Apr 21, 2014

Easter Sunday - Pope Francis "urbi et orbi"


Dear Brothers and Sisters, a Happy and Holy Easter!

The Church throughout the world echoes the angel’s message to the women: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay” ( Mt 28:5-6).


 
This is the culmination of the Gospel, it is the Good News par excellence: Jesus, who was crucified, is risen! This event is the basis of our faith and our hope. If Christ were not raised, Christianity would lose its very meaning; the whole mission of the Church would lose its impulse, for this is the point from which it first set out and continues to set out ever anew. The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.

That is why we tell everyone: “Come and see!”In every human situation, marked by frailty, sin and death, the Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast… “Come and see!”: Love is more powerful, love gives life, love makes hope blossom in the wilderness.
With this joyful certainty in our hearts, today we turn to you, risen Lord!
Help us to seek you and to find you, to realize that we have a Father and are not orphans; that we can love and adore you.

Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.

Enable us to protect the vulnerable, especially children, women and the elderly, who are at times exploited and abandoned.

Enable us to care for our brothers and sisters struck by the Ebola epidemic in Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and to care for those suffering from so many other diseases which are also spread through neglect and dire poverty.

Comfort all those who cannot celebrate this Easter with their loved ones because they have been unjustly torn from their affections, like the many persons, priests and laity, who in various parts of the world have been kidnapped.

Comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith.
We ask you, Lord Jesus, to put an end to all war and every conflict, whether great or small, ancient or recent.

We pray in a particular way for Syria, beloved Syria, that all those suffering the effects of the conflict can receive needed humanitarian aid and that neither side will again use deadly force, especially against the defenseless civil population, but instead boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue!

Jesus, Lord of glory, we ask you to comfort the victims of fratricidal acts of violence in Iraq and to sustain the hopes raised by the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

We beg for an end to the conflicts in the Central African Republic and a halt to the brutal terrorist attacks in parts of Nigeria and the acts of violence in South Sudan.

We ask that hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord in Venezuela.

By your resurrection, which this year we celebrate together with the Churches that follow the Julian calendar, we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future. On this day, may they be able to proclaim, as brothers and sisters, that Christ is risen, Khrystos voskres!

Lord, we pray to you for all the peoples of the earth: you who have conquered death, grant us your life, grant us your peace!

Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Easter!


 
 

Apr 20, 2014

iCatholic: Reflection for Easter Sunday - The Resurrection of the Lord


 

Salesian Sister Sarah O'Rourke, accompanied beautifully by members of the UL Folk Group, shares a reflection for Easter Sunday entitled"The Resurrection of the Lord".

Surrexit Dominus! (The Lord is Risen)

Pope Francis takes part in the Resurrexit rite before Easter Sunday Mass in St Peter's square

From Vatican.va:

In the twelfth century, the Bishop of Rome, following an ancient tradition, would pause in prayer at the Oratory of Saint Lawrence in the Lateran, nowadays the Shrine of the Holy Stairs, before setting out in procession from Saint John Lateran to Saint Mary Major, where he would chant the Solemn Mass of Easter Morning. The Oratory, still known as the Sancta Sanctorum, was considered one of the most sacred places in Rome. A celebrated relic of the Holy Cross was venerated there and then, as now, the Shrine housed the Acheiropita (not painted by human hands) icon of the Saviour.

 
The icon, probably brought to Rome from the East, was already mentioned in the Liber Pontificalis under the entry for Pope Stephen III (752-757). A full representation of the enthroned Saviour, it was painted on cloth applied to a wooden tablet measuring approximately 1.52 m. by 70 cm. The icon has been frequently restored, most recently in 1995-1996. The only part presently visible is the Face of the Lord painted on a silken cloth superimposed upon the original. The rest of the icon is covered by a sheet of silver.

