Archive for the ‘Last Supper’ Category

Fatima Rosary Reflections

May 31, 2010

We celebrate May as the month of Mary, but we gather this particular day because 93 years ago Mary appeared to three children outside a small village in Portugal named Fatima. We will now pray the rosary and I will share with you just some of this story of Mary, Our Lady of Fatima.

[Pray the usual introductory Rosary Prayers]

In the year before Mary appeared to them, Lucia age 10, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta, ages eight and seven, were grazing their sheep in a field. A dazzlingly beautiful young man, seemingly made of light, appeared to them and identified himself as the Angel of Peace. He invited them to pray with Him, and taught them a simple prayer.  I will pray this prayer three times and I invite you to join with me.

“My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love You! I beg pardon for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love You. Amen.”

In the 1st Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan.” Jesus was not a sinner, He did not need baptism for himself, but He was baptized to become an advocate and intercessor for others. Likewise, let us pray as advocates and intercessors for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust, or do not love God throughout the world.

[Pray the First Luminous Mystery]

On another occasion, the Angel of Peace appeared before them holding a chalice in his hands. Above it was suspended a host from which drops of blood were falling into the chalice. The Angel left the chalice suspended in the air, prostrated himself before it, and taught the children this prayer:

“O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary I beg the conversion of poor sinners. Amen.”

In the 2nd Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana.” For them, Jesus changed water into wine. For us, He changes wine into His blood. Are we indifferent to this miracle in our midst, or does it really matter to us? Let us pray that the Eucharist would transform us.

[Pray the Second Luminous Mystery]

On May 13, 1917, after lunch on a clear blue day, the children were praying the rosary. Suddenly, they saw two bright flashes. They looked up and saw, in Lucia’s words, “a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun…”

The Lady smiled and said: “Do not be afraid, I will not harm you.” Lucia asked her where she came from. The Lady pointed to the sky and said: “I come from heaven.” Lucia asked what she wanted. She said, “I have come to ask you to come here for six months on the 13th day of the month, at this same hour.” They tried to keep it to themselves, word of the children’s encounter with the Heavenly Lady got out. Though they were met with the townspeople’s skepticism and mockery, the children would not deny what they had seen and heard.

In the 3rd Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God.” Let us pray to be irresistibly led to proclaim what we have experienced in Christ.

[Pray the Third Luminous Mystery]

On July 13th, the incredibly beautiful Lady appeared to them again. Lucia asked her who she was, and for a miracle so everyone would believe. She answered, “Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.” And the Lady taught them this prayer:

“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven,  especially those in most need of Thy Mercy.”

In the 4th Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Transfiguration.” Sometimes we look at other people and think that they can’t change what they are. The apostles thought like this, but Jesus opened their eyes with His Transfiguration. Let us pray for the grace of transformation; in our family members, in our friends, and especially among those in most need of God’s Mercy.

[Pray the Fourth Luminous Mystery]

At noon on the 13th of October, 1917, some 70,000 people were gathered in the field. With a flash of light the Lady appeared to the children, and Lucia, for the last time, asked her what she wanted. The Lady answered, “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.” And the Blessed Virgin Mary urged the conversion of hearts, as she had many times before, “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.”

What happened next was reported at the time in an anti-religious Portuguese newspaper, by a reporter who had previously written dismissively about the goings-on at Fatima:

“…One could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared free from clouds and at its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!” Before the astonished eyes of the crowd… the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws – the sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people.”

In the 5th Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Institution of the Eucharist.” What the masses saw in the heavens that day was a great miracle. But what we encounter at every Mass is an even greater wonder. Let us pray that we would always have the eyes to see it.

[Pray the Fifth Luminous Mystery, followed by the usual closing Rosary Prayers]

(Primary Source)

The Disciples’ Feet — Holy Thursday

April 4, 2010

This Holy Thursday evening, I would like to talk about feet, the apostles’ feet and our own.

Feet are funny, awkward, and funky. They are lowly, odd, and unclean. This was true in the apostles’ day and it is still true today. Of all the parts of the body, the feet are the most lowly. They are humbly situated on the ground and they’re the only parts of our body which are regularly stepped-on.

Our feet are odd-looking things. They’re like clubs, with knobs and nubs all over. And feet are ackward too. Their range of motion is limited and they’re the only part of the body which we trip-over.

Feet are funky, that is, they’re unclean. Even though the apostles walked everywhere either sandled or barefoot, while we have shoes and socks and daily showers, we remain well-familiar with smelly feet.

