Making The Most Of The Holy Week

Perhaps Lent this year went well for us, a profound time of confronting weaknesses out of love for the Lord. Or maybe it went rather poorly, and in fact was kind of forgotten in all the busyness of life. Either way, there is still time to take advantage of the opportunity the Church gives us to grow closer to Christ. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, which unites the “royal splendour of Christ with the proclamation of his passion,” says the Vatican’s Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (No. 138). Palms and olive branches are kept in the home as a witness to faith in Jesus Christ, the messianic King, and in his paschal victory.” Lent ends officially with the beginning of the Easter Triduum at the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. Through the Washing of Feet, we remind ourselves that we are called to love our neighbour and notice their needs. There is all, at the end of Mass, the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, available until 9.00pm — is the best way to end Holy Thursday. The Easter fast that many begin after Holy Thursday Mass is obligatory on Good Friday. “Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of both fast and abstinence from meat. Mass isn’t offered on Good Friday; but a Communion service and veneration of the cross is. When possible, Catholics take a break from work between the hours of noon and 3 p.m., the time Christ spent on the cross. This is also a prime time to pray privately the Stations of the Cross. Holy Saturday is an silent time of waiting. No Mass is offered, not even a Communion service like Good Friday’s. It isn’t an official fasting day, but many Catholics eat modestly this day as we wait to celebrate the Resurrection. On the Saturday evening, we celebrate the Resurrection with the wonderful Easter Vigil. This is the greatest feast of the Church – as we carry in the Light of Christ and dispel the darkness. Easter Sunday is the great day of victory and new beginning!


Honouring Two Beloved Popes

On April 27th in St. Peter’s Square, the heart of the Church and the heart of the W orld will beat as one. The Canonisa-tion, by Pope Francis, of two of the most beloved Popes in modern history – John XXIII and John Paul II, the Good Pope and Karol, the Great Pope – will capture the attention of the whole world. John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Francis – Four Popes symbolically united in St Peter’s Square – A completely unprece-dented event in the history of the Church.At Pope John Paul’s Funeral, the average wait to see him was 13 hours. The line was over 3 miles long. Over 150 cardinals concelebrated, 700 archbishops and bishops were present, and 3,000 priests participated. It was the largest gathering of statesmen in human history. It was the first time an Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church had attended a papal funeral since the Great Schism of 1054. 159 foreign delegations were in attendance, as were 10 kings, 5 queens, 3 princes, 59 heads of state, 17 prime ministers, 10 presidents, 8 vice presidents, 12 foreign ministers, 24 ambassadors, general directors, secretary generals or presidents of international organizations, 23 delegations of Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches, 8 Churches or ecclesial communities, international Christian organizations, and Jewish delegations. More than 3 million pilgrims came together in Rome for the funeral of Blessed John Paul II on April 8, 2005. And the people cried “Santo subito!” Loosely translated, it means “saint him now!” Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected to flock to Rome today on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, for the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II. John Paul II’s canonization is not only of religious significance to Poles, but for all the Catholic faithful and for people of all faiths and none. He is the most important person in Poland’s 1,000-year history. The canonization of Pope John XXIII, fondly known as “the Good Pope,” is also a cause for considerable celebration.The fanfare surrounding the canonizations of the two popes emphasizes the important role the saints play in the life of the faithful. He also said that, much like St. Thomas Aquinas, John Paul II and John XXIII will have an influence on the Church long after their deaths. They were such holy men, and their contributions to the Church will not stop anytime soon. The significance of becoming a saint can also have a great personal impact on individual Catholics, who need to be reminded that “sainthood means happiness. It is important that we know that the way we walk leads us to happiness. We all want to be happy, and sainthood is an example that our brothers and sisters achieved happiness. These two great men are in heaven. If they could achieve it, we can, too.


The Alphabet Prayer

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with man. Now the story goes, a little shepherd boy was watching his sheep one Easter Sunday morning and he heard the bells of the church ringing. And watching the people walk along the pasture where he was, he happened to think to himself, “I would like to talk with God! But, what can I say to God?” He had never learned a prayer. So, on bended knee, he began to recite the alphabet. Repeating this prayer several times, a man passing by, heard the boy’s voice and peaked through the bushes. He saw the young boy kneeling with folded hands, eyes closed, repeating the alphabet. He interrupted the boy. “What are you doing?” he asked. The boy replied, “I was praying sir.” The man seemed surprised and said, “But why are you reciting the alphabet?” The boy explained, “I don’t know any prayers, sir. But I want God to take care of me, and to help me care for my sheep. And so I thought, if I said all I knew, He could put the letters together into words, and He would know all that I want and should say!” The man smiled and said, “Bless your heart, God will!” And he went on to church knowing full well that he had heard the finest Easter sermon he could possibly hear that day.

Maybe if we thought like little children and let God put together the letters, what we should want, and what we should say, things would probably work out a lot better than we planned! A Blessed and Happy Easter to one and all!


