Friday, February 23, 2018


The Paschal Season which includes the Forty days of Lent, the Three Days of the Sacred Triduum, and the Fifty days of Easter has one central focus which is the Paschal Mystery revealed  to us through  Christ's  death and resurrection.    The  mystery is not a mystery as  that  concept is more commonly understood, but rather a truth that while  comprehensible is not completely so.   The  truth revealed by  the passion, death and resurrection  of Christ is that life proceeds from death, indeed,  death is  the necessary prerequisite to life.  While we may be able to grasp this truth  to some extent  ultimately  it is a paradox  that has the potential to confound us.    Yet  we look to Christ and are asked to accept that the cross and tomb had to precede his  resurrection and ascension.    It is then that the  passage from St. John concerning the need for the grain of wheat to fall and die in order to produce a rich harvest  becomes clearer as an analogy to saving work of Christ's death and resurrection; but the key is to see it as applicable to our lives as well.  The paschal mystery is not only something to be contemplated, it is rather to be celebrated and to be lived.    We celebrate this mystery in  the  sacraments and in particular the sacrament of all sacraments which is the Eucharist , which is  the memorial of Christ's  own death and resurrection.  Yet we must  see our celebration and  reception of the Eucharist as a means to give us the grace to put the Paschal Mystery into practice  in our own lives.    Our "dying" consists in being able to say  no to our own needs and desires so that we may more wholeheartedly say yes to God's will , and more frequently  say yes to serving the needs of our neighbor.   The Paschal Mystery is then at the core of  marriage and family life, and  in ordained and consecrated  life,  as well as in the single life that is deliberately chosen or intentionally lived in order to be free to devote oneself to the Glory of God and the greater  good of others.     The "dying" in all of these instances consists in laying down one's life in a  manner which has  the potential to  bring  life to others and to do so in imitation of Christ and so to bring greater glory to God.     Yet  the truth of our human nature is that we are weak and so we tend to  backslide in  that we lose some of  the zeal with which we first devoted ourselves  to  the ideals  of the Christian life in which ever path we have  chosen to live it out.   Thus,  periodically we need to refocus ourselves  on our ideals so as  to improve our efforts and so we are graced with the annual Season of Lent which is meant to be used for that very purpose.      Knowing that we must "die" if we are to "rise", then we will make a good  start at doing do so  by acknowledging our failings in sacramental confession and then by  performing  penance through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  We die to ourselves when we spend less of our precious time on ourselves and more  of it on God through prayer both communal and individual.   We  say no to ourselves quite viscerally in the disciplines of fasting and self denial but these  frees us even more to spend time with God and to spend  some greater portion of  our resources on our neighbors in need.     So prayer, fasting and almsgiving are meant to assist our "dying" and  to enable us  to do our "rising" to the life to which we are called - one in which love of God and neighbor are  in balance with love of self rather than shortchanged by it!   Triduum solidarity  with Christ in his passover from death to life and 50 days of Easter joy  are largely  dependent on Lenten penance  for we will not be able to feel that we are truly moving from death to new  life with Christ unless we have truly  died with him by dying to ourselves through  prayer, fasting and almsgiving for 40 days of Lent.   So let us make the best use of this annual  Paschal Season  the purpose of which is to deepen our  appreciation of that  central mystery of our faith, an appreciation that is best honed  not only by contemplating the mystery but by  living it! 

PRAYERFULLY REMEMBER ALL WHO WILL BE BLESSED BY YOUR  FASTNG AND SELF -DENIAL  THIS LENT:  Those locally who depend on the help of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul; those internationally who are helped by Catholic Relief Services, and the poor of  El Tablon, Guatemala who will receive  sturdier homes  through Food for the Poor.   


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