Sunday, April 26, 2020

3rd Sunday of Easter: Jesus in the Eucharist

Today's readings tell us that Jesus is the one we should follow. It also gives us a glimpse of the Petrine office of Peter, the first pope. 

The first reading begins with Peter taking a leadership role. He "stood up" and "raised his voice." This is important language to understand for us Catholics and our separated brothers and sisters in the faith. We see Peter as the leader here. He takes the role as the spokesman.  He tells the Jews about Jesus the Nazarene. This Jesus was commended by God with mighty deeds, wonders and signs.  Peter is telling the Jews that Jesus was the one sent by God and this was obvious via His works.  This Jesus was delivered up by a set plan God already knew.  Peter tells the Jews that Jesus was killed by them using lawless men. Let me clarify this a bit. This statement does not mean all of the Jews are responsible for Jesus' death. In reality, we all are. Yes, Jews were present screaming out "crucify Him," but not all Jews.  So we have to be careful with this verse and not use it to promote antisemitism. Unfortunately, there are some who call themselves "radical traditionalists" who have hate for Jews. I have read blogs where some have even stated that Jesus, Mary and the disciples were not Jews!  This is just ignorance that leads to silly and hateful rhetoric.  Anyhow, Peter tells the Jews about the importance of Jesus.  He cites David, who Jesus has direct lineage to.  Then He compares David to Jesus.  David was great, was blessed by God but died and his tomb still exists among them, he says. However, Jesus rose from the dead. His tomb is present, but it is empty.  So Peter is basically stating that David etc were all pointing to Christ. Christ is the one we should seek. Everything was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This is why in the responsorial Psalm we respond, "Lord, you will show us the path of life." 

Jesus is the way, only He. No one else saves. In Jesus we find salvation, completion and purpose. This is why we bless the Lord and ask Him to counsel us. The Lord should always be set before us. Oh, and what a way we can do this literally with the Holy Eucharist!  Jesus is literally set before us. No other religion can claim this honor. The Lord will give strengthen us and show us the path to life.  This path must be guided by strong morals which lead to holiness. The second reading reminds us that we must invoke God as Father.  Think about this for a moment. God is our Father!  The living real God who made the universe and everything is our Father. This is an entire reflection on its own! And what an awesome one! God who is impartial is our Father.  He will just us according to our works. So this is why we have to conduct ourselves with reverence, respect what was handed down by our ancestors which has been blessed by the blood of Christ. Christ who was known before the foundation of the world. 

Lastly, the Gospel tells us about Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus. The walk was about seven miles. Two of the disciples are walking to Emmaus and Jesus gets close to them on their walk. They did not recognize Him at first. The two were discussing and debating the details surrounding the passion and resurrection. I can imagine that they were still in disbelief over what happened and probably wondering if it were all true. Did Jesus really die? Was He really the King of the Jews? Did Jesus really rise from the dead or was His body stolen? This would make sense considering the disciples were mere humans and still did not fully grasp everything. The Holy Spirit had not come upon them yet. As Jesus walked with them, He pretended He did not know what was going on or what they were debating. They responded, "Are you the only visitor who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?"  He asked, "What sort of things?"  They then told Him about Jesus the Nazarene, or himself and how He died and the tomb was empty.  They added the details of women seeing angels and what not at the site. Jesus then replied to them, "Oh, how foolish you are!  How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?"  Jesus then gives them a Scripture lesson from the beginning of what Jesus as Messiah was all about.

Despite this, they still did not realize that Jesus was the one talking to them, though they did feel a burning within their hearts. It was not until they asked Him to stay with them and Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them that they realized it was Jesus. He then vanished leaving them dumbfounded.  This is important to reflect on. Our Protestant friends adopted the error from Martin Luther regarding using Scripture alone. While the Bible is awesome and necessary, it is not the only thing we need or can use. Scripture is not enough. Notice how when Jesus speaks to the two disciples using Scripture, they did not know it was Jesus. The Scriptures on Jesus being told to them by Jesus did not lead them to realize it was Jesus all along walking and talking to them. How is this possible? Here we have actual recorded evidence on Jesus, yet it did not help reveal Jesus to the disciples.  It was only when He blessed bread, broke it and gave it to them that they realized Jesus was there. 

Does this sound familiar?  If you guessed the Last Supper or the Holy Eucharist, you are correct.  It is only when Jesus has Mass and gives the Eucharist, His body and blood under the appearance of bread and wine that the two disciples realize He is there.  Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. This is not a symbolic gesture Jesus did or a repetition of the Seder meal. When Jesus said "This is my body," He literally meant it. This is why it pains me when I read on social media people's comments regarding Communion and the spread of Covid-19 Coronavirus. They insinuate that this virus can spread via Jesus' body and blood. What a disrespect!  While the Eucharist appears as bread and wine on the outside, the substance is literally Jesus Christ.  Ask yourself: Would Jesus allow this to be a conduit for spread of disease?  To suggest that we should stop Communion or change reception of it because of a virus is a lack of faith and an affront to Christ's presence in the Blessed Sacrament.  Hopefully the closure of churches and chapels will foster a greater desire and love for the Eucharist. I pray that when the churches reopen that they will be filled with people desiring to feel the sweet bread from heaven in the mouths.  It is only in the Eucharist where we truly discover Jesus. Scripture prepares our hearts with the burning just like it did with the two disciples, but the bread is what opens our minds, eyes and hearts to the realize that Jesus is present there.  O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament divine! All praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment Thine!


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Divine Mercy Sunday: We Need Mercy Today

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday.  It is the day that the mercy of God shines greatly over those who choose to receive it.  Our Lord Jesus appeared to St. Sister Faustina of Polish origin in the 30's.  He instructed her about God's mercy and how sin offends God but that sin doesn't have the last say.

God is a just God.  Many Atheists, Skeptics and others question God's wrath which is highly illustrated through words in the Old Testament.

"How can this be a good God?"  they cry out in disgust.  Well God is good.  God has to be just in order for good to have a chance in a world full of evil and sin.

If crimes go unpunished, then we will live in an anything goes society which will eventually collapse.  This is why we have laws and judicial systems in order to keep the common good afloat.  God is no different.  The God of the universe is just and does punish when necessary.  Moreover, this punishment is no different than a parent disciplining his/her child.  We belong to God and He can do whatever He wants with us.

However, the Divine Mercy devotion sheds more light into God's justice.  God above all is merciful.  There is no sin He cannot forgive.  There is no evil that is greater than God's mercy.

Jesus left St. Faustina a chaplet that we should pray everyday at 3:00 PM if possible.  This hour is of course the time Jesus completed His redemptive act on the Cross for all peoples in every time and place.  The chaplet is simple and easy to pray with Rosary beads.

How to pray the Chaplet:

1. Begin with the Sign of the Cross1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.

2. Then on the Our Father Beads say the following:

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

3. On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following:

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).

4. Conclude with(three times):

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

God is love and wants to forgive us all.  Approach His mercy with faith, hope and love and He will forgive you!  

Today's first reading tells us how the first Catholics lived. They devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles, or the magisterium of the Church and lived in community. This would be the prototypes of the parish or religious life.  They would also break bread and prayed. This, of course, is the Mass or the Eucharistic celebration of the sacrifice of Jesus.  Many wonders happened among them, or miracles.  All those who believed were united and had all things in common. There was no division or schisms. 

The first Catholics helped each other out. They sold things to help others and shared things to help each other in their need.  There was even daily Mass. First, they went to the temple every day and then broke bread at home.  This was the early Mass. The Catholic Church did not have magestic churches or cathedrals. The church was at home. The Liturgy of the Word was first done at the temple where they heard the Word of God, the Old Testament. There was no New Testament yet. Then they went home and had the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Eucharist was celebrated at private homes and reserved there. This is our history that we should recall and learn about. Some Catholics who called themselves "traditionalists" love to set Trent as the "proper" point that reflects authentic Catholicism. This is silly and ignorant. Before Trent, there was no unified Mass. Each region had its own rite. The claim that the "Latin Mass" is the only rite is just nonsense. 

In fact, the first Masses were in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek. Latin came later. The Mass rite from Trent was not used in the early Church. Claims to the contrary is based on poor knowledge and fanaticism. The rites of the Mass have been in development since the early days. It began as the Last Supper, then as what we read today in the first reading and continued to adapt until what we have now: the Extraordinary form and Ordinary Form.  This is only for the Roman Rite of course. Other rites developed in their own way, but all have the two main hinges: Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Mass is not just a place to worship. It is also a place of community. As we read in the reading, the first disciples and followers were unified and helped each other. Unfortunately today, we have many schisms among the faithful. One group says they are the true Catholics because they pray in Latin, while another says they are the true Catholics because they accept Vatican II.  This is not the way to go about the Catholic faith.  

On Twitter, I read a tweet from someone replying to another Catholic who said the Pre-Vatican II liturgy created an atmosphere of ignorance among the laity where they just sat and prayed the Rosary at Mass without understanding what was going on.  The replier stated that understanding was not necessary, that people go to worship God.  While that is partially true, the replier failed to understand the need for community. The Church is a family, a community. The first reading tells us the importance of communal life. We are the Body of Christ with distinct parts working within one system. One part cannot work independently of the other. There has to be community.  In this community, we worship God and give thanks, as the Responsorial Psalm tells us.  

