We spend this day waiting and pondering with Mary what these last days have been for her and for us. I keep thinking of what the Holy Father asked of us: Who am I? Where is my heart? What do I want to say to Jesus at this moment in my life?
What would the world be like if I did not believe in the Resurrection? I find this day of waiting for the Easter vigil to be a time of deep silence as well as some deep thinking. I so often take things for granted!
I must say that my gratitude Journal has had full pages. I am so grateful for my life, the world I live in, my vocation to the Society of the Sacred Heart, my family, education, health, missionary years in Chile, etc. Each day I have some special marks of His Love to thank for and I do think that when we are grateful we are also joyful. I wish you the joy of the Risen Jesus!
This is a day to just be with Jesus. He has given His life for each of us. What am I doing for Him? What will I do for Him?
There is the Veneration of the Cross followed by a Communion service today. I usually go to the noon service as it is near here and very moving. At the end, since it is a parish with many Hispanics, there is a procession and they carry in a life-size statue of Jesus lying in the tomb. It startled me the first time I went there but now I see how much it means to the parishioners and how they stay and pray at the tomb after the service. They also use a huge, heavy Cross that is carried into the Church by six men in a procession after the first part of the ceremony of readings and prayers; the men hold the cross while all the faithful come up to kiss it with reverence.
For me, today is a day of silence and perhaps some manual work at home. We pray together as a community each of these holy days. I am asking myself how Jesus wants me to stay with Him these days and begging the grace to be able to do so.
Today I want to quote from the Pope's honily during Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square where 100,000 had gathered. Pope Francis said that during this week:
"We would do well to ask just one question: Who am I? Who am I , before my Lord?" The Holy Father recalled the names of those appearing in the Gospel reading and asked, "Is my life asleep like that of the disciples who slept while the Lord suffered? Am I like Judas, who pretended to love, and kissed the Master to give him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor?"
Today is Spy Wednesday; it is so named because it is the day Judas arranged to betray Jesus.
The Pope also asked if we were like one of these: Pilate, who washed his hands of his responsibility; the crowds who chose the criminal Barabbas over Jesus; the soldiers who struck Jesus and mocked him; the passersby who mocked Jesus as he hung on the Cross.
The Pope also named those who showed fidelity and then concluded with this question that should accompany us through Holy Week: "Where is my heart: To which of these people am I most alike?"
If you go to the RSCJ Province website to find my blog (link on the right side of the page), perhaps you have read Barb Quinn's Lenten Reflection. I was so struck by it, that I am copying a bit from it here, plan to use it with the Spirituality Group that comes on Wednesday night, and hope to urge many to read it. She writes on Palm Sunday and begins by saying that we are on the threshold of the holiest week in the liturgical year. That made me stop and reflect. She describes it as "a week that unfolds the stories of profound darkness and death and the promise of light and the life unimagined!" I will stop there in the hope that each will have time to read the entire reflection.
I read in the Little Black Book for Lent that contains six-minute meditations on the Passion in Matthew, that none of the Gospel writers describe the crucifixion. It was such a shameful and painful form of execution that they do not describe it. Matthew, "looks the other way and then says: '...After they had crucified him...' That's it.Five words. Nothing about throwing Jesus on the ground, stretching his arms on the cross-beam and holding him down as they drive in the nails. Nothing about hoisting the cross beam to the stake already fixed in the ground, his body writhing as they did it. Nothing about wrestling his feet in place and then nailing them to the bottom of the stake. Nothing about the screams of pain. It was too awful to tell, which is why not one of the four evangelists tells it." We even get used to looking at the Crucifix and thinking only of God's love for us and forgetting the terrible suffering. Now, am I with Jesus in His suffering as we live through another Holy Week? Am I even aware of all the suffering in the world? This week is not an easy week and we need to face what is going on in so many places right now where people are being treated inhumanly; the injustice and cruelty that causes so much anguish is everywhere. But, Jesus has come and died for us. Easter is coming! But how am I going to stay with Jesus this week to live more fully the Paschal Mystery?
Today we just want to be with Jesus. We want to ask for the strength, the courage, the steadfast love, that will allow us to accompany Him through this week when He will be betrayed, denied, abandoned by his closest, chosen friends. He goes to His death on the Cross for love of us. Let us ask the grace to be with Him and to open our hearts to the suffering so many endure today so we can at least carry them in our prayer,
I would remind you to look at the Preface for the first days of Holy Week. Holy Thursday will have its own Preface and then, of course, we have the Preface for Easter.
Jesus and the Pope call us to go out to others and proclaim the Good News. I think that Palm Sunday has an aspect of joy as well as sorrow. Jesus is proclaimed and celebrated as he enters into the city of Jerusalem, It is a joyful crowd and these are people who want to welcome Jesus. The problem is that so many of them are like many of us. We welcome Jesus until we are asked to be with Him in His Passion and Death. The fact is that the Resurrection comes after Jesus has suffered and died for us and we need to be with Him all the way. The disciples left Him and fled, but the women found their way to be near Him to the end and were also the first to know the joy of the Risen Jesus.
