Author: tomlirish

TEN POINTS TO CONSIDER REGARDING THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10)

 

INTRODUCTION:

Reflecting on our Lord’s resurrection is always a profitable exercise. Indeed, if someone were to ask you why you  are a Christian, would not the best response be that you believe in the risen Christ? Yes! We are Christians because we believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead! We read in Acts that “with great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all” (4:33). We meditate on the Lord’s resurrection because it is the source of great power and favor, a power so great that it will one day raise up the bodies of all believers to Eternal Life! Here, then, are ten short reflections regarding the resurrection of Jesus.

1. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life

Jesus tells Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25). Frankly, the verse is quite stunning and seems to me to be one of those special verses that’s geared up to have a high-level impact on our lives. Ask Martha, for she saw Jesus raise her brother back to life after Lazarus had been dead in the tomb four days. Certainly this is a verse we should meditate on! Deep reflection on this verse will no doubt “increase the temperature of our love for Jesus” as we see, more and more, that the resurrected Jesus is the source of blessings so transformative in scope that it would probably blow our minds if we could presently experience the unspeakable joys of Heaven that await us. But right here on planet earth it is a great comfort to know that the power of Jesus’ resurrection is flowing forth to us through so many channels of grace, thus giving us strength and hope to persevere through so many of life’s trials and difficulties. In short, we need POWER to persevere, and Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, which means he is the source of amazing power (sufficient even to overcome death)! In any event, I expect this verse to “do a good work in your soul” if you make it the subject matter of a short meditation, or even if you just repeat it continuously throughout the day with joy in your heart.

2. The Resurrection of Jesus is a Saving Event

Besides being an historical event, the resurrection of Jesus is primarily a saving event. In this light Saint Paul teaches that Jesus was “delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). The Resurrection of Jesus “is more than a miracle and motive for faith. It is a saving event in its own right, since the dying and rising of Jesus together constitute the victory over sin and death. Baptism gives us a share in this double victory, for through it we die to sin and rise to new life with Christ” (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, p. 263).

“The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God’s grace, ‘so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life’ Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace. It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ’s brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: “Go and tell my brethren.” We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 654).

We cannot discount the resurrection of Jesus as a saving event because it is only through His risen life that we are brought into that “newness of life” which constitutes the fullness of our salvation. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4). Therefore, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

3. The women as the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection powerfully affirm its authenticity.

One scholar of the Lord’s resurrection, Professor William Lane Craig, offers the following insights regarding the very first witnesses to the resurrection – who were all women with respect to encountering the empty tomb and the risen Lord himself (see John 20: 10-18; Matthew 28: 1-10). “Certainly these women were friends of Jesus. But when you understand the role of women in first-century Jewish society, what’s really extraordinary is that this empty tomb story should feature women as the discovers of the empty tomb in the first place. Women were on a very low rung of the social ladder in first-century Palestine….Women’s testimony was regarded as so worthless that they weren’t even allowed to serve as legal witnesses in a Jewish court of law. In light of this, it’s absolutely remarkable that the chief witnesses to the empty tomb are these women who were friends of Jesus. Any later legendary account would have certainly portrayed male disciples as discovering the tomb – Peter or John, for example. The fact that women are the first witnesses to the empty tomb is most plausibly explained by the reality that- like it or not – they were the discovers of the empty tomb. This shows that the Gospel writers faithfully recorded what happened, even if it was embarrassing (The Case For Easter, pp. 49-50).”

4. There were multiple resurrection appearances by Jesus which left the apostles fully convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead.

For quick reference here is a summary of the ten resurrection appearances of Jesus (eleven if you include the appearance to St. Paul on the road to Damascus). Here’s the link:

The Ten Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ | Believersweb.org

It is a point not to be underestimated that Jesus made multiple resurrection appearances over the course of forty days. Thus, the apostles were not left wondering whether they had seen Jesus in the flesh following his death and burial – Jesus went out of his way on multiple occasions to make sure that they had! Consequently, you have complete unanimity among the remaining eleven apostles that they had seen the risen Christ. By way of contrast, we don’t have a case here where six of the apostles claimed to have seen the resurrected Christ, whereas three denied it, and two were not sure. And these were men that went on to live heroic lives, to suffer and die for what they had witnessed, spawning the amazing rise of the Christian faith despite insurmountable obstacles, and without any resort to violence.

As the great Biblical scholar C.H. Dodd states:   “The main weight [regarding the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection] … is placed on the testimony that Jesus was ‘seen’ alive after death, by a number of his followers….” (The Founder of Christianity, page 167).  Something had happened to these men, which they could describe only by saying they had ‘seen the Lord’. This is not an appeal to any generalized ‘Christian experience’. It refers to a particular series of occurrences, unique in character, unrepeatable, and confined to a limited period” (p.168). Dodd therefore concludes:

“[For] the original witnesses [the resurrection of Jesus was] an immediate, intuitive certainty. They were dead sure they had met with Jesus, and there was no more to be said about it….Now they were new men in a new world, confident, courageous, enterprising, the leaders of a movement which made an immediate impact and went forward with an astonishing impetus.” (p. 170)

5. Through the Risen Christ comes the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit 

“The Resurrection of Jesus is the total outpouring of the Spirit in the world, the flowing into creation of the immense flood which pours out from the Father in the Son” (F.X. Durwell, Holy Spirit of God, page 10). The Catechism of the Catholic Church amplifies Father Durrwell’s insight:

“This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people. On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit, a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost. Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age. Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn” ( CCC #1287).

In the theology of Saint Paul it is the saving power of the Gospel that empowers us to lead holy lives. The guiding theme of Paul’s Letter to the Romans, according to a former professor of mine from years ago, is power leading to life. We are in a state of moral helplessness without the saving power of the Gospel. But where does this power leading to life come from? It comes from the resurrection of Jesus Christ! As Paul states at the very beginning of Romans:

“This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1: 1-4).

The full power of the Holy Spirit is unleashed by Jesus’ resurrection. Christ’s resurrection has ushered in the messianic age where the people of God will be led by the Holy Spirit! As Paul states in Romans 8:

“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (8:9-11).

In short, through the eschatological power of Christ’s resurrection we who have faith in Christ live in the realm of the Spirit, which is the POWER which enables us to be truly holy.

6.. The Eucharist is intrinsically linked to the Resurrection of the body of Jesus

There is no Holy Eucharist without the body and blood of Jesus Christ. And what is this body and blood of Jesus Christ but the resurrected Jesus! Jesus had certainly lost a tremendous amount of blood during his passion, and his body was badly mangled, but his physical life was restored to him – and gloriously so – by his resurrection. When we go to Mass, therefore, we go to the resurrection, and we receive the resurrected Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity.

