A Catholic Blog for Lovers

A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, April 17, 2004
It's religion gone mad

HOW DOES one discuss the state of the Islamic faith, the Middle East, terrorism and the world without upsetting people? Frankly, it's almost impossible.

I'm not talking here of a fear of abuse and attack or of being accused of political incorrectness. I couldn't give a fig about that. No, I mean the need to hold on to common courtesy and avoiding making generalizations that could hurt good people..."

In New York, Gospel Resounds in African Tongues

Every Sunday, in more than 100 churches across New York City, pastors preach the Gospel in languages like Ibo, Twi and Ga. Conga drums drive songs of praise. Swaths of kente cloth cover bodies swaying in the pews.

An explosion of African immigrant churches in the past 15 years has helped reshape religious worship in the city. The surge is creating oases of Christian faith for newcomers from Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Ethiopia and other countries and fueling an evangelical movement long the province of Latinos and African-Americans.

"They're having an impact beyond the African church," said Tony Carnes, a sociologist of religion who runs a seminar on immigration at Columbia University and a co-editor of "New York Glory: Religions in the City."

"The African churches are bringing new vitality and new ways of doing things to African-American and other churches," he added.

As membership increases, the churches are growing more visible in their neighborhoods. "People walk in and find community ? friendly, African hospitality," Mr. Carnes said. "And second, there's this big emphasis on spiritual power in their services." As African churches attract increasing numbers of white worshipers, they can serve as a bridge between races, he added...."

Christian Music's New Wave

Even before the music started Thursday night, the 3,000 young people who filled the Beacon Theater in Manhattan for a free event called the Passion Experience were getting loud.

"We love Jesus, how about you," chanted a group in one corner, inciting a competitive echo from across the room. As the first band plugged in, the audience sang along, repeating choruses of praise from four giant video screens: "You are my drink," they sang. "You are my feast."

Two decades after Christian rock bands began to fill theaters, the popularity of the Passion Experience tour, billed not as a concert but as a "worship gathering" for college students, reflects a groundswell both within churches and in the Christian music marketplace.

The songs' popularity comes not from Christian radio, but from churches, and the musicians — who call themselves "worship leaders" rather than performers — sing not about God, but to God. The audience sings as much as they do....

Another Feast from RJN

Interesting/penetrating comment after interesting/penetrating comment after more interesting/penetrating comments. Incredible mind and clear vision. Another gift to the American Catholic Church!

Today in Christian history

April 17, 1492: Spain's King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella give Christopher Columbus a commission to seek a westward ocean passage to Asia. Though he was also interested in wealth, Columbus saw himself as a "Christ-bearer" who would carry Christ across the ocean to people who had never heard the gospel.

April 17, 1521: Martin Luther was excommunicated.

April 17, 1708: Ambrose, Archbishop of Moscow from 1768-1771 is born. In 1771, in the middle of an outbreak of the plague, Ambrose (who is known for his translations of the Hebrew psalter and some Greek and Latin fathers) was martyred by a mob when he removed an icon from the church to prevent the spread of infection.

April 17, 1944: Father Max Joseph Metzger, a German priest who was deeply involved in apostolic ventures, was beheaded by the Nazis. His last words were: "Lord Jesus, I come quickly."

Friday, April 16, 2004

The new "puritans" don't like the Archbishop of Denver, Charles Caput, OFM Cap., either. Another bad guy. Not many good guys left (except the critics who love to criticize the others). Some are relentless and unmerciful.

I may be stupid; I may be a fool. But I do know a bit about human nature, I hope, and about the power of God's grace to redeem. And to use the weak things of this world to confound the strong.

I think Archbishop Chaput one of God's gifts to the Church in America.

Patriarch Accepts Apology From the Pope

Istanbul, Apr. 14--(AP) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, has accepted an apology from Pope John Paul II for Roman Catholic involvement in the sacking of Constantinople 800 years ago.

During a visit to Greece in 2001, John Paul apologized for the attack on the city, today's Istanbul, which was looted by Catholic Crusaders. The apology had long been sought by Orthodox.

