Towards the Top- Easter 2018

Verso l'alto

Holy Week and the Easter Season 2018 did not fall into my well-intended, personal plans. Instead God took me on another journey asking me to let go of the control I grasped onto over my spiritual life and the manner in which I desired to enter into Holy Week and the Easter Season. There is nothing fundamentally wrong about having a spiritual plan or goals: attending Holy Thursday Mass and Good Friday Service or fasting and abstaining in a certain way for Good Friday or even baking hot-cross buns for Holy Saturday. But what if God desires something different and potentially more challenging? Do I flounder kicking and screaming against the tide of grace or do I surrender and place myself within the current wherever I may drift? Thankfully, he granted me the grace necessary to remain calm and united with Him.

This may seem an extreme description, but let’s be honest, we tend to think we can and should control even our spiritual lives- the manner and timing in which God reaches us or invites us let alone makes any sort of demand from us. God should allow me to attend the Triduum in preparation for Easter. I’m a faithful Catholic. I say my prayers. I offer up my sacrifices. I follow the letter and spirit of the law. God should rewards me not only in a physical way (allowing me to attend Mass) but should also reward me in a spiritual manner (partaking in the sacraments.) But entering into Holy Week and the sacraments isn’t a reward for good behavior. My logic is flawed.

How did Jesus spend his Holy Week two-thousand plus years ago? He entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey praised and exulted only to be sentence to a brutal death by these same individuals a few days later. He broke bread with his disciples and instituted the Eucharist knowing that they would betray and abandon him. He poured his heart and soul out to His heavenly Father in the Garden of Gethsemane and sweated blood all while his disciples slept. Once he was arrested, his trial involved multiple layers of Jewish and Roman involvement fueled by fear and false testimony. “The Rock” on which Christ would build his earthly Church (i.e., Peter) betrayed Him not once but three times. He experienced unimaginable and brutal mental, physical, and emotional torture all while evil taunted Him.

He drug, eventually with the assistance of Simon the Cyrenian, a monolithic cross up a hill while covered in open sores and abrasions only to be led each step closer to a tortuous death. In the midst of the ugliness, a few women and his mother, Our Lady, entered into his passion. Once nailed to the cross, where he would slowly suffocate to death by the weight of his own body, Christ still ministered to the criminals nailed beside him. One rejected him and the other embraced Him. His mother, Mary Magdalene, and the beloved apostle John stood at the foot of the cross while the other eleven apostles and many other disciples cowered in fear and abandoned him. One disciple would take his own life. His garments were gambled off. The people taunted him and his divine power and authority. In his final earthly moments, he bequeathed us His Mother as Our Own. Then he spoke, “It is finished.”

He spoke, “It is finished.” He did NOT speak, “Everything is finished. Nothing else remains.” No, his sacrificial act of love was the beginning. When God asks me to suffer in private during Holy Week, who am I to complain and question why? He asked His own beloved Son to do the same all those years before. His suffering resulted in the salvation of mankind. Am I Jesus or a savior? No. Absolutely not. But I believe in my heart that beneath my difficult Holy Week and Easter Season lies a deeper purpose and plan. A purpose and plan I may be unaware of until the day on which I am raised up and hopefully enter into the Kingdom of God.

I used the inscription by Blessed Giorgio Frassati to caption this post, because this man was a young and vivacious godly man who desire many goods in His earthly life, but died unexpectedly. An avid climber, Frassati captioned a climbing picture with the Italian phrase “Verso L’Alto” meaning “Towards the Top.” Whether God asks you to climb up the mountain or fall down the mountain and back up always strive “Towards the Top.”

How do we strive upwards? Meekness- a quiet strength. A virtue made more and more present in my life during this Lenten and Easter Season.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” -Matthew 5:5

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.”- Mathew 11:29

DIVINE MERCY NOVENA: DAY 6

Intention: Today bring to Me THE MEEK AND HUMBLE SOULS AND THE SOULS OF LITTLE CHILDREN, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. Only the humble soul is capable of receiving My grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.

Novena Prayers: Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart.” Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father’s favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages.

Amen.

I Am the Bread of Life

stebenville youth
Photo Credit: Prince of Peace/ Steubenville

From Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II’s World Youth Day homily on Sunday, August 24, 1997 in Paris, France:

“Rabbi, where are you staying?” Each day the Church responds: Christ is present in the Eucharist, in the sacrament of His death and resurrection. In and through the Eucharist, you acknowledge the dwelling-place of the Living God in human history. For the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Love which conquers death. It is the Sacrament of the Covenant, pure Gift of Love for the reconciliation of all humanity. It is the gift of the Real Presence of Jesus The Redeemer, in the bread which is His Body given up for us, in the wine which is His Blood poured out for all. . . Dear young friends . . . For Christ is now answering your own question and the questions of all those who seek the Living God. He answers by offering an invitation: This is My Body, take It and eat. . .

I Am the Living Bread” (Jn 6:51). The message of John’s Gospel completes the liturgical picture of this great Eucharistic mystery that we are celebrating today… The words of John’s Gospel are the great proclamation of The Eucharist, after the miraculous multiplication of bread near Capernaum. Anticipating as it were the time even before the Eucharist was instituted, Christ revealed what it was. He spoke thus: “I Am the Living Bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever; and the Bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My Flesh” (Jn 6:51). And when these words brought protests from many who were listening Jesus added: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you; he who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My Flesh is food indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in me, and I in him.” (Jn 6:53-56).

“Asked if the Madonna had been present at Mass, he answered: “Yes, she placed herself to the side, but I could see her, what joy! What paradise…” Has she attended only once, or is she always present? “How can the mother of Jesus, present on Calvary at the foot of the cross, who offered her Son as victim for the salvation of souls, be absent at the mystical Calvary of the altar?” Is our Lady present at all of the Masses that are being celebrated in the world? “Yes.” Do the angels also attend? “The whole celestial court is present.”

— St. Padre Pio 

“Always remain close to the Catholic Church, because it alone can give you true peace, since it alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the true Prince of Peace.”
–St. Padre Pio
“When you approach the tabernacle remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.”
–St. Josemaria Escriva

“If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.”
–St. Maximilian Kolbe

“The culmination of the Mass is not the consecration, but Communion.”
–St. Maximilian Kolbe

“Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His Body to His disciples saying: ‘This is My Body.’ No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it.”
–St. Augustine

“With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this bread of angels whence you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles. Because true happiness, dear friends, does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we have only if we are pure in heart and mind.”
–Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
“We must understand that in order ‘to do’, we must first learn ‘to be’, that is to say, in the sweet company of Jesus in adoration.”
–Pope John Paul II
“Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life. Night and day, He is there. If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist, come back to that Adoration.”
— St. Theresa of Calcutta

 “Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart…don’t listen to the demon, laugh at him, and go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love…

— St. Therese of Lisieux

Now you shall consider My love in the Blessed Sacrament. Here, I am entirely yours, soul, body and divinity, as your Bridegroom. You know what love demands: one thing only, reciprocity…(1770)
–St Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul

“When we go before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament we represent the one in the world who is in most need of God’s Mercy.” We “Stand in behalf of the one in the world who does not know Christ and who is farthest away from God and we bring down upon their soul the Precious Blood of The Lamb.”

– St. John Paul II