The “Catholic Church professes that, in the celebration of the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the priest. Jesus said: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. . . . For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink (Jn 6:51-55). The whole Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine—the glorified Christ who rose from the dead after dying for our sins. This is what the Church means when she speaks of the ‘Real Presence’ of Christ in the Eucharist. This presence of Christ in the Eucharist is called ‘real’ not to exclude other types of his presence as if they could not be understood as real (cf. Catechism, no. 1374). The risen Christ is present to his Church in many ways, but most especially through the sacrament of his Body and Blood” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops).

7. Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Confession during one of his resurrection appearances.

Jesus wished to continue his ministry of the forgiveness of sins through the Apostles and their successors. Thus, following his glorious resurrection, Jesus conferred on the apostles the power to forgive sins, a power Jesus himself had exercised during his earthly ministry. It is recounted in John’s Gospel that, during a resurrection appearance, Jesus met with the apostles and said to them, in particular: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he said this, he breathed on them , and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven: if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 21-23)

Confession, thus, is a Resurrection gift from Jesus who has passed on his ministry of forgiving sins (what we call the Sacrament of Confession) to the apostles and their successors.  From our Lord’s Resurrection blossomed this great gift for the
church! 
Paragraph 1461 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church thus states:

Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation, bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed, bishops and priests, by virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

I don’t know how to say this: forgiveness of sins is the greatest need every person has. Jesus, in His Infinite Wisdom, and in His genius as the leader of souls, has willed that forgiveness of sins be readily available from his priests, where the concrete actions of forgiveness, absolution, and spiritual guidance can take place in a powerful and effective manner appropriately tailored to our human situation, and leading thus to an authentic spiritual resurrection of our souls!

8. The Resurrection appearances of Jesus point to the sacramental life of the Church

At no. 1116 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it states that “Sacraments are ‘powers that comes forth’ from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are ‘the masterworks of God’ in the new and everlasting covenant.” In the following resurrection appearances Jesus alludes to, or makes reference to, the sacramental life of the Church.

Baptism:  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….” (Matthew 28:19; see also Mark 16:16).

Eucharist:  “Then the two told what had happened on the road [to Emmaus], and how they had recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35). See CCC 1329, which states, in part: “The Breaking of Bread…. It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection, and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies; by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.“

Confession:  “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven: if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 22-23). See number 7 above.

Confirmation:  “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. And when he said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20: 21-22). The Catechism of the Catholic Church cites this verse at no. 1287 in its section on the Sacrament of Confirmation. “Here we see that the risen humanity of Jesus has become a sacrament of the divine Spirit” (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, p. 199). See also CCC 1116.

Priesthood.  Jesus, by empowering the apostles with the priestly function of forgiving sins in John 20: 21-23, confirms the existence of the ministerial priesthood. Moreover, when Jesus reconfirmed Peter as the head of the Church during his resurrection appearance to the apostles by the Sea of Tiberias (see John 21: 1-19), he simultaneously reaffirms the duty of the ministerial priesthood to care for his sheep (“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs” (John 21: 15 ). See also CCC 1551 (in the section on the Sacrament of Holy Orders) which references John 21: 15.

Anointing of the Sick:  “[T]hey will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:18). The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1507, references this verse in its section on the Anointing of the Sick, saying, “The risen Lord renews this mission [of healing the sick] – “In my name . . . they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” –  and confirms it through the signs that the Church performs by invoking his name. These signs demonstrate in a special way that Jesus is truly ‘God who saves.’ ”

Marriage:  I do not believe there are any direct references to marriage in the resurrection appearances of Jesus. However, St. Paul speaks to the sacramental nature of marriage in Ephesians 5 by stating that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the Church (“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church. . . . This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church” – Eph 5:25, 32); and during his earthly ministry no one spoke more strongly about the divine origin of marriage, as well as its indissolubility, than Jesus (see Matt. 19: 3-10). The power flowing from Jesus’ resurrection is therefore the catalyst for life-long sacramental marriage between a man and a woman (“By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, [Jesus] himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God” – CCC 1615).

9. Jesus’ wounds are a special manifestation of his resurrection.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Jesus’ resurrection is the existence of wounds of crucifixion on his resurrected body (see John 20: 20). We are all familiar with the apostle Thomas being invited by the resurrected Jesus to touch his wounds (John 20:27). And at Luke 24: 36-41 Jesus appeared to his disciples saying “Peace to you.” But Luke recounts that the apostles “were startled and frightened, and supposed they that they saw a spirit.” Jesus then said: “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings arise in your hearts? See my hands and feet , that it is I myself; handle me; and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible relates that Jesus’ reference to his hands and feet in this passage pertains to “the nail marks” which “demonstrate that Jesus’ risen body is the same body that was crucified only days earlier. He carries these marks of his earthly sacrifice with him when he ascends into heaven (Rev. 5:5).”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion. Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm” (no. 645).

The spiritual lesson here is that Jesus, even in his resurrected body, never wants us to forget how much he suffered in order to prove his love for us and secure our salvation. As a gifted spiritual writer once said, let us never forget the sufferings of the Lord. Father Faber adds: “O for some corner, the least, the lowest, and the last in the world to come [Heaven], where we may spend an untired eternity in giving silent thanks to Jesus Crucified!”

A wonderful reflection on our Lord’s glorious wounds, building on the thoughts of Saint Thomas Aquinas, can be accessed via the following link:

Glorious Wounds—Christ’s and Ours – Homiletic & Pastoral Review

10. Jesus reestablished Peter as head of the Church during one of his resurrection appearances.

In one of the most beautiful of his resurrection appearances, Jesus appeared to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21: 1-25), “and none of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the lord’” (John 21: 12-13). And they ate breakfast together, utilizing a charcoal fire (John 21: 9). Here, again, we see Jesus hard at work building up his apostles to ready them for the demanding work of evangelization. In this instance, Jesus directed his comments to Peter, stating:

“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21: 15-19)

Peter had previously stood by a charcoal fire in John 18 when he denied Jesus three times. Now, in the presence of another charcoal fire, and in order to restore and reaffirm Peter as head of his Church, Jesus leads Peter to express love for Jesus three times. Each of these three times Jesus implores Peter to take care of his sheep, and on the third time Jesus alludes to Peter’s manner of death, where Peter will “stretch out [his] hands” on a cross in imitation of Jesus.

.CONCLUSION:

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. All power in heaven and earth has been given to him (Matthew 28:18). “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which [God] has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1: 18-23).

The historical authenticity of the resurrection of Jesus’ body from the dead is well proven by the Gospel writers, especially by the numerous accounts they provide of Jesus’ resurrection appearances, and the subsequent witness of the apostles shows they were fully convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead. Indeed, almost all of these apostles went on to convincingly confirm that they witnessed the resurrected Jesus with the witness – the Greek word “martyr” literally means witness – of their own lives, which is a most powerful testimony. Moreover, Jesus demonstrates by his resurrection his great concern for the Church – this by establishing the Sacrament of Confession during one appearance, and by reaffirming Peter as head of the Church on another, and by the retention of his sacred and glorious wounds on his resurrected body in order to remind us that by “his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, is the source of all good things for us! Gather in for your eternal welfare the incredible “POWER flowing from his resurrection” (Phil 3:10).