We go to God's how and recall how His mercy endures forever. Today this is significant in that the homes of the laity have become small churches.  Like in the first century, Catholics are praying at home. We recall God's mercy on this day especially, Divine Mercy Sunday.  We are reminded of God's compassion.  The second reading tells us of this great mercy of God which gives new birth and hope.  It reminds us that we have an inheritance in heaven and the importance of faith during trials.  The Gospel tells us of Christ appearing to the apostles after His resurrection. He tells them "peace be with you." We all need peace today. So many are afraid and worried about the covid-19 coronavirus and the economic impacts it has caused. These are not to overshadow the loss of life and the fact that many families did not say goodbye to their sick loved ones and are now unable to have a proper funeral and burial for them.  The whole situation is horrible.  Nevertheless, they bring us to our knees to ask God for mercy.  God replies to us with "peace be with you."  The world cannot give peace, only God.  Jesus in the Gospel gives the apostles the power to forgive the sins of others.  

Many Protestants believe confession is a man-made idea. They think the popes and priests made this up. The truth is that Jesus gave us this Sacrament of Penance.  We must make use of it by going to confession and receiving absolution and the peace of God that comes with it.  I know many of you reading this, if not all, can attest to that sense of peace and relief one feels after confession. You come out of the "box" feeling brand new and at ease. It feels like an internal massage that released the tension and stress sin brought to the body and soul. Confession is awesome and I recommend it.  Before psychotherapies existed, there was confession which brings healing both spiritually and emotionally. Lastly, we read of Thomas doubting that Jesus was truly before Him. Jesus tells him to put his finger in his wounds. Thomas, in a sense, represents atheists, skeptics and agnostics who need to "see evidence" or have empirical pronouncements that reflect actual reality.  Jesus invites us to get closer to Him and feel His wounds. It is His wounds that bring us to strong faith because we see how much God loved us. We can find God in nature and the awesomeness of the universe, but we can find God truly in the wounds of Christ. Those wounds express: God is Love.  

This is why Thomas replied, "My Lord and my God!"  We experience the Divine Mercy when we approach Jesus and feel His wounds. It is no wonder why Jesus appeared with two rays in the image. Those rays come forth from His wounded heart.  Jesus is always working in us. This is why in the Gospel we read that Jesus did other signs, so many that they were not recorded.  Not everything is in the Bible. The Gospel reminds us this. Jesus did many more things which we may never know about until we meet Him face to face and He reveals everything. In the meantime, let us take advantage of God's Divine Mercy, go to confession and try very hard to live in unity and community. Let us learn the roots of our Mass and faith and not designate set points in time as the point of authentic Catholic faith or Liturgy. The Catholic Church is a work in progress.  Let us pray to the Divine Mercy for the world today plagued with this mysterious virus which may be nature at work or even man's meddling with genetics. Only God can save us from nature and ourselves.  Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us!  We need mercy today!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Holy Saturday: Easter Vigil Reflection - The Darkened Church

Today is Holy Saturday and the Catholic Church has its Liturgy of Light.  Ironically, this Liturgy will be reflected in dark churches with empty pews.  You can read more about the liturgy here in this older post.

The Easter Vigil with its Liturgy is supposed to reflect the Light of Christ bringing life to the Church. Jesus died on Good Friday and rose on Easter Sunday.  Without Christ, the Church is a desolate dark place without any meaning or purpose.  It is a barren wasteland with missing crucifixes, open tabernacle with no one inside, an extinguished Sanctuary Lamp and an undressed altar.  These aesthetics mystically reflect the Church today with empty pews. The Church is dark. The people are gone. Where are they?  Where is the faith?  This Lent and Holy Week is one to remember. The whole globe was forced to give many things up.  Everyone is being reminded that we are indeed dust and to dust we shall return. Covid-19 Coronavirus has led to many deaths due to complications. While the flu kills more, this virus seems to be more aggressive. This along with the media distortions and aloof tone of the government have forced many to panic.  Science has failed. Government has failed. Even religion has failed. No one knows what to do.  Medical professionals and government officials are playing a guessing game. Each day they give contradictory information.  The bishops and many others have fallen into the frenzy as well without ever questioning.

They blinded accepted conclusions that were not based on accurate science. Catholics have demonstrated that they are susceptible to the Milgram experiement where people blindly followed orders to shock another person simply because someone in authority told them to. Their morals, objectivity and reasons seemed to have vanished.  This is true darkness.  The Church is indeed dark today.  The closing of parishes and suspension of Masses without strong evidence to do this is disturbing. There is no record in history of contagion spreading via Communion or the Mass. None at all. Despite this, our bishops blindly followed commands from officials.  Even atheists who are fond of "separation of Church and State" have gone deaf and blind as the State interferes with the Church.  What is going on?  Is the ushering in of the antichrist or the warning of Garabandal?  We cannot know for certain. However, there is indeed something on the cosmic spiritual level going on here.  It makes no sense to close churches while allowing liquor stores, abortion clinics and supermarkets to remain open. 

In many areas, the latter attract more people than Mass!  Yet, the Mass is deemed as not essential and a conduit for disease to spread.   The Easter Vigil reminds us that without Christ, the Church is nothing.  Christ is the light of the world.  Covid-19 has reminded man that he is not in charge.  Science is not in charge, government is not in charge.  Not even religion is in charge.  We need Jesus.  This is not the time to close parishes and suspend the Sacraments where we encounter Jesus directly.  We need the light.  The Easter Vigil demonstrates how the light of Christ brings life to the Church. 

 The ceremony begins with a darken church building.  The celebrant meets the people outside with a fire.  He will bless this fire and prepare the Paschal or Easter candle.  The fire is then used to light the candles symbolizing the Light of Christ.

What is light?  Physics tells us that it is electromagnetic radiation made up of photons that is detectable by the
human eye as well as the eyes of other organisms.  It is composed of many wavelengths, not all of which are capable of being detected and processed by the human eye. The human eye can only detect the spectrum of wavelengths from about 650 nanometers where red is present and about 400 nanometers where violet is detected.

Light is the fastest substance in the universe traveling at 186,282 miles per second. Light presents to us spatial and temporal information of things around us. Matter in the universal absorbs and reflects light waves.  Depending on the charges of particles in an object, light is absorbed and some of it is reflected back allowing our eyes to see the object and its color(s) when the light enters the eye into the cones which process the information in the brain.  Nothing can travel faster or as fast as it. Despite this knowledge of light, we still do not truly understand it. However, light is extremely important for life to truly evolve and progress in nature.

In Scripture, light is mentioned many times.  As a matter of fact, it is first mentioned in the third verse of Genesis chapter 1. God says "let there be light." Prior to this, the author describes existence as dark and desolate. Darkness is something most of us do not like. When we are in the dark, we get moody, depressed and sleepy. Our energy drains from our bodies and we feel lethargic especially during winter time when there is less light.  Psychologists call this "Seasonal Affective Disorder" or "Winter Blues."  This goes to show how powerful light and darkness are.  They effect us in many ways. As the weather warms in spring and we see more daylight, we get cheerful and have a "bounce in our step." Light livens everything up.

Darkness may seem powerful.  It engulfs everything. However, it blinds and creates dangerous scenarios. Despite this, light is so powerful that it stands out even in the darkest area. The stars in the sky shine brightly against the darkness of the universe. These stars are light years away and despite this, their light reaches our eyes here on Earth. The light from our own sun takes 8 minutes to reach us, yet it is powerful enough to warm our planet and illuminate the material that composes it.

The Paschal candle reminds us of light.  Christ is the light.  We all walked in darkness as Isaiah 9:2 says. As I stated before, darkness is dangerous. Without light, we get disoriented and our brain has a difficult time processing spatial information by using stored memories of an environment and sounds. Psychologists call this "Sensory Deprivation" or "Spatial Disorientation."  Most of us have lived in our homes for many years and know it well.  However, this familiarity changes when we try to walk in the dark. We will stumble on things or crash into a wall most of the time.  Our souls when they are in darkness stumble as well (John 11:10).  We do not know where we are at and walk about until we fall in sin.

In today's world full of atheistic existentialism and relativism, we are getting lost in strange philosophies that push God away in favor of man's formulations of morality and his social constructions.  This is the "new god" that is blinding many societies today into rejecting the reality of life in the womb and setting aside the natural complementary union between a man and woman for counterfeit unions (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Jesus, the Light of the World (John 9:5) came into the world to illuminate humanity (John 1:4) and it still rejects this light in preference of the darkness (John 3:19).  The human being is stubborn in this way.  Evil and sin always seem to be "fun" while good and holiness is the pastime of boring people or prudes.  This is the Concupiscence in us driving us to incline towards the bad (CCC 405).

The Easter Vigil reminds us of this.  The church building is dark. We are in the dark without Christ. Despite this immense darkness, the small flame from the Paschal Candles is enough to light the way as we enter the church building.  This small flame allows us to enter without stumbling.  As the people light their candles from the Paschal Candle, the light grows more intense and we begin to see each other's faces more.  The light of Christ restores the image of God in us.  The light we receive must not be hidden, nor should we fall back into darkness for we are children of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5). 