We have feet, just like the apostles, so we still have some sense of what it means for Jesus to wash His disciples’ feet. I have been speaking up to now of physical feet, the feet of our legs, but one could say that we also have spiritual feet too, the feet of our souls. The imperfect apostles had these spiritual feet, and so do we.

Perhaps you feel worthless and low, unworthy of Christ’s love, friendship, or help. Perhaps you have been humbled and brought down to earth by others or by an awareness of your sins. Yet, no matter how low you may feel, know that just as He stooped down to the feet of His disiciples, so Jesus is willing to stoop down for you.

Perhaps you feel there are aspects of yourself which are too ackward or limited to be offered to God, parts which you think are of no use or value to Him. Yet, just are Jesus embraced the feet of His disiciples, so He wants to receive even our ackward and limited parts.

Perhaps you feel spiritually unclean because of sin. Know that just as Jesus washed His disciples feet, so He wants to wash you clean.

Jesus stooped down, embraced, and washed his apostles’ feet because He loved them, and He wants do the same for us. By giving Himself to His disciples in the Eucharist, Jesus shows us that He wants to share everything He is with us. By washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus shows us that He wants us to share everything we are with Him.

A Premature Passion? — Palm Sunday—Year C

March 28, 2010

So why did we just proclaim the Passion?  Isn’t the Passion a bit premature? It’s Palm Sunday, not Holy Thursday or Good Friday. Aren’t we jumping the gun? No, like the two disciples Jesus instructed in our opening Gospel, we’re being told what we are going to see. The Church has us recount the Passion on Palm Sunday to prepare us; to prepare us for encountering Christ’s Passover through the special ceremonies and symbols of this Holy Week.

Now the celebration of the Eucharist actually makes the events of the Pascal mystery present for us every time we come to Mass. Jesus’ Last Supper, His Passion and Death, His Resurrection and Ascension into glory, are all truly presented to us at each and every Mass; but during Holy Week, we unpack and encounter these events in unique and special ways.

Today you have waved palms, an ancient symbol of victory, to Christ, welcoming Him into our city. On Holy Thursday, you can go where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved and give company to Christ in his lonely solitude, with Him in His agony before His arrest and with Him as He spends the night awaiting His trial. On Good Friday, you can reverence the crucifix; you can kiss the wood of Jesus’ cross and kiss His body hanging upon it, as He dies for us. And at the Easter Vigil, you can see the sign of the light of Jesus Christ resurrecting out of darkness and death.

And so I invite you to encounter Jesus’ Pascal mystery, at this Mass, at every Mass, and through the special signs and ceremonies of this Holy Week.

The Old New Pattern — Thursday After Epiphany

January 8, 2010

In his first letter to his brothers and sisters in Christ, St. John says that the commandment he writes to them is not new, and yet new. (1 John 2) The commandment he is referring had been given to them years before, by Jesus Christ at His Last Supper. He told His disciples, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)  Love sums up the moral law, and we know how to love from Christ.

Once when Jesus’ opponents were trying to trip Him up they asked Him what was the greatest commandment. He answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.”  Then He added, “The second (commandment) is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt 22) Or, as St. Paul would later put it, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom 13:10) Love sums up the moral law, and we know how to love through Christ.

It is intuitive for people to understand that we should do good and avoid evil, that we should love good and hate what is evil. Yet that does not mean that everyone agrees as to how we should live this out. Often we see the truths which Christians present in love angrily dismissed by the world as hate. (Frequently the throwing of this charge allows people to dismiss opposing viewpoints without ever giving them serious thought.) Even those in a post-Christian secular culture will agree that somehow “love is the answer,” but how exactly are we to love one another?

Jesus shows us how to love.  He says, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” We can learn from His example especially here, as we witness His Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension in the Mass, but we can also learn from the entire life He lived.

Sometimes it can be hard understand example, or difficult to relate Jesus’ life to the particulars of our own. To help us He gives us the example of His saints, through whom He has continued to live His one, salvific way of life through thousands of different human expressions. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus; He was anointed to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, to restore sight to the blind, to free the oppressed, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Today this Scripture passage is still being fulfilled by Him through the lives of His saints.

“The love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.”  So let us learn what love is through the example of Jesus and His saints, for love sums up the law, and we know how to love through Christ.