In a speech Tuesday - the 800th anniversary of the city's capture - Bartholomew formally accepted the apology. "The spirit of reconciliation is stronger than hatred," Bartholomew said during a liturgy, attended by Philippe Barbarin, the Archbishop of Lyon, France. "We receive with gratitude and respect your cordial gesture for the tragic events of the Fourth Crusade."

Bartholomew said his acceptance came in the spirit of Easter. "The spirit of reconciliation of the resurrection ... incites us toward reconciliation of our churches," the patriarch said.


For autumn, go to upstate New York or New England; for winter, go to Yellowstone or northern Minnesota; for summer, go to San Francisco (and bring a sweater); for spring, come to Maryland! Here are two shots taken yesterday during a drive in the local vicinity:

The lavishness and abundance of nature in a neighbor's front yard

In the nearby Patapsco State Park

Jobless Brazilians needing fast action call on St. Expeditus

You just have to fill in a few quick pieces of info to "register" and you can read about Saint Expeditus, the latest rage among Brazilian Catholics it seems.

African clergy reject 'gay' funds

Africa's Anglican bishops have resolved to stop receiving donations from western congregations which support the ordination of gay bishops.

The bishops also made clear that they would continue to accept funding from what they termed people of good faith. Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola said they would not sacrifice their faith and conscience on the altar of money. Although two-thirds of Anglicans are in the developing world, the wealth of the church still resides in the West.

"We will not, on the altar of money, mortgage our conscience, mortgage our faith, mortgage our salvation..".

How to tell a duck from a fox

An Easter gift from the Archbishop of Denver! Alleluia!

Today in Christian history

April 16, 1521: German reformer Martin Luther, 34, arrived at the Diet of Worms, where he afterward defended his “Ninety-Five Theses,” first advanced in 1517. At the Diet, Luther refused to recant his ideas “unless overcome by Scripture.” "Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear, and distinct grounds of reasoning … then I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me! Amen!" When negotiations over the next few days failed to reach any compromise, Luther was condemned.

April 16, 1783: Benedict Joseph Labre, the "poor, ignorant beggar" of Rome, died. Born in France, he went to Rome. Here he visited the churches of Rome and prayed, ate scaps of food left behind by others, and slept in the crevices of the Coliseum - in the tradition of "fools for Christ" known both in the eastern and western Churches. He was canonized in 1883.

April 16, 1879: Bernadette Soubirous, who at age 14 became famous for her visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes, dies in Nevers, France. In 1933 she was canonized a saint.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Where are the Bees?

by Carol Zaleski

from a medieval "Exultet roll" almost all of which have an illustration of "the bees"

...Along with "useless repetitions," the reform of the liturgy has sought to diminish distracting superfluities. This was, perhaps, not difficult to accomplish. It is relatively easy to screen out superfluous passages; any competent copy editor can do so. But while it is easy to analyze and change the text of a ritual, it is difficult and risky to re-conceive the complete world it was intended to invoke.

The liturgy of the Mass is less like words than like worlds. It is not a text to read for information but a place to enter for transformation. Like the magical paintings in the Mary Poppins book and in C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the liturgy is never mere representation; it is entrance and ascent, a tirtha for crossing over, a spatial and temporal iconostasis that is a threshold of the heavenly kingdom and the life of the world to come. As is characteristic of entrances to the other world (I think. for example, of the medieval Purgatory of St. Patrick), it appears small and confined from without, but for those who enter, it opens onto endless vistas.

The liturgy is rather like one of those computer fantasy quest games, in which the hero must collect weapons, supplies and treasures, and avoid deadly dangers, and in which the key to survival is never to discount any object, however seemingly insignificant, that crosses one's path. If you kick a coin, pick it up, read its legend. If a troll hiccups, offer him a drink. If a leaf falls, look for its source. If an instruction is repeated three times, remember it three times. Never dismiss anything as superfluous; never disregard the literal words of a message, even if you think you know its underlying meaning. Never assume that an object is merely functional. Keep your mind open and your senses alert, and keep reinterpreting what you have already seen in light of the unfolding narrative.