We must go out into the dark world and illumine it just like each star illumines the night sky despite being small in appearance in contrast of the immense darkness of the universe.  Our Christian lives must be witness to Christ Jesus.  This is why Pope Francis has been centering his Papacy on Christian witness.  The light that we receive from Christ must not be so bright that it blinds others.  Nor should it burn them to the point of scaring them away.  We must be humble and present the light of Christ with love.

Christ is indeed the light that continues to shine even in this dark world.  He is risen!  He is with us and will return at the end of time.  Let us spend our lives on Earth bringing the light of Christ to the world.  We must have faith and not hide.  Jesus is the light of the world.  He is the Lord of death and life.  He defeated death.  Jesus commands the seas and winds, the molecules of water and wine, the nerves of the blind, crippled and dead. How can we believe that He has no command over viruses or pandemic events?   This is a lack of faith.  Let us believe truly in the resurrected Christ.  Christ can do all things.  Let us trust in Him and seek his light. 

Exorcism Pray of St. Michael Written by Pope Leo XIII


Jussu Leonis Pp. XIII editus
Acta Sanctae Sedis vol. XXIII

In nomine Patris, et Filii, + et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
Exsurgat Deus et dissipentur inimici ejus: et fugiant qui oderunt eum a facie ejus. Sicut deficit fumus, deficiant: sicut fluit cera a facie ignis, sic pereant peccatores
a facie Dei.
Judica, Domine, nocentes me: expugna impugnantes me.
Confundantur et revereantur quaerentes animam meam.
Avertantur retrorsum et confundantur cogitantes mihi mala.
Fiat tamquam pulvis ante faciem venti: et angelus Domini coarctans eos.
Fiat viae illorum tenebrae, et lubricum: et angelus Domini persequens eos.
Quoniam gratis absconderunt mihi interitum laquei sui: supervacue
exprobraverunt animam meam.
Veniat illi laqueus quem ignorat; et captio quam anscondit, apprehendat eum: et
in laqueum cadat in ipsum.
Anima autem meam exsultabit in Domino: et delectabitur super salutari suo.
Ad Sanctum Michaëlem Archangelum.Precatio.
Princeps gloriosissime cælestis militiæ, sancte Michaël Archangele, defende nos in prælio et colluctatione, quæ nobis adversus principes et potestates, adversus mundi rectores tenebrarum harum, contra spiritualia nequitiæ, in cælestibusus. Veni in auxilium hominum, quos Deus creavit inexterminabiles, et ad imaginem
similitudinis suæ fecit, et a tyrannide diaboli emit pretio magno. Præliare hodie cum beatorum Angelorum exercitu prælia Domini, sicut pugnasti contra ducem superbiæ luciferum, et angelos ejus apostaticos: et non valuerunt, neque locus inventus est eorum amplius in coelo. Sed projectus est draco ille magnus, serpens antiquus, qui vocatur diabolus et satanas, qui seducit universum orbem; et projectus est in terram, et angeli ejus cum illo missi sunt.
En antiquus inimicus et homicida vehementer erectus est. Transfiguratus in angelum lucis, cum tota malignorum spirituum caterva late circuit et invadit terram, ut in ea deleat nomen Dei et Christi ejus, animasque ad æternæ gloriæ coronam destinatas furetur, mactet ac perdat in sempiternum interitum. Virus
nequitiæ suæ, tamquam flumen immundissimum, draco maleficus transfundit in homines depravatos mente et corruptos corde; spiritum mendacii, impietatis et blasphemiæ; halitumque mortiferum luxuriæ, vitiorum omnium et iniquitatum.
[Ecclesiam, Agni immaculati sponsam, faverrrimi hostes repleverunt amaritudinibus, inebriarunt absinthio; ad omnia desiderabilia ejus impias miserunt manus. Ubi sedes beatissimi Petri et Cathedra veritatis ad lucem gentium constituta est, ibi thronum posuerunt abominationis et impietatis suæ; ut percusso Pastore, et gregem disperdere valeant.]
Adesto itaque, Dux invictissime, populo Dei contra irrumpentes spirituales nequitias, et fac victoriam. Te custodem et patronum sancta veneratur Ecclesia; te gloriatur defensore adversus terrestrium et infernorum nefarias potestates; tibi tradidit Dominus animas redemptorum in superna felicitate locandas. Deprecare Deum pacis, ut conterat satanam sub pedibus nostris, ne ultra valeat captivos tenere homines, et Ecclesiæ nocere. Offer nostras preces in conspectu Altissimi, ut cito anticipent nos misericordiæ Domini, et apprehendas draconem, serpentem antiquum, qui est diabolus et satanas, ac ligatum mittas in abyssum, ut non seducat amplius gen tes. Hinc tuo confisi præsidio ac tutela, sacri ministerii nostri auctoritate [si fuerit laicus, vel clericus qui ordinem exorcistatus nondum suscepit, dicat: sacra sanctae Matris Ecclesiae auctoritate], ad infestationes diabolicæ fraudis repellendas in nomine Jesu Christi Dei et Domini nostri
fidentes et securi aggredimur.
V. Ecce Crucem Domini, fugite partes adversæ.
R. Vicit Leo de tribu Juda, radix David.
V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos.
R. Quemadmodum speravimus in te.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
[si fuerit saltem diaconus subjungat V. Dominus vobiscum. R. Et cum spiritu tuo.]
Deus, et Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, invocamus nomen sanctum tuum, et clementiam tuam supplices exposcimus ut, per intercessionem immaculatæ semper Virginis Dei Genitricis Mariæ, beati Michaëlis Archangeli, beati Joseph ejusdem beatæ Virginis Sponsi, beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli et omnium Sanctorum, adversus satanam, omnesque alios immundos spiritus, qui ad nocendum humano generi animasque perdendas pervagantur in mundo, nobis auxilium præstare digneris. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica, in nomine et virtute Domini Nostri Jesu + Christi, eradicare et effugare a Dei Ecclesia, ab animabus ad imaginem Dei conditis ac pretioso divini Agni sanguine
redemptis + . Non ultra audeas, serpens callidissime, decipere humanum genus, Dei Ecclesiam persequi, ac Dei electos excutere et cribrare sicut triticum + . Imperat tibi Deus altissimus + , cui in magna tua superbia te similem haberi adhuc præsumis; qui omnes homines vult salvos fieri et ad agnitionem veritaris venire. Imperat tibi Deus Pater + ; imperat tibi Deus Filius + ; imperat tibi Deus Spiritus Sanctus + . Imperat tibi majestas Christi, æternum Dei Verbum, caro factum + , qui pro salute generis nostri tua invidia perditi, humiliavit semetipsum facfus hobediens usque ad mortem; qui Ecclesiam suam ædificavit supra firmam petram, et portas inferi adversus eam nunquam esse prævalituras edixit, cum ea ipse permansurus omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem sæculi. Imperat tibi sacramentum Crucis + , omniumque christianæ fidei Mysteriorum virtus +. Imperat tibi excelsa Dei Genitrix Virgo Maria + , quæ superbissimum caput tuum a primo instanti immaculatæ suæ conceptionis in sua humilitate contrivit. Imperat tibi fides sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et ceterorum Apostolorum + . Imperat tibi Martyrum sanguis, ac pia Sanctorum et Sanctarum omnium intercessio +.
Ergo, draco maledicte et omnis legio diabolica, adjuramus te per Deum + vivum, per Deum + verum, per Deum + sanctum, per Deum qui sic dilexit mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret, ut omnes qui credit in eum non pereat, sed habeat vitam æternam: cessa decipere humanas creaturas, eisque æternæ perditionìs venenum propinare: desine Ecclesiæ nocere, et ejus libertati laqueos injicere. Vade, satana, inventor et magister omnis fallaciæ, hostis humanæ salutis. Da locum Christo, in quo nihil invenisti de operibus tuis; da locum Ecclesiæ uni, sanctæ, catholicæ, et apostolicæ, quam Christus ipse acquisivit sanguine suo. Humiliare sub potenti manu Dei; contremisce et effuge, invocato a nobis sancto et terribili nomine Jesu, quem inferi tremunt, cui Virtutes cælorum et Potestates et Dominationes subjectæ sunt; quem Cherubim et Seraphim indefessis vocibus laudant, dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
[si fuerit saltem diaconus subjungat V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.]
Deus coeli, Deus terræ, Deus Angelorum, Deus Archangelorum, Deus Patriarcharum, Deus Prophetarum, Deus Apostolorum, Deus Martyrum, Deus Confessorum, Deus Virginum, Deus qui potestatem habes donare vitam post mortem, requiem post laborem; quia non est Deus præter te, nec esse potest nisi tu creator omnium visibilium et invisibilium, cujus regni non erit finis: humiIiter majestati gloriæ tuæ supplicamus, ut ab omni infernalium spirituum potestate, laqueo, deceptione et nequitia nos potenter liberare, et incolumes custodire digneris. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine.
Ut Ecclesiam tuam secura tibi facias libertate servire, te rogamus, audi nos.
Ut inimicos sanctæ Ecclesiæ humiliare digneris, te rogamus audi nos.