The cult of the icon of the Most Holy Saviour, unlike that of the Veronica veil kept in the Vatican Basilica or other ancient Roman icons, was the only one to become part of the official celebrations of the Roman Liturgy. This is evident from the Liber Politicus (Ordo Romanus XI), a ceremonial book written between 1143-1144, and the Liber Censuum Romanae Ecclesiae (Ordo Romanus XII), compiled about 1192 by Cencius Camerarius, the future Pope Honorius III. These ceremonial books not only show that a procession with the Acheiropita took place on the night of the Assumption, but also that the icon was venerated during Holy Week.


The Acheiropita icon in the Sancta Sanctorum
On Easter morning, the Pope, vested in pontificals, entered the Sancta Sanctorum, opened the small silver doors covering the feet of the icon (the doors are still sealed) and kissed the feet three times. He then chanted the versicle: Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro, alleluia, to which the assembly responded: Qui pro nobis pependit in ligno, alleluia. The Cross, which had bee removed on Good Friday, was then placed on the altar for the Pope’s veneration.

After the Pope, the members of the papal entourage venerated the icon and the Cross and then approached the Supreme Pontiff for the kiss of peace. The Pope gave the sign of peace reciting the versicle: Surrexit Dominus vere, to which each person responded: Et apparuit Simoni. Meanwhile the choir chanted a series of antiphons. Following these rites the papal procession was formed along the Via Merulana while the Pope was informed by a notary of the Baptisms which had been celebrated the previous night.

When the Apostolic See moved to Avignon, the rite of the Resurrexit fell into disuse. With the return of the Popes to Rome, the Easter statio was transferred to the Basilica of Saint Peter.

The basis and the authentic significance of these ritual sequences can be found in the words of the Gospel of Luke which describe Peter’s amazement at seeing the empty tomb and the testimony of the Eleven that the Lord was truly risen and had appeared to Simon (cf. Lk 24:12,34; Jn 20:3-10). The appearance of the Risen Lord to Peter and to the other witnesses is the theological foundation of the Church’s Easter faith (cf. Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 15:3-6).

The Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, likewise meets the Risen Lord in the icon of the Most Holy Saviour and, after the solemn Easter proclamation of the previous night’s Vigil, he becomes on Easter Day the «first» witness to all the Church of the Gospel of the Lord’s Resurrection.

The rite of papal veneration the icon of the Resurrexit was restored for Easter of the Great Jubilee in 2000.

Happy Easter Message from Bishop Brendan Leahy


20th April 2014 - Easter Sunday


The Resurrection of Christ, 1555, Marco Pino

ALLELUIA,ALLELUIA !!!! CHRISTUS RESURREXIT, RESURREXIT VERES ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!!!
 
ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!!!! CHRIST IS RISEN, HE IS RISEN INDEED, ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!!!

Let everyone share this feast of faith; let everyone enjoy the riches of goodness. Let none lament their poverty; for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let none mourn their sins; for forgiveness has dawned from the grave. Let none fear death; for the Savior's death has set us free

- St John Chrysostom


 

Christians, to the Paschal Victim Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems: Christ, who only is sinless, Reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring What you saw, wayfaring. "The tomb of Christ, who is living, The glory of Jesus' resurrection;
Bright angels attesting, The shroud and napkin resting. Yes, my Christ my hope is arisen:
To Galilee he goes before you." Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining. Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen. Alleluia

(Sequence from Mass on Easter Sunday)

On this joyous Easter morn, the SS102fm team wish you every joy and blessing of this Easter Day to you and yours!

On this weeks programme, we mark Resurrection Day with our usual reflection on the gospel of the day as well as a quick visit to some of the symbols and traditions associated with Easter.

You can listen to the podcast of this weeks programme with John, Anne and Shane HERE.


 

Christos anesti! Christ is Risen! The Greek proclamation of the Resurrection speaks of Christ's victory, 'trampling on death by means of his death'.


 
 
 
Gospel Reflection - John 20:1-9
 

"Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag'dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead."
 
You can listen to the podcast of this weeks gospel reflection excerpted from the programme HERE.
 

