Friday, February 23, 2018
THE PASCHAL SEASON; A MYSTERY TO BE LIVED
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.
WOMEN AND MEN'S CONFERENCE : MARCH 10th - $25 FOR BUS TRANSPORTATION AND CONFERENCE FOR THE FIRST 44 PARISHIONERS WHO REGISTER THROUGH THE PARISH OFFICE.