 ***Et aspergatur locus aqua benedicta

Domine, iniquitatem neque memineris parentum; non vosmet ipsos defendentes pro peccatis nostris, (Tobias III, III).

Ora Oratio Dominica:

Pater noster qui es in coelis,
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum,
fiat voluntas tua,
sicut  in coelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
et ne nos inducas in tentationem
sed libera nos a malo.  Amen

† in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen



In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen

Psalm 67 Arise God, may His enemies be scattered and those who hate Him flee from His presence.
As smoke disperses, so may they disperse; as wax melts before the fire, so will the impious perish before God.

Psalm 34 Lord, fight against those who attack me; combat against those who wage war against me.
May those who persecute me to death suffer defeat and be shamed. Return the sword full of confusion to those who plot my harm. May they be like dust before the wind when the Angel of the Lord destroys them. May their path be dark and slippery, when the Angel of the Lord persecutes them. Because without motive they tended webs of death, without reason they set mortal traps for me.
May an unforseen disaster surprise them, may the net they hid entangle them; may they fall in the same trap they set for me.
My soul rejoices with the Lord and will enjoy its salvation. Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and always, world without end. Amen.

Prayer to Saint Michael Archangel
Most glorious Prince of the Celestial Militia, Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in the fight we maintain combating "against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the malignant spirits dispersed through the airs" (Ephesians, 6, 12).

Come to the assistance of "men whom God has created incorruptible in His image and likeness" (Wisdom 2, 23) and rescued at such "a high price" (1Corinthians, 6, 20) from the tyranny of the devil.

With the Hosts of the Good Angels fight today the battles of the Lord, as from time inmemorial You fought against Lucifer, leader of haughtiness and fighter against his own apostate angels. They all cannot prevail and have lost their places in Heaven. "The great dragon was cast down, the ancient serpent named devil and Satan, the seducer of the entire world; he was precipitated to the earth and with him all his angels also fell" (Apocalypse 12, 8-9).

From here it is that the ancient enemy and homicidist has arisen with vehemence. Disguised as the "angel of light" (2 Corinthians, 11, 14) with the escort of all his malignant spirits he surrounds and invades the entire earth, and is installed in all places, with the purpose to erase therein the Name of God and of His Christ, to attack and snatch the souls destined for the crown of eternal glory, to destroy and lose them for ever. As the most filthy torrent of evil, the malignant dragon poured over those men with depraved minds and corrupted hearts, the venom of his malice: the spirit of lying, of impiety and of blasphemy; the lethal breath of lust, of all vices and iniquities.

Those enemies most crafty and sly have filled with bitterness and sadness the Church, spouse of the Immaculate Lamb. They have given Her wormwood to drink; they have placed their impious hands over everything that for Her is most dear. Where the Seat of Saint Peter and the Cathedral of the Truth has been erected to be a light for the nations, they have erected the throne of domination of impiety betting that with luck, having struck down the pastor, they can disperse their congregation. Oh invincible champion, help the people of God against the perversity of the spirits that attack them and give them the victory!

The Holy Church venerates you as Her guardian, patron and protector; be the glory that you are as Her defender against the toxic terrestrial and infernal powers; God has entrusted to you the souls of the redeemed to place them in the state of their deserved supreme happiness. Plead to the God of Peace that He crush Satan beneath our feet, so that he may no longer retain men captive nor harm Your Church. Offer our prayers to the Most High so that without any delay the mercies of the Lord may descend on us (Psalsm 78, 8), and hold captive the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan and, once enchained, cast him into the abyss so that he may never again be able to seduce the nations (Apocalypse 20).

After this, confident in your protection and patronage, with the sacred authority of the Holy Mother Church, we dispose ourselves to reject the pestilence of the diabolical frauds, confident and secure in the Name of Jesus Christ, Our God and Lord.

V. Here is the Holy Cross of the Lord! Be gone, flee, enemy powers.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered.
V. May Your mercy, Lord, come over us.
R. As we hope in You.
V. Lord, listen to our prayer.
R. And may our clamor reach You.
V. May the Lord be with you.
R. And with Your Spirit.

Let us Pray
God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we invoke Your Holy Name and we implore suplicatingly Your clemency so that, by the intercession of the always Immaculate and Virgin Mary Mother of God, of the Archangel Saint Michael, of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Most Holy Virgin, of the Apostles Peter and Paul and of all the Saints, that You deign to lend us Your efficacious aid against Satan and all the putrid spirits that roam throughout the world so as to harm the human race and for the perdition of souls. Amen.

(At the "" make the sign of the Cross)
We exorcize you, all malignant spirit, satanic power, attacks of the infernal adversary, legion, concentration and diabolical sect, in the Name and Virtue of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to leave and flee from the Church of God, from souls created in the image of God and redeemed by the Most Precious Blood of the Divine Lamb.
From now on, do not venture, most perfidious serpent, to deceive the elect and sift them like wheat. The Most High God commands this to you, to whom, in your insolent arrogance you still pretend to resemble, "He who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy, 2).
God the Father commands you.
God the Son commands you.
God the Holy Ghost commands you.
The Majesty of Jesus Christ, God’s Eternal Word made man, commands you.
He, Who to save our race, which became lost due to your envy, "humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death" (Philippians, 2, 8);
He, Who has built His Church on firm rock and revealed that the powers of hell would never prevail against Her, because He will dwell with Her all the days until the end of the world" (Saint Matthew, 28, 20).
The sacred Sign of the Holy Cross commands you,
and also the virtue of All the Mysteries of the Christian Faith.
The august Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, commands you who, by her humility from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception, crushed your proud head.
The faith of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and of all the other Apostles command you.
The blood of the Martyrs and the pious intercession of all the Saints command you.

Thus, cursed dragon and all diabolical legions, we adjure you by the Living God, by the True God, by the Holy God, "Who so loved the world that He handed over His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but live the everlasting life" (Saint John, 3); stop deceiving human creatures and feeding them the poison of eternal perdition; stop harming the Church and setting traps against Her liberty.

Begone, Satan, inventor and master of all fallacy, enemy of the salvation of men. Place yourself before Jesus Christ in Whom you have found none of your works. Place yourself before the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the same One acquired by Jesus Christ with His Blood.

Humble yourself below the All-Powerful Hand of God. Tremble and flee as we invoke the Holy and terrible Name of Jesus, before which all hells tremble, to which the Virtues, Powers and Dominations of the Heavens submit, which the Cherubim and Seraphim praise unceasingly with voices saying: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord, the God of the Armies.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto You.
V. May the Lord be with You.
R. And with Your Spirit.

Let us pray
God of Heaven and of the earth, God of Angels, God of Archangels, God of Patriarchs, God of Prophets, God of Apostles, God of Martyrs, God of Confessors, God of Virgins, God Who has power to give life after death and rest after work, because there is no other God outside of You, nor can there be any other than Yourself, Creator of all things, visible and invisible, of whose reign there shall be no end: we humbly supplicate to You that Your glorious Majesty may deem to free us efficiently and guard and heal us, keep us healthy, safe and sound from all power, chains, lies and malice of the infernal spirits. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

V. From the snares of the devil,
R. Deliver us, O Lord.
V. Make it be that Your Church serve You with secure liberty,
R. We beg You to hear us.
V. Deign to humble all the enemies of Your Church,
R. We implore You: hear us.

(Holy water is then sprinkled in the place and on those present where we have prayed this prayer.)

Lord, do not remember our wrongdoings nor those of our parents; do not take revenge for our sins (Tobias 3, 3).


Our Father, Who are in Heaven,
Hallowed be Your Name.
Your Kingdom come.
Your Will be done
on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday Reflection: Jesus Abandoned Again

 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16

Today billions of Christians throughout the world are supposed to be commemorating the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.  However, due to the exaggerated policies of governments and Church official, Good Friday is not the same.  The people are forced to be at home and watch "services" on television or social media.  This faux attempt at worship is troubling. While live streaming and television is good to promote the faith and aid those who cannot attend Mass, to force everyone to rely on it is disturbing and unfortunately.  It encourages spiritual sloth.  Worship in Christianity has to be physical and communal. Let me be clear. This is not an attempt to disgrace or shame anyone. It is just a collective sigh of disappointment exhibited by many Christians of all denominations.  As a former atheist, faith is something that I have grown to love.  It was not easy, but it happened. To see our bishops, priests, religious and laity encourage the closing of churches and suspension of the Sacraments hurts a lot.

It makes me and many others wonder what faith exists on earth?  We all know that we are flesh and flesh is weak.  We will get sick, get hurt, get killed etc. No one is Superman or the Brightburn character. No one is Hulk or Thanos.  Even Jesus faces the pains and weaknesses of the body. He was human in all things except sin. However, we must understand that while we are subject to nature and its qualms, this does not mean God will not protect anyone doing His will.  It is just not rational to think that Jesus would allow His Eucharistic presence to become a conduit for disease. It is just not rational to think that Jesus would allow a contagion to spread during His Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  This is just absurd to think.  Nevertheless, there are some who literally believe this can happen despite absolutely no evidence of it in history.  Once again, Jesus is abandoned by His alleged disciples today. Jesus is an often misunderstood person in history.  

