Wednesday, 31 December 2014

St Melania



St Melania (383- 439)

St Melania whose feast day is December 31st. Melania was born to wealthy Christians, Publicola, a Roman senator, and Albina. At fourteen, she was given in marriage to Valerius Pinianus. When two of her children died soon after childbirth, her husband agreed to lead a life of continency and religious dedication. In 417 all three made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and settled at Jerusalem, where Melania became a friend of St Jerome. After the death of her mother in 431 and her husband in 432, Melania attracted disciples to her solitary way of life and built a convent, for which she was Abbess until her death on December 31st, 439. The life of St Melania reminds us of the fleeting character of earthly wealth. We should strive to emulate her use of wealth as well as talents to further the cause of Our Lord and Saviour Christ.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

St Lucy



Virgin martyr and saint (283 - 304).

Lucy was well known for her beautiful eyes. It was said that her eyes radiated her love for Christ. During her torture by the Romans, Lucy’s eyes were gouged out and God restored her sight and eyes. She is one of eight women, who along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Her feast day is celebrated on December 13th. Saint Lucy of Syracuse was honoured in the Middle Ages and remains a much loved saint in Western Europe.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Advent




Saturday, 22 November 2014

Saint Cecilia



Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St Cecilia, virgin and martyr. St Cecilia is one of the most famous and most venerated of Roman martyrs. Her body was discovered in 822 and transferred to the title church that bears her name in Trastevere in Rome. It is difficult to determine the date at which she lived. The legend which recounts the Saint's martyrdom and that of her husband St Valerian, as also of St Tiburtius, her brother-in-law, places her martyrdom in the pontificate of Urban I (222-230); but the authenticity of this account cannot be established, nor can we be sure of the persons who suffered with her nor of the date of her martyrdom.

Saint Cecilia

Cecilia was so highly venerated by the ancient Roman Church that her name was placed in the Canon of the Mass. Already in the fourth century there was a church of St Cecilia in Trastevere, erected on the site where her home had stood. Her martyrdom probably occurred during the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus, about the year 230. In 1599 her grave was opened and her body found in a coffin of cypress wood. It lay incorrupt, as if she had just breathed forth her soul. Stephen Maderna, who often saw the body, chiselled a statue that resembled the body as closely as possible. Since the Middle Ages, Cecilia has been honoured as patroness of Church music, a practice having its source in a false application of a passage from the Office (cantantibus organis).

Apart from the fact of her martyrdom, we know practically nothing about her that is historically verifiable. Among other details the breviary offers the following:
Cecilia led a life of prayer and meditation and had vowed lifelong virginity, but a youth by the name of Valerian, relying upon the approval of her parents, hoped to marry her. When the wedding night arrived, she confided to Valerian, "There is a secret, Valerian, I wish to tell you. I have as a lover an angel of God who jealously guards my body." Valerian promised to believe in Christ if he would be enabled to see that angel. Cecilia explained how such was impossible without baptism, and Valerian consented to be baptized. After he was baptised by Pope Urban and had returned "He found Cecilia in her little room lost in prayer, and next to her the angel of the Lord was standing. When Valerian saw the angel, he was seized with great terror." The angel handed to them a bouquet of fiery red roses and snow-white lilies as a reward for Cecilia's love of chastity, a bouquet that would not wither, yet would be visible only to those who love chastity. As a further favor Valerian besought the conversion of his brother Tiburtius.
Upon arriving to congratulate the newlyweds, Tiburtius was astounded by the unspeakably beautiful roses and lilies. As soon as he was informed regarding their origin, he too asked for the waters of baptism. "St. Cecilia said to Tiburtius: Today I acknowledge you as a brother-in-law, because the love of God has made you despise the idols. Just as the love of God gave me your brother as a spouse, so it has given you to me as a brother in-law." When Almachius, the prefect, heard of the conversions, he ordered Maximus, his officer, to arrest and imprison all of them. Before being put to death, they instructed Maximus and his family, and baptised them during the night preceding execution.
At dawn Cecilia roused the two brothers to struggle heroically for Christ, as the glow of morning disappeared, Cecilia called: "Arise, soldiers of Christ, throw away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light." Cecilia pursued her victory as the soldiers willingly listened, "We believe that Christ is the true Son of God, who has chosen such a servant." Led before the prefect, she professed her faith in Christ, "We profess His holy Name and we will not deny Him."
In order to avoid further show, the prefect commanded her to be suffocated in the baths. She remained unharmed and prayed, "I thank You, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, that through Your Son the fire was extinguished at my side." Beheading was next in order. The executioner made three attempts (the law prohibited more) and let her lie in her blood. She lived for three days, encouraging the poor and dedicating her home into a church.
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Patron: Albi, France; composers; martyrs; music; musicians; musical instrument makers; archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska; poets; singers.
Symbols: Holding a lute; playing the organ; holding roses.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

