The Ecstatic Visions of St. Catherine of Siena
What is the Tabernacle? 8 Ways Jesus is Our Tabernacle
The Resurrection Morning
A Prayer Before the Cross
Lord Jesus Christ, I petition you as your most unworthy servant and adopted child through the waters of Baptism to hear my petitions. Please soothe the anxiety in my heart, mind, and soul over the pressures, toils, and attacks of despair the Enemy sends my way. Self-doubt and self-loathing pervades me mind throughout today. In keeping with the words of the great Doctor of the Church St. Catherine of Sienna, “Every great burden becomes light beneath this most holy yoke of the sweet will of God.” May I receive the graces from the Holy Spirit to love myself and confidently seek your Will, not for my sake but as in loving myself I make a worthy offering to you Most Holy God.
While my sins wound me and damage my relationship with myself, my neighbors, and ultimately You Most Holy Trinity, I petition for intercession from the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints in Heaven to help re-orient my gaze from the gutters of the troubles of my life to gaze upward to the Cross of Jesus—crucified on Golgotha.
Mary Intercede for Us
I recall the words from a homily by my parish priest who declared, “It is through the atmosphere of Mary that we truly are able to receive the light of the Son.” According to John 19:26-27, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ 27 Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” At the foot of the Cross, Jesus entrusted his beloved disciple [and all humanity] to his mother. More important, Jesus gifts us the blessing of the Blessed Virgin Mary as well.
Despite the failings, trials, and doubts that surround us, be assured that peace and joy can be found in uniting ourselves to Christ’s suffering in Calvary. Remembering that we are all in this pilgrim journey, towards holiness, together helps sustain me in my downtrodden times
Did God Actually Abandon Jesus?
For several years of my life, the final words of Jesus before his death on the Cross puzzled me. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34). The word forsaken has many synonyms.The two that stand out to me are quit and desert. Let’s insert these words into the previous quote and read it again. On the Cross Jesus cries out, “My God, my God why have you quit on me and deserted me?” I think that everyone relate to Christ’s words. Within my own life I feel God has quit on me too many times to count and I believe I may be experiencing a period of abandonment and loneliness currently.
Why am I telling you this? Is my accusation of God’s commitment to me a grave danger to my Catholic faith? Is my feeling of abandonment caused by outside factors such as my work, stress, the winter weather? Perhaps. However, I felt compelled to journal about my inner struggles as a Catholic man as a type of prayer to God Himself.
A few years ago, I took graduate theology courses. There was a particular class where I was required to read St. John of the Cross’s A Dark Night of the Soul– a spiritual grace that flowed from his period of spiritual loneliness. During this time of my life, I starting reading the Diary of St. Maria Faustina and she expressed similar sentiment. The Polish saint writes, “O Jesus, today my soul is as though darkened by suffering. Not a single ray of light” (Diary 195), Her words express my exact thoughts today.
When I read Faustina’s words, I felt provoked to learn more about the words of the dying Christ: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It turns out that the Gospels writers were making an allusion to Psalm 22- a prayer the psalmist wrote as a lament to God. I believe that the Holy Spirit was teaching me by fusing my theological background of the Scriptures with my current life experience.
Maybe God is allowing me to suffer loneliness because He knows that this will direct me on the path of prayer again. See I have not been the best Catholic. I have been impatient at work and home. I allow doubt to creep into my life. Perhaps this spiritual abandonment is the greatest gift God can grant to me now. Perhaps God is doing the same thing in your life now. Let’s embrace this loneliness together and continue to hope in God’s Providence. Amen.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the most sacred time in the Christian calendar Holy Week. As a cradle Catholic who attended Catholic schools my entire life, I have heard the extended gospel readings about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem many times. On top of that I studied graduate level theology and read spiritual works for fun. I am not telling you this to boast, but rather to set forth my struggle when it comes to these important feast days: how can I learn something new when I have heard the same readings that I nearly have them committed to memory!
Same Old Story
Sadly, I had this same mindset this morning before Mass. Remarkably, we arrived at the church with a few minutes to spar. After we found a pew, our three year-old starting asking about food (the #1 topic for toddlers!), specifically granola bars. To my dismay, I realized that I failed to stock the mass bag with snacks. I figured Palm Sunday 2019 would end up in a power struggle with a toddler and bitterness over not being able to pay attention to the liturgy. Miraculously, he did not dwell on the granola bars, and I was able to listen to all of the readings including the entirety of the LOTR length Gospel feature!
In between working to keep our children assuaged and paying attention to the Gospel, I noticed a peculiar line that I never heard before. Well, I probably heard that verse, but it probably never registered on my theological radar because I grew lukewarm in my faith. Making a mental note for me to check the passage later I continued to listen to the Gospel. Later in the day, I looked up Luke’s Gospel and found that peculiar verse—Luke 23:12. It reads “Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, even though had been enemies formerly.”
Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend
The classic cliche “an enemy of my enemy is my friend” rings true for Herod and Pilate’s relationship in Palm Sunday’s Gospel. Both men were earthly rulers: a Jewish king and a Roman prefect. During the first century, the Roman Empire occupied the land of Judea. Charges against Jesus in Luke 23:2 include “tax evasion” against the Romans and blasphemy as he claimed to be God.
According to Christian tradition, the historian Eusebius, ““Luke, who was by race an Antiochian and a physician by profession” (Eccl. Hist. 3.4). The meticulous nature of St. Luke’s prose especially in the prologue of his Gospel makes his passing reference at the sudden friendship of Herod and Pilate mysterious.