 
Easter Traditions
 
Colours associated with Easter are white- purity - and gold - glory. Peacocks are an ancient symbol of the Resurrection and in the USA lilies are symbols of Easter and new life. During Eastertide (Easter Sunday to Pentecost) the Angelus is replaced by the Regina Caeili.

Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia:
For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia,
Has risen as He said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray: O God, who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, granted joy to the whole world: grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may lay hold of the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Of course one of the big traditions associated with Easter is the Easter Egg.The egg is seen by followers of Christianity as a symbol of resurrection: while being dormant it contains a new life sealed within it. In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Easter eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ, shed on the Cross, and the hard shell of the egg symbolized the sealed Tomb of Christ—the cracking of which symbolized his resurrection from the dead. Easter eggs are blessed by the priest at the end of the Paschal Vigil, and distributed to the faithful. Each household also brings an Easter basket to church, filled not only with Easter eggs but also with other Paschal foods such as paskha, kulich or Easter breads, and these are blessed by the priest as well. During Paschaltide, in some traditions the Paschal greeting with the Easter egg is even extended to the deceased. On either the second Monday or Tuesday of Pascha, after a memorial service people bring blessed eggs to the cemetery and bring the joyous paschal greeting, "Christ has risen", to their beloved departed. While the origin of easter eggs can be explained in the symbolic terms described above, a sacred tradition among followers of Eastern Christianity says that Mary Magdalene was bringing cooked eggs to share with the other women at the tomb of Jesus, and the eggs in her basket miraculously turned brilliant red when she saw the risen Christ.The egg represents the boulder of the tomb of Jesus. A different, but not necessarily conflicting legend concerns Mary Magdalene's efforts to spread the Gospel. According to this tradition, after the Ascension of Jesus, Mary went to the Emperor of Rome and greeted him with "Christ has risen," whereupon he pointed to an egg on his table and stated, "Christ has no more risen than that egg is red." After making this statement it is said the egg immediately turned blood red.
 
You can find out more about Easter traditions HERE.
 
Liturgical odds and ends
 
As Eastertide continues for 50 days, this week we will forgo listing the upcoming saints of the week except to note that next Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday and also the canonisation date of Bl John XXIII and Bl John Paul II in Rome. We will be joined by Prof. Eamonn Conway to discuss the canonisation and the importance for the church of the witness of these two new saints.

And finally keeping with SS102fm tradition


Apr 19, 2014

Easter Vigil at the Holy Sepelchre in Jerusalem


 
The organ breaks the silence of the basilica, along with the church bells and the joy of the resurrection that fill the church. It is Easter in Jerusalem. Christ rises here and now. Today, just like he did two thousand years ago.


The Great Easter Vigil, the “mother of all vigils,” as the liturgy reads, takes place on Saturday morning at the Holy Sepulcher. This year, it is taking place at dawn, with the first rays of the sun penetrating into the shrine, and it will coincide with the Orthodox Easter, whose rites are celebrated in the same basilica.

[Blog Editors Note: Unlike in the rest of the Latin Church because the rules and timetable of the liturgies at the Basilica of the Holy Sepelchre are governed by
the 1853 Status Quo, the Latin liturgies follow an older timetable. In this case pre-1955 when Pius XII reformed the liturgies for Holy Week and moved the Easter Vigil from Holy Saturday morning back to Holy Saturday evening. However in Jerusalem, the older timetable has to be maintained.]
The light for the Easter candle is taken directly from the Sepulcher. The deacon hands it to Latin Patriarch Archbishop Fouad Twal, who presides over the celebration. Then, from that flame, the lamps and candles in front of the shrine and those of all the faithful are lit.

After a long series of readings for the Easter Vigil, it is the patriarch himself who reads the Gospel of the Resurrection, right in front of the door where the Empty Tomb is located. In the account according to Matthew, the women are the first to receive the announcement of the resurrection.

“This is the most important place for the Church, where the Church was born, and with the presence of women, the word is spread. And even today, the first person they say saw him was Mary Magdalene and I'm happy about that.”

