Sunday, April 30, 2017

Preparing for Mass: Taking a Cue from A Prayer for Priests

Good little article from Catholic Exchange;

Preparing for Mass: Taking A Cue from A Prayer for Priests

A little over five years have now passed since the new translation of the Roman Missal went into effect in the various English-speaking countries. In this wonderful new edition, if you turn to the latter part of Appendix VI, there are prayers that the priest is encouraged to say before and after Mass. And one of them – the “Formula of Intent” – is, I think, very important and worth sharing with you today. Here it is:
My intention is to celebrate Mass
and to consecrate the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ
according to the Rite of Holy Roman Church,
to the praise of almighty God
and all the Church triumphant,
for my good
and that of all the Church militant,
for all who have commended themselves to my prayers
in general and in particular,
and for the welfare of Holy Roman Church.
Amen.
Should a lay person pray this prayer as-written? No. He or she does not share in Christ’s ministerial priesthood. However, by virtue of his or her baptism, a lay person does share in the priesthood of the faithful. That is to say, baptism qualifies every lay person to make a pleasing offering to God and to offer him fitting worship. Perhaps this prayer could be adapted, then? I think so.
Let’s give it a try. What if you were to come to church a good 10 minutes before Mass, and in the process of quietly recollecting yourself, recited devoutly something like the following prayer (adapted from the one above)?
My intention is to participate in this Mass fully, consciously and actively,
and to worship the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ
made present on the altar by the priest according to the Rite of Holy Roman Church,
to the praise of almighty God
and all the Church triumphant,
for my good
and that of all the Church militant,
for all who have commended themselves to my prayers
in general and in particular,
and for the welfare of Holy Roman Church.
Amen.
Might such prayer change the way that you participate in Mass? I think it would. Saying this prayer each Sunday and Holy Day, and whatever other days you might be able to go to Mass, you would begin to see yourself as part of a larger scene, so to speak: as a soldier in the Church militant who has something to bring to the battle. You might more effectively remember to pray for the many intentions you accumulate throughout each week, by consciously offering them both generally and in particular. You may look upon your baptismal priesthood in a new way: you have something to offer to God as well!
It is so important that we make a fruitful preparation for Holy Mass. If the Eucharist is, as the Church teaches, the “source and summit” of our Christian life, then let us act as if that were the case! We have probably all seen Masses that were celebrated shabbily, by ministers who seemingly did not prepare themselves well for what they were about to do. Do we participate in Mass rather shabbily ourselves?
It surely is a struggle to stay recollected and to give it our all. But it’s easier when we have taken some time to prepare beforehand. The adapted “Formula of Intent” prayer above might help. Try it and see!

Homily


My brothers and sisters in Christ, "The Lord has risen indeed!" [Lk. 24:34] Yes, He has risen! Because "if there were no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and [our] faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that He raised Christ - whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, [our] faith is futile and [we] are still in [our] sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died." [1 Cor. 15:12-20]

During today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, [Acts 2:14, 22-8] we heard that Peter stood up among the eleven on the day of Pentecost. [Acts 2:24] As the highest authority of the Catholic Church, [Acts 5:20, 11:18, 17:22, 25:18, 27:21] as the first Pope, he affirmed that Jesus had been raised, He who had been handed over to those who crucified Him outside of the law according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. God had raised Jesus up, having freed Him from death, because it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. [Acts 2:24]

Speaking to the people of Judea and all who lived in Jerusalem, St. Peter quoted the words of king David in Psalm 16, "I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence." [Acts 2:25-8; Ps. 16:8-11]

What was the purpose of Peter's message to those within hearing distance? It was a call to penance and conversion. On behalf of God, it was a message of love, mercy and forgiveness. Addressing some of those who had killed Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, Peter expressed that the Lord would forgive them if they had a change of heart. God would welcome as His children all those who would embrace the truth, believing that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah and Saviour. The first public speech of the first Pope was a Divine message of love that called sinner to experience an inner transformation. Why an inner transformation? It was for the grace of God to draw the sinners towards their salvation through Jesus Christ.

Today's Second Reading from the First Letter of Peter [1 Pet. 1:17-21] echoes the spiritual knowledge, understanding and wisdom that Saint Peter received by the grace of God. To him was given an in-depth perception of the redemptive plan of God. Writing to the Gentile Christians [1 Pet. 1:14, 18, 2:9-10, 4:3-4] who lived in the northern and eastern part of Asia Minor, Saint Peter urges them to be faithful to their calling, reminding them that they are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation." [1 Pet. 2:9]

The Gentile believers were reminded that if they invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, then they should live in reverent fear during the time of their exile. Their conduct should shine in obedience. The believers were reminded that they were ransomed from the fruitless way of their ancestors, not by gold or silver, but by the precious Blood of Christ, the perfect Blood that was without defect or blemish.

