The Pinnacle of Faith!

What is the pinnacle of our Catholic Faith? The answer: the Easter Triduum, which starts on the evening of Holy Thursday and concludes on the evening of Easter Sunday. Although these events occur on three consecutive days, together, they represent one liturgical event which marks the unfolding of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. Included is Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday’s Passion of the Lord, and Easter Sunday’s Celebration of the Resurrection. Please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to the Holy Land, as we walk with Jesus, from His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to His Passion, Death and glorious Resurrection. My hope is that this journey will somehow enhance your Holy Week Celebration, as you anticipate and encounter the real presence of our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Enjoy!

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Paved road, on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus entered into the city of Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, to the lavish praise of the townspeople shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9). Celebrating Him as their promised Messiah, they threw clothes and palm branches in front of Him in homage.

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The Chapel of Dominus Flevit, on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus wept for Jerusalem. As He came within sight of the city, Jesus “wept over it and said: ‘If only you had known the path to peace this day; but you have completely lost it from view!'” (Luke 19:41-42).

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The Beautiful Gate, contained within the present wall built by the Turks in the 17th century, is the gate that Christians venerate as the entry point of Jesus after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, celebrated on Palm Sunday.

 

 

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Remains of the Jewish Temple where Jesus entered and “overturned the money changers’ tables” saying, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” (Mark 11:15 and 17)

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This Upper Room in Jerusalem marks the proposed location where the Last Supper took place as well as the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (50 days after Easter). 

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Garden of Gethsemani, located on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus suffered His agony and was arrested. “Father, if this cannot pass me by without my drinking it, your will be done!” (Matthew 26:42) 

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View of the Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemani, and the adjacent Church of All Nations, marking the site of Christ’s agony. 

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Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, built over the house of the high priest, Caiaphas, where Jesus was interrogated and detained prior to His Crucifixion. This location also marks the place where Peter denied the Lord three times. The Latin word Gallicantu actually means,  “cock crow”.

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The Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrow in Latin) is a street within the Old City of Jerusalem, believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to death by Crucifixion.

 

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The interior of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built atop Golgotha, which means Skull Place, where Jesus was Crucified. (Matthew 27:32-38). Above: Location where Jesus was nailed to the Cross. Below: Location of Christ’s death by Crucifixion.  

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The interior of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Above: The anointing stone, believed to be the place where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial.  Below: The Holy Sepulcher, built atop the currently empty grave site of Jesus, for on the 3rd day, Jesus rose from the dead.

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The Easter Day Celebration continues until the following Sunday’s celebration of Divine Mercy, referred to as the Solemnity of Mercy Sunday. Here, we recall that God’s mercy is infinite and open to all who simply approach Him in trust. “Jesus, I trust in you!” Due to the central importance and tremendous graces available during this pinnacle time period in our liturgical calendar, I will not post my next Friday blog until April 28th. I wish you and your family a wonderful Easter filled with peace, joy, hope and the endless mercy of Jesus Christ.

 

Closing 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

Please click on the link below to learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but give to God what is God’s.”

Catholics Care. Catholics Vote.

How can we change the tone, quiet the quarrels, and follow our faith amidst the heightened antagonism and polarization of this election season? To search for answers, please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome as we explore the meaning of Jesus’ famous word, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s,” (Mark: 12:17). 

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St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome is the oldest church in the west and houses the ecclesiastical seat of the Roman Pontiff (Pope) or Bishop of Rome. The large Latin inscription on its facade reads, “Pope Clement XII, in the fifth year (of his Pontificate), dedicated this building to Christ the Savior in honor of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. Constantine the Great, the Roman Emperor from 306 – 337 AD, originally built the Basilica around the year 313 AD and gave it to the Bishop of Rome, Pope Miltiades, at that time. In 1702, Pope Clement XI completed final renovations and commissioned the life-sized sculptures of the twelve Apostles currently filling the niches encircling its interior.

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s”

Within the very design and contents of St. John Lateran, we find a balance or peaceful harmony between Church and State which I believe can serve as a model for our world. Above the entrance of the Basilica’s large bronze doors are the inscribed words, “Christ the Savior”. Therefore, at the center do we find the Lord, who alone is worthy of our praise, honor and unwavering obedience. Number 1918 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says, “There is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.”