A time when these lessons apply with special intensity is the Easter Vigil, the restoration of which was one of the great accomplishments of the pontificate of Pius XII. We possess the Easter Vigil in all its splendor in the reformed rite. But one day, prompted by a vigilant friend, I compared the official English liturgical translation of the Exsultet - the Easter Proclamation-to the normative Latin text.

We come to the great blessing of "the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death." The Paschal candle is offered, reprising the Passover pillar of fire; it is the burnt-offering that partakes of Christ's self-offering on the Cross; and it is the light of Christ undiminished by being spread abroad to scatter the darkness of sin and death.

One would expect that the translators of this great hymn would want to communicate its entire substance. But in the English column, there are conspicuous blank spaces. What was left out? An enchanting digression, paying homage to the bees who produced the wax for Paschal candle. I italicize omitted passages:

"Therefore, in the grace of this night, receive, holy Father, this evening sacrifice of praise, which most holy Church renders to you in this solemn offering of wax, through the hands of the ministers from the works of the bees.

Now we behold the splendors [praeconia] of this pillar, which the glowing fire enkindles in honor of God. Which, although divided into parts, suffers no loss from its light being shared. For it is nourished by the melting wax, which the mother bee brought forth into the substance of this precious lamp."

Just when the Exsultet reaches its most exalted pitch of praise, commemorating the mighty acts of creation and redemption, we stop to thank the bee for the wax. We do not even thank God for the bee. We contemplate beeswax, a peculiar substance that seems to possess two natures: animal and insensate thing, quick and dead, quickened again by fire, and quickened supernaturally by the flame of the resurrection. A great chain of being reaches down through the Exsultet, from angel to human to animal and even to matter itself.

from a medieval "Exultet roll"

Where are the bees in today's Easter Vigil? Were they omitted because few parishes can afford genuine beeswax? Or was it a reluctance to let the mother bee play a mediatrix role in the uniting of things divine and human--or worse, a co-creatrix role in the making of wax for the Paschal fire? A fear of multiplying intermediaries, of making the Paschal candle the object of magical veneration, of confusing the opus Dei with the opus apum, deprives us of the extraordinary catechetical power and dogmatic precision of this hymn, which teaches the lessons of Chalcedon and recapitulates redemption history by means of a bee.

In such superfluities, preserved by the wise bees of tradition, we may find the key to a sacramental understanding from which, in our current state of cultural diaspora, we have felt locked out. We may follow the mother bee back from our Babylonian captivity, her golden honey thread may lead us through the labyrinth of modernity to Jerusalem's gate.

Perhaps I exaggerate the sacramental significance of the bee. My point is only to ask whether or not we have been well served in this case by noble simplicity. Liturgical minimalism does more than exile some industrious bees; it drives a wedge between the interests of personal devotion and the interests of public worship.

It is undoubtedly true that preconciliar public worship was in danger of fragmenting into multiple disconnected exercises of private piety, whose objectives veered off from the central aim of the liturgy. As Cheslyn Jones points out, this is what marks periods of liturgical degeneration: "the use of the liturgy as a framework for purely musical composition, or as an occasion for reciting the rosary, or for mental prayer whether under the guidance of meditations on the life of Christ or on the incidents of his passion, as in medieval manuals of devotion for layfolk, or by the use of their more sophisticated modern equivalents."

I have to admit, however, that I would not mind witnessing some of this liturgical degeneration in my parish on Sundays. A truly corporate worship would be capable of tolerating special acts of personal devotion in its midst and would be open to being enriched by them. I will take my seat next to the old lady with her rosary beads, and not regret the fact that she is silent during the congregational hymn-singing and scarcely conscious of the moments of prescribed...

from a medieval "Exultet roll"


"Vote Christian" during European vote, Polish bishops say

Polish Roman Catholic church heirarchy called on compatriots on Wednesday to vote for "Christians and Catholics" when the country takes part in European Parliament elections for the first time in June.