"There is a message: He is not here; he is risen. Jerusalem continually calls us to go beyond ourselves, to bring this message that is the heart of the Gospel to the whole world.”

In the baptismal liturgy, with the blessing of water and sprinkling of the faithful, there is a sign of hope for the Holy Land.

H.B. FOUAD TWAL
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
“It is my wish for peace: for the local church, for all the people who live in the Holy Land, peace for everyone! And I hope that the Universal Church feels committed to this peace, to this Christian community and to this joy along with us.”


Easter Vigil - Bishop Brendan Leahy - Homily


 
Easter Vigil Mass
Bishop Brendan Leahy
St John's Cathedral Limerick

In the Gospel that we have just heard, the women, the first evangelisers, receive an important message that is repeated twice: Go to Galilee and you will see Jesus there.
Deep down, we all want to know where we can see the Risen Jesus. What’s more, as Pope Francis reminds us, many people today call on Christians to speak of a God they themselves know and are familiar with, “as if they were seeing him”.

But how can people “see” Jesus?

It’s important for us to remember Jesus didn’t just rise again, body and soul, for those living in the Holy Land about 30 AD. Jesus isn’t trapped in Galilee back two thousand years ago. Indeed he is no longer in any one place in the world. In his resurrection he has entered a new sphere of existence. He now embraces the whole world and is present to us in a new and powerful way in every place.

But how can we see him and let him be seen? The night before he died he told his disciples: “By this all will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We “see” and “show” Jesus Risen through the love we have for one another. It is the distinctive sign of Christians.

Some years ago I met a nurse, let’s call her Yvonne, who was working in England and she shared with me an important discovery in her life. She was brought up with absolutely no contact whatever with the Church. But when she became a nurse she noticed something special about some of her colleagues in the hospital. Not only were they good at their work, helpful to patients, and open to others, but there was something about their own way of relating to one another that attracted her. After a while she asked them, “What is it you have here?” They answered, “well, we try to give priority to our love for one another. We believe Jesus is present among us because he promised to be among those united in his name.” Yvonne listened with rapt attention to the explanation of a life she’d glimpsed over the years at the hospital. She found herself saying: “So, that’s it…I want to live like this…” Sometime later she was baptized. For her, the way those nurses lived, with Jesus among them, in their relationship, was the answer to the unspoken, then spoken yearning in Yvonne’s heart. ‘I want to see Jesus.’

Pope Francis has said that ‘instead of seeming to impose new obligations, Christians should come across as people who want to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction”.’ It is the attraction of the love we have for one another; it is the attraction of the Risen Jesus made visible among us.

In this year when Limerick is the national city of culture, we can take away this Easter reminder that we are called to live the culture of the Resurrection by the love we have for one another.

Easter Vigil - "Where is my Galilee?" - Homily of Pope Francis

 
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
THE EASTER VIGIL
ST PETER'S BASILICA
19 APRIL 2014
The Gospel of the resurrection of Jesus Christ begins with the journey of the women to the tomb at dawn on the day after the Sabbath. They go to the tomb to honour the body of the Lord, but they find it open and empty. A mighty angel says to them: “Do not be afraid!” (Mt 28:5) and orders them to go and tell the disciples: “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee” (v. 7). The women quickly depart and on the way Jesus himself meets them and says: “Do not fear; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (v. 10).

After the death of the Master, the disciples had scattered; their faith had been utterly shaken, everything seemed over, all their certainties had crumbled and their hopes had died. But now that message of the women, incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness. The news spread: Jesus is risen as he said. And then there was his command to go to Galilee; the women had heard it twice, first from the angel and then from Jesus himself: “Let them go to Galilee; there they will see me”.

Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began! To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called. Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets. He had called them, and they left everything and followed him (cf. Mt 4:18-22).

To return to Galilee means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory. To re-read everything – Jesus’ preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal – to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love.

For each of us, too, there is a “Galilee” at the origin of our journey with Jesus. “To go to Galilee” means something beautiful, it means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience. To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey. From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters. That flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy.

