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Easter’s association with the Easter bunny comes from a revival of an old pagan fertility symbol — rabbits traditionally have large families. Hiding eggs around the house and garden is rooted in simple truth: free-ranging hens tend to lay eggs in all sorts of places. But hunting for eggs is also linked to Mary Magdalene’s quest for Christ: “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him” (Jn 20:13). And she met him in a garden, and He called her by name.

Easter is a time for feasting and superabundance. All the things we have renounced in Lent can now be enjoyed with relish, including sumptuous foods — chocolate, wine, delicious cakes — and time for gathering family and friends and having long talkative meals. It’s a time for decorating the table with Easter baskets filled with eggs — chocolate eggs, sugar eggs, real eggs dyed and decorated. Traditional dishes include roast lamb or ham.

At Mass we renew our baptismal promises, recalling our own participation in the Paschal Mystery. The tomb in the Easter garden has been open, and we celebrate for the next 50 days.

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Joanna Bogle is a British Catholic journalist, writer and broadcaster. In 2013, she became a Dame of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great. She has authored several books and blogs at joannabogle.blogspot.com  To read her ENTIRE article on Lent and Easter, please go to Ideas for celebrating Lent and Easter .

Fully Entering Into the Triduum

 

During the Sacred Triduum — the days of Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday — the strangest thing will occur. Millions of Christians throughout the world will gather to honor the humiliation, torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In a global culture that usually celebrates power, strength and beauty, this public veneration of something so horrible is always a little shocking. Could it be that what people find so absolutely compelling about the Passion narrative is the vulnerability of God?

In the Christ event, God leaves the safety and glory of heaven, in a certain sense, and embraces the limitations of our human condition, coming to know in the flesh both the glory and tragedy of our nature without ever having sinned. In the last week of his life, Jesus completely hands himself over to us. In the foot washing and the Eucharist, in the scourging and the crucifixion, the Son of God loves us completely without restrictions, conditions or limits. Whether we accept, reject or ignore this Divine Love, Jesus never changes his fundamental stance toward us.

In Roman and Greek mythology, the gods are always conspiring to manipulate humanity to serve their often-selfish ends and egotistical schemes. In Christ, we encounter the surprising subversion of this oppressive game. God serves us! In absolute humility, availability, vulnerability and mercy, God has come to love, pardon and save us.

The weakness of the cross, the simplicity of the Eucharist, the tenderness of the foot washing, the love that seeks to embrace a traitor, a thief and a coward is so beyond the grasp of power politics, the swirl of social hubris and the world of earthly grasping that it takes our breath away. No wonder that kings would stand speechless in the presence of the Suffering Servant, as Isaiah proclaims.

If God could become that poor, humble and vulnerable to love me, how can I ever stand on my own self-importance? This week, we celebrate the strangest things: weakness becomes strength, love conquers fear, miserable despair transforms into resurrected hope and perpetual death gives way to eternal life, and it’s all because a naked criminal was thrown down on a cross 2,000 years ago, and he embraced it as if it were his marriage bed.

We should let the Lord love us during Holy Week. The palm we held on Palm Sunday shold be a symbol of our praise, reverence and love for the humble Master who has saved and set us free. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening is an opportunity to taste the surprising grace of the Eucharist and surrender to the consolation of the foot washing. Listening to the Passion and venerating the cross on Good Friday gives us the opportunity to embrace the cross in our own lives, no matter what form it may take. Know that the mystery of suffering in our lives is the sacred ladder by which we will ascend to the beauty of the Kingdom of heaven.

Holy Saturday is a sacred time of rest and silence, as the Lord sleeps in the tomb and all of creation awaits a salvation it does not yet understand. A beautiful ancient text from the early Church pictures Jesus roaming the abode of the dead on this day, unchaining Adam and Eve and all of the other souls who had been waiting for redemption since the foundation of the world. Ask the Lord to set you free from the fear, sin and self-seeking that keeps you bound.

Gathering around the Easter fire at the Vigil, we call to mind how we began the Lenten journey marked with the ashes of sin, failure and defeat, but now you have become filled with fire — the mighty force of the risen Christ and the courageous strength of the Holy Spirit. As we proclaim the resurrection of Christ as the beautiful truth and transformative meaning of human history, know that the Lord walks with you, loves you and is leading you to the fullness of joy and peace.

The shocking, strange and powerful events of Holy Week should lead us to tears and laughter, gratitude and praise, humble awareness of our weakness and joyful acclamation of God’s victory. The Triduum is a time for God to break open our hearts, so that the gracious torrent of Divine Mercy that flows from the side of the crucified Christ will wash us clean, forgive our sins and fashion us ever more deeply in the new creation of the Lord’s saving death and resurrection.

