Paschaltide 2007: April 2007 Archives

Holding Fast to the Hard Saying

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Third Saturday of Paschaltide

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Acts 9:31-42
Psalm 115: 12-13, 14-15, 16-17
John 6: 60-69

A Eucharistic Lectio Divina

If in your lectio divina this past week, you submitted to the guidance of the Church (as Terry does) and opened yourself to the brightness shining from the sixth chapter of Saint John, the Eucharist has been at the heart of your reading, your repeating, your prayer, and your contemplation. This Third Week of Paschaltide was a kind of Eucharistic retreat. How well did we live it? It is not too late to claim today the Eucharistic graces reserved for us by our Lord for this week of listening to His discourse on the Bread of Life.

Peter Confessing the Mystery

In his Encyclical on the Eucharist, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II gave us a commentary on today’s Gospel. This is what he said: “Here is the Church’s treasure, the heart of the world, the pledge of the fulfillment for which each man and woman, even unconsciously, yearns. A great and transcendent mystery, indeed, and one that taxes our mind’s ability to pass beyond appearances. Here our senses fail us: visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur, in the words of the hymn Adoro Te Devote; yet faith alone, rooted in the word of Christ handed down to us by the Apostles, is sufficient for us. Allow me, like Peter at the end of the Eucharistic discourse in John’s Gospel, to say once more to Christ, in the name of the whole Church and in the name of each of you: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’ (Jn 6:68).”

Peter Addressing Christ

Christ spoke, revealing the astonishing mystery of the Eucharist. Peter responded. It is Peter’s response addressed to Christ that is the first manifestation of his place in the plan of God for the Church. Peter addressing Christ necessarily precedes Peter addressing the world, and this in all times and places. In the Mass, the Church does something similar. After the words of consecration, the priest intones “Mystery of Faith.” Mysterium fidei: a seal placed on all that has been said and done up to this point. The response of the praying Church is a confession of the mystery addressed directly to Christ really present: “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection until you come.”

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“See my hands and my feet” (Lk 24:39). Jesus would have us contemplate his holy and glorious wounds. The wounds of the Risen Christ are the glory of the Father and the joy of the Church. The wounds of Christ are the indelible sign of his everlasting priesthood and the remedy for our wounds, fountains of healing for us, springs of salvation.

“Repent, therefore,” says Saint Peter, "and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out” (Ac 3:19). Turn again? Turn whereto? To the holy and glorious wounds of Jesus Christ. There is a very simple form of contemplative prayer in which the risen Christ applies His wounds to the wounds of the soul. It is an operation of naked faith, a wordless contact in the darkness. It touches the secret unexposed places deep within, concealed well below feelings and concepts.

The wounds of Christ are not only our healing; they are the glorification of the Father as well, and this, throughout all eternity. The risen and ascended Christ presents Himself before the Father’s face. He says to the Father exactly what he says to us: “See my hands and my feet.” The Father, reads the immensity of His love in the depths of His wounds, and in the wounds of the Son the Father is glorified.

Our Lord desires that we should contemplate His glorious wounds, even as the Father contemplates them in the heavenly sanctuary where Christ is living forever to intercede for all who come to God through him (Heb 7:25).

Our Wounded God

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Christ's Holy and Glorious Wounds

I was present in Saint Peter's Square last Sunday when, in the course of Holy Mass, Pope Benedict XVI preached the mystery of the Wounds of Christ. "He is a wounded God," said the Holy Father,"He let Himself be wounded through His love for us."

The Paschal Candle

All through Paschaltide the liturgy invites us to contemplate the Holy and Glorious Wounds of the Lord symbolized by the "wounds" in the "flesh" of the Paschal Candle. The Paschal Candle is an image of the Risen Christ who stands before His Father in the heavenly sanctuary and in the midst of His Church on earth, displaying His glorious wounds.

Benedict XVI Echoes the Experience of the Saints

The saints -- from Saint Bernard in the twelfth century and Saint Francis in the thirteenth to the Servant of God Marie-Marthe Chambon in the nineteenth and Saint Pio of Pietrelcina in the twentieth centuries -- teach us to fix our gaze on the wounds of Christ, Priest and Victim. The Holy Father's homily was in mystic continuity with the experience of the saints:

The Lord took His wounds with Him to eternity.
He is a wounded God; He let Himself be wounded through His love for us.
His wounds are a sign for us that He understands
and allows Himself to be wounded out of love for us.

These wounds of His: how tangible they are to us in the history of our time!
Indeed, time and again He allows himself to be wounded for our sake.
What certainty of His mercy, what consolation do his wounds mean for us!
And what security they give us regarding His identity: "My Lord and my God!".

And what a duty they are for us,
the duty to allow ourselves in turn to be wounded for Him!
God's mercy accompanies us daily.
To be able to perceive His mercy it suffices to have a vigilant heart.