One of our Sisters in California does a Way of the Cross each year linking all the suffering in this world of ours. It is really impressive and I will be praying over it in Holy Week.
May all have a Blessed Palm Sunday and enter into Holy Week with great love and compassion for those who are suffering in all parts of our world.
The Preface for this most holy day tells us that "we are made strong" and that we are "washed clean" when we participate in the Eucharist. I am copying it here for your prayer and reflection:
"It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord.
For he is the true and eternal Priest, who instituted the pattern of an everlasting sacrifice and was the first to offer himself as the saving Victim, commanding us to make this offering as his memorial. As we eat his flesh that was sacrificed for us, we are washed clean."
The Pope has begun speaking about the Holy Spirit and the seven gifts of the Spirit in his Wednesday audience talks. He begins with the gift of wisdom and, although I do not have those words in front of me, I was impressed by the idea that we must ask to be "wise" - to see at God sees, to hear as God hears, and to feel as God feels.
He suggests that we ask the Holy Spirit to be with us as we enter into Holy Week. This Sunday is Palm Sunday; we often have a procession to enter the church after the blessing of the palms. This is to remind us of how Jesus entered Jerusalem just a few days before his death. The people were happy to see Him but some may have also been in the crowd that called out "Crucify him!" on Good Friday. On Wednesday, Judas will betray Jesus; on Holy Thursday, we have Jesus washing the feet of his disciples before giving them Himself in the Eucharist. Then Jesus prays to His Father before going out to the Garden where He goes through a very human struggle to accept the suffering and death that awaits Him, but His prayer is always "Thy Will be done." I find the prayer in the garden the place where I stay often during Holy Week. Jesus felt alone; his disciples slept while He prayed. Then, after the really difficult prayer, Jesus is at peace and we do not see that same anguish as He goes forth to be mocked, scourged, and crucified. Now His thoughts turn to others - He forgives the very ones who are nailing Him to the cross!
Jesus always asks us to trust Him in every detail of our lives. Why do we think we can handle things when we have one who loves us and is all powerful with us and who waits for us to turn to Him? Jesus says in the daily reflection from Jesus Calling: "focus your energy on trusting me and thanking me at all times."
Lord, help me to trust You, to turn to You, to thank You today for your presence in my life! I need You, I desire You, I seek You and know that You are with me and can handle all the situations of this day!
I mentioned in an earlier blog the little book, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young who learned to sit in the presence of Jesus and listen to Him with pen in hand. I want to share a few of the thoughts that struck me from today's reflection:
"You are mine for all time: nothing can separate you from my Love...Many problems vanish instantly in the light of my Love because you realize that you are never alone. Other problems may remain, but they become secondary to knowing Me and rejoicing in the relationship I so freely offer you. Each moment you can choose to practice My presence or to practice the presence of problems."
There are always a couple of scripture passages given at the end of each reflection. Today's are Romans 8:38-39; Exodus 33:14
What a joy and a gift to know that nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus! I am trying to just sit and listen to Jesus and He tells me that He likes me to be quiet in His Presence so I can hear Him!! Easier said than done! But let us keep trying to just be with Him who loves us so much!
I guess hearing about the earthquake in Chile brought backso many memories of living through earthquakes and the after quakes and tremors that keep one alert.Fortunately, we heard that our nuns were fine in the north of Chile and this huge earthquake did less damage than would be expected, but it certainly did not help the poor fishermen who lost their boats and thus their livelihood.
To continue with something from the Pope"s Joy of the Gospel:
If anyone feels offended by my words, I would respond that I speak them with affection and with the best of intentions, quite apart from any personal interest or political ideology. My words are not those of a foe or an opponent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth.
Jesus, the evangelizer par excellence and the Gospel in person, identifies especially with the little ones (cf. Mt 25:40). This reminds us Christians that we are called to care for the vulnerable of the earth. But the current model, with
its emphasis on success and self-reliance, does not appear to favor an investment in efforts to help the slow, the weak or the less talented to find opportunities in life.
Maybe our economic and political policies need an earthquake to shake us up to think of the common good - those who make the policies need to remember that cooperation and compromise are two words they need to put into their lives plus compassion!
Hello, my name is Helen Rosenthal, RSCJ. Those initials stand for Religious of the Sacred Heart in Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish. Since my religious congregation began in France in 1800 and now is all over the world, we have kept the RSCJ. By now you know that I am not only known as Dr. Helen Rosenthal, but also as Sister Helen Rosenthal.
I am the oldest of four children. We were all born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. We lived in a big house with a playroom on the third floor. On Sundays we either went to my paternal grandmother's house where her six children would gather faithfully for supper or we would have my mother's father and our great aunt and uncle for a roast beef dinner at home. In summer, I would go to the lake with my Dad and I still love to swim.