Carry the Gospels with You

Pope Francis has often repeated the need to read a passage of the Gospels every day, whether on the bus or waiting for a train. But last Sunday, he went one step further by giving all the faithful in St. Peter’s Square a free pocket-sized book containing the texts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the Acts of the Apostles. Several thousand copies were distributed at the Sunday’s Angelus in a bid to help the faithful get into the habit of reading a short passage daily. “At the weekly Sunday Angelus and on various other occasions, Pope Francis has, many times, called the faithful to always have with themselves a small book of the Gospels,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told reporters Friday. “He calls on the faithful to keep taking it out, re-reading it and and to meditate on the words and actions of Jesus, especially those related to the daily liturgy and which the Pope has developed in his reflections.” The initiative, similar to the distribution of the “Misericordinas” some months ago when thousands of rosaries were handed out to the faithful, will be implemented by the Almoner of His Holiness together with 150 scouts, seminarians from the Roman Seminary, sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, other religious, and individual volunteers. The Vatican stressed it is the role of the Almoner to distribute not only material but spiritual charity on behalf of the Pope. The book is printed by the Vatican Typography in a special edition which will not be available for sale. Containing the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, it begins with the Pope’s words from his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus”. On the inner cover leaf there are instructions on how to recite the “Chaplet of Mercy” and it ends, on the inner back cover, with Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman’s prayer: “Dear Jesus…”, that Mother Teresa advised her nuns to recite every day. Here is this beautiful prayer – perfect for Easter:

Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go; Flood my soul with your spirit and life; Penetrate and possess my whole being so completely, That all my life may be only a radiance of yours; Shine through me and be so in me, That everyone with whom I come into contact, May feel your presence within me. Let them look up and see no longer me—but only Jesus. Amen.


A Public Act of Faith

Several weeks ago, I had lunch with one of my new clients, a senior human resources executive of a London-based company.   Our working partnership had been very business-focused since the beginning, and I wanted to forge a stronger personal connection, which I enjoy with most of my other clients. We made small talk about a number of subjects until our food arrived. I said I was going to say a blessing over our meal and that she was welcome to join me. As I made the Sign of the Cross and started to pray, I noticed that she also made the Sign of the Cross. I smiled to myself and said a quiet prayer of thanks for the opportunity I had been given. Between bites of salad, I asked her which parish she attended. She gave me a funny look before responding with the name, then added, “That’s a long story.” I told her I would love to hear about it, and for the next half hour, we talked about her faith journey, how much she loved her parish, her devotion to the Blessed Mother and her prayer life. The awkward business-focused exchange at the beginning of the meal had been replaced by a warm conversation about our shared Catholic faith. I certainly achieved my goal of a stronger personal connection! As we were preparing to leave, she shared that she never spoke of her faith in business settings and really enjoyed our discussion. We speculated on why Catholics don’t discuss faith as openly as perhaps our Protestant brethren do. I suggested it may be fear of persecution or lack of confidence in defending the teachings of the Church. She suggested that it all came down to simple courage. I asked her to explain, and her response was, “When you made the Sign of the Cross in a crowded restaurant and said the blessing for all to hear, I realized that I never do that. My fear of saying a simple blessing is a clear reminder to me that I don’t have the courage to share my faith outside of my comfort zone. I am grateful that you don’t have that issue and also for this wonderful conversation.” Driving back to my office, I reflected on countless other business meals over the last few years that had turned into faith discussions, perhaps because of the simple act of making the Sign of the Cross and blessing the meal. I don’t know if I see this as courageous as much as following the call of Christ and the teachings of our Church. It is certainly food for thought and worthy of careful reflection. What would happen if everyone who reads this makes a simple commitment to make the Sign of the Cross and say a blessing over every meal from now on, regardless of our companions? How many incredible faith discussions would occur as a result of this simple and public act of faith? I could easily argue the other side and share the possible negative outcomes, but can we live as faithful Catholics if we are paralyzed by fear? The answer, I believe, is contained in the words of Jesus: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others I will deny before my heavenly Father” (Matthew 10:32-33).


Taste and See Mass on Palm Sunday

Tree of Evangelisation for Schoenstatt Hearts AfireWelcome to on Taste and See Mass on Palm Sunday, 13th April at 3.30pm

Welcome to our Taste and See Mass on Palm Sunday, 13th April at 3.30pm. Holy Mass will be at 3.30pm followed at 4.30pm by input and discussion for adults and there will be a children’s programme. At 5.30pm we will share a meal with one another and conclude our programme for 6.30pm. On entering Jerusalem Jesus won over the crowds at least fleetingly. They were not to remain steadfast for long in the face of opposition and criticism. His journey to Golgotha was to become a convincing argument of God’s love for each one of us and in the triumph of Easter he invited each of us to go out and win the World for Christ.

In the series Schoenstatt Hearts Afire Fr. Duncan is showing ways of how we can become apostles. The branches of the tree of evangelisation show three ways to evangelise. In the foliage of our tree of evangelisation, we can discover the various branches – mainly three large “branches”. These branches symbolise the different and the various styles of apostolate that we can be called to do. All three are important, and all three have their place and significance.

  • Evangelisation through Example
  • Evangelisation through Words

Expect an Answer

As a drought continued for what seemed an eternity, a small community of farmers was in a quandary as to what to do. Rain was important to keep their crops healthy and sustain the way of life of the townspeople. As the problem became more acute, the local Parish Priest called a prayer meeting to ask for rain. Many people arrived. The Priest greeted most of them as they filed in. As he walked to the front of the church to officially begin the Mass, he noticed most people were chatting across the aisles and socializing with friends. When he reached the front his thoughts were on quieting the attendees and starting the Mass. His eyes scanned the crowd as he asked for quiet. He noticed an eleven year-old girl sitting quietly in the front row. Her face was beaming with excitement. Next to her, poised and ready for use, was a bright red umbrella. The little girl’s beauty and innocence made the Priest smile as he realized how much faith she possessed. No one else in the congregation had brought an umbrella. All came to pray for rain, but the little girl had come expecting God to answer.