Thursday, April 02, 2015

The Easter Triduum: A Celebration of our Catholic Identity

Today begins the holiest and most important time of the Church year -- the Easter Triduum. It commemorates the heart of our faith: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Sacred Triduum begins with Holy Thursday, which marks the end of the forty days of Lent and the beginning of the three-day celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday.

The Triduum liturgies teach us the meaning of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.The richness of the rituals and symbols help us to experience the mysteries of Jesus’ final hours, His passion, suffering -- and His rising from the dead. In a special way, during these three days,we come together as God's people to remember the saving act of Jesus, the miracle of His resurrection – and to celebrate our faith and identity as Catholics. Because Christ was willing to die for our sins and was raised from the dead, death is no longer the end of life for us. It is the beginning of a new life in Him.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

A Holy Week Blessing: Joy

I just learned that my book, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues has recived the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. First, I waited a couple of months before I could apply, then I waited another couple of months for it to be approved. So, it has been a while in coming, but my patience paid off and I am ecstatic! Thank you, Lord!

These little minions express how I feel:

Monday, March 30, 2015

Twelve Ways to Make Holy Week Holy

Holy Week is the week that changed the world. Here are 12 ways you can make this week more meaningful.

1. PRAY  throughout the day, speaking to God just as you would to a close friend. Ask Him to save souls, especially those who are dying this day and are most in need of His mercy. Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for these souls.

2. FAST  Eat smaller portions of food for meals or eat food without salt or pepper this week.

3. REPENT  Examine your conscience daily and go to Confession.

4. ADORE  Spend time with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration this week, even if you only have 15 minutes.

5. PRAY the rosary slowly, contemplatively, meditating on the sorrowful mysteries.

6. ATTEND all of the Triduum liturgies.

7. PRAY the Stations of the Cross.

8. MEDITATE on Christ's Passion daily as you read the various accounts of the Passion in the Gospels.

9. SACRIFICE Offer up any pain or difficulties you are experiencing and unite them with Christ's sufferings.

10. INVITE  family members, friends, neighbors, or co-workers to come to Church with you, especially those who have been away from the faith for some time.

11. GIVE of yourself -- your time, talent, and treasure-- to assist your parish in a special way this Easter.

12. REACH OUT to someone who is hurting or suffering. Pray with them, listen to them, and console them.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fr. Robert Barron on Cinderella

Fr. Barron tells us that Kenneth Branagh’s “Cinderella” is the most surprising Hollywood movie of the year, not because it subverts the traditional fairy story, but because it presents it as a deeply Christian tale.

Seven Quick Takes: Spring, Holy Week, Palm Sunday, Saints, and Books

1. Spring has arrived here in Wichita! Above are just a few of the signs I have been seeing in my yard.

Below is another sign of spring.

2. On Palm Sunday evening, I will be a guest on Fr. Ronald P. Legwin's radio program discussing my book, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues. I am looking forward to that, as well as to my next speaking engagement at Sacred Heart parish in Colwich this coming week.

3. On March 25, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord and I wrote a new blog post on that feast day, focusing on joy and love.

5. On Thursday, I also wrote a blog post entitled Surrender it to God, which focuses in on abandonment, trust, and surrender.

6. What I am reading this week: 30 Days with Teresa of Avila by Daniel Burke and Anthony Lilles.

7. Here is another book recommendation from my friend, Leticia Velaquez: Review of the book "Joyful Witness: How to be An Extraordinary Catholic" by Randy Hain. 

For more Quick Takes visit This Ain't the Lyceum.   

Have a wonderful weekend and a blessed Holy Week!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

St. Margaret of Clitherow: patron of businesswomen, converts, and martyrs

The saint of the day for March 26th is St. Margaret Clitherow, patron of businesswomen, converts, and martyrs.

Margaret was born in Middleton, England, in 1555, of protestant parents. An attractive woman full of wit and cheer, she had a charming personality.

In 1571, she married John Clitherow, a well-to-do butcher (to whom she bore two children). She was a good housewife, capable in business, dearly loved by her husband, whose only regret was that she would not attend church. A few years later, she entered the Catholic Church. Her zeal led her to harbor fugitive priests, for which she was arrested and imprisoned by hostile authorities. They tried every means to make her deny her Faith, but the holy woman stood firm. Finally, she was condemned to be pressed to death on March 25, 1586. She was stretched out on the ground with a sharp rock on her back and crushed under a door loaded down with unbearable weights. Her bones were broken and she died within fifteen minutes.

The humanity and holiness of this servant of God can be readily evidenced in her words to a friend when she learned of her condemnation: "The sheriffs have said that I am going to die this coming Friday; and I feel the weakness of my flesh which is troubled at this news, but my spirit rejoices greatly. For the love of God, pray for me and ask all good people to do likewise."

Margaret died on Good Friday, March 25, 1586, her last words being, "Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy on me!" She was only thirty years old and was canonized in 1970 as one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.

Surrender It to God

“Our Lord has shown me the way that leads to love – it is the only way that leads to love – it is the way of childlike trust and surrender; the way a child that sleeps is afraid of nothing in its father’s arms.” -- St. Therese of Lisieux

"We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can - namely, surrender our will and fulfill God's will in us." – St. Teresa of Avila

“Just surrender it to God!” I heard my wise friend saying as I recounted to her the events of the past week. “I am!” I retorted. “I am going to pray for you”, she replied.

