Category: Catholic Articles

Brave Priest Miraculously Saves The Blessed Sacrament And The Crown Of Thorns During The Fire At Notre Dame Cathedral. 

Brave Priest Miraculously Saves The Blessed Sacrament And The Crown Of Thorns During The Fire At Notre Dame Cathedral. 

If death cannot claim a victory, neither can fire.

It’s not every day that someone performs an act of bravery that simultaneously expresses the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, but Father Jean-Marc Fournier, did just that. As the flames engulfed the Cathedral of Notre Dame on Monday, Father Fournier—who serves as the chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade—ran into the cathedral with a team of firefighters to save the Blessed Sacrament and Jesus’ Crown of Thorns.  

Article main image
Before the fire and after the fire pictures of the Notre Dame Cathedral

As MSN reports:

Father Fournier is an absolute hero,’ a member of the emergency services said.

He showed no fear at all as he made straight for the relics inside the cathedral, and made sure they were saved. He deals with life and death every day, and shows no fear.’

There is a popular narrative going around about the Catholic priests of the world that paints them in a very bad light, as though the crimes of some are the crimes of all. But as I read this account of Father Fournier, one thing kept coming to mind. I truly believe that every priest I personally know, when put in that same situation, would have done exactly the same thing. That is not to discount the heroic actions of Father Fournier; quite the contrary, it is to exalt the very dignity of the priesthood itself and the quiet heroism of those who live up to their callings.

To be sure, watching the fire of Notre Dame will go down as one of those “Where were you when?” moments, and each of us Catholics will have a lasting impression. And in addition to Father’s act of heroism, there was something else that struck me about these events that will remain with me.

There are those who believe that the Catholic Faith has been abandoned by both clergy and laity alike. They are wrong. There are still priests like Father Fournier. There are French children who tearfully said the Rosary outside their beloved cathedral. There are those who sang songs in prayer to their Heavenly Mother. There are Catholics, not only in France but around the world, who prayed for the safety of the brave fire fighters as they attempted to save their nation’s precious treasure.

There are reports that the Catholic Faith in France has been lost. That’s not what I saw yesterday. Rather, yesterday’s events served as a reminder that Our Lady has a special love for the people of France that fire cannot destroy nor diminish, and that many Catholics in France return that love.

There were many news outlets that claimed that Notre Dame had been destroyed—that the terrible fire would finally erase the place of worship for many Catholics. There may even be those who are so hostile to the Catholic Faith that they celebrated the destruction. But, especially as pledges of millions of euros are made to rebuild the cathedral, we have every reason to believe the events of this terrible fire will serve instead to strengthen the faith of Catholics in France and around the world.

On Sunday, Catholics everywhere will celebrate Easter once again. Once again, we will be reminded of how Jesus conquered death with His Resurrection. As First Corinthians puts it, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

If death cannot claim a victory, neither can fire. And in this light, with our eyes continually focused on the death and resurrection of Our Lord and Savior, we might ask, