THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION

I meant to write this Sat. March 25, since that was the Feast of the Annunciation. This is the day we celebrate:  Luke 1:26-38

The Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.: Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

CANTICLE OF MARY:  And Mary told Elizabeth  (Luke 1:46-55)

MY SOUL proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the might from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.

GLORY TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, and to the HOLY SPIRIT, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen


The Glory Be to the Father is a prayer Catholics say often.  If only we would be as willing to do what God asks without question.   Here is a prayer for that:

Jesus, You became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pray for me, that I may deny myself and choose God’s will for my life, for I know and believe that He is a good Father and will lead me to salvation. Amen

 

HISTORY OF LENT AND WHY 40 DAYS

The Catholic TV monthly magazine had an article about the History of Lent. I thought maybe some of you might be interested:

History of Lent-what did fasting used to look like: The Lenten season, preparation for Easter, has been observed from the onset of Christ’s Church, although there have been inconsistencies with duration and practices.  The Council of Nicea, 325AD, established Easter’s fluid date as the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox. In 461 AD, Pope St. Leo established the duration as 40 consecutive days before Easter. Pope Gregory the Great, in the sixth century, added the dispensing of ashes the preceding Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), making Lent 46 days. Sundays were considered feast days and not included in the count. (However, my mother informed us kids that if we gave up Movies for Lent we could not go on Sundays, or it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice. Connie)

Initially, all forms of meat, fish and animal products were excluded for the entirety of Lent. People were allowed one meal per day, after 3 pm. In the 1400’s that time was revised to noon. Eventually, a small snack was included to sustain energy. Over time, fish, meat and eventually dairy products were allowed. However, fasting was require all 40 days. It wasn’t until 1966 that fast days were lessened to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday only. (Now, we give up meat on Fridays during Lent, along with Ash Wednesday)

WHY 40 DAYS????The number 40 has ecclesial significance: Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai before receiving the Ten Commandments; Jesus spent 40 days in prayer and fasting prior to beginning his ministry. So, too, we spend 40 days preparing to do God’s work.

WHY  DO WE HAVE PENITENTIAL SEASONS?  (This is a question many Christians ask Catholics, who quite often don’t know the answer) Jesus gave the example of a penitential retreat, spending prayerful time in the desert preparing for His ministry, reflecting on God’s will and determining how He’d freely make that happen. Penitential seasons offer us this same opportunity to withdraw from our routines and evaluate our spiritual progress or regression. We do this through reflection and repentance, which enable us to identify our weaknesses and make reparation to amend our sinful ways. Penitential seasons create time to reflect on our need to make God the focal point of our lives. The result can be spiritually rewarding. (Many Catholics spend extra time in prayer. Go to extra Masses, the Stations of the Cross, and other spiritual reading during Lent)

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT RULES FOR LENT IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

All Catholics, ages 14 and up, are bound by the law of abstinence. Abstinence means refraining from the consumption of meat (land animals) on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. Why Friday? To unite ourselves with Jesus’ sacrifice, made for us on Good Friday.

All Catholics, ages 18-59, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is defined as eating one full, meatless meal on prescribed days. Bits of food can be taken at other traditional meal times though their combined total should not equal a full meal.

Penitential practices, like fasting and abstinence, are intended to refocus our thoughts and intentions toward God. Lent’s 40 days include Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday (the Lenten fast continues until Holy Saturday), not including Sundays. Sundays are optional but encouraged. For health reasons, the infirm, ill, and pregnant or nursing mothers are exempt.

Three other Lenten disciplines are prayer (daily conversation with the Lord) fasting (from behaviors which detract from our relationship with God) and  almsgiving (sharing our resources, ensuring the basic needs of human dignity).

I WILL ADD; many Catholics like to go to the  Stations of the Cross usually on Friday if it is available in their Churches. The Stations of the Cross actually started before the Crusades when Christian were free to go to Jerusalem.  I read where they used to journey from Rome and Europe to Israel to follow the footsteps of Jesus to the Cross. Much like people do now. Then when the Muslims took over the Holy Lands and the Christians could not go there, they started setting up outdoor statues or pictures of what we now call the Passion of Christ. From the Last Supper to the capture in the garden, the whippings and crown of thorns thru the town, past the women, and when he had help carrying the cross and when He was nailed to the cross. Now Catholic Churches have pictures or carvings on the wall that go around the church, 14 stations showing the Passion of Jesus.  People say prayers at each station and they are called the Stations of the Cross.  It follows the story of His Passion in the Bible Gospels. Usually on Good Friday, when possible, the Stations are said at 3PM, the time that Jesus died.

GIVING ALMS: During Lent as with other times of the year, but especially during Lent, we can give up something we spend money on, coffee, candy, movies, whatever, and give that money to the poor. Examples; the Salvation Army, Local Food Cupboards or you can look up Catholic Relief Services (CRS) or Catholic Charities for example, all these organizations help people who are desperate for help.  Catholics have what we call a “Rice Bowl” we put on the table or somewhere in our home where everyone can drop money in, on Easter we put the money in an envelope marked RICE BOWL put it in the collection basket,and the Church sends all the money to Catholic Relief Services to feed the poor in other countries.  You can look up CRS Rice Bowl on line: http://www.crsricebowl.org. To get more information. Catholics have been donating to CRS for many years. They are all over the world helping and teaching the poor how to  feed and support themselves and they are at places of devastation like Haiti helping people to recover and start over.

ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, GRACE TO BEGIN

Joel 2:12-18; 2 Cor. 5:20-6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

We begin our Lenten journey today. Ash Wednesday is a day to recognize our smallness before God. “Remember, you are dust, and to dust you wil return.” the priest says as he makes a cross of ashes across our forehead.