Guarding the entrance of the Basilica, we find a statue of the Church’s benefactor, Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome and protector of the Pope. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1919-1920), “Every human community needs an authority in order to endure and develop. The political community and public authority are based on human nature and therefore…..belong to an order established by God.”

Within St John Lateran, we find a larger than life statue of Peter, the Rock upon whom Christ established His Church. To Peter and his successors do men of good will owe their faithful submission. When Jesus Christ, after his Resurrection, instructed Peter to “feed my lambs, watch over my sheep, feed my sheep” (Jn 21:15-17), the ramifications were enormous, for Jesus commanded Peter to take on his role as the “Good Shepherd” until His return.

Pictured below is the exterior sculpture of Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome, and the interior, larger-than life statue of St. Peter, the “Rock” and first Pope of the Church.

Catholics Care. Catholic Vote. 

Pope Francis said on 9/16/13, “We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear, ‘A good Catholic is not interested in politics’. This is not true, good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.” 

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When God, Church and state authority are in harmony and operating according to divine design, the common good of society is achieved. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1921 and 1924) says, “Authority is exercised legitimately if it is committed to the common good of society. The common good consists of three essential elements: respect for and promotion of fundamental rights of the person; prosperity, or the development of the spiritual and temporal goods of society; and the peace and security of the group and of its members.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has provided Catholics with a teaching document entitled, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”, which serves as a guide when we exercise our rights and duties as participants in this democracy. This guide can be found at http://www/usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/index.cfm.

What political party is the Church? Neither of course. Jesus is neither Republican or Democrat. He is God. He does not fit into categories. Neither does the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1922) teaches, “The diversity of political regime is legitimate, provided they contribute to the good of the community”. The real goal for the Church, and for each and every Catholic, is to be Catholic across the board. As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says, each of us is to, “Contribute to civil and respectful dialogue, and to shape political choices in the coming election in light of Catholic teaching.” Each of us, as Catholics, is called to be vigorously pro-life, and clear on sexual and life issues; to be advocates for the poor, immigrants, the family and marriage between a man and a woman; to embrace solidarity and justice; stand in the face of the violence that permeates our culture; be merciful and forgiving; and fight for Catholic teachings and religious liberty. So, in reality, although we may align ourselves with one particular party or another, in the end, true Catholicism can not be tamed or represented by any political party. It is eternal, neither liberal or conservative. It is all things to all people. It is love.

Change the tone, quiet the quarrels, and follow your faith amidst the heightened antagonism and polarization of this election season. Living in America, perhaps we tend to take our peaceful change of power for granted. However, in Cameroon, Africa, this is not always the case. In this tumultuous time, we should take stock in the advice given by Catholic Bishops to the people of Cameroon prior to their 2011 election. Political administrators should conduct a fair and transparent election, and work together to maintain the peace. Political parties should respect the electoral process and strive to see themselves as competitors not enemies. Law enforcement should protect the population, and safeguard honor and loyalty to the nation. Christians should pray for peace and social dialogue. The public and private media should be objective and responsible when disseminating information.

As we faithfully live out our consciences in the public square, let us turn to some guiding words from our current shepherd, Pope Francis, in his encyclical entitled, The Joy of Love, (98-101, and 136). “No warring among ourselves! Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of our fraternal love. Dialogue is essential for experiencing, expressing and fostering love in marriage and family life,” as well as in civil society. His recommended rules for healthy dialogue include:

1. Recognize the real importance and dignity of the other person.

2. Try to understand where the other person is coming from, (their pain, fear, anger, hopes, dreams, etc.).

3. Put yourself in the other’s shoes.

4. Be ready to listen patiently and attentively to everything the other person wants to say.

5. Keep an open mind.

6. Our goal is to advance the common good.

7. Try not to offend, and don’t vent, (choose your words carefully).

8. Love everyone.

9. Base positions on beliefs and values, (not the desire to win and argument).

10. Pray.

Closing Prayer: After the election, whatever the outcome shall be, I pray that each of us can get back to doing the work of the Church. The work that we, as Catholics, are called to do, to live our life in the service of God, Country and our fellow man.

3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

To learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, to make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, to shop, or learn more about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love, please click on the link below. Thank you and God Bless America!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com