Christ Jesus, the prophesied Messiah came not as a warrior of politics, but of love.  As an atheist, Good Friday was a hard concept for me to understand.  As I get older, I grow in its meaning.  At first, it seems like a bunch of superstition.  Christians worship a man who died on a Cross - big deal right?  What is so important about this?

Many Catholic parishes and other Protestant sects have processions reenacting the Stations of the Cross or "Via Crucis" as it is called in Latin.  These are the events that took place as Jesus carried the Cross eventually meeting death at Golgotha.  Christians and Popes have described this act as an "act of love."  How is carrying a cross in a humiliating and painful way eventually leading to death be an "act of love?"  Why would God use this to redeem the world?  Is God crazy or a masochist?  Any true atheist or skeptic curious about the Christian faith would ask these and more.  Death entered the world due to the sin of Adam and Eve (Romans 5:14).  It is via death that Christ brings life and grace to all (Hebrews 2:5-18).

Love hurts most of the time.  How many times have we had a lover who we tried to impress with flowers, chocolates and what not only for it to go sour later on?  Love is so good but can be bad, we often think.  Love hurts.  We give so much to a person and that person may not give as much back, if anything at all.  John 3:16 is often quoted and is perhaps the most quoted passage from the Bible.  It says to the effect that God loves the world so much that He sent His only son.

God sent His son Jesus for all of humanity.  This is the greatest love of all (John 15:13).  This act makes no sense to those who are limited in reasoning.
For Christ to lay down His life for all of us shows the extent to which God will go through in order to show that He seriously loves each one of us.  Jesus is willing to go through hell, so to speak, in order to show that we are loved and never abandoned.  This spoke volumes to me as an atheist.  Other gods or conceptions of gods that man has used to define the one reality of God present these beings as egoistic, limited and unconcerned of the affairs of men.  In many instances, people were sacrificed for these conceptual gods. With Jesus, He becomes the sacrifice for man recalling how Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac his son after getting the command from God (Genesis 22).  Even philosopher Kierkegaard regarded this command and act as a "suspension of the ethical."   

However, Abraham was about to do this act out of love and faith.  Naturally, God was not going to allow him to kill his only son.  He was merely testing him to show that Abraham was not tainted by the rituals of paganism in his time which called for human sacrifices.  This story is also a foreshadowing of God sending His own Son to be the sacrificial lamb.  It is a preparation for love personified in the person of Christ giving His life for all of us.

We know Jesus was betrayed by Judas with a kiss.  A kiss is most likely the universal symbol for love and affection.  We use this physical symbol to show love to our parents, other relatives, friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, husbands/wives, and even people we have just met.  It is a simple gesture that is quick and sends the message that we are close to the recipient.  The kiss of Judas has an interesting context here.  It is a kiss of betrayal and hypocrisy.  Here we see two kinds of love presented: genuine agape love, and selfish love.  Jesus is giving His life for all, including Judas.  Judas is giving "love" via a kiss but only for his own ulterior motives which are 30 pieces of silver.

In today's world, we see so many broken relationships.  Love is given conditions in order to function in society.  Many of us look for looks instead of hearts.  Our partners have to look a certain way, act a certain way, or have a certain amount in order for us to consider even meeting or dating.  It has gone even more bizarre with the promotion of same-sex unions which completely negates the psychological and biological function of courtship in the natural world.  Love is being twisted to serve the self instead of others.  This is what I call the "Judas effect."  Today we often love in order to get something in return.  Love becomes a stock bond which we gamble to see what we gain and what losses we cut.  Marriages dissolve because of financial reasons or changes in personal desires - again selfish motives.  Calls for "marriage equality" are pushed down our throats in the name of love that cannot give of itself via reproduction and that promotes unions only of the sake of seeking rights to a partner's assets - again selfish motives.  It is no wonder why so many couples break up and so many marriages go down the path of divorce and why love and marriage have become a circus for the egotistical.  Our society has lost the love Christ preached and presented today on Good Friday over 2,000 years ago.

Christ gave Himself for us without condition.  He died for each one of us as we are.  Jesus did not care how we looked, what we had, who we associate with or who we are deep down.  Jesus died on the Cross because we are part of God's family and He loves us.  He is our brother and God the Father is our Father.  Good Friday should remind us of this.  We should not go to Good Friday liturgies and just go through the routines of the rites without adsorbing their meanings.  The events of today have so much wisdom for us to grow as human beings, not only in grace and spiritually, but also psychologically and socially with one another.

Jesus is the "just man" foreshadowed by Plato in his Republic (Book 2, 361e, 362a), "...the just man will have to endure the lash, the rack, chains, the branding-iron in his eyes, and finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will be crucified."  He is the model for all humanity to follow.  We all want love and want to love.  Jesus is the only one who can show us how through His Word and example.  God is indeed love (1 John 4:8).   We should return the favor by loving Him unconditionally. This Lent and Holy Week has been filled with a deep spiritual meaning.  Covid-19 Coronavirus has shown the world that man is not in charge. Science is not in charge. Government is not in charge. Not even religion is in charge.  Perhaps Covid-19 was meant to bring humanity to its knees to remind the species that there is a God and He will not have much more of its nonsense.  Let us reflect on this Good Friday what it means to love God and suffer; yes, suffer.  Many do not like the word, but it is part of Christianity.  So a Christian can attempt to hide from a silly virus, but life will come with something else for him or her to suffer.  This is why we must reflect on suffering and why it matters in the Christian life.     

I ask the Lord to bless you via my relic of the True Cross.  Behold the wood of the cross, on which hung the Savior of the world!


Thursday, April 9, 2020

Holy Thursday - Maundy Thursday: Cowardly Disciples

"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 'You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.'" 
-John 13:12-16

Today is Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. We recall how Christ celebrated the Seder meal or Passover which commemorates the events in Egypt during the Exodus (Exodus 12). During this ritual, Christ added something.  He washed the feet of his Disciples.  Here we have the Son of God and the second person of the Blessed Trinity washing the feet of creatures He created who constantly offend Him with sin. This shows the humility of God that He would serve the servant giving us all an example to follow (Philippians 2, Matthew 11:29). Holy Thursday should remind us of serving others and being merciful (1 Peter 4:10, Galatians 5:13-14).  Jesus even commanded that we serve others and wash one another's feet (John 13:12-14). Notice that He did not place any conditions on this service. I mention this in light of recent evens surrounding the Covid-19 Coronavirus. Bishops have closed churches and are denying the Sacraments to the people.  They are contradicting Christ's demand of service to others.  Joining the bishops are many Catholics who agree with their decision which is devoid of faith in God.  They are complicit to this sin.  The Church does teach in the catechism that we can be an accessory to the sins of others.  The Catechism states:

Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
- by protecting evil-doers.
CCC 1868

An older text from 1888 goes into more detail:

"Nine Ways of being Accessory to another's Sin.
By Counsel
By Command
By Consent
By Provocation
By Praise or Flattery
By Concealment
By partaking
By Silence
By defense of the Ill Done
A MANUAL OF PRAYERS for the use of the Catholic Laity (copyright 1888)

How do we get around this? Well, I thought of the lesser of two evils model which posits that we choose what is least damaging. Only God is our judge and can read our hearts (James 4:12, Psalm 75:7, Psalm 139:23-24).  We can pray to God making it clear that we are not endorsing the decisions surrounding the alleged pandemic, but are serving the "least of our brethren," so to speak (Matthew 25:40). This is one way of getting out of the dilemma of being an accessory to the sin of another. We can also admonish the sinner with mercy and compassion (2 Thessalonians 3:15). There are ways of telling people that what they are doing offends God in a way that does not come across as judgmental or demanding. I believe this ties into today's Holy Thursday ritual.

We are called by Christ to "wash another's feet."  Remember, He never specified whom to wash, but said, just go do it!  God is the only one who can change minds and hearts (Ezekiel 36:26).  The parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind in this situation as well (Luke 10:25-37). In this story, Jesus is questioned by a lawyer who asks Jesus, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life," Jesus replies asking this man, "What is written in the law?"  The lawyer begins to cite from Leviticus 19:9-18 & Deuteronomy 6:5 which states to love God and neighbor. Jesus tells him that he is correct, but the lawyer then asks Jesus, "and who is my neighbor" to which Jesus replies with the parable,

"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion,  and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'"  

Jesus then asks the lawyer who does he think was the one who was neighborly to the victim of robbery to which the lawyer replies, “The one who showed mercy on him.” After hearing this answer, Jesus tells the lawyer to do the same.

Here in this parable, we see a man who is a victim of a robbery. A priest or "man of God" saw the man there laying beaten and humiliated and moved to the other side, completely avoiding this victim of a crime. Next, a Levite passed by and did the same. A Levite had a special religious status in the tribe of Levi.  Despite this role, the Levite passed by the injured victim of robbery.  However, a Samaritan comes by and stops to help him and even pays an innkeeper and requests that this innkeeper cares for him and even offers to pay any additional expenses the victim of the robbery may incur. The Samaritans were a rival group of the Jews at the time of Jesus. They were not expected to help their counterparts.  This is why this Samaritan is described as the "Good Samaritan."  Jesus used a Samaritan to tell His story to show that we must break past our differences and focus on the person by serving him or her.