Their justification was given to them as a free gift by the grace of God. [Rom. 3:24]

The life of every creature is his blood. A creature without blood is a lifeless creature. Jesus entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption." [Heb. 9:12] He gave up every drop of His precious Blood and His life so that we may have life through Him. "In Him we have redemption through His Blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." [Eph. 1:7]

Before creation, God foreknew that sin would enter the world. He also foreknew that Christ would redeem mankind. This knowledge has now been revealed to the world at the end of the ages for our sake. You make ask, "What does it mean that it has been revealed at the end of the ages?" The "ages" represent time frames. The first age consisted of the time frame prior to the existence of all things. The second age consisted of the time frame when God created everything except man. The third age consisted of the time frame from the days of Adam to Abraham. The fourth age consisted of the time frame between the days of Abraham and Jesus, those being the days of the First Covenant of the Law. The final age is the present age. It is the days of the New and Last Covenant of grace. After this final age shall come the glorious return of Jesus to judge the living and the dead.

Through Jesus, we have come to set our faith and hope on God. For we know that the almighty God who raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him glory, in the most Holy Name of His Son, we shall also be raised from the dead and glorified according to our deeds. "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." [Dan. 12:3]

During today's Gospel Reading, [Lk. 24:13-35] we heard of the two disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. We also heard that during their walk, their eyes were kept from recognizing the Lord. [Lk. 24:16] But later that day, when Jesus was at the table with them, He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. [Lk. 24:30] At that moment, the eyes of the disciples were opened and they recognized Jesus just before He vanished from their sight. [Lk. 24:31] From this event it is understood that while participating in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the disciples were suddenly able to perceive a deeper understanding of revelation.

This heavenly blessing parallels the gift of God that is given to those who partake in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist on a regular basis while striving for spiritual growth during their daily personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, "the Lord has risen indeed." [Lk. 24:34] When we arrive to the full realization of the in-depth meaning of the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, we can do nothing else but allow ourselves to be drawn to the heart of Jesus in our own personal daily relationship with Him. As the disciples of Jesus were touched by His presence, we too can be touched by His Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

To experience spiritual growth, we must desire a personal daily relationship with the Lord. Afterwards, we must respond to the grace of God that is drawing us towards Him. Once the commitment has been made to respond to the grace of God that has touched our hearts, we must implement a daily life of prayers, spiritual reflections and moments of praising the Lord. Consequently, we must persevere in our spiritual lives while awaiting for the love of God to touch us in awe. Some may be immediately touched. Others may have their faith tested for awhile to see if they will persevere. That means that they may not be touched immediately, having to wait a long or possibly longer period of time as God sees fit. But in the end, the wait shall be worth it. For there is no greater joy than to be touched by the love of the risen Lord.

Third Sunday of Easter

Reading 1ACTS 2:14, 22-33

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
"You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
You who are Israelites, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
For David says of him:
I saw the Lord ever before me,
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, 
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

"My brothers, one can confidently say to you
about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,
and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him
that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld
nor did his flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father
and poured him forth, as you see and hear."

Responsorial PsalmPS 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

R. (11a) Lord, you will show us the path of life.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, "My Lord are you."
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. Lord, you will show us the path of life.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. Lord, you will show us the path of life.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, 
my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. Lord, you will show us the path of life.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You will show me the path to life,
abounding joy in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Lord, you will show us the path of life.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 21 PT 1:17-21

Beloved:
If you invoke as Father him who judges impartially
according to each one's works,
conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning,
realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct,
handed on by your ancestors,
not with perishable things like silver or gold
but with the precious blood of Christ
as of a spotless unblemished lamb.

He was known before the foundation of the world 
but revealed in the final time for you,
who through him believe in God
who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God.

AlleluiaCF. LK 24:32

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us;
make our hearts burn while you speak to us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week, 
two of Jesus' disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them, 
"What are you discussing as you walk along?"
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
"Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?"
And he replied to them, "What sort of things?"
They said to him, 
"The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning 
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see."
And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?"
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, "Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
"Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
"The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"
Then the two recounted 
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Prayers to Start the Day

Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart to recognize your presence with me and to understand the truth of your saving word. Nourish me with your life-giving word and with the bread of life.

