Sunday, April 15, 2012

Feast of Divine Mercy: A Shelter for Sinners

Jesus, I trust in Thee!

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, now officially called the Divine Mercy Sunday, so instituted by Blessed Pope John Paul II in April 2000 during the canonization of (fellow Polish) Sister Faustina.  This change is in accordance with the explicit desire of our Lord as revealed to Saint Faustina Kowalska.  In her diary, Our Lord says:
My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy.  I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a 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.  On that day are opened all the divine floodgates through which graces flow.  Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.  My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.  Everything that exists has come from the very depths of My most tender mercy.  Every soul in its relation to Me will contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity.  The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness.  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.
To observe and honour today's very significant event, and to take advantage of Our Lord's promise, we were graced to attend and participate in the liturgical celebrations organized by the Polish community at Our Lady of Victories Parish Church.  When we arrived, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was already in progress.  There were at least 2 priests hearing confessions.  At 3 o'clock, being the Hour of Mercy - as declared by Our Lord Himself, the Holy Hour commenced with the community recitation of the Divine Mercy chaplet.  Holy Mass followed which, though offered in the Novus Ordo rite, was said very reverently and was certainly enhanced by the singing of Traditional Latin hymns in polyphony (Gregorian Chant) led by the schola/choir.  Before the conclusion of the event, sacred images of the Divine Mercy were solemnly blessed; then shortly after, the congregation was able to venerate a relic of St Faustina Kowalska individually.

Back home we put together a themed dessert consisting of date and walnut loaf cut in 2 sheets, shaped, and iced with red and blue frosting and rested on a laminated image of the Divine Mercy. To complete the presentation of our dessert, frosting pens in red and blue were used to write the powerful phrase: "Jesus, I trust in You!"


Jesus, King of mercy, I trust in Thee! 

Mary, Mother of  mercy, pray for us!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Looking Forward to a New Life with the Risen Christ

Resurrexit sicut dixit!!  Alleluia!!

Our "Sin Cross" which was laden with flowers on Good Friday, now bears the white cloth and Crown of Resurrection - symbolic of the glorious event of Christ's Triumphant Rising from the dead.  The Crown of Resurrection was, of course, the crown of thorns which the children pulled out - one thorn at a time for every good deed done, is encrusted with little "sacrifice jewels"  which they had also been earning throughout Lent and before Easter, in preparation for the big Feastday.

From our family to yours, a Happy and Festive Easter!  Best wishes for a brand new start with the Resurrected Christ!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Walking with Christ

Lent draws to a close as the Holy Triduum (three days) approaches.  These 3 days before Easter mark very important events this Season. 

Holy Thursday is the official end of Lent and start of the Holy Triduum.  In the evening the Church commemorates the Last Supper of Christ with His Apostles whence He instituted the holy sacraments of the Eucharist and the Priesthood.  In the Liturgy of Holy Thursday we witness the momentous "Washing of the feet"  by Christ of His apostles, to effectively ready them for their mission, and the solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament Which is reposed in a side altar.  The main tabernacle is left empty and open as we are given a visual reminder that Our Lord is not with us as He was arrested and taken away on this night. 

Tonight (Holy Thursday) we found ourselves at St Joseph's Church at the Traditional Latin Mass where we were so privileged to attend a missa cantata, after which we processed with the congregation and Our Eucharistic Lord as He was laid at the Altar of Repose.  The Sacrament of Penance was also made available to penitents afterwards.  How blessed we felt to have had a beautiful start to our Holy Triduum!

Our "Seder Meal" on Holy Thursday evening to help us recall the Passover Meal of the Israelites.  Ours consisted of a flat, unleavened bread (representing Jesus, untainted with sin), a small piece of lamb (symbolizing the unblemished lamb sacrificed to God at Passover, whose blood was smeared on the door of a house), horseradish and parsley (reminiscent of the suffering of the Israelites under the Egyptians),  haroset or sweet sauce (to symbolize the realization of God's promise), and an egg (for the promise of new life after the suffering).  We could not find white grape juice, so here we used flame grape juice, instead.
Good Friday is the most austere and sombre day of all,  as we commemorate the Passion and Death of Christ on the Cross.  For most of us we are given some semblance of this experience as we walk the Via Crucis or the Way of the Cross along Mt Calvary to His final place of death:  Golgotha. 

Holy Saturday is a time of uncertainty for the Apostles as they "watched and waited" for what would unfold next.  On Easter vigil, we experience the "most beautiful liturgy of the Church," as a prelude to the Feastday of all feastdays:  Easter Sunday - when we celebrate and rejoice over the Resurrection of Christ!

It was a couple of weeks ago when I contacted the Marian Shrine Retreat Centre to find out if they had any vacancies for the Holy Triduum to Easter period.  I must admit it was a long shot as these limited places usually go almost a year before Holy Week.  But I thought I'd give it a try, anyway.  However I was told they had absolutely NO AVAILABILITY. 

Imagine my surprise when a few days later I was contacted by the manager of the centre in order to confirm our "booking!"  Wow, we thought, it must be a personal invitation from Mamma Mary, herself!  (Though come to think of it, we DID make a booking last year, straight after Easter - after getting caught out and resorting to staying at a nearby Bed N Breakfast in order to attend all the liturgical events during these very significant days in our Christian lives.)

To cut the long story short, we were rapt to learn that we are going to be at this very special place for Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, after all!  Thank you, Mamma Mary!  You just always come through for us, even if we do not deserve it.

Gratias, O Regina mea, et Mater mea!