St Teresa of Ávila




“It is foolish to think that we will enter heaven without entering into ourselves.” 

Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptised as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582), was a prominent Spanish mystic, Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, an author of the Counter Reformation and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be a founder of the Discalced Carmelites along with John of the Cross. Teresa is one of the foremost writers on mental prayer, and her position among writers on mystical theology is unique. In all her writings on this subject she deals with her personal experiences. Her deep insight and analytical gifts helped her to explain them clearly. Her definition was used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Contemplative prayer [oración mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us." She used a metaphor of mystic prayer as watering a garden throughout her writings. She was misunderstood, misjudged, opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She travelled, wrote, fought — always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life. In 1970, the Church gave her the title she had long held in the popular mind: Doctor of the Church. She and St Catherine of Siena were the first women so honoured. 


Saturday, 4 October 2014

St Francis of Assisi



“A man who works with his hands is a labourer. 
A man who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. 
A man who works with his hands, his head, and his heart is an artist.” 

― St Francis of Assisi


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Holy Guardian Angels



The idea that each soul has assigned to it a personal guardian angel has been long accepted by the Church and is a truth of our faith. From the Gospel of today's liturgy we read: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father" (Matthew 18: 10). The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "the existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith (328)." From our birth until our death, man is surrounded by the protection and intercession of angels, particularly our guardian angel: "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life (336)." The Church thanks God for our helpers, the angels, particularly on this feast day and September 29th (the feast of Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael). Today's feast appeared in Spain during the 16th century. It was extended to the universal Church and made obligatory in 1670.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

St Thérèse of Lisieux



"I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul." These are the words of Thérèse of the Child Jesus, a Carmelite nun called the "Little Flower," who lived a cloistered life of obscurity in the convent of Lisieux, France. And her preference for hidden sacrifice did indeed convert souls. Few saints of God are more popular than this young nun. Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, is read and loved throughout the world. Thérèse Martin entered the convent at the age of 15 and died in 1897 at the age of 24. She was canonised in 1925. The account of the eleven years of her religious life, marked by signal graces and constant growth in holiness, is given by Soeur Thérèse in her autobiography, written in obedience to her superior and published two years after her death. In 1901 it was translated into English, and in 1912 another translation, the first complete edition of the life of the Servant of God, containing the autobiography, Letters and Spiritual Counsels, was published. Its success was immediate and it has passed into many editions, spreading far and wide the devotion to this "little" saint of simplicity, and abandonment in God's service, of the perfect accomplishment of small duties. The fame of her sanctity and the many miracles performed through her intercession caused the introduction of her cause of canonisation only seventeen years after her death on 10 June 1914. Her feast day is celebrated on October 1st.


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Pope St Pius X



Pius X worked night and day for the Church he so loved, while also being well aware of the enemies of the Church and did all in his power to thwart the Evil One from penetrating the sanctuary. He first addressed this in a decree entitled Lamentabili Sane, then followed that up with his no-nonsense encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis on 8 September 1907 which dealt with the condemnation of the evils of modernism. One of the results of this encyclical was the requirement that all priests take the Oath Against Modernism, something that also has been lost on the vast majority of priests and prelates from the lowest to the highest echelons today. Pius X spoke out repeatedly against the insidious and subtle attacks of liberals to infiltrate the Church with modernistic theories that watered down the true teachings as well as Christ's Own words. He warned of the dangers of those who offer the argument that the Church is out of touch and needs to modernise in order to relate with today's culture and society. This Pope was warning the world of what would occur in less than half a century when one of his successors would pronounce and adopt aggiornamento which was exactly what Pius X feared, but could never have imagined would actually occur. It did.

