Sunday, April 27, 2014
On the 30th of April, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized a fellow Pole who brought a message of mercy to the world. Sr. Faustina Kowalska was a Sister of Mercy in Krakow who had found her way to the convent after many years of seeking permission to become a sister.
Faustina lived with her family in Lodz and at the age of 7, Faustina felt, while in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, she was called to be a nun. When she finished school at the age of 16 she asked her parents if they would allow her to join the convent but they refused. Faustina went to work as a house cleaner to support her family. At 19, she had her first vision of Jesus as the suffering servant while she was at a dance. She was told by Jesus to go to Krakow and join a convent. She packed her few belongings and left for Krakow that night, where she entered the first church she saw and asked the priest for assistance in finding a convent. He sent her to live with a trustworthy parishioner who allowed her to live in her home while she went from convent to convent seeking entry. Eventually the Sisters of Mercy agreed to allow her to enter but first she had to pay for her habit. She took another job cleaning houses; a portion of her pay from that job went to the convent to pay for the habit and after a year she was able to enter the convent. She continued to have conversations with Jesus who appeared to her often for the rest of her life.
On February 22, 1931, Jesus appeared to Sr. Faustina. He appeared with two faint rays emanating from his heart, one red and one blue. Jesus explained that he was the King of Mercy and that he wanted Faustina to paint an image of him as he appeared. She could not paint and spent the next three years trying to find an artist to paint her vision. Eventually she found one who painted it as she described and when she saw the finished painting she said it was exactly like her vision. When the painting was finished, she was instructed by Jesus to have the painting blessed on the second Sunday of Easter which would become the Feast of Mercy for the world. At her canonization, the Holy Father declared this to be so. Sr. Faustina’s visions were clear that the mercy of God is available to anyone who sincerely seeks God. The image of the Divine Mercy and its accompanying prayer in chaplet form is a meditation on the profound mystery of God’s Mercy and God’s continued desire for a deep relationship with his people.
Sr. Faustina died of tuberculosis on October 5, 1938. Her call to accept the Mercy of God still being heard today on the Second Sunday of Easter, the Feast of Divine Mercy.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Holy Week is the holiest week of the liturgical year. We are called to interrupt our daily routine and journey with Jesus from death to resurrection.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus enters Jerusalem; he enters as the King and is crucified as a common criminal. The Palm Sunday rites include a blessing of palm branches and a procession. Here, at Risen Savior, we will have the solemn procession at the 12:30pm Mass. The solemn entrance will be celebrated at all the other Masses. Each parishioner will receive a palm that will be blessed during Mass. We remember to respect our worship space by not tearing these palm branches during Mass. Other parishioners must pick up the pieces of palm by hand, please be kind to them.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week focus on Peter and Judas. Both deny Jesus – as we do when we sin.
Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are treated as one day, one celebration. The liturgical term is called “The Triduum.” This is the holiest time of our redemption.
Holy Thursday has only one Mass. This is the Mass of the Lord’s Supper which includes the washing of feet. This is based in John’s gospel of the night before he died. After this Mass, a procession with the Eucharist is taken to an Altar of Repose. We will use the Gate of Heaven Mausoleum Chapel. The Blessed Sacrament will be reserved there until midnight. Adoration is encouraged – “Can you keep watch with me for an hour?”
Good Friday continues the Triduum celebration with the Liturgy of the Word and Adoration of the Cross. Holy Communion is distributed but there is no Mass. This all takes place at 3:00pm – the hour Jesus died. The church is open all day for private prayer.
Holy Saturday concludes the Triduum and is the “mother of all vigils.” Darkness is needed to begin the Vigil. There are four parts to the Solemn Vigil:
V Part 1. The blessing of the Fire and preparation of the Paschal Candle
V Part 2. The Liturgy of the Word – the stories of our salvation history, we listen to 10 major events in our human story.
V Part 3. The rites of initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist are given to those who are becoming Catholic. This year Risen Savior has 9 entering the Church.
V Part 4. The Liturgy of the Eucharist – “He is Risen.” St. Paul says, “If Jesus did not rise from the dead, we are the deadest of the dead.” Easter makes the Christian story the 8th day of creation: New life! We come forth from the shell, the tomb, the hole in the ground, the cocoon. Earth buds forth from the Risen Lord.
Easter Sunday is what we are all about. Each Sunday is a “little Easter.” We should spell Sunday, S-O-N-D-A-Y. He shines and dispels the darkness of our time.