not a philosophy, a set of good ideas for living. It is God’s fatherly will for history. It is the good news of His kingdom, of the divine family He has come to create on earth in His Church.

The Word of God comes to us as a call to the obedience of faith (Rm 16:26). We must take this Word to heart, letting it dwell richly within our souls (Col 3:16). We must allow ourselves to be led, to be guided by the Word that comes to us in His name.

That’s what we mean in this week’s Psalm—when we sing of the Lord as our rock of refuge. Jesus also gives us this image of the solid rock. He promises that if we live by His Word we will have an eternal foundation to withstand the storms and trials of our lives.

Jesus is the new Solomon, bringing us the Wisdom of God (1Kings 3:10–12). And like Solomon, he builds a house of God, a Temple, on a rock of foundation (1Kings 5:17; 8:27). Jesus is the Wisdom of God made flesh. The Church is the new household and Temple of God, built on the cornerstone of Christ (Lk 7:35; Eph 2:19–22).

We will be judged by his Word. But this is not a matter of external works, as Jesus makes clear. That is Paul’s point too in this week’s Epistle. We must do the Father’s will, which is our sanctification—knowing we’ve been justified, made right before God, by Christ’s saving death (1Thes 4:3). It’s this redemption, our expiation by His blood, that we celebrate and participate in this Eucharist.

Whenever There Is Silence

Posted: March 2, 2011 by CatholicJules in Memory Book, Personal Thoughts & Reflections

Whenever there is silence around me,
by day or night,
I am startled by a cry.
The first time I heard it,
I went out and searched
and found a man in the throes of crucifixion.

I went to him and said,
“I will take you down.”
And I began to take the nails
out of his hands and his feet.
But he stopped me and said,
“You cannot take me down.
For I cannot come down
until every man, every woman, and every child in the world
shall come together to take me down.

“But sir,” I said, “your cry: I cannot bear your cry.”

“This cry,” he told me,
“It is the anguish of those with no food,
of those who thirst,
the ones huddled naked against the cold,
the cry of those who are lonely and in prisons.
This is the cry of the homeless,
of the ones rejected and hated by society.
It is the cry of those whose lives are snuffed out
by anger, hate or fear.
This is the cry of those living on the edge of war,
those made to wander from their homes in search of peace.”

“Then what am I to do?” I asked him.

“Go about the world,” he said,
“Tell everyone you meet: It is a shared cross on which we all do hang.”

 

For A nice PDF copy Download it here

 

Adapted by Bill Huebsch from an unknown source.

Song Of Angels – Bouguereau

Posted: March 2, 2011 by CatholicJules in Holy Pictures

 

A lovely and tender depiction of angels serenading the Infant Jesus by famed artist William Bouguereau.

Adolphe-William Bouguereau was a famous portrait artist born in La Rochelle, France on November 30, 1825. He followed the classical style of 16th century painters such as Raphael. Bouguereau painted for a number of Catholic Churches throughout the late 1800’s. He died in 1905.

Because We Belong To Christ

Posted: March 1, 2011 by CatholicJules in Memory Book

Everyday ask God to pour love for your brothers into your heart and to put love for you into theirs.  God can deny nothing to a community that prays this way, because it is His will that we love one another as he has loved us.

Where there is no love, put love and you will harvest love.  Susceptibility is charity’s worst enemy, humilty its best ally.  You should be intelligent and holy enough to be the first to give way in a quarrel; and never let squabbles over trifles harm your deep union with your brothers.  You may be in the right, but your duty is not to let the sun go down on your anger.  Resolve each day anew to pray for your brothers.  Pray that you may love, and love while you pray, and the grace of His love will find a way in.

Look on the call to brotherly love as the entry into an immense mystery, since it is your gateway into God Himself.  Where love is, there is God.  You, with your brethren, give God a body, express his presence, and signify His action.  Let your whole community become in this way a theophany of His love.

To express this love in authentic action, you must love sharing.  Share your time, table, roof,salaries and belongings.  Possess nothing so that one day you may, like Christ, be enriched by all you have given away.  Likewise, you should be able to say to each community member; all that is mine is yours.

THE JERUSALEM COMMUNITY RULE OF LIFE