In the washing of the feet, we see this transcendence of two "rival" entities: God (Jesus) representing holiness and perfection and the disciples representing sin and imperfection. The uniting force is love. As Catholics, we are called to love others, even those who hate us and want to oppress us (Matthew 5:44). We are not called to be enemies of the LGBT, Atheists, Muslims or anyone else who thinks and acts differently. In fact, we are called to serve them (Galatians 5:13).

After the events of the Last Supper, Jesus went to pray at the garden of Gethsemane.  While praying, He suffered greatly to the point of crying blood. The pain, anxiety and depression was so great that we cannot even imagine how it must have felt. Jesus felt abandoned. This was His human nature with its weaknesses. Remember, Jesus was human in all things except sin. He felt pain, had emotions, had a body with many bodily functions to deal with and so on.  After He prayed, Jesus found the disciples asleep. They could not watch one hour with Him in prayer.  Shortly after, Judas came with an entourage seeking to arrest Jesus.  After His arrest, the disciples ran off except John. Simon Peter, the first pope denied Him three times. Despite witnessing the works of Jesus, Peter denied Christ saying he does not know the man.  Today, humanity is being plagued with the Covid-19 coronavirus which is being labeled a pandemic. 

Despite being less contagious and deadly that the common flu, this virus is being presented as some kind of apocalyptic plague which will wipe out humanity. The exaggeration and panic has lead to a frenzy which has brought about the literal closing of nations, economies and even religion. Catholic bishops closed churches and suspended public liturgies out of fear that the people would be infected.  Despite no evidence at all of contagion ever spreading in Mass or via Sacraments, the bishops listened to secular authorities and alleged medical professions who have pushed shoddy science and faulty models on society.  Along with the bishops, many priests, religious and laity have supported the closure of parishes and suspension of the Sacraments. Like the other disciples 2,000 plus years ago, these disciples today are cowards who ran away from Jesus. They, like Peter denied Him. We know Jesus is God. We know what God is about. How can we even dare to think God would allow the spread of contagion via the Mass and Sacraments?  This is bad theology, not to mention, a deviant manifestation of faith.

Lastly, during this night Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist. He did not abolish the old ritual of the Passover but fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17). The Holy Eucharist just like the Passover meal provided protection from death (Exodus 12:23). This is because we are given the bread of life who is Jesus, that allows us to live forever (John 6:35).  A few years ago, renowned Agnostic astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson made some comments conflating the Holy Eucharist and Scientology as "crazy." He said in the interview,

"So, you have people who are certain that a man in a robe transforms a cracker into the literal body of Jesus saying that what goes on in Scientology is crazy?" -

Here we see his ignorance regarding Catholicism. First, I know of no one in the Catholic Church who calls Scientology or any other differing view "crazy."  The Catechism has this to say regarding other faiths, not in union with the Church:

"818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272 
819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276) 

Moreover, as a former atheist, I can state with sincerity that the idea of the Holy Eucharist is "crazy." I say this with all respect, of course.  Let me explain why:  God is known to do things foolishly, illogically and completely contrary to how we think things should be done and this foolishness of God, in reality, is wiser than anything man can formulate (1 Corinthians 1:25). The Holy Eucharist is one of these "foolish" ideas which really is wise and shows God's genius. During the Last Supper, Our Lord took bread and wine, blessed it and distributed among the Apostles saying that they were His Body and Blood.  He instructed them to do this in His memory.  (Luke 22:7-20)  In other words, this meal was not a one-time thing.  It has to continue.

Was Jesus joking around when He said that bread and wine were His Body and Blood?  
The answer is no.  In John 6:22-69 Jesus gave a long talk about the "Bread of Life."  He goes on to say that the bread Moses gave was not the "True Bread."  The people asked Him for this "Bread of Life" and He then makes the radical statement that HE is the "Bread of Life" and the "True Bread from Heaven." The people began to murmur among themselves because they knew Jesus was the son of Joseph, and not to mention that His words were a bit strange and in today's world would be seen as psychotic.

However, it gets "stranger..."  Jesus continues saying that one has to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life.  This is when the people really had enough.  Many walked out on Him thinking He was a lunatic.  Jesus then turns to His disciples and asks them if they will leave as well. Peter replies saying that they can't go anywhere else because Jesus had the words of eternal life. Peter is always the first to speak up or to lead, this shows why the Pope is the first bishop among all bishops of the world - but that is another blog post .

Moreover, something interesting happens here in regards to how serious Jesus was about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  Many of our separated brethren believe the Holy Eucharist is a symbol and not literally Christ's Body Blood Soul and Divinity.  However, when people started abandoning Jesus for saying that one has to eat His flesh and drink His blood, Jesus did not run in front of them and say "hey, wait a minute, I was joking." Instead, Jesus let them go.  This shows that He was very serious about His flesh and blood being actual things that someone has to consume.  In 1 Cor 10:16 St. Paul reminds the people that the bread and wine are the Lord's Body and Blood.

Why bread and wine?
In Genesis 14:18 we read about Melchizedek - priest of God and king of Salem- giving Abram bread and wine.  He then blesses Abram.  Jesus uses bread and wine to make the connection to the Old covenant and to show that He is the True Priest who offers the True Sacrifice - Himself.  Bread is a food that is delicious that can be served with literally every food on Earth.  It has a lot of carbohydrates which in turn gives a lot of energy to the body.  It is a food that is easy to make but does a lot to appease hunger and give nutrients.  Then there is wine.  It is used to party with.  It was even used as medicine and a disinfectant agent for wounds. Jesus as Bread and Wine does exactly that to our souls.  He appeases the hunger for God and nourishes the soul.  He brings our souls to jubilation by uniting with it when one receives Holy Communion.  He heals the soul from the harm sin has caused.

One may ask:  at Mass, the Bread and Wine still look, taste, smell, feel like Bread and Wine, so how can it be the Body and Blood of Christ?  Well, God knows us well.  God designed the human body and mind.  He knows that human beings would cringe at the sight of eating raw meat and drinking blood.  How many times have we ourselves have gotten disgusted at looking at our own wounds?  It is not easy seeing blood and flesh in a traumatic form.

A few years ago, there was a big buzz in social media regarding the "Zombie" in Miami.  A man who was high on "salt" - a drug - attacked a homeless man and literally ate his face. People were disgusted at the news and the reality of how a human can even succumb to this evil cannibalistic act.  That being said,  God would not give us human flesh and blood to eat and drink in the material sense. Rather, He would use matter that we are all familiar with and that we enjoy: food and drink.

At consecration, the Bread and Wine do not turn into a piece of meat and human blood with DNA, platelets, red/white cells etc - unless a Eucharistic Miracle has taken place which sometimes does occur.  The outside or the accidents of the bread and wine remain the same, but what it is, or the essence changes.  Think of it this way:  We see leaves on trees.  During spring and summer, they are green.  However, during fall they begin to change colors.  They turn red, orange, yellow and brown. Now let's think:  which one is the REAL leaf?  At one point it was green, then red, then orange, then yellow and then brown.  The leaf changed colors, so is it the same leaf when it was green?  The answer is yes.  The outside or accidents of the leaf changed, but the essence, or what it is remains the same.  The same with the Bread and Wine at Mass but in an opposite manner.  The outside remains the same (bread/wine) but the inside or what it is, changes and becomes the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Similarly, we ourselves go through many changes.  Our bodies grow and change as we age; however, our temperament remains the same.

Silly Neil, what's the deal?

So we can see how "God's foolishness/stupidity" and "craziness" is wisdom for us. God uses bread and wine because He understands us. He understands that no one is going to literally eat human flesh and blood.  As God, He can transform bread and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity without making it into a disgusting cannibalistic rite.  This is because with God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Moreover, Neil Degrasse Tyson is the one who is crazy for thinking that tachyon particles or hypothetical particles believed to travel faster than the speed of light (186,282 miles per second) exist and can cause Cherenkov radiation, which is another hypothetical scenario where light creates a "sonic boom" effect if something forces it to go faster than it normally does, breaking its barrier.

So in closing, we must serve one another despite our differences, even if they hate us. Our Lord gave us Himself in the Blessed Sacrament and we should make every effort to visit Him and communicate (receive Communion) with Him while in the state of grace; and yes Tyson, the Holy Eucharist is "crazy" but this craziness reflects the wisdom of God which trumps the nonsense we human beings posit via materialistic philosophies and scientific ideas based on overactive imaginations.

Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist.  He gives us Himself completely so that we can have the grace necessary to love Him and one another.  Holy Thursday is not just about the Eucharist or the priesthood.  It is also about service to others.  Loving others is a mandate for every Catholic.  We are a community on this planet; brothers and sisters who have our origin in Adam and Eve.  Therefore, we must care for one another.  I know this is hard, but no one said it would be easy.  Nothing in Christianity is easy.  This is one of the reasons why it is worthwhile.  It challenges us to be superhuman; to be the ubermensch or "Superman" as philosopher  Friedrich Nietzsche coined it.  This can only be accomplished with the grace of God.  Reason and love come to work in the person of Jesus Christ.