"The presence within this important assembly of Christians, Catholics, people who stand for high moral values, is even more important today, as strong trends aimed at wiping Christian values out of the lives of European people appear," Polish bishops said in their appeal..."

Procession of prayers

Statues, flags mark appeal to spare North End parish

Today in Christian history

April 15, 1452: Italian painter and scholar Leonardo da Vinci is born in Florence, Italy. Among his most famous religious works are the Virgin of the Rocks, The Last Supper, and St. John the Baptist.

April 15, 1638: The castle of Hara, located on the Shimabara Peninsula, Japan, falls to invaders. Masuda Shiro Tokisada defended the fortress with 37,000 Christians, 17,000 of them combatants. They fought valiantly to the end—even the women and children. After the battle, all of the survivors were subsequently beheaded, save one Judas (Yamada) who had plotted to open the castle gate to the enemy.

April 15, 1729: Johann Sebastian Bach conducts the first and only performance of St. Matthew Passion during his lifetime at a Good Friday Vespers service in Leipzig, Germany. The choral work has been called "the supreme cultural achievement of all Western civilization," and even the radical skeptic Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) admitted upon hearing it, "One who has completely forgotten Christianity truly hears it here as gospel."

April 15, 1889: Belgian Roman Catholic priest Joseph Damien, a missionary to lepers on Molokai, Hawaii, dies from the disease.

April 15, 1892: Dutch devotional writer Corrie ten Boom, known for hiding Jewish refugees in her home during World War II (an act dramatized in the 1971 film The Hiding Place) is born. She also died on this date in 1983.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
"I have come to cast fire on the earth" - Luke 12:49

The Road to Emmaus: Carolignian ivory

As they approached the village to which they were going,
Jesus 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?"

- From the gospel of today's Mass

P.S. Pardon the rather "unCatholic" image used above - couldn't resist it today!

P.P.S. I had to remove the image since it seemed to interfere with my own ability to open up the comments feature. Sorry! I replaced it with a very Catholic image, however! (And the comments work for me again!).

Wrapped in the shroud

The discovery of a second face on the Turin Shroud has again divided opinion. Does this mean it is real after all? Or does it mean it's an even better hoax than was previously thought? Some people, and not just the faithful, never stopped believing in the first place.

Today in Christian history

April 14, 1759: George Frideric Handel, composer of the oratorio Messiah, dies at age 74 in London.

April 14, 1775: America's first society to abolish slavery organizes in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Turin Shroud 'shows second face'

"New research into the Turin Shroud has added to the mystery surrounding the controversial artefact.
A second ghostly image of a man's face has been discovered on the back of the linen, according to a report published by London's Institute of Physics.

The delicate 14ft-long linen sheet is believed by some to be the cloth in which Jesus was wrapped after being taken down from the cross.

It has been dismissed by others as an elaborate hoax.

The back of the shroud has rarely been seen as it was hidden beneath a piece of cloth sewn on by nuns in 1534, after it was damaged by fire.

But the back surface was exposed during a restoration project in 2002.

It is extremely difficult to make a fake with these features

A professor at Italy's Padua University, Giulio Fanti, thought he saw a "faint image" in the photographs from this project and decided to investigate it further.

"Though the image is very faint, features such as nose, eyes, hair, beard and moustaches are clearly visible," he said.

"There are some slight differences with the known face. For example, the nose on the reverse side shows the same extension of both nostrils, unlike the front side, in which the right nostril is less evident."

Professor Fanti has dismissed claims that the image on the back confirms that the shroud is a fake - with paint soaking from the front to the back.

"This is not the case of the shroud. On both sides, the face image is superficial, involving only the outermost linen fibres," he said.

"It is extremely difficult to make a fake with these features."

Shrouded in mystery

These findings are just the latest in the controversy which has dogged the cloth since it was first photographed more than 100 years ago.

Carbon-dating tests carried out in 1979 and then again in 1988 suggested the shroud was a fake.

In the 1988 study, scientists from three universities concluded that the cloth dated from some time between 1260 and 1390, and that it was not the burial cloth wrapped around the body of Christ.