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.

References: I see the use of Father Faber phraseology in the first reflection, such as will “increase the temperature of your love,” and will do a “good work in your soul,” and make it the “special object” of your prayer or meditation, and we are “in need of power.” The tone and content of the first reflection is certainly under the influence of Faber who often states that in our earthly condition we could not tolerate the torrents of Heavenly joy. The second reflection originates from Dr. Scott Hahn’s tape series on the resurrection, where he places a special emphasis on the resurrection as a saving event, with special reliance on F.X. Durwell’s works on the resurrection.

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IN EVERY MASS THE SACRIFICE OF CALVARY IS MADE PRESENT IN A SACRAMENTAL MANNER THROUGH THE ONGOING PRIESTLY MINISTRY OF JESUS CHRIST

“Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer (Hebrews 8:3). Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 8:1)

The reason why the daily Mass is the greatest event on planet earth each and every day is because it makes present to us in time and space the ever-living prayer within the heart of Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven. What is this prayer? It is the offering of Jesus to the Father of his Calvary sacrifice that is perpetuated by our Eucharistic liturgy (just as Jesus commanded it to be when he instituted the Eucharist on Holy Thursday as a memorial of his passion and death).

Imagine you have your own personal priest…and that priest is able to offer on your behalf a most beautiful sacrifice to God –  a sacrifice of Infinite value, a sacrifice which is a universal cause of all graces, a sacrifice containing every possible grace needed for your sanctification. How awesome would that be!  And what does Hebrews 8:1 say?: – it says that we do have such a priest who is in heaven right now. And this high priest, says Hebrews, is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices on our behalf (Hebrews 8:3) And how is this done?: – most especially through the Mass, through the Eucharistic sacrifice, through the gifts of bread and wine. And so the true priest at every Mass is Jesus (see CCC 1137).

It is true that the Holy Mass is the Memorial of Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary. But as a memorial ceremony normally involves the remembrance of someone who is dead, the Mass is altogether unique because Jesus is alive – indeed He is Risen and Glorified!  Jesus is the true Priest who celebrates each and every Mass! So when you go to Mass you are going to a liturgical gathering to pray with Jesus and to join in with Jesus to offer to the Eternal Father Jesus’ Infinite sacrifice which won our redemption. It is therefore an awesome privilege to attend Mass and to make this offering to the Father with our High Priest, Jesus, and to offer yourself to the Father in union with Jesus. In Holy Mass the sacrifice of Calvary is made present to us in a sacramental manner through the ongoing priestly ministry of Jesus Christ (see CCC 1362-1368).

Indeed, there are additional powerful words in the Epistle to the Hebrews about Jesus’ ongoing priestly ministry in Heaven (words that should really give us great encouragement!). In the seventh chapter of Hebrews we read: “… because Jesus lives forever [in Heaven], he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25; CCC 519).

Moreover, the author of Hebrews identifies Jesus’ never-ending priesthood in Heaven as the true fulfillment of the Order of Melchizedek, the very first priesthood mentioned in the Old Testament (see Genesis 14). In fact, the Order of Melchizedek is mentioned multiple times in Hebrews! This is a very significant point for Catholics because the “thanksgiving offering” made by the priest Melchizedek in the Old Testament was that of bread and wine (Genesis 14:18), which constituted a “communion sacrifice” per Dr. Scott Hahn. Jesus is identified in Hebrews as “the mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 12:24). The true sacramental sign of this New Covenant is identified by Jesus as the Holy Eucharist (“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” – Luke 22:20). As such we are advised in Hebrews not to neglect ‘to meet together” for the New Testament liturgy (Hebrews 10:25), the Mass, of our High Priest, Jesus Christ (see CCC 692).

The time-transcendent dimension of Jesus’ unique and unrepeatable sacrificial death on Good Friday is such that he is referred to as “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Dr. Scott Hahn comments: “The Mass is the ‘once for all,’ perfect sacrifice of Calvary, which is presented on heaven’s altar for all eternity. It is not a ‘repeat performance.’ There is only one sacrifice; it is perpetual and eternal, and so it needs never be repeated. Yet the Mass is our participation in that one sacrifice and in the eternal life of the Trinity in heaven, where the Lamb stands eternally “as if slain’ (Rev. 5:6).” It is in this light that Jesus could institute the Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday as the true memorial and making present of his sacrificial death which would be historically consummated the following day, Good Friday. “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice” (CCC 1367).

CONCLUSION: The Mass, then, is the ever-living prayer present in the heart of Jesus Christ.  It’s where the full power of Christ’s universal sacrifice and offering is made present on earth. What a privilege it is for us to attend this daunting and holy ceremony which connects heaven and earth, and to unite our hearts and our prayers to Jesus’ loving oblation to the Father. And then to partake of the fruit of this sacrifice – the supernatural food which feeds our souls. At Mass Jesus is the priest, the victim and our holy communion. “Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever.”

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Sources: My source for this note is Father Garrigou-LaGrange’s essay, “Assistance at Mass, the Source of Sanctification,” Chapter 31, Volume 1, of The Three Ages of the Spiritual Life, pages 407-413 (TAN). It is Father Garrigou-LaGrange who states that the the Mass is “the oblation ever living in the heart of Jesus” (p.407). Father Garrigou-LaGrange also states that the Mass “is the greatest act of each of our days,”  that the Mass is “a universal cause of graces,” and that the Mass contains “all the graces we need for our sanctification.” You can see that I have incorporated these precise observations of Father Garrigou-LaGrange in my note. I am also relying on Scott Hahn’s talk, “The Meal of Melchizedek,” and his book, The Lamb’s Supper. The following sections of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, mentioned in The Lamb’s Supper, reinforce some of the key ideas in this note pertaining to the profound value of the Mass:

The celebrants of the heavenly liturgy

1137 The book of Revelation of St. John, read in the Church’s liturgy, first reveals to us, “A throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne”: “the Lord God.”1 It then shows the Lamb, “standing, as though it had been slain”: Christ crucified and risen, the one high priest of the true sanctuary, the same one “who offers and is offered, who gives and is given.”2 Finally it presents “the river of the water of life . . . flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb,” one of most beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit.3

. . . is present in the earthly liturgy . . .

1088 “To accomplish so great a work” – the dispensation or communication of his work of salvation – “Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially in the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes, it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.”‘11

1089 “Christ, indeed, always associates the Church with himself in this great work in which God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is his beloved Bride who calls to her Lord and through him offers worship to the eternal Father.”12

. . . which participates in the liturgy of heaven

1090 “In the earthly liturgy we share in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle. With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory.”13

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POPE BENEDICT ONCE AGAIN REFERENCES VERITATIS SPLENDOR AS DECISIVELY IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

“The encyclical on moral problems ‘Veritatis Splendor’ took many years to ripen and remains of unchanged relevance.” (Pope Benedict XVI in 2018)

“The drafters of Amoris Laetitia knew that the teaching of Veritatis Splendor posed a serious challenge. That is why, astonishingly for one of the longest papal documents in history, including some 400 footnotes, there is not a single reference to Veritatis Splendor.” (Father Raymond de Souza)

About a year ago, the Vatican released a letter written by Pope Benedict in which it had intentionally deleted Benedict’s specific reference to the great encyclical on Catholic morality (written by Pope John Paul II), Veritatis Splendor. When the redaction was discovered, the whole matter was very embarrassing to the Vatican (and, as it turned out, in light of the full letter, one could see that Pope Benedict XVI vigorously defended the magisterial authority and importance of Veritatis Splendor).