In the life of every Christian, after baptism there is also a more existential “Galilee”: the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission. In this sense, returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him. It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me.

Today, tonight, each of us can ask: What is my Galilee? Where is my Galilee? Do I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it? Lord, help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy.

The Gospel of Easter is very clear: we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection. This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia. It is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth.

“Galilee of the Gentiles” (Mt 4:15; Is 8:23)! Horizon of the Risen Lord, horizon of the Church; intense desire of encounter.... Let us be on our way!

The Easter Proclamation (Exsultet)


The Exsultet, sometimes seen as "Exultet" and also referred to as the Praeconium Paschale, is an ancient chant sung during the Easter Vigil. It is traditionally sung by the deacon after the Paschal candle has been lit and the clergy have processed to the altar. The lighted Paschal candle contains a twofold symbolism. First, it represents the pillar of fire that went before the Israelites during their flight from Egypt. Second, it represents Christ, who is the light of the world. The procession likewise has a twofold meaning. It symbolizes the journey of the Israelites out of Egypt, and also the arrival of Christ who is the Savior of the world. The Exsultet sings of this symbolism and recalls for us the history of our salvation; from the fall of Adam, to the events of that first Passover held by Moses and the Israelites, and then finally the events of that last Passover at which Jesus suffered, died, rose from the dead and by which mankind was redeemed. The tone of the hymn is very much one of joy at having received so great a gift as our redemption and eternal life.

From EWTN: This triumphant hymn and wonderful sacramental is the prelude to the Easter solemnities. It is a majestic proclamation of the Resurrection of Christ, a dramatic invitation to heaven and earth to join with the Church in joy and jubilation. It is the rite of sanctification of light and night, of place and time, of priest and faithful for the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord. In itself, it is a symbolic representation of the Resurrection of Christ, a sacramental, preparing for and anticipating the re-enactment of the Resurrection in the eucharistic Sacrifice. This Easter-sacramental is a jewel of the liturgy, brilliant in content and composition, in its symbolism and efficacy. The hymn is filled with profound theology, radiant with youthful enthusiasm, flowing in the most solemn rhythms of the psalms, resounding in the most jubilant cadences of Gregorian chant. This sacramental, based on the ritual of the Old Testament and containing as it does venerable relics of apostolic tradition, reflects and transmits to us an echo of the glorified joy of early Christianity.

You can continue reading about the history and theology HERE.


 
 

 
Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King's triumph!

Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all corners of the earth be glad,
knowing an end to gloom and darkness.

Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with the lightning of his glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

(Therefore, dearest friends,
standing in the awesome glory of this holy light,
invoke with me, I ask you,
the mercy of God almighty,
that he, who has been pleased to number me,
though unworthy, among the Levites,
may pour into me his light unshadowed,
that I may sing this candle's perfect praises).

(Deacon: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.)
Deacon: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right and just.

It is truly right and just,
with ardent love of mind and heart
and with devoted service of our voice,
to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,
and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.

Who for our sake paid Adam's debt to the eternal Father,
and, pouring out his own dear Blood,
wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

These, then, are the feasts of Passover,
in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb,
whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.

This is the night,
when once you led our forebears, Israel's children,
from slavery in Egypt
and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.

This is the night
that with a pillar of fire
banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night
that even now throughout the world,
sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices
and from the gloom of sin,
leading them to grace
and joining them to his holy ones.

This is the night
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld.

Our birth would have been no gain,
had we not been redeemed.
O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!

O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!

O happy fault
that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

O truly blessed night,
worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!

This is the night
of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.

The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants' hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
a flame divided but undimmed,
which glowing fire ignites for God's honour,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees
to build a torch so precious.

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.

Therefore, O Lord,
we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honour of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.
Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.
May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son,
who, coming back from death's domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

Holy Saturday - "He was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead."

"He was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended to the dead.............."
 