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Here at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, I have the privilege of living just a few steps away from the Chapel of the Sacred Relics where one can venerate the finger of Saint Thomas the Apostle, that very finger that probed the pierced side of Our Lord. Today's Gospel takes on a special meaning when one lives under the same roof as so sacred a relic.

The finger of Saint Thomas came to be enshrined here through a revelation to Saint Birgitta of Sweden; it was by means of an intervention of Saint Birgitta that the relic was found and brought to Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. The relic has been venerated by numerous other saints, blesseds, and servants of God; among them, Saint Philip Neri, Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, Saint Vincent Pallotti, Saint Gaspar del Bufalo, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and Cardinal Newman.

O Blessed Wound!

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On the occasion of the Holy Father's 80th birthday and in response to his invitation to contemplate the wounded Side of Christ, I offer again my own translation of a prayer "Alla Piaga Del Costato di Gesù," To the Wound in Jesus' Side, composed by the Servant of God Father Eustachio Montemurro (1857–1923). The Venerable Eustachio of Jesus and Mary, a physician and a civic leader, a man of noble ideals and courageous initiatives, became a priest at forty–five years of age, desiring to bringing healing to souls as well as to bodies. Shortly thereafter he founded two religious congregations: The Little Brothers of the Most Holy Sacrament and the Sisters Missionaries of the Sacred Side.

The holy founder was accused of "an excess of zeal" and, for the good of the institutes he had established, chose to exile himself from his spiritual sons and daughters. With the permission of the Pope, he moved to the sanctuary of the Madonna of the Rosary of Pompei, founded by Blessed Bartolo Longo, to devote himself selflessly to the service of souls. Father Montemurro died at Pompei on January 2, 1923, loved by all, and leaving a reputation for holiness.

O painless thrust of the spear
forever awaited with passionate love by my Saviour
that thou shouldst repair in the Father's sight
the terrible wound opened by the sin of Adam
in the heart of humanity!

O glorious wound,
gushing forth life, love, and peace!
I adore thee inexhaustible wellspring of salvation,
the womb of new children
born of the water and of the blood of the Bridegroom.
Thou art for me an ever open refuge,
the door giving access to the nuptial chamber,
the vestibule of the banquet of the Lamb.

The living water that, at every moment, springs from thee,
invites me with the language of love
to enter, through thee, into the heart of my Saviour
that therein I might take the regenerating rest of new life
and spread it all about me
just as the bride coming forth from the nuptial chamber
radiates among her friends the signs and the sweetnesses of love.

Be thou for me, then, O blessed wound,
my blissful abode.
May I be drawn always to thee,
that in thee I may live and die.
In thee may I find the splendid riches
which eye has never seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart experienced.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus,
glory of my mind, joy of my eyes,
melody of my ears, gladness of my heart,
and peace of my soul.

I am Thine for time and for eternity;
nothing shall ever separate me from Thee,
for Thou hast espoused me,
drawing me with bands of goodness to Thy open side
and pouring out of Thy heart into mine
the joys of the Spirit
and the mercy of the Father who always hears Thee.

Second Sunday of Pascha
Divine Mercy Sunday

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Haec est dies quam fecit Dominus

“This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it!” (Ps 117:24). For eight days already we have celebrated a single day: the perfect and unending Day of the Risen Christ, the great and glorious Pasch of the Lord! For eight days now the splendour of “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev 1:8) has flooded the Church with light and joy.

Quasimodo Sunday

In the early Church, on this Second Sunday of Easter, the newly-baptized would conclude their week-long celebration of new life by putting aside the white garments received at Baptism. And Mother Church, addressing herself to them, sings in today’s introit: “As you are new-born children, all your craving must be for the pure milk of the spirit so that you may thrive upon it to the health of your souls” (1 P 2:2). Today’s glorious Introit is a key text for us. It unlocks all the rest. It is the voice of a Mother addressing her newborn infants. So important is this text that, in ancient times, today was known as Quasimodo Sunday, from the first word of the Introit: “After the manner of newborn infants, alleluia, desire the pure milk of the Word, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia” (1 P 2:2).

Pure Spiritual Milk

“All your craving must be for pure spiritual milk” (1 P 2:2). This craving for the Word of God is a sign of spiritual health. Where do we go for this pure, spiritual milk of the Word if not to the breasts of Mother Church, to the Word of God given us in the liturgy day by day? This is why the faithful of the primitive Church used to “meet by common consent in the Portico of Solomon” (Ac 5: 12). This is why we assemble, Sunday after Sunday, not in Solomon’s portico, but in the living Temple of the new Solomon, the Body of Christ, the Church, and in “the shadow of Peter” (cf. Ac 5:15). Every time the Word is proclaimed, sung, repeated, preached, and prayed, we are nourished with pure spiritual milk. It is the corporate hearing of the Word that fashions us into a company with “one heart and one soul” (Ac 4:32).

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory

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