Lord, I believe that you are present here and now as I turn to you in prayer. I trust and have confidence in your desire to give me every grace I need to receive today. Thank you for your love, thank you for your immense generosity toward me. I give you my life and my love in return.
 
Lord, your ways are beyond me. Your timing is a mystery to me. But I know that with my mind and heart open through prayer, you will be able to give me every grace I need, right when I need it most.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Homily for Today


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." [1 Pet. 1:3] My brothers and sisters in Christ, a week ago, we celebrated the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus on Easter Sunday. Today, we are reminded:

(1) of the free gift of the new birth that we have received:

(2) that the free gift was given to us through the love, mercy and grace of our Heavenly Father;

(3) that the Heavenly Father gave up His only beloved Son as the sacrificial Lamb; and

(4) that through His perfect sacrifice, we may now share in the living hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles [Acts 2:42-7] made reference to what it was like in the earliest days of the Catholic Church, in those days immediately after the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus. In that reading, we heard the manner in which the Christians of the early Church worshipped.

The believers who welcomed the message of Peter, the first Pope, they received the Sacrament of Baptism in order to be admitted into the Body of Christ. Wholeheartedly, they devoted themselves to doing four things. [Acts 2:42]

(1) They learned and practiced the teachings of the apostles, these being teachings that Jesus had personally taught to the apostles.

(2) They worshipped in fellowship. Living a good life was not sufficient in those days, nor nowadays, to be called a faithful. Those who believed in Jesus had to demonstrate their faith by gathering with other believers during which time they prayed, they sang, they praised God, they witnessed to the work of the Holy Spirit, etc...

(3) They participated in the breaking of bread. In other words, they received the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

(4) Finally, the believers devoted themselves to the prayers. By this, it is meant that they were saying the prayers that were favoured in those days when the Church was being established. Such may have consisted of saying the Our Father, some of the Psalms that were commonly known in those days, and other prayers that were appropriate for the services that were taking place.

From this knowledge, it is made known that what the Church leadership expected of the believers in the early days of the Church was no different than what is expected today.

In those days, to build the Church, the Holy Spirit manifested many wonders and signs through the apostles. As a result of these wonders and signs, awe came upon everyone. [Acts 2:43] Why was the Holy Spirit manifesting so many miracles? It was for three reasons.

(1) First of all, it was to draw the people towards the Apostles.

(2) Secondly, it affirmed that the apostles were servants of the One true God.

(3) Thirdly, it was to affirm that the building of the Church was according to the Divine Will.

In summary, through the wonders and signs, the people were drawn to the Apostles who were guided to admit them into the Church Of Jesus through the Sacrament of Baptism.

Over and above their worshipping, the believers sold their possessions and goods and distributed the proceeds to all according to their needs. [Acts 2:44-5] Why did they do this? It was because the faithful believed that Jesus would soon return and that they no longer would have a need for their personal possessions. Some had even left their employment in the hope of the soon to be return of Jesus. In his preaching, Saint Paul corrected some of the believers regarding their false understanding of the Second Coming of Jesus.

Throughout the centuries, many have tried to live according to this way of life, selling their goods and sharing all what they have with a community of faithful. They read in the Holy Bible how communal life was done in the early days of the Church but failed to read the admonition of St. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-3 where it states: "As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction."

As we are gathered here today in the Church which is the Temple of God, the early Christians also came together in the Temple. [Acts 2:46] As we praise God together, they also praised God together. As we have the goodwill of all the people at heart, so did our early Church brothers and sisters. [Acts 2:47]

Today's Second Reading from the First Letter of Peter [1 Pet. 1:3- 9] consisted of the first papal document that was sent to the Christians of Asia Minor to explain the new life that is received through the Sacrament of Baptism. Its purpose was to enlighten the believers so that they may rejoice in the salvation and new life that they had received from God.