Just this past week, Pope Benedict XVI released a new letter in which he once again brings to the Church’s attention the critical importance of VERITATIS SPLENDOR, and this in the specific context of the horrible sexual morality crisis confronting the Catholic priesthood and the Church.

In his letter, Pope Benedict recounts the Catholic morality and Catholic moral theology “crisis” that entered the Church in the 1960s, and reached “dramatic proportions in the late ’80s and ’90s.”

This crisis of morality, says Pope Benedict in the letter, “was chiefly the hypothesis that morality was to be exclusively determined by the purposes of human action that prevailed…. Consequently, there could no longer be anything that constituted an absolute good, any more than anything fundamentally evil; [there could be] only relative value judgments. There no longer was the [absolute] good, but only the relatively better, contingent on the moment and on circumstances.”

It is at this point that Pope Benedict makes reference to Pope John Paul II and Veritatis Splendor, stating:

“Pope John Paul II, who knew very well the situation of moral theology and followed it closely, commissioned work on an encyclical that would set these things right again. It was published under the title “Veritatis splendor” on August 6, 1993, and it triggered vehement backlashes on the part of moral theologians. Before it, the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” already had persuasively presented, in a systematic fashion, morality as proclaimed by the Church….

The pope was fully aware of the importance of this decision at that moment and for this part of his text, he had once again consulted leading specialists who did not take part in the editing of the encyclical. He knew that he must leave no doubt about the fact that the moral calculus involved in balancing goods must respect a final limit. There are goods that are never subject to trade-offs.”

Pope Benedict then tells us that Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on Catholic moral theology, Veritatis Splendor, “was published on August 6, 1993 and did indeed include the determination that there were actions that can never become good,” which  “were always and under all circumstances to be classified as evil” (my emphasis).

Referencing Veritatis Splendor, the Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine (Our Sunday Visitor), published in 1997, specifically states that the Church’s teachings therein about mortal sin “are decisive,” having “been taught insistently by the Church” with the “degree of universality and firmness associated with infallible teaching of the ordinary Magisterium.” Pope John Paul II seemed to say as much in Veritatis Splendor when he said:

“Each of us knows how important is the teaching which represents the central theme of this Encyclical and which is today being restated with the authority of the Successor of Peter. Each of us can see the seriousness of what is involved, not only for individuials but also for the whole of society, with the reaffirmation of the universality and immutability of the moral commandments, particularly those which prohibit always and without exception intrinsically evil acts” (No. 115).

Now we come to the heart of the problem, namely, the clear and unmistakable attempt to modify or nullify the teachings of Veritatis Splendor through the Papacy of Pope Francis. Unless you have your head buried in the sand, the whole momentum of the Pope Francis Papacy has been the publication of Amoris Laetitia, following a careful build-up to the Apostolic Exhortation by way of a “Year of Mercy” and the “Synod on the Family.” Amoris Laetitia – most especially in nos. 301 through 303 –  incorporated the very moral theology arguments rejected as erroneous in Veritatis Splendor. The broad principle articulated in Amoris is that, under particular or “given circumstances,” God sometimes approves of acts that are otherwise known to be mortally sinful. For an overview of this stunning development, which shocked the Catholic world, see my post: https://catholicstrength.com/2017/11/02/why-amoris-laetitia-is-much-worse-than-originally-thought/

Again I repeat, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has now authored two letters to the Church during the Papacy of Pope Francis. In both letters he has specifically highlighted the importance of Veritatis Splendor to the ChurchDo you get what he’s trying to say? The Vatican (or at least the responsible agents therein) was so disturbed by Pope Benedict’s reference to Veritatis Splendor in Benedict’s first letter that they redacted it. Now, in a second letter, Pope Benedict is once more calling our attention to Veritatis Splendor, and this in special reference to the immorality crisis in the Church.

Following the publication of Amoris Laetitia, the Church’s greatest living Professor of moral theology, Germain Grisez, sent a lengthy letter to Pope Francis in which he said:

“When a bishop acts in persona Christi, fulfilling his duty to teach on matters of faith and morals by identifying propositions to which he calls upon the faithful to assent, he presumably means to state truths that belong to one and the same body of truths: primarily, those entrusted by Jesus to his Church and, secondarily, those necessary to preserve the primary truths as inviolable and/or to expound them with fidelity. Since truths like these cannot supersede or annul one another, papal or other episcopal statements made while teaching in persona Christi must be presumed to be consistent with one another when carefully interpreted. Thus it is a misuse of such a teaching statement to claim its support without having first sought so to interpret it.

Furthermore, if an apparent inconsistency emerges after careful interpretation, a teaching statement that is not definitive is misused unless it is understood with qualifications and delimitations sufficient to make it consistent with Scripture and teachings that definitively pertain to Tradition, each interpreted in the other’s light.”

In light thereof, Pope Francis was under every obligation to follow the clearly authoritative Veritatis Splendor for the reasons stated above. Moreover, the point would seem abundantly clear, and it is abundantly important to the future of the Church – where Amoris Laetitia contradicts Veritatis Splendor, especially where Amoris attempts to call good actions which can never be called good (as in nos. 301-303), such an interpretation of the moral law is, ipso facto, invalid as violative of the clear prohibitions in Veritatis Splendor.

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A., J.D.

Image Attribution:  Pope Benedict XVI celebrates a solemn mass on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius X. By: Mangouste 35. October 9, 2008. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license (per Wikipedia).

 

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BLESSED MARMION AND THE SUPERNATURAL EFFICACY OF THE WAY OF THE CROSS

(Blessed Marmion was beatified by Pope John Paul II)

 “There is no practice more useful for our souls than the Way of the Cross made with devotion. Its supernatural efficacy is beyond compare” (Blessed Abbot Marmion)

One way to be more closely united to Jesus is to walk the Way of the Cross with him – that is, to become more fully immersed in these sorrowful and historical events which recount the final hours of the Lord’s life by walking them with Jesus (and which were endured by Jesus for the sake of our salvation and for no other reason). “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ ” (Matthew 16:24).