One would have thought, hoped and prayed that the Church he so loved would not have been pillaged as badly as it has. Pius X adamantly and wisely refused to be persuaded to the false humanistic manifesto, re-emphasising over and over that if it was good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for His Church in the 20th Century. Sadly, John XXIII thought differently. One was Catholic (Pius X), the other had abandoned Catholicism. He knew what Christ had set down would be attacked and he also knew that if he and his flock were loyal to Jesus, Christ's words in Matthew 16: 18 would encourage them to remain faithful.

Never one to compromise or capitulate when it came to Dogmas, Doctrines and the teachings of Christ and His Church, Pius X had more than a few run-ins with world powers Russia, the United States, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and of course, France. "Diplomacy be damned" was Pius' watchword if any of these countries promoted liberalism in any way. He sought to cut this evil off at the roots. He had meticulously studied Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum Novarum and realised the Communist threat as well as the even more insidious Freemasonry agenda and the clever way they had both crept in. Therefore, he sought to prevent any re-occurrence or allow it to infiltrate the Church by educating the faithful to the errors of Modernism, Communism and Freemasonry. For this he made more than a few enemies of the Church. Though he did not die a martyr, he felt like one as the world press attacked him from all angles. Yet Pius X stayed the course and would not waver from his convictions and his total dedication to Christ's holy cause. He cared not for what people thought, but what his Lord and Saviour thought, unlike the popes of Vatican II who base their programmes on pleasing man and incur the rebukes of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1: 8-10.

Considered a holy person by many, public veneration of Pope Pius X began soon after his death. Numerous petitions resulted in an early process of beatification which started in the 1920s, coming to fruition in 1951. This which resulted in his canonisation on 29 May 1954. The Society of Saint Pius X, a Traditionalist Catholic group, is named in his honour. A gigantic statue of him is enshrined within Saint Peter's Basilica, while the town of his birthplace was also renamed after his canonisation.

While his reforming efforts bore fruit among the faithful, Pope Pius X was distraught over his inability to prevent the coming World War, which he accurately predicted would be a catastrophe for civilisation and the Church. He died on 20 August 1914, only weeks after the war began.

St Pius X was the first Pope to be declared a saint since the 1712 canonisation of the 16th century Pope St Pius V.


Friday, 1 August 2014

St Æthelwold



Today is the feast of Saint Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester. He was born there of good parentage in the early years of the tenth century. After a youth spent at the court of King Athelstan, Æthelwold placed himself under Elphege the Bald, Bishop of Winchester, who gave him the tonsure and ordained him priest along with Dunstan. At Glastonbury, where he was dean under Saint Dunstan, he was a mirror of perfection. In 955 he became Abbot of Abingdon; and on 29 November 963 was consecrated Bishop of Winchester by Dunstan, with whom he and Oswald of Worcester worked zealously in combating the general corruption occasioned by the Danish inroads. At Winchester, both in the old and in his new minster, he replaced the evil-living seculars with monks and refounded the ancient nunnery. His labours extended to Chertsey, Milton (Dorsetshire), Ely, Peterborough, and Thorney; expelling the unworthy, rebuilding and restoring; to the rebellious "terrible as a lion", to the meek "gentler than a dove." The epithets "father of monks" and "benevolent bishop" summarise Æthelwold's character as reformer and friend of Christ's poor. Though he suffered much from ill-health, his life as scholar, teacher, prelate, and royal counsellor was ever austere. He was buried in Winchester Cathedral, his body being translated later by Elphege, his successor. Abingdon monastery in the twelfth century had relics of Æthelwold. He is said to have written a treatise on the circle and to have translated the "Regularis Concordia." He died on 1 August 984.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

St Rita of Cascia



Rita of Cascia was a wife, mother, widow and member of a religious community. Her holiness was reflected in each phase of her life.

Born at Roccaporena in central Italy, Rita wanted to become a nun but was pressured at a young age into marrying a harsh and cruel man. During her eighteen year marriage, she bore and raised two sons. After her husband was killed in a brawl and her sons had died, Rita tried to join the Augustinian nuns in Cascia. Unsuccessful at first because she was a widow, Rita eventually succeeded.