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we as Christians shared in the death of Jesus so we may share in His life. Having been baptized into Christ Jesus, we were baptized into His death. [Rom. 5:3] Having been buried with Him into death, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too will walk in the newness of life. [Rom. 5:4] Having been united with Christ in death, we will certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. [Rom. 5:5] We know that our old self was crucified with Jesus so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. [Rom. 5:6]

During our new birth, we were admitted into the Body of Christ during which time we have received the indwelling Holy Spirit as our "first instalment" [Eph. 1:13-4; 2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5] towards the imperishable inheritance that awaits us all in Heaven. [1 Pet. 1:4] The Christian inheritance is not of this world. Our hope is laid up for us in Heaven with the saints in the light. [Col. 1:5, 12; Lk. 12:33]

By the grace of God, we are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [1 Pet. 1:5] "Do you suppose that it is for nothing that the Scripture says, 'God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?'" [Jas. 4:5] To protect our new creation made of the seed of God, [1 Jn. 3:8] God placed His Holy Spirit within all of us so that we may follow His statutes, to keep and obey His ordinances.

If we have to suffer various trials for a little while, we should rejoice in knowing that our temporary sufferings are nothing compared to what awaits those who persevere to the end. Compared to the eternal life that we are called to enjoy, our present life shall be as a mere second in time. Therefore, let us rejoice for what awaits us.

On the subject of suffering, while God permits suffering to cross the path of our lives, He does not create the suffering itself. He allows us as individuals to experience suffering in order to test the genuineness of our faith. Are we going to imitate those who curse God when suffering comes their way? Or will we blame God for having created a situation that was man made through the free will of others? In our subjective thinking, are we going to fall short of perceiving that suffering sanctifies those who persevere? For in all things, during the day or the night, in health or in illness, in joy or in suffering, God should always be glorified.

Those who persevere in their suffering, they enjoy a "living faith." Their "perseverance" which is their "works" affirms that "faith without works is dead!" [Jas. 2:26] "For we are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life." [Eph. 2:10]

Speaking to the Ephesians, St. Paul stated, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing..." [Eph. 2:8] These words echo today's words of St. Peter, "For you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." [1 Pet 1:9] In gratitude for the gift of life that we have received, although we have not seen God, we love Him. Although we do not see Him now, we believe in Him and rejoice in the assurance that through Christ, we shall receive our blessed hope.

Today's reading from the Gospel of John [Jn. 20:19-31] provided us with an account of what Jesus did after His glorious Resurrection. The reading began by telling us that on the evening that Jesus rose from the dead, He came and stood among His disciples who had gathered behind locked doors. Take note that this appearance was still on the day of the Resurrection of Jesus, on the first day of the week that we celebrated last week as Easter Sunday. [Jn. 20:19]

If you recall when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb in the morning of His resurrection, He told her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father." [Jn. 20:17] Now, appearing to His disciples during the same evening, He breath upon them the Holy Spirit [Jn. 20:22] in fulfillment of His promise to do so [Jn. 7:39] after ascending to the Father. [Jn. 15:26, 16:7] From this reading, it is revealed that on the same day, on Easter Sunday, Jesus:

(1) resurrected,

(2) ascended to the Father, and

(3) gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles.

In other words, while we celebrate the events of Easter and Pentecost on separate Sundays, we are celebrating two events that actually happened on the same day about twelve hours apart.

After saying, "Peace be with you," Jesus breathed on His disciples and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." [Jn. 20:21-2] In his reporting of this event, John used the same Greek verb "breathed" that is found in the Book of Genesis where it states, "Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being." [Gen. 2:7] This implies that when the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the apostles, they became new creations just as the first man became a new creation when he received his human spirit at the moment of his creation.

From today's reading, we also find explicit evidence that Jesus was nailed to the cross versus being tied to it as was often the custom. Over and above Jesus showing His hands and His side to the disciples, [Jn. 20:20] there is a reference to the statement of Thomas who said, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." [Jn. 20:25] This evidence clearly reveals the unbearable suffering that Jesus endured to manifest His Divine love for us.

When Jesus said, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." [Jn. 20:21] He was commissioning the Church through His disciples and their apostolic succession to perpetuate the work of Divine salvation that had been realized through His death and Resurrection.

Then Jesus said, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." [Jn. 20:23] Through these Sacred Words, Jesus established the Sacrament of Confession, giving the authority of forgiveness to His disciples and their apostolic succession. According to Catholic Tradition, this act of Jesus has always been perceived as the origin of the Sacrament of Confession. It should be added that the Church's power over sin is also exercised in the Sacrament of Baptism and the preaching of the redemptive Word.