Holy Saturday, Sabbatum Sanctum in Latin, is the last day of Holy Week, and the 40th day of the traditional Lenten fast, although Lent ends liturgically on the evening of Holy Thursday. The evening of Holy Saturday begins the third and final day of the Paschal Triduum. In the Latin Church, no Masses are celebrated on Holy Saturday, and the day is essentially a sparse time of reflection upon Christ's death and burial in anticipation of the Great Vigil of Easter (Paschal Vigil). The vigil usually begins the night of Holy Saturday, lasting until Easter morning. Very little happens on Holy Saturday, that is until the beginning of the Great Paschal Vigil.
 
 
 
“For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” (John 20:9)
On Good Friday, the impossible happened. God Himself was executed by His creatures. On Easter Sunday, this same God, our Lord Jesus Christ, rose from the dead, victorious over the power of the grave. In so doing, he defeated death for the same creatures who had put Him to death. Christians marvel at and meditate upon these events, and indeed draw our very life from their historic and transcendent reality. It is common, and entirely appropriate, for us to see our own spiritual defeats and victories as little Good Fridays and Easter Sundays. Though we face suffering and tragedy, we believe that God will bring great good out of evil. We know that the Resurrection brings meaning and hope to every difficult situation.
- Continue reading HERE.
 
 
 

A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

The Lord's descent into hell

"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.
Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.
The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.


`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

"The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages." 

 
 
 
 
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Jesus "descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens." The Apostles' Creed confesses in the same article Christ's descent into hell and his Resurrection from the dead on the third day, because in his Passover it was precisely out of the depths of death that he made life spring forth:
Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all mankind, your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was "raised from the dead" presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.

Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, "hell" - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into "Abraham's bosom" "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham's bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell." Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him."The gospel was preached even to the dead." The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment.

This is the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ's redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption. Christ went down into the depths of death so that "the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."Jesus, "the Author of life", by dying destroyed "him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage." Henceforth the risen Christ holds "the keys of Death and Hades", so that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth."
 
 
 

The twentieth-century theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote a work entitled Mysterium Paschale in which he attempts to come to grips with the experience of Christ on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. The thesis of the book is that Christ, in order to redeem man from the punishment of sin, must take on sin and all of its consequences and must rise from those consequences on Easter in his return to the Father.

The most striking chapter of the book, and certainly the one that has received the most attention, is his description of Holy Saturday. For Balthasar the experience of Holy Saturday is preeminently about the credal phrase descendit ad inferna (Christ’s descent into Hell). While belief in the statement is a matter of dogmatic obedience, the Church has not been clear on exactly what Christ’s going to Hell entailed. Balthasar’s thesis hinges on two given facts. First, in order to redeem man Christ must take on the penalty of death merited by man’s sin. Second, the penalty for sin is not just death of the body, but also death of the soul.

The experience of Hell is that of abandonment by God. More precisely, the soul has chosen to separate itself from God in the very act of sin. God is both our efficient and final cause, so eternity spent in the absence of this God is greater than any suffering of which we can conceive, and certainly greater than any physical suffering.

Because Christ in his saving act must go through the entire experience of death, with the eventual result of its conquering, he must not only suffer and die a bodily death, but also must suffer a spiritual death, a death that is the complete abandonment by God. The whole idea becomes more profound when we consider that Jesus is God. As such, his “closeness” to the Father is perfect, and certainly much more intense than our own relationship with the Father. While two separate Trinitarian Persons, they are in fact one God. In this sense, Christ has a much greater loss when he is abandoned by the Father in Hell than any non-divine man could experience. (Note that only in a Trinitarian theology can we even begin to grapple with the idea of God being abandoned by God.)

Another way of looking at this is that Jesus, as true man, must experience the full depth and breadth of the human condition, and as perfect man will experience this depth and breadth in a manner more perfect than the rest of us. The human condition in its positive aspect is an original union with God, of which Jesus experiences in a far more perfect manner than we. In its negative aspect, the human condition is the abandonment of God in death caused by both original and personal sin, a death that only begins with the destruction of the body, but continues in the destruction of the soul in every way except its annihilation. Jesus, as perfect man, experiences the depths of Hell in a manner more perfectly terrible than even the souls of the damned.