Over the years, her austerity, prayerfulness and charity became legendary. When she developed wounds on her forehead, people quickly associated them with the wounds from Christ's crown of thorns. She meditated frequently on Christ's passion. Her care for the sick nuns was especially loving. She also counselled lay people who came to her monastery.

Beatified in 1626, Rita was not canonised until 1900. She has acquired the reputation, together with St Jude, as a saint of impossible cases. Many people visit her tomb each year.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

St Catherine of Siena



Born at Siena, 25 March 1347, Catherine died at Rome, 29 April, 1380. She was the youngest but one of a very large family. Her father, Giacomo di Benincasa, was a dyer; her mother, Lapa, the daughter of a local poet. They belonged to the lower middle-class faction of tradesmen and petty notaries, known as "the Party of the Twelve," which between one revolution and another ruled the Republic of Siena from 1355 to 1368. From her earliest childhood Catherine began to see visions and to practice extreme austerities. 

At the age of seven she consecrated her virginity to Christ; in her sixteenth year she took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries, and renewed the life of the anchorites of the desert in a little room in her father's house. After three years of celestial visitations and familiar conversation with Christ, she underwent the mystical experience known as the "spiritual espousals," probably during the carnival of 1366. She now rejoined her family, began to tend the sick, especially those afflicted with the most repulsive diseases, to serve the poor, and to labour for the conversion of sinners. 

Though always suffering terrible physical pain, living for long intervals on practically no food save the Blessed Sacrament, she was ever radiantly happy and full of practical wisdom no less than the highest spiritual insight. All her contemporaries bear witness to her extraordinary personal charm, which prevailed over the continual persecution to which she was subjected even by the friars of her own order and by her sisters in religion. She began to gather disciples round her, both men and women, who formed a wonderful spiritual fellowship, united to her by the bonds of mystical love. 

During the summer of 1370 she received a series of special manifestations of Divine mysteries, which culminated in a prolonged trance, a kind of mystical death, in which she had a vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, and heard a Divine command to leave her cell and enter the public life of the world. She began to dispatch letters to men and women in every condition of life, entered into correspondence with the princes and republics of Italy, was consulted by the papal legates about the affairs of the Church, and set herself to heal the wounds of her native land by staying the fury of civil war and the ravages of faction. 

She implored the pope, Gregory XI, to leave Avignon, to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States, and ardently threw herself into his design for a crusade, in the hopes of uniting the powers of Christendom against the infidels, and restoring peace to Italy by delivering her from the wandering companies of mercenary soldiers. 

While at Pisa, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, 1375, she received the Stigmata, although, at her special prayer, the marks did not appear outwardly in her body while she lived.

Mainly through the misgovernment of the papal officials, war broke out between Florence and the Holy See, and almost the whole of the Papal States rose in insurrection. Catherine had already been sent on a mission from the pope to secure the neutrality of Pisa and Lucca. In June, 1376, she went to Avignon as ambassador of the Florentines, to make their peace; but, either through the bad faith of the republic or through a misunderstanding caused by the frequent changes in its government, she was unsuccessful. Nevertheless she made such a profound impression upon the mind of the pope, that, in spite of the opposition of the French king and almost the whole of the Sacred College, he returned to Rome (17 January 1377). Catherine spent the greater part of 1377 in effecting a wonderful spiritual revival in the country districts subject to the Republic of Siena, and it was at this time that she miraculously learned to write, though she still seems to have chiefly relied upon her secretaries for her correspondence. 

Early in 1378 she was sent by Pope Gregory to Florence, to make a fresh effort for peace. Unfortunately, through the factious conduct of her Florentine associates, she became involved in the internal politics of the city, and during a popular tumult (June 22nd) an attempt was made upon her life. She was bitterly disappointed at her escape, declaring that her sins had deprived her of the red rose of martyrdom. Nevertheless, during the disastrous revolution known as "the tumult of the Ciompi," she still remained at Florence or in its territory until, at the beginning of August, news reached the city that peace had been signed between the republic and the new pope. Catherine then instantly returned to Siena, where she passed a few months of comparative quiet, dictating her Dialogue the book of her meditations and revelations.