That led to the humiliating spectacle of the then Cardinal of Turin, Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero, admitting the garment was a hoax.

But since then, some doubt has been cast on the carbon-dating techniques.

In 1997, a Swiss archaeologist who spent 16 years studying the shroud said new tests had proved its authenticity "beyond all reasonable doubt".

Haec dies quam fecit Dominus...
This is the Day the LORD has made.....

Another Day of Easter. Christ is Risen. Alleluia!

ONION on the evening of his 17th birthday with his favorite toy, Teddy

Today is special for me, too, because we are celebrating the 17th birthday of ONION, my truly beloved buddy and source of immense joy. Already several years over his "allotted" time, ONION continues to amaze me as he ages so gracefully. Slowly he fails and shows signs of his age, but remains a happy and delightful companion. He has been and is a sign of God's goodness and loving providence and the beauty of God's creation. I hope he enjoys the meaty lamb shank bone saved from Easter dinner for his birthday.

For the gift of ONION on his 17th birthday I say from the depth of my heart: Deo gratias! Ad multos annos!

Risen for each of us!

Medieval tapestry of the risen Jesus with Mary Magdalene

When we open the Bible and read of those radiant days when the Lord appeared after his Resurrection, let us reflect on something important which it is possible to not notice: He appeared to many people but to each of them in a different way. To the weeping Mary Magdalene, alone by the garden tomb; another time it was to Peter confused and troubled. Later to the disciples on the lake, it is John who senses the Lord's presence in his heart and recognizes him and Peter who plunges into the lake and swims to him. Then to Saul who persecuted the early Christians and became the Apostle Paul.

This continues also today, the Lord though unseen manifests himself perceptibly to each of us. Any one of us who has sensed even for a moment the presence of another world, has had an encounter with the risen Christ. He comes to everyone knocking at the door of their heart and finding his own words right for each one of us. Our task is to listen and respond for the Lord has come to save, revive and change the life of each of us, uniquely and personally.

So on Easter as we return to our homes, let us each take that joy with us, knowing that the Lord has risen for precisely me and manifests himself also to me. He speaks to me and will remain always with me, my Lord, my Savior and my God!

- Father Alexander Men was a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, apostolic, ecumenical, talented, zealous - and murdered in 1990

When Islam Breaks Down

A long and fascinating article by a British doctor. Despite some reservations about some of his premises, I am adding it as a link to my own webpage on Islam.

Today in Christian history

April 13, 655 (traditional date): Martin, pope from 649 to 655, dies in banishment. History remembers him as the last pope venerated as a martyr.

April 13, 1059: Pope Nicholas II decreed that future popes could be elected by cardinals only.

April 13, 1534: Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England, refuses to take the oath to the English succession. One year later, Henry VIII indicted him for treason and had him beheaded.

April 13, 1598: France's Henry IV signs the Edict of Nantes, granting extensive political rights to the Huguenots (a Protestant group he once belonged to). The Huguenots retained the right to practice their religion until Louis XIV revoked the edict in 1685.

April 13, 1742: Handel's famous oratorio Messiah premieres in Dublin's Fishamble Street Musick Hall and is met with critical praise.

April 13, 1829: In the Emancipation Act, the English Parliament grants freedom of religion to Roman Catholics. Within three weeks, the first Catholic was elected to Parliament.

April 13, 1986: Pope John Paul II visits a Jewish synagogue in Rome, marking the first such visit by a pope in recorded history.

Monday, April 12, 2004
Worship the LORD in holy attire
Psalm 96:9

At my wonderful parish, there is no "holding back" when it comes to the holy Liturgy. There is a lavishness and abundance, despite the relative poverty of the parish set in a depressed working class neighborhood in west Baltimore. There is that sense of holy waste, such as the extravagance of the woman who anointed Jesus with precious ointment. I have often thought that our pastor and our altar servers are among the best dressed in the entire Catholic world. Here a two photos from the 11 AM Easter Mass. Notice the magnificent cope worn by Father Paschal for the first part of Mass. Then see the beautiful chasuble as he is surrounded by the world's best dressed altar servers. I love my parish!