Because the Saints and great spiritual writers remind us emphatically about the good work that is done in our souls by way of devotion to our Lord’s sorrowful passion, we should constantly be on the outlook for devotions that might have the ability to increase our love for our crucified Lord. Here is an ancient devotion of the Church, The Way of the Cross, which might be very helpful to many of us. After making The Way of the Cross in April of 2006, Pope Benedict XVI spoke these words:

“The Way of the Cross is not something of the past and of a specific point on earth. The Lord’s cross embraces the world, his Way of the Cross goes across continents and time. We cannot just be spectators on the Way of the Cross. We are involved.” 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes the teaching of Pope Benedict, stating a point of capital importance:

“The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is – all that he did and suffered for all men – participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all. The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life.” (CCC 1085)

When we walk with the Lord on the road to Calvary we are not merely reliving a past event! Far from it – the Cross of Christ is the very answer to the riddle of human existence (reaching us now at this very moment with its saving power)!

There is a beautiful chapter in Blessed Abbot Marmion’s book, Christ in His Mysteriesabout the incredible efficacy of The Way of the Cross devotion (Blessed Marmion, pictured above, died in 1923, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II). It is always helpful to get spiritual advice from a “Saint.” He says: “This contemplation of the sufferings of Jesus is very fruitful. After the sacraments and liturgical worship, there is no practice more useful for our souls than the Way of the Cross made with devotion. Its supernatural efficacy is beyond compare” (p.267).

Blessed Marmion elaborates that when “you accompany the God-Man along the road to Calvary, with faith, humility and love, with the true desire of imitating the virtues He manifests in His Passion, be assured that your souls will receive choice graces which will transform them little by little into the likeness of Jesus and Jesus Crucified” (p. 270 ). Blessed Marmion then provides his own Way of the Cross meditations for all fourteen stations (see pages 271-284). These are powerful words from a great spiritual guide!

Here is a devotion you can do with your kids at Church utilizing the Stations of the Cross, or meditatively at home using the various devotional booklets on The Way of the Cross, the one by Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri being very popular. Don’t cast off this devotion of the The Way of the Cross as some ancient ritual no longer relevant to your walk with the Lord. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all need to practice walking with the Lord to Calvary, learning from the Lord how to embrace the crosses of our daily lives.

Wishing you a very blessed Holy Week!

 Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
 
References: The quotes from Pope Benedict and  the Catechism of the Catholic Church were found in Chapter 5 of The Seven Secrets of Confession by Vinny Flynn. It is Father Leen in his book, Why the Cross?, who states that “it is clear that the gospel is the gradual revelation of the cross as the key to the riddle of existence” (p.90). It is Father Faber who reminds us that Christ’s mysteries do an actual work “in our souls.”
Photo Attribution: Public Domain, U.S.A.

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TWO MAJOR SCIENTIFIC STUDIES SHED LIGHT ON THE SHROUD OF TURIN

 

“Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there…. “(John 20:6)

When you think about it, it really is an amazing thing that there is a Shroud of Turin! Is there really anything else like it (perhaps there is, I don’t know)? And if it finally turns out that the Shroud is a forgery from centuries ago, you would still have to say that the man who forged it was the genius of his times, even scientifically and artistically ahead of anything we could produce like it today (see the two studies I reference below).

The renowned Catholic historian, Warren H. Carroll, who died in 2011, clearly believed in the supernatural origin of the Shroud of Turin. Professor Carroll was especially impressed by the scholarship of Ian Wilson regarding the historical continuity and preservation of the Shroud (see Vol. 1 of the six volume A History of Christendom, where Professor Carroll refers on a number of occasions to the Shroud of Turin in a very favorable manner).

But in this note I simply intend to bring to the reader’s attention a very concise summary of two major scientific studies that help to validate the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin – remembering, of course, that faith is a supernatural virtue, certainly not opposed to science, but not dependent upon scientific verification of a purported relic.

1. The STURP in-depth scientific examination of the Shroud of Turin (1978)

The “primary goal” of the the Shroud of Turin Research Project, Inc., (STURP) “was to determine the scientific properties of the image on the Shroud of Turin, and what might have caused it.” STURP “consisted of a team of American scientists and researchers that spent over two years preparing a series of tests that would gather a vast amount of Shroud data in a relatively short period of time. In October of 1978 the STURP team spent 120 continuous hours conducting their examination of the Shroud. To this day, scientists around the world use the data gathered by STURP for their Shroud research” (source: shroud.coman excellent site on the Shroud of Turin).

According to a National Geographic article on the Shroud of Turin, “the U.S.-led Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), …was granted an unprecedented five days of continuous access to the shroud itself in 1978. The project’s 33 members ran the gamut of scientific disciplines, and their credentials included high-level posts at 20 major research institutions. They arrived in Turin with seven tons of equipment and worked in shifts 24 hours a day. An associate team of European scientists acted as expert observers” (from Why Shroud of Turin Secrets Continue to Elude Science by Frank Viviano, April 17, 2015, available online).

The National Geographic article further states: “Their analyses found no sign of artificial pigments. ‘The Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist,’ the project’s 1981 report declared. ‘The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin.’ But the report also conceded that no combination of ‘physical, chemical, biological or medical circumstances’ could adequately account for the image. The Shroud of Turin, the STURP team concluded, ‘remains now, as it has in the past, a mystery.’”

The main findings of the STURP scientific study of the Shroud of Turin are summarized nicely by physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro:

“The Shroud is not a painting, no pigment, any directionality, not a scorch. The image encodes cloth to body  distance, and it is present in both contact and non contact areas. The image is superficial, no more than 0.6 microns thick (work by others has shown 0.2 microns ). Invisible halos surround blood. Blood went on before image (no image beneath blood). The blood stains contain hemoglobin and serum albumin. Calcium and strontium and iron are uniformly present on the Shroud in small quantities (Paolo Di Lazzaro, ATSI 2014 Bari).”

Here is the official summary of STURP’s conclusions courtesy of a link provided by shroud.comSummary of STURP’s Conclusions.

2. The Five Year Study of the Shroud of Turin by the National Agency for New Technologies (2011)

In December of 2011 ABC News reported (in an article available online) that a recently concluded study by a group of Italian scientists “refuted the popular notion that [the Shroud of Turin] was faked during the Middle Ages. Experts at Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development have concluded in a report that the famed purported burial cloth of Jesus Christ could not have been faked.”

ABC News reported that “the Italian researchers, who conducted dozens of hours of tests with X-rays and ultraviolet lights, said that no laser existed to date that could replicate the singular nature of markings on the shroud. They also said that the kind of markings on the cloth could not have come from direct contact of the body with the linen. The Italian scientists said the  marks could only have been made by ‘a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation.’ ”

According to the National Geographic article mentioned above, “the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) conducted five years of experiments, using state-of-the-art excimer lasers to train short bursts of ultraviolet light on raw linen, in an effort to simulate the image’s coloration” and “published its findings in 2011.”

Relying on quotes from physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro of ENEA, the National Geographic article continues (as placed in italics), stating: The ultraviolet light necessary to [simulate the image] “exceeds the maximum power released by all ultraviolet light sources available today,” says Di Lazzaro. It would require “pulses having durations shorter than one forty-billionth of a second, and intensities on the order of several billion watts.” If the most advanced technologies available in the 21st century could not produce a facsimile of the shroud image, he reasons, how could it have been executed by a medieval forger?