In today’s first reading, Joel writes about a day of darkness and gloom, a day of events that are a sign of the coming day of the Lord when those who oppose the Lord’s righteous will shall be punished.

It’s easy to believe that all is right in the world when the sun shines and the flowers bloom. It is likewise easy to be afraid when the sky turns black and threatening.

During Lent, we’re called to repentance, rending “our hearts, not our garments,” as the prophet Joel writes (2:13). We’re called to recognize Jesus as our Merciful Savior. The more we turn our gaze toward the Cross, the more grace we will receive to bear our own crosses.

Ash Wednesday is a day of atonement for us. Turn to Jesus with trust and let Him lead you this Lent.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to glorify Your mercy and lift my heart to You again. Help me to fully surrender to You, knowing that You hold me in the palm of Your hand. Amen

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As we begin the holy season of Lent, we are encouraged by these words of Pope Francis: “During Lent, let us all ask the Lord: Make our hearts like yours. In this way we will receive a heart that is firm and merciful, attentive and generous.. a heart that is not closed, indifferent, or prey to the globalization of indifference.

MAY your living out of Lent be a time of many graces and the joy of being made new in Jesus Christ.  God bless you all.

 

PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD

ON THIS DAY THE CHURCH RECALLS THE ENTRANCE OF CHRIST THE LORD INTO JERUSALLEM TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PASCAL MYSTERY.

DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS

Since the beginning of Lent until now we have prepared our hearts by penance and charitable works. Today we gather together to herald with the whole Church the beginning of the celebration of our Lord’s Paschal Mystery, that is to say, of his Passion and Resurrection, For it was to accomplish this mystery that he entered his own city of Jerusalem. Therefore, with all faith and devotion, let us commemorate the Lord’s entry into the city for our salvation, FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS so that, being made by his grace partakers of the Cross, we may have a share also in his RESURRECTION and in his life.

LET US PRAY:  Increase the faith of those who place their hope in you, O God, and graciously hear the prayers of those who call on you, that we, who today hold high these branches to hail Christ in his triumph, may bear fruit for you by good works accomplished in him. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen

GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

ASH WEDNESDAY,GOD SPEAKS TO HIS PEOPLE

By: Father Richard Veras             ASH WEDNESDAY

When I was a young priest, I dreaded Ash Wednesday. I experienced myself as a marked  man. I couldn’t step outside the rectory or the Church without being asked/accosted for ashes.  After each Mass or service, it seemed that just as I had washed my thumb, somebody would stick their head into the sacristy with that plaintive smile that always means the same thing on Ash Wednesday.

HOWEVER, WITH the passing years and passing ashes, I have grown to love this day..not despite, but because of so many of my brother and sister Catholics who return to the Church on this day with such a mysterious but real desire to receive “their” ashes.

What an amazing witness it is, what amazing witnesses they are, to the fact that at its core, Christianity is a belonging to Christ, who has chosen us and offers his mercy to us.

And it is a very public witness! How many of their friends might needle them for those ashes, or even ask them why they got ashes if they rarely or never go to Church. I would venture to guess it might be hard for them to explain.. and thus they, and their ashes, witness to the deep mystery of Christ among us.

THE ASHES TELL THE WORLD THAT WE ARE SINNERS. BUT THEY ARE IN THE SIGN OF THE CROSS..AND SO WE ARE SINNERS WHO HAVE HOPE.

On Ash Wednesday, let us thank God for, and pray for, all of our brothers and sisters who witness to us that this hope does not die.

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When the priest makes the cross with the ashes on the forehead of the person he says:

“REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE DUST, AND TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN”

DURING LENT, let us spend the gift of time seeking the wisdom of heart taught by self-sacrifice, so that, dead to sin, we may rise to new life in Christ, in who death has died.

REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL.  (Mk 1:15)

 

LENT-GOOD FRIDAY, THE DAY JESUS DIED

HE HAS FORGIVEN YOU ALL YOUR SINS:  Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over His own head on the Cross.  And then, having disarmed all the powers ranged against us, HE exposed them–shattered, empty, and defeated–in HIS final glorious triumphant act.   (Colossians 2:13b-15)

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When we were younger we used to try to be silent from 12 noon to 3PM on Good Friday. Why, that is when Jesus was nailed to the cross until he died at 3PM.  TRY IT, IT IS NOT EASY TO BE SILENT FOR 3 HRS.     IF YOU LIVE NEAR A CATHOLIC CHURCH, CHECK IT OUT TO FIND OUT IF THEY ARE HAVING “THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS”  AT 3PM.  MOST DO, IF THEY CAN.  It is interesting and heart breaking to see and listen to what Jesus went through in the14 stations as the people follow what HE went through. You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate Christ’s suffering and us remembering that HE died for us.

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“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother’s sister Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.” (Jn 19:25)

PRAY THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS TODAY. ASK FOR THE INTERCESSION OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF OUR LORD JESUS.

LENT-6TH COMMANDMENT-YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY

YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY- SEX WAS GOD’S IDEA.  In the beginning it was God who created us male and female and gave husbands and wives to one another in Holy Matrimony.

The word HOLY IS IMPORTANT HERE, AND frequently forgotten, AS ARE words like PURE and HONORABLE.

THE GOD who made us holy through the blood of Jesus Christ and called us holy in our Baptism requires us to be HOLY in all our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Society frequently views SINS in matters of sex as virtually beyond forgiveness, but Jesus died for these as well.

EXAMINE the demining evidence against you today, and place every accusation over Jesus’ head on the Cross

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“Neither do I condemn you. God (and) from now on do not sin anymore…..”Jn 8:11)

RESOLVE TO CHANGE A HABIT IN YOUR LIFE THAT LEADS YOU TO SIN.!

Easter is only a week and 1/2 away.  Are you ready??????????????????