The renewal of baptismal promises during Easter Mass

Waiting for the arrival of the offertory gifts at Easter Mass 2004

A Guard of the Sepulcher

I was a Roman soldier in my prime;
Now age is on me and the yoke of time
I saw your Risen Christ, for I am he
Who reached the hyssop to Him on the tree;
And I am one of two who watched beside
The Sepulcher of Him we crucified.
All that last night I watched with sleepless eyes;
Great stars arose and crept across the skies.

Then suddenly an angel burning white
Came down with earthquake in the breaking light.
And rolled the great stone from the Sepulcher,
Mixing the morning with a scent of myrrh.
And lo, the Dead had risen with the day:
The Man of Mystery had gone His way!

Years have I wandered, carrying my shame;
Now let the Tooth of Time eat out my name
For we, who all the Wonder might have told,
Kept silence, for our mouths were stopped with gold.

- Edwin Markham

Let's hope it comes and works!

John Allen, in last week's Word from Rome column reports this developing story:

Aside from whatever the pope says over Easter, which will make headlines because it’s a slow news period and the Vatican always delivers gorgeous pictures, the next big story from Rome is likely to be a forthcoming document on liturgical abuses. In the works for more than a year, the document’s release is imminent, perhaps by the end of the month. (Though other sources say it will be May, and one Vatican official told me simply, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”)

John Paul II requested the document in his April 2003 encyclical, Ecclesia da Eucharistia. It is expected to offer a hard-nosed insistence on following the liturgical rules, cracking down on local “experimentation.”

On Friday, April 2, Cardinal Francis Arinze and Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, the prefect and secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, took part in a Vatican news conference. The official topic was the presentation of a volume of essays from a December conference marking the 40th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II document on liturgy, but the forthcoming document on abuses formed part of the subtext.

In his remarks, Arinze said his congregation “wants to promote an examination of conscience and the assumption of initiatives for confronting abuses that have been introduced, in contrast with the hopes and the directives of the council and the magisterium in these 40 years.”

Arinze referred to the frustration these abuses sometimes cause in the faithful — a subject that his office probably knows better than anyone else, based on the mail they receive from people upset about this or that deviation.

“These reflections,” Arinze said, “should be of help to those who are tempted to lose faith in the church because of true or supposed abuses, as with those who either introduce their idiosyncrasies in the sacred liturgy, or who refuse as a matter of principle the directives of Vatican II.”

The latter comment seemed directed at Catholic traditionalists who have long insisted that the liturgical reforms of Vatican II amount to a betrayal of earlier discipline and teaching. Arinze left no space for such a view.

“Our faith in the church, which our beloved Lord and Savior Jesus Christ founded, tells us that the Holy Spirit has always accompanied the church, in the Council of Jerusalem (50) as in the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and in Vatican II, and will guide it to the end of time,” Arinze said.

Later, Arinze made a similar point.

“The church is alive,” he said. “When the church lives in every age, it’s not a part of the Vatican Museums, or an ecclesiastical refrigerator. You can’t say, ‘Don’t touch anything.’”

I asked Arinze about the document on abuses.

“The Holy Father says often that Vatican II led to some very good things, but also some shadows,” he said. “He asked us to go into the details.”

Arinze repeated that the document is a joint project of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and his own Congregation for Divine Worship. He assured journalists that “you will not be forgotten,” and said there will be another press conference when the document appears.


Pope John Paul II at Easter Mass in St Peter's

Easter Sunday, 11 April 2004

1. "Resurrexit, alleluia - He is risen, alleluia!"
This year too the joyous proclamation of Easter,
which echoed powerfully at last night's Vigil,
strengthens our hope.
"Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He is not here, but has risen" (Lk 24:5-6).

Thus the angel encourages the women who have hastened to the tomb.
Thus the Easter liturgy repeats to us,
the men and women of the third millennium:
Christ is risen, Christ is alive among us!
His name now is "the Living One",
death has no more power over him (cf. Rom 6:9).