For believers, the radiation thesis suggests that a “divine light” in the tomb might have seared the crucified form of Jesus Christ onto the shroud. “One could look at hypotheses outside the realm of science, a sort of miracle,” says Di Lazzaro. “But a miracle cannot be investigated by the scientific method” (end of article).

Here is a link to The ENEA team report, which published its findings in 2011 (scroll and click on the word “published”).

CONCLUSION:

Based on the two in-depth scientific investigations outlined above, namely, the STURP study and the ENEA study, it certainly does not appear that the image on the Shroud of Turin was made by human hands. The supernatural origin of this great relic of the Church cannot be ruled out, and even appears now to be the most likely explanation of this scientifically inexplicable image which is claimed to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ (for an informative video on the Shroud, see the link below).

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: At Wikipedia (Turin plasch.jpg), Public Domain, U.S.A.

An informative video on The Shroud of Turin (click on the following link): 15 Minute Video: Russ Breault explains his take on the Shroud of Turin.  From Shroudstory.com

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KINDNESS PRODUCES HAPPINESS

“Love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)

“The worst kinds of unhappiness, as well as the greatest amount of it,” says Father Faber, “come from our conduct to each other.” Thus, he says, “if our conduct…were under the control of kindness,” we would live in a vastly happier world.

I have a little note I taped to the top rim of my computer screen which says, KINDNESS/POWER, but I have to admit that kind words do not always come out of my mouth when someone interrupts me while I’m zoned in on the internet world. Kindness is a huge virtue in the spiritual life, and one we need to put into practice more and more.

Father Faber mentions that kindness is a “considerable power.” He says that it is kindness that “makes life more endurable,” and which has the power to “make life’s capabilities blossom.” Faber says that “kindness is the overflowing of self upon others. We put others in the place of self. We treat them as we should wish to be treated ourselves.” Faber adds that “kindness adds sweetness to everything.”

The purpose of this short note is to suggest that kind words are a considerable power we have at our disposal. In fact, Faber says that kindness is “an immense power.” Grace-filled kindness is so powerful that this virtue can ripen into a fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22). A fruit of the Holy Spirit, which involves a certain perfection of a supernatural virtue, is an enormous power. We should therefore pray to the Holy Spirit for an increase of the virtue of kindness.

Faber says that “kindness seems to know of some secret fountain of joy deep in the soul” and that it offers us a “peculiar participation in the spirit of Jesus.” He says that “men do not sufficiently understand” the “value” of kindness. “The interior beauty of a soul through habitual kindliness of thought is greater than our world can tell.”

Father Faber says there is “hardly a power on earth equal to” kind words. He further points out that there are so many “fortunate opportunities” to be kind. When you think about it, the opportunity for great heroism may never come our way, but we can say kind things all day long! And what do kind words cost us? Virtually nothing! But what is lost if we fail to speak kindly? As Faber points out, kind words are not only remedial, helping those in need of encouragement, they actually produce happiness. He says, “how often have we ourselves been made happy by kind words.” It “would be worth going through fire and water to acquire the right and to find the opportunity of saying kind words.”

Faber says that “not only is kindness due everyone, but a special kindness is due everyone.” And “is there any happiness in the world like the happiness of the disposition made happy by the happiness of others?,” Faber asks. “There is no joy to be compared with it.” “Kindness is the turf of the spiritual world, whereon the sheep of Christ feed quietly beneath the Shepherd’s eye.”

Let us make a resolution, then, to be an “apostolate of kindness.” Let us reflect on what a great virtue kindness is, and what power it has to bring sunshine and happiness where there is gloom and discouragement. And through kind words the “bruised reed” will not be broken, and the “flickering candle” will not be extinguished (see Matt. 12:20), and we will see that “our neighbor is our refuge” and self “the demon foe” (George MacDonald).

I spoke a word of praise today – 
One I had no need to say – 
I spoke a word of praise to one,
Commending some small service done;
And in return, to my surprise,
I reaped rewards of mountain size.
Such a look of pleasure shone 
Upon his face – I’ll never own 
A gift more beautiful to see
Than that swift smile he gave to me.
I spoke one little word of praise, 
And  sunshine fell on both our ways.   
(from The Gift of Wonder by renowned poet Helen Lowrie Marshall)
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Ref. As you can see, I am relying almost completely on Father Faber’s famous essay, “Kindness,” in his book, Spiritual Conferences (TAN). Although a long essay it is well worth reading and meditating on. Faber’s point that a special kindness is due to everyone, if taken to heart, has the power to increase our personal holiness. One word of caution: kindness and praise must be sincere and genuine. A false kindness, a calculated kindness, is easily detected. That is why we should pray to the Holy Spirit for the supernatural growth of the virtue of kindness.

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A FAMOUS MIRACULOUS CRUCIFIX IN SPAIN

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

The Passion of Jesus Christ rules the history of the world says the great Father Faber, and as if to put an exclamation point on this statement Jesus allowed incredible manifestations of his salvific passion to occur in the Church of Saint Peter in Limpias, Spain from 1914 through 1921.

The six foot crucifix which hangs in the Church of Saint Peter in Limpias, Spain (see image above) is, according to Joann Carroll Cruz, “a meditation on the sufferings of Our Lord and is thought to portray [Jesus] Crucified in his final moments of his agony.” Cruz adds that the “face of Our Lord is of particular beauty, with its eyes of china looking toward Heaven….” More than 8000 people, according to Cruz, have witnessed – and testified to –  supernatural phenomena associated with the facial expressions and head movements of Jesus on this beautiful crucifix. In this note, I will highlight some of the compelling testimonies of some very prominent and reliable witnesses. Given the cumulative power of so many eye-witness testimonies concerning the miraculous nature of this crucifix it seems impossible to deny the credibility of these supernatural manifestations of Jesus’ Passion.

Here is a bird’s eye view of some of the very compelling testimonies:

August/1914: While fixing an electric light over the high altar in the church, Don Antonio Lopes, a monk of the Pauline Fathers, gazed at the crucifix and noticed “with astonishment that Our Lord’s eyes were gradually closing, and for five minutes I saw them quite closed” (this is the first of 8000 testimonies regarding witnessed movements of Jesus’ face and head on the Limpias crucifix).

April/2019: A group of nuns known as the Daughters of the Cross saw both the eyes and lips of the crucifix move.

May 5, 1919: Dr. Adolfo Arenaza publishes his testimony in the secular press stating that while looking through his field glasses he saw the movement of the eyes four times. He states: “Does Our Lord really move his eyes…I am of the opinion that he really does move them, for I have seen it myself.”

August 4, 1919: Rev. Valentin Incio of Gijon visits Limpias and and wrote the following pertaining to his observation of the miraculous crucifix:

“At first our Lord seemed to be alive; His head then preserved its customary position…but His eyes were full of life and looked about in different directions….Now came the most touching moment of all. Jesus looked at all of us, but so gently and kindly, so expressively, so lovingly and divinely, that we fell on our knees and wept and adored Christ.”