Meanwhile, the Great Schism had broken out in the Church. From the outset Catherine enthusiastically adhered to the Roman claimant, Urban VI, who in November 1378 summoned her to Rome. In the Eternal City she spent what remained of her life, working strenuously for the reformation of the Church, serving the destitute and afflicted, and dispatching eloquent letters on behalf of Urban to high and low in all directions. Her strength was rapidly being consumed; she besought her Divine Bridegroom to let her bear the punishment for all the sins of the world, and to receive the sacrifice of her body for the unity and renovation of the Church; at last it seemed to her that the Bark of Peter was laid upon her shoulders, and that it was crushing her to death with its weight. 

After a prolonged and mysterious agony of three months, endured by her with supreme exultation and delight, from Sexagesima Sunday until the Sunday before the Ascension, she died. Her last political work, accomplished practically from her death-bed, was the reconciliation of Pope Urban VI with the Roman Republic (1380).

Among Catherine's principal followers were Fra Raimondo delle Vigne, of Capua (died 1399), her confessor and biographer, afterwards General of the Dominicans, and Stefano di Corrado Maconi (died 1424), who had been one of her secretaries, and became Prior General of the Carthusians. Raimondo's book, the Legend was finished in 1395. A second life of her, The Supplement, was written a few years later by another of her associates, Fra Tomaso Caffarini (died 1434), who also composed the Minor Legend, which was translated into Italian by Stefano Maconi. Between 1411 and 1413 the depositions of the surviving witnesses of her life and work were collected at Venice, to form the famous "Process." 

Catherine was canonised by Pius II in 1461. The emblems by which she is known in Christian art are the lily and book, the crown of thorns, or sometimes a heart - referring to the legend of her having changed hearts with Christ. The works of St Catherine of Siena rank among the classics of the Italian language, written in the beautiful Tuscan vernacular of the fourteenth century. Notwithstanding the existence of many excellent manuscripts, the printed editions present the text in a frequently mutilated and most unsatisfactory condition. 

Her writings consist of:

  • the Dialogue, or Treatise on Divine Providence;
  • a collection of nearly four hundred letters; and
  • a series of Prayers.

The Dialogue especially, which treats of the whole spiritual life of man in the form of a series of colloquies between the Eternal Father and the human soul (represented by Catherine herself), is the mystical counterpart in prose of Dante's Divina Commedia.

A smaller work in the dialogue form, the Treatise on Consummate Perfection, is also ascribed to her, but is probably spurious. It is impossible in a few words to give an adequate conception of the manifold character and contents of the Letters, which are the most complete expression of Catherine's many-sided personality. While those addressed to popes and sovereigns, rulers of republics and leaders of armies, are documents of priceless value to students of history, many of those written to private citizens, men and women in the cloister or in the world, are as fresh and illuminating, as wise and practical in their advice and guidance for the devout Catholic today as they were for those who sought her counsel while she lived. Others, again, lead the reader to mystical heights of contemplation, a rarefied atmosphere of sanctity in which only the few privileged spirits can hope to dwell. The key-note to Catherine's teaching is that man, whether in the cloister or in the world, must ever abide in the cell of self-knowledge, which is the stable in which the traveller through time to eternity must be born again.


A relic of Saint Catherine of Siena held at the Holy Grail Retreat.


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter Day



An outline of the Evangelists' account concerning the principal events of Easter Sunday:

The harmony of the other appearances of Christ after His Resurrection presents no special difficulties.

Briefly, therefore, the fact of Christ's Resurrection is attested by more than five hundred eyewitnesses, whose experience, simplicity, and uprightness of life rendered them incapable of inventing such a fable, who lived at a time when any attempt to deceive could have been easily discovered, who had nothing in this life to gain, but everything to lose by their testimony, whose moral courage exhibited in their apostolic life can be explained only by their intimate conviction of the objective truth of their message. Again the fact of Christ's Resurrection is attested by the eloquent silence of the Synagogue which had done everything to prevent deception, which could have easily discovered deception, if there had been any, which opposed only sleeping witnesses to the testimony of the Apostles, which did not punish the alleged carelessness of the official guard, and which could not answer the testimony of the Apostles except by threatening them "that they speak no more in this name to any man" (Acts 4: 17). Finally the thousands and millions, both Jews and Gentiles, who believed the testimony of the Apostles in spite of all the disadvantages following from such a belief, in short the origin of the Church, requires for its explanation the reality of Christ's Resurrection, for the rise of the Church without the Resurrection would have been a greater miracle than the Resurrection itself.