Wednesday, 26th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

September 30, 2009

Why do the Jews in today’s psalm begin to mourn when their “captors” ask them to sing one of Zion’s songs? This psalm refers to the time of the Jewish Exile. The kingdom of Judea was conquered by the Babylonian Empire 586 years before Christ. Many Jews were deported from their homeland to the rivers of Babylon in the East. Time passed, and that superpower was conquered by another, and after 50 years of Babylonian Captivity, the Persian Empire allowed the Jews to go home. However, many years passed, and Jerusalem, the city of God, remained in great disrepair.

This weighed heavily on the heart of Nehemiah, who was the cupbearer to the king of Persia. As cupbearer, he was the king’s highly-trusted servant because it was his job to drink of any wine that would be offered to the king, lest that it be poisoned. In the first reading we heard Nehemiah recall in his own words how he obtained permission from the king to rebuild God’s city, the city of his ancestors. Nehemiah is a “type” or foreshadowing of Christ.

As Nehemiah had the consent of his king for his mission, so Jesus had the consent of His father to come to Jerusalem as the restorer of God’s people.

Like Nehemiah before Him, Jesus desired, with all the sentiments of His human heart, to bless His deceased ancestors in their graves, for their blood ran through His own veins.

Like Nehemiah, Jesus wanted to build God’s city, giving it a new glory that would attract all nations to a more perfect worship of God within its walls.

Nehemiah used the timber of the Gentiles to build the earthly Jerusalem. To build the heavenly Jerusalem, Jesus used the wood of the Roman’s cross.

Nehemiah was old cupbearer, who faced death in service of the king. Jesus is the new cupbearer, who drinks from the cup, so that sins may be forgiven.

The cup that Jesus drinks is a cup of suffering mingled with joy. Today, at this Mass, Jesus asks us to follow Him. He says, take this cup, all of you, and to drink from it in remembrance of me.

Tuesday, 25th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

September 22, 2009

I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

The Jews would joyfully sing these words as they came into Jerusalem, to worship the Lord in His temple. They understood why they should lift up their hearts and give Him their thanks and praise. The Lord was always with them, but He was most especially with them at the temple. It should be the same for us today, whenever we come to Mass. Jesus Christ is always with us, but He is most fully with us at the Mass.

What if your guardian angel appeared to you and carried you through space and time, and gave you a place at the table of the Last Supper? How closely would you listen to Jesus’ every word and prayer?

What if your angel then brought you to the foot of the cross, to witness Jesus’ sacrifice for you? How faithfully would you attend to Him there?

What if your angel then brought you into heaven, among all the saints and angels, into the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? What would you feel? How would you pray?

The truth is that you can encounter the Last Supper, the cross, and heaven at every Mass. The power of Christ brings these realities, through space and time, to you. Jesus’ one sacrifice is really made present to us and we join in the combined worship of heaven with earth.

Granted, all of this is not undeniably-obvious, These realities are veiled to our senses, but encountered through our faith. Just because something is unseen, doesn’t mean that it’s not real. If we never had radios how easily would you believe in radio waves? They’re invisible, intangible, and span time and space, but they’re real indeed, and you can experience them if you are tuned-in to receiving them. How can you be tuned-in at Mass? I offer four suggestions:

First, before Mass, pray for the grace to worship well. I fear that often we do not receive because we never ask.

Second, bring a personal intention to every Mass; that is, a person or a cause that you want Christ to grace through His one sacrifice today. For example, my intention for this Mass is for the Marshfield Area Catholic Schools. Always bring an intention to Mass, because the Mass has more power in the world than we realize.

Third, pray with your whole voice, your whole mind, and your whole heart. Just because you are not always speaking during Mass, doesn’t mean one should ever stop praying. As you hear me pray the Eucharistic prayers make them your own. And when you sing, sing as if you were singing for the Lord, because you really are.

Fourth and finally, direct your eyes, your body, and your thoughts toward the one to whom you are speaking. Most of the prayers of the Mass are directed to our Father in heaven, though some are directed to Jesus Christ. Know the one to whom you are speaking to, and follow through with your eyes and your body accordingly.

As we saw in the Gospel, merely showing up at the house where Jesus is, isn’t enough for a person to achieve the greatest intimacy with Him. Likewise, merely showing up at the Mass where Jesus is, isn’t enough for a person to achieve the greatest intimacy with Him. Those who hear the word of God and act on it in faith and worship, they become the closest to Christ. So let us go rejoicing, to encounter Christ at the Last Supper, at the cross, and in heaven, at this Mass, in the house of the Lord.