September 11, 1919: Father Antonio de Torrelavega, a Capuchin monk, “sees blood streaming from the left corner of Our Lord’s mouth.” The next day he

“observed anew, only still more frequently, the movement of the eyes and…blood flowing down from the corner of the mouth. Several times He looked at me. Many other people who were kneeling round me also observed this….Now I verify it; there is no doubt the Santo Christo [crucifix] moves his eyes.”

September 15, 1919: “The Coadjutor of St. Nicholas Church in Valencia, D. Paulino Girbes, relates in his statement…that he was in the company of two Bishops and 18 priests when they knelt before the crucifix.” He states:

“We all saw the face of the Santo Cristo become sadder, paler….The eyes gave a gentle glance now at the Bishops and then in the direction of the sacristy. The features at the same time took on the expression of a man who is in his death-struggle. This lasted a long time. I could not resrain my tears and began to weep….”

There are so many other compelling testimonies of highly credible and distinguished witnesses that I don’t have time to type them all into this note! Many more detailed accounts are in Joann Carroll Cruz’ book, Miraculous Images of Our Lord. Moreover, there is a 200 plus page book from 1923, The Wonderful Crucifix of Limpias, available online, which provides numerous accounts “of the extraordinary manifestations of the crucifix at Limpias.”

CONCLUSION: The credible evidence supporting the supernatural phenomena associated with the crucifix at Limpias is simply overwhelming. Of the 8000 signed testimonies regarding this amazing phenomenon, 2500 are accompanied with legal affidavits. But what is the message of Limpias? Is it not that God so loved us that He sent his only son to give his life for our salvation? But what if we fail to honor our Lord’s Passion, or even worse if we lack gratitude for His saving death? Limpias is a powerful reminder that the Lord’s Passion is real, tremendously real, and made present in every Mass said throughout the world each day! The miraculous manifestations at Limpias are pretty amazing, but the Mass of Calvary is simply of infinite value.

“The Passion rules the history of the world. Thus it is also the secret of all biographies of individual souls. All their ruin comes from their disloyalty to the Passion. All their holiness in time, and their glory in eternity, are the consequences of their loyalty to the Passion. Jesus Christ and Him Crucified – this is the object of our present contemplation. As we grow older we set a greater price on fidelity; and where is there such faithfulness [and such indisputable proof of God’s love for you] as in the Cross? Devotion to the Passion is at once the surest sign of Predestination, and the shortest road to heaven. Happy are they whom the cruelty and treachery of life have driven to the Cross” (F.W. Faber)

Thomas L. Mulcahy, J.D.

P.S. In the following link is a detailed video of the supernatural crucifix:

Santo Christo de Limpias – YouTube

References: My information for this note comes from Joann Carroll Cruz’ book, Miraculous Images of Our Lord (TAN).

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THE FUNCTION OF CONSCIENCE, CONTRITION AND COMMUNITY IN JANE AUSTEN’S EMMA

“[Emma] walked on, amusing herself in the consideration of the blunders [of others] which often arise from a partial knowledge of circumstances, of the mistakes which people of high pretensions to judgment are forever falling into….” (Chapter 13)

“With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of everybody’s feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange everybody’s destiny. She was proved to have been universally mistaken; and she had not quite done nothing–for she had done mischief” (Chapter 47).

Jane Austen’s Emma is singularly a novel about Emma and her life in the village of Highbury. In fact, I will maintain in this short note that the towering theme of Emma is her moral relationship to – and her moral development in – the community of Highbury. Emma is saved from the disastrous consequences of her ill-conceived matchmaking adventures and other mischievous actions in Highbury by the “warmth of contrition” and the remorse of conscience. Emma’s sorrow for her sins is the foundation for her emergence as a woman truly capable of loving and caring for the people in Highbury.

Emma’s epistemological problem (the way she sees things) is also the basis for her moral problems, for when she sees the world as it actually is she acts virtuously (consider her charitable treatment of the poor in Chapter 10). But, the way things are imagined to be in Emma’s mind, compared to the way they actually are in reality, is the foundation of all her misjudgments. It is contrition that bridges the gap between Emma’s excessively subjective perception of things and their true, objective reality. In other words, the “warmth of contrition” is what causes Emma to see things as they really are and thus to act virtuously in her community of Highbury.

It should be added that “Emma is unusual among [Austen] novels in focusing on the heroine as a member of a community. Other heroines will achieve this position with marriage, beyond the span of the book; Emma has it already, and her marriage will only confirm and perhaps enlarge her sphere of influence. So while the other novels follow their heroines away from home on a variety of learning experiences, Emma is static. The action takes place wholly in Highbury, the ‘large and populous village, almost amounting to a town’ where Emma has lived all her life” (The Jane Austen Society). In short, says an academic, “Emma is a story about our responsibilities as members of a community,” and it “explores the consequences of failing in those duties.”

Emma’s primary vice is egotism or vanity. Pride is often defined as the exaltation of self, and Jane Austen let’s us know that Emma’s excellent situation in life (she enjoyed “some of the best blessings of existence”) is conducive to egotistical gratification at the expense of other people:

“The real evils, indeed, of Emma’s situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many enjoyments. The danger, however, was at present so unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with her” (Chapter 1).

Emma’s distortion of reality (a major sub-theme of the novel) stems from her egotism. “The dangers of egotism run through Emma. It threatens the happiness and lives of individuals. Despite Emma’s material advantages and positive qualities, her egotism fueled her desire for flattery (however undeserved), for preeminence, and for power and led her into snobbery, self-deception, and cruelty. Because of vanity, she believed in the superiority of her judgment, which in reality was led astray by her fancy or imagination. As a result, she interfered with Harriet’s marriage prospects and future, told Frank malicious, baseless gossip which had the potential to destroy Jane’s reputation and future, and believed she had destroyed her own happiness by putting Harriet in Mr. Knightley’s way” (from CUNY, Austen Overview, Emma) .

What heals Emma is conscience and contrition. In the remainder of this note I will provide three examples (by way of direct quotes from the novel itself) of the healing of Emma’s egotism through conscience and contrition ( and by way of caution I do not mean to imply that Emma’s contrition was perfect all at once, but rather that it was ongoing and cumulative).

1.  Emma’s contrition after the Harriet-Mr. Elton matchmaking fiasco.

“Emma sat down to think and be miserable.–It was a wretched business indeed!–Such an overthrow of every thing she had been wishing for!–Such a development of every thing most unwelcome!–Such a blow for Harriet!–that was the worst of all. Every part of it brought pain and humiliation, of some sort or other; but, compared with the evil to Harriet, all was light; and she would gladly have submitted to feel yet more mistaken– more in error–more disgraced by mis-judgment, than she actually was, could the effects of her blunders have been confined to herself.

“If I had not persuaded Harriet into liking the man, I could have borne any thing. He might have doubled his presumption to me– but poor Harriet!”