The Resurrection of Christ has much in common with the general resurrection; even the transformation of His body and of His bodily life is of the same kind as that which awaits the blessed in their resurrection. But the following peculiarities must be noted:

  • Christ's Resurrection is necessarily a glorious one; it implies not merely the reunion of body and soul, but also the glorification of the body.
  • Christ's body was to know no corruption, but rose again soon after death, when sufficient time had elapsed to leave no doubt as to the reality of His death.
  • Christ was the first to rise unto life immortal; those raised before Him died again (Colossians 1: 181 Corinthians 15: 20).
  • As the Divine power which raised Christ from the grave was His own power, He rose from the dead by His own power (John 2: 1910: 17-18).
  • Since the Resurrection had been promised as the main proof of Christ's Divine mission, it has a greater dogmatic importance than any other fact. "If Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (1 Corinthians 15: 14).
Besides being the fundamental argument for our Christian belief, the Resurrection is important for the following reasons:



Saturday, 19 April 2014

Holy Saturday




Holy Saturday is sacred as the day of the Lord's rest; it has been called the "Second Sabbath" after creation. The day is and should be the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year, a day broken by no liturgical function. Christ lies in the grave, the Church sits near and mourns. After the great battle He is resting in peace, but upon Him we see the scars of intense suffering. The mortal wounds on His Body remain visible. Jesus' enemies are still furious, attempting to obliterate the very memory of the Lord by lies and slander.
Mary and the disciples are grief-stricken, while the Church must mournfully admit that too many of her children return home from Calvary cold and hard of heart. When Mother Church reflects upon all of this, it seems as if the wounds of her dearly Beloved were again beginning to bleed.
According to tradition, the entire body of the Church is represented in Mary: she is the "credentium collectio universa"(Congregation for Divine Worship,Lettera circolare sulla preparazione e celebrazione delle feste pasquali, 73). Thus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she waits near the Lord's tomb, as she is represented in Christian tradition, is an icon of the Virgin Church keeping vigil at the tomb of her Spouse while awaiting the celebration of his resurrection.
The pious exercise of the Ora di Maria is inspired by this intuition of the relationship between the Virgin Mary and the Church: while the body of her Son lays in the tomb and his soul has descended to the dead to announce liberation from the shadow of darkness to his ancestors, the Blessed Virgin Mary, foreshadowing and representing the Church, awaits, in faith, the victorious triumph of her Son over death. — Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy
There are no liturgies celebrated this day, unless the local parish priest blesses the food baskets. The Easter blessings of food owe their origin to the fact that these particular foods, namely, fleshmeat and milk products, including eggs, were forbidden in the Middle Ages during the Lenten fast and abstinence. When the feast of Easter brought the rigorous fast to an end, and these foods were again allowed, the people showed their joy and gratitude by first taking the food to church for a blessing. Moreover, they hoped that the Church's blessing on such edibles would prove a remedy for whatever harmful effects the body might have suffered from the long period of self-denial. The Easter blessings of food is still held in some churches.
If there is no blessing for the Easter foods in the parish, the father of the family can pray the Blessing over the Easter food.
It is during the night between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday that the Easter Vigil is celebrated. The service begins around ten o'clock, in order that the solemn vigil Mass may start at midnight.





Friday, 18 April 2014

Good Friday





Good Friday at 3 pm (when Jesus died on the cross) there is the narrative of the Passion, and veneration of a relic of the True Cross. Jesus agonised on the cross for six hours. During his last three hours on the cross, from noon to 3 pm, darkness fell over the entire land. With a loud cry, Jesus gave up His spirit. There was an earthquake, tombs broke open, and the curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. The centurion on guard at the crucifixion declared: "This Man truly was the Son of God!"
Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to His condemnation, went to Pilate to request the Body of Jesus. Another secret follower of Jesus and member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus brought about a hundred pound weight mixture of spices and helped wrap the Body of Christ. Pilate asked confirmation from the centurion whether Jesus was dead. A soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a lance causing blood and water to flow out, and the centurion informed Pilate that Jesus is dead.
Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus' Body, wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock in a garden near the site of crucifixion. Nicodemus also brought seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes, and placed them in the linen with the body, in keeping with the burial custom. They rolled a large rock over the entrance to the tomb.