Both Herod and Pilate presided over the trial of an innocent man. Both leaders gave in to external pressures to sentence an innocent victim to death. The former had John the Baptist beheaded at the behest of his vile wife, and of course Pilate caved into the pressures of the Jewish religious leaders to have Jesus Crucified. American author Leo Buscaglia declared, I have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate – it’s apathy. It’s not giving a damn.” Neither Herod nor Pilate “hated” John and Jesus. They balked at sentencing, but because of their weak wills, lukewarmness, and ultimate selfish desire to stay in power they caved to social pressures. Herod and Pilate’s actions showed an apathy over love of God.
Will You Display Halfheartedness this Holy Week?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2094, “lukewarmness is hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love; it can imply refusal to give oneself over to the prompting of charity.” Wow! I did not realize the harshness associated with a lukewarm attitude. Possessing a spiritual “meh” attitude poses dangers of losing out on love. Will you aim to be holy the WHOLE holy week or merely haphazardly? The Holy Spirit prompted me to wake up when I heard Luke 23:12. Lent 2019 I have been mostly a Herod or a Pilate— apathetic toward true love seeking mostly control of my life. The good news is Holy Week is here. We can re-start our faith journey with a triumphal entry like Jesus. Let us ask for the gift of humility and the courage to avoid spiritual lukewarmness.
This week’s installment of the Why Catholics Must Have Bible A.D.D. will feature parallels between the great Old Testament prophet Moses and Jesus Christ. Except for King David and the prophet Elijah no other figure in Judaism had as much influence as Moses. Uniquely, God privileged Moses with helping to free the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, safeguarding of the 10 Commandments, and appearance at the Transfiguration of Jesus.
Catholics read the Bible as a unity. The Old Testament prefigures the New Testament and the New fulfills the old. A primary method for studying the Bible is called typology. According to John A. Hardon, S.J. in Catholic Dictionary, “A biblical person, thing, action, or event that foreshadows new truths, new actions, or new events. A likeness must exist between the type and the archetype, but the latter is always greater. Both are independent of each other.” Moses is a quintessential Christ-like figure in the Old Testament and Jesus is viewed as the New Moses in the Gospels. We will focus on three major Jesus is the New Moses: both teach with authority, both perform miracles, and both lead people to a better life.
Sermons on High Places
I used to teach high school Old and New Testament. On the section focusing on St. Matthew’s Gospel the major theme I reiterated to my student was to focus on how Jesus is the New Moses. In fact, the evangelist arranged his gospel into five discourses as a teaching mechanism to recall the five—the Pentateuch. Traditionally, Moses is believed to have written the
Among the countless appellations given to Jesus in Scripture and Tradition, Christ as Teacher accurately describes Matthew’s version of Jesus. St. Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae cites from Matthew 23:8, “[Jesus] He proclaims the singularity, the uniqueness of His character as teacher: “You have one teacher,”(25) the Christ (# 8). The Jews thought of Moses as the teacher of the Law so hearing Jesus’ claim as the supreme teacher certainty shocked them.
Both Moses and Jesus preached from mountains. The former taught on Mount Sinai and the latter preached the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. While the teaching of Moses extended merely to the nation of Israel, Jesus’ Good News extended to all the nations (cf. Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus’ teaching did not abolish the law of Moses, rather perfected it. According to Pope Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, “In the Sermon on the Mount, he recapitulates and gives added depth to the commandments of the second tablet, but he does not Abolish them (p. 70). Moses received the word of God on stone tablets. Jesus is the Word of God himself!
Another similarity between Moses and Jesus are the miracles they perform. In Exodus 7:14-24 Moses turned the Nile River to blood. Jesus’ first public miracle contains transformation as well. John 2:1-12 records Christ’s turning the water into wine. Likewise, the manna provided in the desert (Exodus 16) finds a greater example in the New Testament in John 6. Jesus tells his disciples the following,
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; 50 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.
Moses’ other famous “miracles” into sending the plagues on the Egptians due to the obstinate heart of Pharaoh. Although ultimately saving the Israelites, these plagues devastated their enemy. Jesus’ miracles save without the destruction. He healed lepers, raised people from the dead, and calmed storms. As an instrument of God, Moses performed great miraculous feats, but as the Son of God Jesus’ miracles are greater!
Destination—The Promised Land
The final connection between Moses and Jesus that I wish to discuss today centers on a destination. Living under bondage of Egyptian slavery, the Israelites initially welcomed their freedom. In Exodus 16:3 they lamented to Moses, If only we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our kettles of meat and ate our fill of bread! But you have led us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of famine!” Similarly, Jesus’ Victory over Death brings about the option for entering Heaven
— only if we love God and neighbor entirely! Freedom from our sin, initially feels good, however, after some time, like the Israelites, begin to long for the “comforts” that sin provided!
A major difference between Moses and Jesus is that the Promised Land ultimately did not satisfy whereas Heaven will bring ultimate satisfaction. St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote, “In heaven, the soul is certain that she loves God, and that he loves her. She sees that the Lord embraces her with infinite love, and that this love will not be dissolved for all eternity.” The destination Moses’ promised was physical and limited. Our home in Heaven is eternal and everlasting!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares in paragraph 128,”128 The Church, as early as apostolic times,104 and then constantly in her Tradition, has illuminated the unity of the divine plan in the two Testaments through typology, which discerns in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son.” Moses prefigures Jesus in a vast amount of ways besides being a teacher of the Law, working miracles, and freeing from slavery. In the future, I hope to provide a further analysis on how Moses foreshadowing Jesus Christ. For more information about biblical typology please check out the links in the related resources section. Thank you for joining me in this installment of Why Catholic Must Have Bible A.D.D.!