I like to think that I am immune to letting my feelings get out of control. I am an intelligent, rational human being after all, almost Spock-like at times. Of course, I know what I am supposed to do spiritually when things become chaotic and are totally out of my control in this life. The very first thing to do is to pray – to share my intimate feelings with God. After all, He knows me inside and out, and loves me unconditionally even though I am His imperfect daughter. I am helpless and must come to Him as a little child, resting my head on His lap and surrender it all to him. Only He can calm the inner turmoil and heal me of my anger, my fear, and my weaknesses. I need to let Him become my strength and my comfort when the world around me makes no sense at all.

On Sunday evening this past week, I just learned that my younger sister has an aggressive cancer and is scheduled for a stem cell transplant.  That same day, she was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital, very close to leaving this life.

She is the fourth person in my family of seven to be seriously ill with this disease. Initially, I tried to push aside my anger and my fears. I know that it is not healthy to totally bury these feelings, so I had a good cry. Clinging to these negative feelings is self-defeating and only generates despair. Instead, I offered up my pain and fatigue for her. I have also been praying a daily Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Rosary, and other special prayers to my favorite saints for her. I have tried to focus on healing Scripture passages. I have asked everyone I know to pray for her and they have responded generously.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to all those who are praying for her. She remains in the intensive care unit and is still in serious condition, but is showing signs of improvement. She is still unable to speak and I long to hear her voice. I know, however, that in God’s time, she will speak again.

The situation is far more complex than my words can express here and I am not at liberty to tell the whole story; suffice to say, her immediate family is in need of healing and support in all ways imaginable. Due to her cancer and her husband’s daily dialysis, the family is experiencing serious financial problems. I am praying that someone in their community (in another state) will assist them. More importantly, I am praying for spiritual healing within the family and for God’s peace to fill her heart and all of our hearts as we accept His will and minister to her needs.

Already, I feel as if God is accomplishing amazing things through the power of prayer. But why should that surprise me? I know that “for God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Prayer of Surrender to God

by Thomas à Kempis

Lord, You know what is best; let this be done or that be done as You please. Give what You will, as much as You will, when You will. Do with me as You know best, as will most please You, and will be for Your greater honor. Place me where You will and deal with me freely in all things. I am in Your hand; turn me about whichever way You will. Behold, I am Your servant, ready to obey in all things. Not for myself do I desire to live, but for You--would that I could do this worthily and perfectly! (The Imitation of Christ, Bk 3, chapter 15)

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

Mary was a great model for us because in her heart there was no obstacle to God's will. Her "Yes" to God's plan for her life is all about her obedience and love for Him.

Related Post:

The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Solemnity of the Annuciation of the Lord

On March 25, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which is the coming of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to announce to her the special mission God had chosen for her in being the mother of His only Son. This solemnity is also the first joyful mystery of the rosary and an event which should fill our hearts with joy and thanksgivng.

The Franciscans tell us: “The Immaculate Virgin Mary joyfully conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit.” In doing so, they describe the annunciation as the Blessed Virgin Mary’s first joy.

In the first chapter of Luke, we learn that the Angel Gabriel, who was sent by God, shared with the Blessed Virgin Mary the message that she was to be the Mother of God. Imagine the joy in the heart of Mary when she learned from this messenger of God that she, who was willing to be but a handmaid or servant in the household of the Lord, was actually to be the Mother of God!  What joy and happiness at the greeting of the angel! What joy to know that now within her womb she carried the Son of God!

The first word the angel addressed to the Blessed Virgin was an invitation to joy. The Ambassador of God greeted her by saying: “Hail, full of grace.” Hail is our English translation of the Greek word “chaire” which means “rejoice”.

St.  John Paul II tells us that there are three reasons for the angel Gabriel’s invitation to joy: (1) God’s saving presence among his people, (2) the coming of the Messiah, and (3) free and gratuitous fruitfulness – which all find their fulfillment in Mary.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Zephaniah says: “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!  (Zep. 3:14).   In this passage, the prophet is personifying Israel by referring to her as the “daughter of Zion”.  This term “daughter of Zion” refers to faithful Israel as a whole, who awaits her Messiah. In the New Testament, Mary is the new daughter of Zion who has good reason to rejoice because God has chosen her as his humble servant to fulfill His plan of salvation. Mary is the perfect daughter of Zion because she fulfills the expectation of Israel for the Messiah. She is the immaculate Virgin who eagerly awaits the coming of the Savior.

God invites Mary, as the new Daughter of Zion to enter into deep joy.  Mary accepts this role not only on behalf of all the people of David, but on behalf of all humanity because the Old Testament extended the Davidic Messiah to all nations (Ps 2:8, 72:8).

As the new Daughter of Zion, Mary is the virgin of the covenant which God establishes with all mankind. As the new Daughter of Zion, Mary is specifically suited to entering into the spousal relationship with God.  As a consecrated virgin, she offers God the true heart of a bride. Although consecrated virginity did not exist in Israel at that time, Mary entrusted her virginity to God. She was the first woman to make such a vow.

Through faith, this bride of Christ listens to the voice of God and freely submits her entire being to the plan of God over her life. Through her selfless Fiat, Mary was immediately cooperating with the entire work of what Jesus would accomplish. The word obey comes from the Latin ob-audire which means to hear or listen to.  Mary possesses the virtues of faith, humility, and simplicity that permit her to listen to God and to put his plan into practice. We know that Mary does not simply submit to nor passively accept God’s plan for her life, but she eagerly desires to fulfill it and enthusiastically embraces it. As the Bride of the Church, Mary does not view her role as a duty or task to be completed, but sees herself as a lover, who desires the happiness of her spouse, and responds passionately with love to please the beloved. She acts solely out of love and obedience to God. Mary was motivated, above all, by love. She lovingly and obediently embraced God’s will in her life.

"What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ´we no longer know Christ according to the flesh´, but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us."

~ St. Gregory of Nyssa

copyright Jean M. Heimann March, 2015