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September 14th, 2011

Feast of The Cross

Feast of The Cross

We celebrate today the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

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In Numbers 21:5-9, we find that the people of Israel were afflicted with serpents in the wilderness because of their sin. God instructed Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” The bronze serpent points to the cross of Christ which defeats sin and death and obtains everlasting life for those who believe.

The result of Jesus “being lifted up on the cross” and His rising and exaltation to the Father’s right hand in heaven, is our “new birth in the Spirit” and adoption as sons and daughters of God. God not only redeems us, but He fills us with his own divine life and power that we might share in His glory.

St. Paul speaks often about the cross in his letters. He says that his only boast is in the cross of Jesus. He frequently reminds us that there is no work we do that earns us redemption. Rather, through the cross, God has done the work of uniting Jews and Gentiles. He preached that God had nailed our sins and their resulting guilt to the cross; when Jesus died on the cross so did our guilt.

The mystery Paul preached is that it was the very instrument that put Jesus to death that was also the means of our new life. What we could not do, God did. Paul concluded that we have reason to exult because the power of sin and death are conquered through the cross.

Jesus said in the Gospel of John: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that he who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus came to this world to help us through life, to teach us how to truly live. By becoming human like us, He showed us it can be done. He wants to have a relationship with us, to dwell within us. Paul also told us today that Jesus emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, being human in likeness; He humbled Himself, being obedient even to death for us.

I asked myself a question during my reflection on the readings: How do these teachings fit into the picture of life: denying ourselves, losing our lives, and following the crucified One? Well, God wants us to love. Because that is God’s purpose for us, He builds it into our nature. We want to love and we feel terrible if we don’t love.

Now anybody who has ever loved knows that it costs, but they still want to do it. They want to give things to those they love, to do things for them. They help them bear their burdens. They stick with them through difficult times. It hurts. That is the denying of self, the losing of life.

Sr. Marsha Sinetar said in an article: “If your love is broad and deep so that, for example, you want to change the system to help those who are being squashed by it, you might get threatened, beat up, or killed.” It happened to persons like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus of Nazareth.

This is all for love, for relationship: we are all called to this cross. The cross of Jesus gives us many things to reflect on: pain, suffering, sacrifice; but most importantly, justice, humility, and love.

Read more at Triumph of The Holy Cross – September 14

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August 15th, 2011

Virgin Mary’s Assumption Into Heaven

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today, we celebrate the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in body and soul to Heaven. Today —St. Bernard says—“the Virgin, full of glory, is taken up to heaven, showering the celestial beings with joy”. And he will add these precious words: “What a beautiful present the earth is today sending to heaven! With this wonderful gesture of friendship —such as giving and receiving— the human and the divine, the earthly and the heavenly, the humble and the sublime, merge into one. It is there, the most precious earthly fruit, where the best presents and the most valuable gifts come from. Taken up to heaven, the Virgin Mary will lavish her gifts on all men”.

For pictures, goto Virgin Mary Assumption Pictures

The first gift she lavishes on us is the Word, that She knew how to keep so faithfully in her heart, by making it bear fruit from the very profound and warm silence. With this Word in her interior space, while begetting in her womb the Life for all men, “Mary set out for a town in the Hills of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (Lk 1:39-40). Mary’s presence exults in joy, and Elizabeth says: “The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy” (Lk 1:44).

She, mostly, presents us with the gift of her commendation, her same joy made music, her Magnificat: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my savior!…” (Lk 1:46-47). What a beautiful gift the heaven sends back to us with Mary’s song, made word of God.

In this song we find the signs to learn how the human and the divine, the earthly and the celestial blend together, while being able to react, as She does, to the gift God presents us with, in the person of his Son, through his Saint Mother: to become a gift from God to the world, and tomorrow, a gift from mankind to God, by following Mary’s example, who precedes us in this glorification which we are bound to.

Read more on Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary

– – – reflection by Fr. Josep ALEGRE Abbot of Santa Maria de Poblet

June 12th, 2011

Happy Birthday To The Church

Happy Birthday To The Church

You are cordially invited to a birthday party.

When: Pentecost
Where: Your Parish
Why: To Celebrate the Church’s Birthday

Are you confused by this invitation? Did you know that the feast of Pentecost is often referred to as the birthday of the Church? It is called that because Pentecost is when the apostles went out among the people and began spreading Jesus’ message, thus establishing the beginning of the Church.

Pentecost (Greek for “50th day”) is celebrated by Christians 50 days after Easter, and marks the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles while they were cowering and hiding behind locked doors following Jesus’ resurrection. After receiving the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostles immediately went out and preached Jesus’ message to everyone—even those who spoke other languages.

Actually, Pentecost was originally a Jewish feast that concluded the 50 days of Passover and celebrated the end of the barley harvest, plus the beginning of the wheat harvest. The Jewish people at Pentecost also celebrate the gift of the law to Moses at Mt. Sinai.

Symbols of Pentecost

The symbols of Pentecost are wind, fire and a dove.

The first symbol—wind—is taken from the noise the apostles heard as the Spirit descended upon them (Acts 2:2). After the wind, flames appeared and rested upon the heads of each of the apostles (Acts 2:3).

A dove serves as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. There is no mention of a dove in Acts, but we associate a dove with the Holy Spirit because of the story about Jesus’ baptism: “After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him” (Matthew 3:16).

Celebrating Pentecost

Pentecost is probably one of the most important days on the Church calendar, but it often gets overlooked. Here are some ways that your family can help celebrate this very important day:

a) Because Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, celebrate it just as you would any other birthday in your home—break out the cake and ice cream. Rather than singing “Happy Birthday,” recite a prayer for Pentecost. Most prayer books contain special prayers for this special day.

b) Wear something red. The color of the vestments worn by priests on Pentecost is red, to symbolize the love of the Holy Spirit, or the tongues of fire that appeared over the heads of the apostles on Pentecost. And don’t just stop at wearing red. Use a red tablecloth for dinner, eat off red paper plates, eat red foods, etc. See how many ways you can incorporate the color red in your celebration.

c)Read aloud the story of Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts.

So come, let us wish the Church a happy birthday on this Pentecost.

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