Now we come to doubting Thomas. When Jesus appeared to the disciples for the first time, only ten were present. Judas, the traitor, and Thomas were absent. As we heard, Jesus appeared one week later, [Jn. 20:26] also on a Sunday, and challenged Thomas to put his finger in His wounds. [Jn. 20:27] The Scriptures do not reveal to us if Thomas ever needed to touch Jesus or not. What we do know is that the eyes of Thomas were opened and he said, "My Lord and my God!" [Jn. 20:28] The glorious Resurrection of Jesus was the ultimate evidence that Thomas needed to prove to him that the friendship He had enjoyed with Jesus for the past three years was indeed a friendship with God incarnated in human form. [Col. 1:19, 2:9] At that moment, Thomas must have been overcome with awe.

At the end of this event, Jesus said to Thomas, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." [Jn. 20:29] These Words affirm that miracles, signs, wonders, healing, speaking in tongues, etc... "may assist" [Jn. 4:48, 10:38] the seeker of faith. But it is through the preaching of the Word of God itself that the question of faith or disbelief is finalized. Did St. Paul not ask, "But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim Him?" [Rom. 10:14] "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" [Rom. 10:15]

Jesus did many others signs in the presence of His disciples, those not being recorded in the Holy Bible. [Jn. 20:30] What has been written is sufficient for us to believe that Jesus came on earth as the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through our believing we may have life in His Name. [Jn. 20:30] For it is in the Name of Jesus that we experience our new birth into a living hope, a hope that will never disappoint us.

Origin of Divine Mercy Sunday, the Divine Mercy image, the Chaplet, and the Novena

Image result for divine mercy

Saint Faustina: Mankind’s need for the message of Divine Mercy took on dire urgency in the 20th Century, when civilization began to experience an “eclipse of the sense of God” and, therefore to lose the understanding of the sanctity and inherent dignity of human life. In the 1930s, Jesus chose a humble Polish nun, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, to receive private revelations concerning Divine Mercy that were recorded in her Diary. Bl. John Paul explains: 
This was precisely the time when those ideologies of evil, nazism and communism, were taking shape. Sister Faustina became the herald of the one message capable of off-setting the evil of those ideologies, that fact that God is mercy—the truth of the merciful Christ. And for this reason, when I was called to the See of Peter, I felt impelled to pass on those experiences of a fellow Pole that deserve a place in the treasury of the universal Church. 
    ~ Pope Saint John Paul II, Memory and Identity (2005)
Divine Mercy Sunday: St. Faustina’s Diary records 14 occasions when Jesus requested that a Feast of Mercy (Divine Mercy Sunday) be observed, for example: 
My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the Fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. … Let no soul fear to draw near to Me. … It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary, no. 699)
On May 5, 2000, five days after the canonization of St. Faustina, the Vatican decreed that the Second Sunday of Easter would henceforth be known as Divine Mercy Sunday. 

The Image:  Jesus appeared to St. Faustina in a vision, with his right hand raised in a blessing and his left touching his garment above his heart. Red and white rays emanate from his heart, symbolizing the blood and water that was poured out for our salvation and our sanctification. The Lord requested that “Jesus, I trust in You” be inscribed under his image. Jesus asked that his image be painted and venerated throughout the world: “I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish” (Diary, no. 48) and “By means of this image I will grant many graces to souls” (Diary, no. 742). 

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy: The Chaplet was also given to St. Faustina with this promise: “Encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given you” (Diary, no. 1541). “Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. … Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world know My infinite mercy” (Diary, no. 687). (Instructions for its recitation are provided on a separate page.)

The Divine Mercy Novena: Jesus gave St. Faustina nine intentions for which to pray the Chaplet beginning on Good Friday and ending on Holy Saturday. (http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/novena.htm. . . 

Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy)

Reading 1ACTS 2:42-47

They devoted themselves 
to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, 
to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone,
and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
All who believed were together and had all things in common;
they would sell their property and possessions
and divide them among all according to each one's need.
Every day they devoted themselves
to meeting together in the temple area
and to breaking bread in their homes.
They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart,
praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.
And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Responsorial PsalmPS 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R. (1) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let the house of Israel say,
"His mercy endures forever."
Let the house of Aaron say,
"His mercy endures forever."
Let those who fear the LORD say,
"His mercy endures forever."
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just: 
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 21 PT 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you
who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,
to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while
you may have to suffer through various trials,
so that the genuineness of your faith,
more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,
may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Although you have not seen him you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet believe in him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

AlleluiaJN 20:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord;
blessed are they who have not seen me, but still believe!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, "Peace be with you."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
But he said to them,
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe."
Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Homily for Today

Unto us it is given so we may blossom in Jesus! Good morning to everyone and welcome to our guests who have found their way to our humble...