On this Holy Thursday, let us focus on Christ and service to one another. We cannot deny the Sacraments to the people of God. This contradicts the very essence of Jesus' command that we "wash each others' feet" and serve one another.  We cannot be like the disciples who ran away or like Peter who denied Our Lord.  We must have faith and be an example to the world. Closing churches and denying the Sacraments shows the world that what we believe is a sham.  Let us vow to do better with how we reflect Christ to the world.   

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Spy Wednesday: Betraying Christ for Covid-19 Coronavirus

Today is Spy Wednesday. Those religious people who live double lives are like Judas who betrayed Christ. As you may know, Spy Wednesday is the day when Judas Iscariot conspired against his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ (Mark 14:10-11). Today, there are many ways we can conspire against Jesus.  Many Christians have abandoned faith in God during this time of alleged pandemic. Immediately, churches were closed and public liturgies were suspended. Many have supported this action by the bishops. To them, it looks like "protection" from a contagion, however, to real Christians, it is a betrayal and lack of faith in Christ. 

To add insult to injury, many of them have tried to justify the actions by claiming that keeping Masses active or churches open will endanger others or even kill them. This kind of sophism is disgusting and something that can only derive from the devil itself.  How can one claim that going to Mass endangers others or even kills them?  This is very silly to state, for the sake of being polite. Where is their faith? Do they think God would allow the spread of a contagion via the Mass or Sacraments?  Have they not read Psalm 91:1-8 which states:

"Whoever goes to the LORD for safety,
whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty,
can say to him,
“You are my defender and protector.
You are my God; in you I trust.”
He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers
and from all deadly diseases.
He will cover you with his wings;
you will be safe in his care;
his faithfulness will protect and defend you.
You need not fear any dangers at night
or sudden attacks during the day
or the plagues that strike in the dark
or the evils that kill in daylight.
A thousand may fall dead beside you,
10,000 all round you,
but you will not be harmed.
You will look and see
how the wicked are punished."

There are other ways we betray Jesus just like Judas did. Going to Church and then sinning as if the calls for repentance of the confiteor means nothing is one way. Being "religious," yet not being "religious" is hypocrisy. This kind of practice of religion is worthless (James 1:26). If we think that going to Mass all dressed up or walking around with a Rosary or Bible and not applying their essence in our lives pleases God, then we are fooling ourselves (Matthew 6:1).

This type of worship is in vain and offends God (Matthew 15:7-9).  The reason why we go to Mass, pray daily, receive the Sacraments, attend retreats and other religious events is to help us become more Christ-like. If we are to live in Christ who is the truth, then we too must be truthful (John 14:6, CCC para. 2468). Duplicity in living the Christian life serves no purpose to the worship of God and our sanctification. I call this an implicit form of atheism which mocks God.  The reason being is because we sometimes think we believe in God and are religious, but deep down we just do it as an obligation or to get attention; this rejects God (Titus 1:16). Sacred Scripture clearly states that those who reject God or lack belief in Him are fools (Psalms 53:1, Psalms 14:1).

Presenting an external devotion to God while not externalizing it is what Judas Iscariot did.  He was called by the Lord, traveled with Him and even was at the Last Supper with Him, yet He did not internalize who this Lord was (John 1:10). We must not be like Judas who left early to collect his money. Either we are with God or with the world, there is no middle ground (Matthew 6:24). We only fool ourselves into thinking we are religious when in fact we are not deep down. God is never fooled or mocked (Galatians 6:7).  As we get closer to the Paschal Triduum, let us focus on ourselves and where we stand before God.  Are we truly transforming within, or has Catholicism become a ritual run by unconsciousness and conditioning?  We must ask ourselves these questions.

Our faith must be genuine. As many of you know, the first Mass was at the Last Supper. Judas left the supper early. He was the first one to leave Mass early.  Why did he leave?  He left to collect his money and set up the betrayal he was conceiving.  Judas took the bread, the Body of Christ and left (John 13:30). While there may be valid reasons we can leave Mass, we must always try to avoid doing so. We must not be a spy for Satan. We must not be a fake Catholic like Judas who followed Jesus as an opportunist.  We must not sell out Christ for the things of this world. 

Let us meditate on where we stand before God.  Are we like Judas seeking silver coins?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Palm Sunday Reflection: Does Christ Really Triumph?

Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday is the last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. Today we remember the Passion of Christ. Jesus entered Jerusalem while the people shouted Hosanna and threw Palm branches in his path.

He is the king, the Messiah, the one the Jews were expecting for centuries.  As He enters Jerusalem, He is seen as a triumphant King. A king of the Jews.  But was He really Triumphant.  Today's events are forcing many to question this.  The closing of Churches and lack of faith by bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity has really scandalized the image of Christ being triumphant.   Are we truly shouting Hosanna from the heart or only when things are "normal" in the world?

Hosanna is an exclamation of supplication in a moment of emotion. The Palms are a sign of victory and joy.  The people celebrated the Triumphant entry of the King of Kings into Jerusalem. Ironically just a few days later these same people will call upon Pilate to crucify Him.

Zechariah 9:9 prophesied this day. The account of the story is read prior to the procession with the Psalms and comes from Matthew 21: 1-11.   In the Catholic Church, red vestments are used to symbolize the blood Jesus would shed as a result of His entry into Jerusalem.

The first reading during Mass is from Isaiah which is connected to Jesus.  It reflects on how Jesus' is a gifted speaker who spreads the Good News, yet offends many.  Because of this, He is beaten, his beard is plucked and He is mocked.  This reading is a foreshadowing of the Passion of Christ. Despite being abused by the people, Jesus returned no insult or attack.  He braved it all for the sake of all.  Today we live in a world where Christ's message is not popular.  Priests, religious, laity and even our separated Christian brethren face all kinds of hardships just for speaking the name of Christ and what He stands for.  This is very true today when the Church is undergoing a massive trial. Many are questioning the validity of the faith and if it is even worth believing.  With bishops closing churches and denying the Sacraments, why even believe in them?  The government has even threatened the Church and ministers of all persuasions.  We must be strong and not give in to the pressures of the world and preach Christ in season and out of season (2 timothy 4:2). This means even during a pandemic. Like Christ, we must bear it all for the sake of salvation.  It may seem like God has abandoned us and this is why the responsorial Psalm begins with this phrase. This Psalm is another foreshadowing of Christ's passion.  Christ Himself felt abandoned by the Father.  However, this is not so.  God is there present comforting Him and us as well who struggle today during this pandemic.We cannot truly know why this Covid-18 Coronavirus is happening now and why it is infecting so many people around the world. Doctors may say it is spreading because of close contact, bodily aerosols, or contaminated surfaces. But they have contradicted themselves several times. Scientists say the same; some even claiming that the virus came from bats, is airborne or may have been living in humans for decades and mutated to the point it is now.  But they too have contradicted themselves. Some religious groups are saying this is the end times, a chastisement or a warning from God.  But we cannot know for sure. Lastly, environmentalists, both scientists and armchair ones are claiming that this is earth attempting to calibrate the disorder man has caused due to global warming and over population.  But again, we cannot know for sure.  Man cannot know it all. His fields of inquiry and technologies have failed.  Perhaps this is a reminder that we are not gods. We are not masters of life or this world and have to focus on the one who is the Master of all.  God has not abandoned us. We have abandoned him.  

Finally, the Gospel tells the account of Jesus' last supper where He instituted the Holy Eucharist.

Christ defined for all the true meaning of the Passover meal by breaking bread and sharing wine which are His body, blood, soul and divinity.  We read how Judas is there present during the meal. He sells out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  Judas is the first to leave the first Mass.

How many times do we see people leave Mass early? Perhaps we may have done it ourselves?  We are imitating Judas the betrayer when we leave Mass early.  In doing so, we make whatever we are leaving Mass for more important than Christ.  Granted, there may be emergencies we may have to attend to, but this is where faith comes in.  God will take care of any emergencies for us. Moreover, we continue reading how Christ tells the disciples how they will flee when He is arrested.  Each boldly claims that he will not leave Christ.  How many times have we been vain in thinking that we have total control of faith?  How many times have we thought that we control grace in us?  It is God who sustains our faith and nourishes us with His grace.  We only cooperate by the suspension of our free will to submit to God's will.

Christ then goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  He cries tears of blood showing the pain and anguish He was going through.  Like in last week's Gospel with Lazarus, we again see Christ's humanity.  He is one of us!  He is the perfect Adam we must imitate.

However, like the disciples, we often fall asleep when we are in His presence.  Instead of praying, we slack off and get distracted to the point of dosing off.  We must avoid this by asking God to teach us how to pray and give us the strength and demeanor to be in His presence to pray even when our human frailness gets in the way.

Lastly, we continue reading how Christ is taken to trial.  The Son of God, God Himself is treated like a criminal.  He is sentenced to be killed by way of Crucifixion.  His crime is love.  Christ came to save all, first to His own people the Jews.  Ironically, it is sometimes our own that betray us.  We must avoid being like the Jews of Christ's time who were with Him, saw His works and still wanted no part of Christ.  Like the Jews in the desert, they saw His works and still did not want to believe as the first reading of the third week of Lent told us.  Christ is then made to go through a horrible death.  First He is made to carry a heavy cross.  Throughout the way, He is mocked, spat on, hit and falls down three times for the sins of the past, present and future.  He dies on the cross and is buried.  God is dead!