2. Resurrexit! Today you, O Redeemer of mankind,
rise victoriously from the tomb to offer to us,
troubled by many threatening shadows,
your wish for joy and peace.
Those who are tempted by anxiety and desperation
turn to you, O Christ, our life and our guide,
to hear the proclamation of the hope that does not disappoint.

On this day of your victory over death,
may humanity find in you, O Lord, the courage to oppose
in solidarity the many evils that afflict it.
In particular, may it find the strength to face the inhuman,
and unfortunately growing, phenomenon of terrorism,
which rejects life and brings anguish and uncertainty
to the daily lives of so many hard-working and peaceful people.
May your wisdom enlighten men and women of good will
in the required commitment against this scourge.

3. May the work of national and international institutions
hasten the overcoming of the present difficulties
and favour progress towards a more effective
and peaceful world order.

May world leaders be confirmed and sustained
In their efforts to resolve satisfactorily the continuing conflicts
that cause bloodshed in certain regions of Africa,
Iraq and the Holy Land.

You, firstborn of many brothers, grant that all
who consider themselves children of Abraham
may rediscover the brotherhood that they share
and that prompts in them designs of cooperation and peace.

4. Take heed all of you who have at heart mankind's future!
Take heed men and women of good will!
May the temptation to seek revenge
give way to the courage to forgive;
may the culture of life and love
render vain the logic of death;
may trust once more give breath to the lives of peoples.
If our future is one,
it is the task and duty of all to build it
with patient and painstaking far-sightedness.

5. "Lord, to whom shall we go?"
You who have conquered death, you alone
"have the words of eternal life" (Jn 6:68).
To you we raise with confidence our prayer
which becomes an invocation of comfort
for the families of the many victims of violence.
Help us to work ceaselessly
for the coming of that more just and united world
that you have inaugurated with your resurrection.

Accompanying us in this task is
"she who believed that there would be a fulfilment
of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Lk 1:45).
Blessed are you, O Mary, silent witness of Easter!
You, O Mother of the Crucified One now risen,
who at the hour of pain and death
kept the flame of hope burning,
teach us also to be,
amongst the incongruities of passing time,
convinced and joyful witnesses
of the eternal message of life and love
brought to the world by the Risen Redeemer.

Kerry celebrates with Communion

"...Kerry's religious practices have been the subject of recent discussion as some Catholics have questioned his support for abortion and the senator has openly split with the church on some teachings, such as by supporting the concept of priests marrying.

He also violated church canon last weekend when he took Communion at a Protestant church, the Charles Street AME Church in Boston. The question of whether he might be denied Communion yesterday was stoked by comments made by Boston Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley and other church leaders..."

Kerry Attends Easter Services and Receives Holy Communion

BOSTON, April 11 — Despite the growing anxiety of several national Roman Catholic leaders, Senator John Kerry took communion here on Sunday at Easter services at the Paulist Center, a nontraditional church that describes itself as "a worship community of Christians in the Roman Catholic tradition" and which attracts people drawn to its dedication to "family religious education and social justice."

Mr. Kerry's decision to receive communion amounts to a challenge to several prominent Catholic bishops, who have become increasingly exasperated with politicians who are Catholic but who deviate from Catholic teaching.

Mr. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, supports abortion rights and stem-cell research, both of which are contrary to church teaching. He and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, are regular worshipers at the Paulist Center, which is near their home in Beacon Hill...."

Today in Christian history

April 12, 1204: The Fourth Crusade sacks Constantinople, an allied city (against the express directives of the Pope). The attack virtually destroyed the Byzantine Empire and ruined any hope of reunifying eastern and western Christians. Recently Pope John Paul II asked forgiveness for this crime.

April 12, 1914: A convention in Hot Springs, Arkansas, having founded the Assemblies of God adjourns. The Assembly of God would become the world's largest Pentecostal denomination.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

from a medieval Exultet Roll

Christ is risen. Christ makes all things new. Christ makes us new, no matter how low we have fallen, no matter how hellish our lives. For He descended into hell. And on the third day He rose. His resurrection from the dead is our hope and the source of our joy. Haec dies quam fecit Dominus; exultemus et laetemur in ea. This is the Day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. And Christ's Victory is why we can sing again and again: ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!