How she could have been so deceived!–He protested that he had never thought seriously of Harriet–never! She looked back as well as she could; but it was all confusion. She had taken up the idea, she supposed, and made every thing bend to it. His manners, however, must have been unmarked, wavering, dubious, or she could not have been so misled.

The picture!–How eager he had been about the picture!– and the charade!–and an hundred other circumstances;– how clearly they had seemed to point at Harriet. To be sure, the charade, with its “ready wit”–but then the “soft eyes”– in fact it suited neither; it was a jumble without taste or truth. Who could have seen through such thick-headed nonsense?

Certainly she had often, especially of late, thought his manners to herself unnecessarily gallant; but it had passed as his way, as a mere error of judgment, of knowledge, of taste, as one proof among others that he had not always lived in the best society, that with all the gentleness of his address, true elegance was sometimes wanting; but, till this very day, she had never, for an instant, suspected it to mean any thing but grateful respect to her as Harriet’s friend….

The first error and the worst lay at her door. It was foolish, it was wrong, to take so active a part in bringing any two people together. It was adventuring too far, assuming too much, making light of what ought to be serious, a trick of what ought to be simple. She was quite concerned and ashamed, and resolved to do such things no more” (Chapter 16).

2. Emma’s contrition after the Box Hill fiasco involving Miss Bates.

“The wretchedness of a scheme to Box Hill was in Emma’s thoughts all the evening. How it might be considered by the rest of the party, she could not tell. They, in their different homes, and their different ways, might be looking back on it with pleasure; but in her view it was a morning more completely misspent, more totally bare of rational satisfaction at the time, and more to be abhorred in recollection, than any she had ever passed. A whole evening of back-gammon with her father, was felicity to it. There, indeed, lay real pleasure, for there she was giving up the sweetest hours of the twenty-four to his comfort; and feeling that, unmerited as might be the degree of his fond affection and confiding esteem, she could not, in her general conduct, be open to any severe reproach. As a daughter, she hoped she was not without a heart. She hoped no one could have said to her, “How could you be so unfeeling to your father?– I must, I will tell you truths while I can.” Miss Bates should never again–no, never! If attention, in future, could do away the past, she might hope to be forgiven. She had been often remiss, her conscience told her so; remiss, perhaps, more in thought than fact; scornful, ungracious. But it should be so no more. In the warmth of true contrition, she would call upon her the very next morning, and it should be the beginning, on her side, of a regular, equal, kindly intercourse….She would not be ashamed of the appearance of the penitence, so justly and truly hers” (Chapter 44).

3. Emma’s conscience in her relationship with Jane Fairfax.

“Emma was sorry;–to have to pay civilities to a person she did not like through three long months!–to be always doing more than she wished, and less than she ought! Why she did not like Jane Fairfax might be a difficult question to answer; Mr. Knightley had once told her it was because she saw in her the really accomplished young woman, which she wanted to be thought herself; and though the accusation had been eagerly refuted at the time, there were moments of self-examination in which her conscience could not quite acquit her (Vol. II, Chapter 2).

“[Emma] could now invite the very person whom she really wanted to make the eighth, Jane Fairfax.– Since her last conversation with Mrs. Weston and Mr. Knightley, she was more conscience-stricken about Jane Fairfax than she had often been.–Mr. Knightley’s words dwelt with her. He had said that Jane Fairfax received attentions from Mrs. Elton which nobody else paid her” (Volume II, Chapter 16).

“Pray no more [said Emma to Jane]. I feel that all the apologies should be on my side. Let us forgive each other at once” (Chapter 52).

Let me add that Emma’s contrition in each of these situations was supported by her good deeds, in her kindness and friendship to Harriet, in her reconciling visit to Miss Bates and continued kindness to her, and in the special foods she sent to Jane among other things. It seems that we get a glimpse of Austen’s religious background through Emma’s contrite, penitential heart.

Virtue is often learned in community because it is tested there too. Highbury has been a sort of learning laboratory for Emma, and after a series of failed experiments she has tested true for growth in virtue and self-knowledge. Her redemption, so to speak, is the consequence of her conscience and her contrition. If Emma had been indifferent to the consequences of her actions, then she would simply be a positive menace to the people of Highbury. As it is, Jane Austen has deemed it necessary to show  us that the heroine of her novel is not without a conscience and contrition, and this demonstration of Emma’s penitence is not done (I would argue) to subvert Emma’s natural vitality and enterprising spirit (which make her such a charming character) but rather to order them to her own good and the good of the community.

CONCLUSION: We see, then, that conscience and contrition gradually cleared away the egotistical distortions in Emma’s mind that so deleteriously impacted the community in Highbury, essentially effectuating her growth into a mature woman who is now  capable of contributing to the well-being of the Highbury community in a most marvelous manner, given her charm, wit, intelligence, elegance and loving heart, not to mention her marriage to Mr. Knightley, except to say that “the wishes, the hopes, the confidence of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union.”

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.

 

References: “Emma’s ‘Serious Spirit’: How Miss Woodhouse Faces the Issues Raised in Mansfield Park and Becomes Jane Austen’s Most Complex Heroine” by Anna Morton (available online)

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MARY FULL OF GRACE AT THE ANNUNCIATION

                                              “Hail, full of grace”

Before Luke tells us about Mary’s Annunciation, he first tells us about the sanctification of John the Baptist in his mother’s womb (see Luke 1:15, “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb”). So John the Baptist was sanctified before birth in Elizabeth’s womb (see CCC 717).

If God prepared John the Baptist for his mission in such an extraordinary way, what are we to make of Mary of Nazareth who was chosen by God to be the mother of a Divine son? Well, the first point to consider is the manner in which the angel Gabriel greets Mary. According to the ICSB, “this is the only biblical instance where an angel addresses someone by a title instead of a personal name.” The angel, God’s special messenger, greets Mary with an extraordinarily descriptive title, saying, “HAIL, FULL OF GRACE” (Luke 1: 28). This descriptive title tells us something very important about Mary, to wit: she is full of grace! Naturally, the angel is to be believed! But it goes much deeper than this.

As brilliantly explained in the ICSB, Luke could have described Mary as full of grace saying, in the Greek, pleres charitos, as he did for Stephen in Acts 6:8. But for Mary he chose a much more powerful expression, kecharitomene. “[The Greek word used by Luke], kecharitomene, indicates that God has already graced Mary previous to this point, making her a vessel who ‘has been’ and ‘is now’ filled with divine life.”

Mary is Immaculate because she is full of grace, and this description of her is part of her deepest identity, which was made known by an angel sent by God Almighty, and revealed to us in the Gospel of Luke.

Thomas L. Mulcahy

Reference: As you can see, I am relying entirely on the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible.

Image: The Annunciation by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, around 1665, Public Domain, U.S.A.

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JESUS PROPHESIED TWO JUDGMENTS (ONE OF WHICH HAS ALREADY BEEN FULFILLED)