Bishop Donald J. Hying is the bishop of Gary, Indiana.

Forgiving (and asking for forgiveness) is hard:  This can make it easier

The ability to forgive is a virtue, a social skill that is learned, but there are other factors at play as well. Forgiveness is a reality loaded with emotions. It can be embarrassing, and yet also rewarding, to ask for forgiveness for an action of ours that has caused harm; it can also be difficult and yet peace-giving to forgive another person whose action has inflicted harm upon us. Our emotions and the way we manage them depend not only on our upbringing, but also on our current environment and our individual biological constitution — all the things that go into our personality. All of this affects how difficult or easy it is for us to forgive or to ask for forgiveness. For some people, it can be very difficult.

Benefits of asking for forgiveness or forgiving: Higher self-esteem, less stress, anxiety or sadness, better physical condition (lower blood pressure and heart rate), finally—it makes us better people with enormous personal, family & social benefits

Some fundamental attitudes when asking for forgiveness: 1. Analyze the offense with real empathy towards the offended person.  2. Express yourself briefly offering a sincere apology. 3. Listen & recognize the importance of what has happened.  4. Find out how to repair the damage (as much as possible).

Some attitudes that help us forgive:  1. Remember that we have offended others, we are not perfect. 2.  We may never know all the mitigating circumstances that led the person to offend us.  Also, it is possible they are suffering deeply for what they have done. 3. In the worst case scenario, (i.e. the person was cruel), it is still better for us to forgive.  Otherwise, we’re letting the person enslave us through our anger, bitterness or desire to seek revenge.  Forgiveness frees us to move on.

Remember that to forgive or request forgiveness is not to forget or deny what happened or its consequences, but it is a voluntary act to reconcile with the person with whom the event occurred.

 Forgiving is a gesture of noble souls,

who are great and full of love.

 

—by Javier Perez & Matthew Green (to read the ENTIRE article, please go to Aleteia.com)

 

A good confession arises from a heart that wants to change.  This is the very core of a good confession - firm purpose of amendment.  So how should you make a good confession?  Start by spending some time in prayer, preferably before the Blessed Sacrament.  Ask God to shed light upon your motivations, the desire to sin, the reasons you make the choices that lead up to sin.  Next, make a good examination of conscience.  That starts with an act of praise and confidence in God's grace.  It is easier to want to change by first recognizing the good things that are part of total abandonment to God's mercy and grace.  There are many formulas for an examination of conscience - most based on the Ten Commandments.  
Remember as you enter the confessional, the priest is acting "in the person of Christ"...so speak to Christ himself, baring your soul without fear of judgement.  The priest is seriously bound by the seal of the sacrament, so that nothing you say can be spoken of (in any form) outside the confessional.  No priest thinks less of a sinner who repents, but rather thinks highly of a person who simply trusts in God's mercy.
Finally, take to heart the counsel of the priest and accept the penance he offers.  He will invite you to express your contrition and help you if necessary to pray it.  The priest will absolve you from your sins in the name of the Church.  
With a lighter heart, walk out of the confessional with all your sins forgiven, a child of God!                ---written by Msgr. William J. King

If you wish to read the entire article, please click simplycatholic.com

 

SLOW DOWN Set aside ten minutes a day for silent prayer or meditation. It will revitalize your body and your spirit.

READ A GOOD BOOK– You could choose the life of a saint, a spiritual how-to, an inspirational book or one of the pope’s new books.

BE KIND– Go out of your way to do something nice for someone else every day.

GET INVOLVED – Attend a Lenten lecture or spiritual program.

VOLUNTEER AT YOUR PARISH – Whether it’s the parish fish fry, cleaning the church or helping with the food drive, it will give you a chance to help others.

REACH OUT – Invite an inactive Catholic to come with you to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday.

PRAY – Especially for people you don’t like and for people who don’t like you.

TUNE OUT – Turn off the television and spend quality time talking with family members or friends.

CLEAN OUT CLOSETS – Donate gently used items to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

DONATE – Pick a Catholic mission and decide how you can help by sending money, clothing or supplies.

 Taken from Simply Catholic website     http://www.simplycatholic.com/

When we go to Mass on Ash Wednesday and receive the blessed ashes on our forehead, we are repeating a somber, pious act that Catholics have been undergoing for over 1,500 years. As “The Liturgical Year, Septuagesima,” by Abbot Gueranger, O.S.B., written in the middle decades of the 1800s, puts it: “We are entering, today, upon a long campaign of the warfare spoke of by the apostles: forty days of battle, forty days of penance. We shall not turn cowards, if our souls can but be impressed with the conviction that the battle and the penance must be gone through. Let us listen to the eloquence of the solemn rite which opens our Lent. Let us go whither our mother leads us, that is, to the scene of the fall.