As Christians, we have become accustomed to thinking about the sufferings of Christ on Good Friday. On Holy Saturday, we at times become a bit more human-centered, perhaps reflecting on the emptiness and confusion the disciples would have felt as people who did not yet fully understand the significance of the prior day’s events. Perhaps, however, we should keep our gaze on Christ, knowing that the sufferings he is experiencing today are infinitely greater than those of Good Friday. The height of his Good Friday sufferings occurs in his shout from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me!” This is the beginning of His Hell, and today is a long and arduous experience of this abandonment – and all of this He did for us.
More debate about Van Balthasar's views on Holy Saturday here.

Pope Francis: In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man and greatness of God’s mercy

From Vatican Radio:
 
“In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man, when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil; but we also see the immensity of God's mercy who does not treat according to our sins, but according to His mercy”. This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ brief unscripted address Friday evening as he presided at the traditional "Via Crucis", or Way of the Cross, service at Rome’s ancient Coliseum.

Immigrants, the unemployed, the sick, the elderly and prisoners: these were the focus of thousands of pilgrims prayers Friday evening as they gathered in the darkness around the ancient amphitheater, behind a simple wooden Cross.

"God - Pope Francis said – placed all the weight of our sins on the Cross of Jesus, all the injustices perpetrated by every Cain against his brother, all the bitterness of the betrayal of Judas and Peter, all the vanity of tyrants, all the arrogance of false friends. It was a heavy Cross, like the night of abandoned people, as heavy as the death of loved ones, heavy because it carried all the ugliness of evil".

The Cross emerged from the ruins marking the 14 stations of Christ’s final journey here on earth, borne between two burning candles by immigrants, prisoners, homeless, elderly, women, disabled, and former drug addicts. From the Palatine Hill opposite the Coliseum, Pope Francis knelt in prayer as the mediations by Italian Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini were read.


The Archbishop from the southern region of Campobasso, has been at the forefront in the fight against organised crime in southern Italy. His reflections spoke of "all of those wrongs that have created the economic crisis and its grave social consequences: job insecurity, unemployment, an economy that rules rather than serves, financial speculation, suicide among business owners, corruption and usury”.


The meditations also denounced the abuse of women and children, the loneliness of old people, of prisoners who endure torture, victims of organized crime and loansharks. The Archbishop wrote: "Today, many of our brothers and sisters, like Jesus, are nailed to a bed of pain, at hospital, in homes for the elderly, in our families. It is a time of hardship, with bitter days of solitude and even despair”.
As the Cross came to a standstill before the Holy Father four the 14th station, the Pope spoke briefly in unscripted remarks to the thousands of pilgrims gathered below in flickering candle light. He spoke of the “monstrosities” that mankind is capable of when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil. But he concluded “it is also a glorious Cross, as [glorious] as the dawn after a long night, because it represents the totality of the love of God, which is greater than our iniquity and our betrayals".

"However - he continued – it is also a glorious Cross, as [glorious] as the dawn after a long night, because it represents the totality of the love of God, which is greater than our iniquity and our betrayals. In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man, when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil; but we also see the immensity of God's mercy who does not treat according to our sins, but according to His mercy. Before the Cross of Christ, we see, we can almost touch with our hands how much we are eternally loved; Before the Cross, we feel like 'children' and not 'things ' or objects".

"Oh, our Jesus - the Pope concluded - lead us from the Cross to the Resurrection and teach us that evil will not have the last word, but love , mercy and forgiveness. O Christ, help us to once again cry : 'Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with Him. Yesterday I died with Him, today I live with Him. Yesterday I was buried with Him, today raised with Him '. Finally, let us all together remember the sick, remember all the abandoned people under the weight of the Cross, that in the trial of the Cross they may find the strength of Hope, the Hope of the Resurrection and the Love of God".