A most blessed Easter/Pascha to one and all. Christ is risen! Surrexit Christus! Christos anesti! Christos Voskrese!


by John Henry Newman

LORD, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy....
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Trinity, one God,
Jesus, Redeemer of mankind,
Jesus, Conqueror of sin and Satan,
Jesus, triumphant over Death.,
Jesus, the Holy and the Just,
Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life,
Jesus, the Giver of grace,
Jesus, the Judge of the world,

Who didst lay down Thy life for Thy sheep, have mercy on us.
Who didst rise again the third day,
Who didst manifest Thyself to Thy chosen,
Visiting Thy blessed Mother,
Appearing to Magdalen while she wept,
Sending Thy angels to the holy women,
Comforting the Eleven,
Saying to them, Peace,
Breathing on them the Holy Ghost,
Confirming the faith of Thomas,
Committing Thy flock to Peter,
Speaking of the Kingdom of God,

We sinners, beseech Thee, hear us.
That we may walk in newness of life, we beseech Thee hear us.
That we may advance in the knowledge of Thee,
That we may grow in grace,
That we may ever have the bread of life,
That we may persevere unto the end,
That we may have confidence before Thee at Thy coming,
That we may behold Thy face with joy,
That we may be placed at Thy right hand in the judgment.
That we may have our lot with the saints,

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, 0 Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, 0 Lord..
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ is risen, Alleluia.
He is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon, Alleluia.

Let us pray.

0 God, who by Thy only-begotten Son hast overcome death, and opened on us the way to eternal life, vouchsafe, we beseech Thee, so to confirm us by Thy grace, that we may in all things walk after the manner of those who have been redeemed from their sins, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Whoever is a devout lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful bright Festival!
Whoever is a grateful servant, let him rejoice and enter into the joy of his Lord!

And if any be weary with fasting, let him now enjoy what he has earned.
If any have toiled from the first hour, let him receive his due reward.
If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast.
If any have come after the sixth hour, let him not doubt, for he too shall be deprived of nothing.
And if any have delayed to the ninth hour, let him not hesitate, but let him come too.
And he that has arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be troubled over his delay, for the Lord is gracious, and received the last even as the first.

He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour as well as to him that has toiled from the first.
Yea, to this one he gives, to that one he bestows; he honors the former's work; the latter's intent he praises.
Let all then enter the joy of our Lord!

Both the first and the last and those who come after, enjoy your reward!
Rich and poor, dance with one another: sober and slothful, celebrate the day.
Those who have kept the fast and those who have not, rejoice today, for the table is richly spread.
Fare royally upon it - the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry.

All of you, enjoy the banquet of faith!
All enjoy the riches of his goodness.
Let no one cry over his poverty, for the universal Kingdom has appeared!
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again, for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He spoiled the power of hell when he descended thereto.
Isaiah foretold this when he cried, Death has been frustrated in meeting him below!

It is frustrated, for it is destroyed.
It is frustrated, for it is annihilated.
It is frustrated, for now it is made captive.
For it grabbed a body and discovered God.
It took earth and behold! it encountered heaven.
It took what was visible, and was overcome by what was invisible.

O Death, where is your sting?
O Death, where is your victory?

Christ is risen,
and the demons are cast down.
Christ is risen,
and life is set free.
Christ is risen,
and the tomb is emptied of the dead.

For Christ, having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who sleep.

To him be glory and power forever and ever!

This incomparable proclamation of the Glad Tidings of Christ Risen and of "salvation by grace" is read at the Pascha Services of the Byzantine Churches.

Enough! The Resurrection!

Away grief's gasping joyless days, dejection.
Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam. Flesh fade: and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; world's wildfire; leave but ash:

In a flash
At a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is,
Since He was what I am, and
This jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood,

Immortal diamond,

Is immortal diamond.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ, excerpt from That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection

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