Like all those before us, we unhesitatingly embrace this invitation to sanctity, this time to turn away from sin. We are part of that great cloud of witnesses who through all the ages have donned the ashes, publicly acknowledging that we are Christians, Christians who have sinned and seek to repent. We acknowledge that “we are dust and to dust we shall return.

D.D. Emmons writes from Pennsylvania. If you wish to read the entire interesting article, click on www.simplycatholic.com

 

 

Prayer involves all of our senses. It involves being alive to touches of God’s grace everywhere around and within us. Color in a church is more than decoration. In public worship, it has a role similar to music, art and architecture of a church — to teach, to inspire, to help gather our thoughts.

Green is used as a liturgical color during the weeks known as Ordinary Time. Generally, this period of time occurs from the end of the Christmas season until the beginning of Lent, and from the end of the Easter season until the beginning of Advent. Far from being a filler between other liturgical seasons, Ordinary Time has its own meaning, signified by its own color.

At its etymological root, the word “ordinary” has a rich meaning, far beyond the usual understanding of humdrum, commonplace or everyday. The word has its source in a Sanskrit, or Indo-European, word, which entered into Latin as the verb orior, meaning to rise up, to be stirred up and to grow. The word for “east” in Latin, oriens, conveys the same rich meaning: It indicates the rising of the sun. Hence, Ordinary Time is, for Catholics, the opportunity to allow the Lord to stir up our faith, to allow our spirits to rise and to grow in our spiritual life.

The color green brings this meaning to the fore, since it is a color that evokes life and growth.

Taken from Simply Catholic

The Glorious Truth: Created in the Image and Likeness of God

By:  Bishop Donald Hying        Written for:  Simply Catholic

What I came to realize on that cold and sad February morning was that the real challenge is not convincing the abortionists that life in the womb is human — they know that — but rather helping them to see that every life has an inherent dignity which calls for respect, welcome, tenderness and love. The Church’s fundamental stance on so many moral issues flows from the glorious truth that every person is created in the image and likeness of God, but even an atheist can acknowledge the moral absolute “Thou shall not kill,” because such respect for the life of the other is inscribed in our heart and conscience. How will we ever see the homeless, the immigrant, the elderly, those with disabilities, the poor as blessings and not burdens if we cannot welcome precious, innocent life in the fragility of the womb?

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE

To receive help for those affected by abortion, please contact the following ministries:

Rachel's Vineyard                      Project Rachel

 

We Christians reflect upon and celebrate the baptism of Jesus in significant ways: liturgically, at the conclusion of the Christmas season; devotionally, as the First Luminous Mystery of the Rosary; and theologically, as the scriptural prism for the meaning of Christian baptism.

But if the baptism performed by John the Baptist was meant as a sign of repentance of sin and conversion to a new way of life, it’s reasonable to ask: Why did Jesus, as the sinless Son of God, receive baptism?

Narrated in each of the four Gospels, the baptism of Jesus marks the inauguration of His public ministry — His emergence from a life of seeming obscurity into a life of growing popularity on account of His preaching, miracles, healings and proclamation of mercy and forgiveness.

Jesus steps into the Jordan River and into His mission of redemption through this public religious act. The descent of the dove symbolizes the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus receives as the Christ, Greek for “the Anointed One.”

To read more, click here

When Was Jesus Really Born?

 

Easter has always been the principal feast on the Christian calendar. Christmas was not commonly observed until the fourth century, when Constantine established Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire. At that time, the ancients celebrated a festival, named “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,” to herald the lengthening of days after the winter solstice. The celebration ended around Dec. 25, therefore, many believe Christians simply “took over” the feast and substituted Jesus in their celebrations.

A better case can be made for Jesus’ December birth by consulting Luke’s Gospel, where we learn John the Baptist’s father was chosen by lot “to enter the temple … and burn incense” (Lk 1:9, RSV). Israel had a plethora of priests, so the actual temple service may have occurred only once in a priest’s lifetime. Because an angel appeared to Zechariah during his service, some scholars feel this all-important event may have taken place on the Day of Atonement, which fell then (as now) in late September.

When Gabriel appears to Mary, he says, “Your kinswoman Elizabeth . . . has also conceived … and this is the sixth month with her” (Lk 1:36, RSV), which means it was about March. Mary spends “about three months” with Elizabeth, so this places John the Baptist’s birth late in June, and Jesus’ in December.

Visit simplycatholic.com for more interesting articles.