Today, this phrase still echoes among societies throughout the world, especially in universities teaching our youth.  Some believe philosopher Nietzsche to have coined the phrase "God is dead," but this has existed way before his own birth. Christ is nailed to the cross and dies.  The people of His time said, "God is dead."

The Son of God who performed miracles, preached the good news dies.  We know that in reality He is still alive.  Man can kill God because God allows it out of love.  Today's age or secularism, atheism and relativism shout, "God is dead, we have killed Him!" However, God is alive and well.  He rose from the dead showing He is the God of the living and dead.  He is the one who IS; who is dependent on no one for existence.

We must not be like the Jews of the old covenant who saw and still did not believe, nor do we want to be like the Jews in Jesus' times who like their ancestors saw Christ's works yet did not believe as well (Psalm 95:9, Hebrews 3:9). They even proclaimed Him as their king by throwing palms onto His path only to reject Him and call for His execution days later, according to some scholars.  We should not be like them.  We must never lose faith nor let the world silence it.  This is important today now more than ever.  The Covid-19 Coronvirus has forced many to question their faith in God.  God seems absent. The closing of Churches and denial of the Sacraments to the faithful has added to this doubt.  We read in Scripture, Tradition, the writing of the saints and heard even from Our Lady in apparitions that God protects, that Mary protects. 

However, how is this true when churches are closed and Masses are suspended due to a mere virus introduction into nature which happens naturally?  Many are seeing this contradiction.  They are also seeing the hypocrisy of saying the Church is a field hospital while shutting out the wounded and abandoning them; not to mention the call for bishops to acquire the scent of the sheep.  How is that done while hiding in rectories and episcopal mansions?  These optics are not good. They demonstrate to the world that God is dead. If the alleged successors of the apostles behave this way, then why even bother to believe?  Why even bother to be Catholic?  As stated, we must never lose faith nor let the world silence it. Today, this is what is happening. The government is even threatening churches if they do not obey their demands while keeping abortion mills and liquor shops open.  If this is not the spirit of the Antichrist, then I do not know what is.  So as you sit home without being able to attend Mass, meditate on this. Choose your side. Jesus did triumph. Let us truly believe this.  If not, then we are just believing in Spinoza's God who is limited to the laws of physics and processes of nature.  This is not our God.  Our God has power over what He created.  This includes viruses.  Our God can protect against anything, even viruses.  Our God can set aside the laws of nature and work miracles that defy reason, science and the imagination. 

Faith is key!  Please do not lose it due to the actions of our bishops and priests.  Please do not lose it due to the cowardice of religious and lay people.  Please do not lose it due to the news of deaths and widespread contagion.  If you believe churches should be closed, Mass suspended and Sacraments denied to the people, then your faith is lukewarm and you do not shout Hosanna today because Christ did not triumph to you.  Trust in God.  Jesus has triumphed! 

Today we lift up our palms -virtual or imaginary ones- not like those hypocrites in the Gospel reading before Mass, but like those in Revelation 7:9 who see the Lamb of God, hold their palms out to Him in joy and wear clean white robes showing they are made spotless by the blood of Christ shed for all during His Passion.

May Christ teach us how to live and suffering in faith.  Let us shout Hosanna to the King with sincerity and remain with Him through good times and bad times until the end of time comes.    


Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Lectionary: 35 and 38

At The Procession With Palms - GospelMT 21:1-11

When Jesus and the disciples drew near Jerusalem
and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
“Go into the village opposite you,
and immediately you will find an ass tethered,
and a colt with her.
Untie them and bring them here to me.
And if anyone should say anything to you, reply,
‘The master has need of them.’
Then he will send them at once.”
This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Say to daughter Zion,
“Behold, your king comes to you,
meek and riding on an ass,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.
They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them,
and he sat upon them.
The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees
and strewed them on the road.
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”
And when he entered Jerusalem
the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?”
And the crowds replied,
“This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

At The Mass - Reading 1 IS 50:4-7

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

Responsorial Psalm PS 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

R/ (2a) My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
“He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him.”
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
They have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, be not far from me;
O my help, hasten to aid me.
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
“You who fear the LORD, praise him;
all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel!”
R/ My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Reading 2 PHIL 2:6-11

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Gospel MT 26:14-27:66

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity
to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”’”
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

While they were eating,
Jesus took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and giving it to his disciples said,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink from it, all of you,
for this is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed on behalf of many
for the forgiveness of sins.
I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it with you new
in the kingdom of my Father.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them,
“This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken,
for it is written:
I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed
but after I have been raised up,
I shall go before you to Galilee.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Though all may have their faith in you shaken,
mine will never be.”
Jesus said to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
this very night before the cock crows,
you will deny me three times.”
Peter said to him,
“Even though I should have to die with you,
I will not deny you.”
And all the disciples spoke likewise.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,
and he said to his disciples,
“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee,
and began to feel sorrow and distress.
Then he said to them,
“My soul is sorrowful even to death.
Remain here and keep watch with me.”
He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying,
“My Father, if it is possible,
let this cup pass from me;
yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep.
He said to Peter,
“So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again,
“My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass
without my drinking it, your will be done!”
Then he returned once more and found them asleep,
for they could not keep their eyes open.
He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time,
saying the same thing again.
Then he returned to his disciples and said to them,
“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
Behold, the hour is at hand
when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
Get up, let us go.
Look, my betrayer is at hand.”

While he was still speaking,
Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived,
accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs,
who had come from the chief priests and the elders
of the people.
His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying,
“The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.”
Immediately he went over to Jesus and said,
“Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him.
Jesus answered him,
“Friend, do what you have come for.”
Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.
And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus
put his hand to his sword, drew it,
and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear.
Then Jesus said to him,
“Put your sword back into its sheath,
for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father
and he will not provide me at this moment
with more than twelve legions of angels?
But then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled
which say that it must come to pass in this way?”
At that hour Jesus said to the crowds,
“Have you come out as against a robber,
with swords and clubs to seize me?
Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area,
yet you did not arrest me.
But all this has come to pass
that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.”
Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Those who had arrested Jesus led him away
to Caiaphas the high priest,
where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
Peter was following him at a distance
as far as the high priest’s courtyard,
and going inside he sat down with the servants
to see the outcome.
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin
kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus
in order to put him to death,
but they found none,
though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward who stated,
“This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God
and within three days rebuild it.’”
The high priest rose and addressed him,
“Have you no answer?
What are these men testifying against you?”
But Jesus was silent.
Then the high priest said to him,
“I order you to tell us under oath before the living God
whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“You have said so.
But I tell you:
From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power’
and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
Then the high priest tore his robes and said,
“He has blasphemed!
What further need have we of witnesses?
You have now heard the blasphemy;
what is your opinion?”
They said in reply,
“He deserves to die!”
Then they spat in his face and struck him,
while some slapped him, saying,
“Prophesy for us, Christ: who is it that struck you?”
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard.
One of the maids came over to him and said,
“You too were with Jesus the Galilean.”
But he denied it in front of everyone, saying,
“I do not know what you are talking about!”
As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him
and said to those who were there,
“This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.”
Again he denied it with an oath,
“I do not know the man!”
A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter,
“Surely you too are one of them;
even your speech gives you away.”
At that he began to curse and to swear,
“I do not know the man.”
And immediately a cock crowed.
Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken:
“Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.”
He went out and began to weep bitterly.

When it was morning,
all the chief priests and the elders of the people
took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.
They bound him, led him away,
and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned,
deeply regretted what he had done.
He returned the thirty pieces of silver
to the chief priests and elders, saying,
“I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.”
They said,
“What is that to us?
Look to it yourself.”
Flinging the money into the temple,
he departed and went off and hanged himself.
The chief priests gathered up the money, but said,
“It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury,
for it is the price of blood.”
After consultation, they used it to buy the potter’s field
as a burial place for foreigners.
That is why that field even today is called the Field of Blood.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah
the prophet,
And they took the thirty pieces of silver, 
the value of a man with a price on his head, 
a price set by some of the Israelites, 
and they paid it out for the potter’s field 
just as the Lord had commanded me.

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
“Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
“Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,
“Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha
¬—which means Place of the Skull —,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
“Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus
feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”
There were many women there, looking on from a distance,
who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him.
Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph,
and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening,
there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph,
who was himself a disciple of Jesus.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus;
then Pilate ordered it to be handed over.
Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it in clean linen
and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock.
Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb
and departed.
But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
remained sitting there, facing the tomb.

The next day, the one following the day of preparation,
the chief priests and the Pharisees
gathered before Pilate and said,
“Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said,
‘After three days I will be raised up.’
Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day,
lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people,
‘He has been raised from the dead.’
This last imposture would be worse than the first.”
Pilate said to them,
“The guard is yours;
go, secure it as best you can.”
So they went and secured the tomb
by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.

Or MT 27:11-54

Jesus stood before the governor, Pontius Pilate, who questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
“Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
“Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,
“Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha
— which means Place of the Skull —,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
‘Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus
feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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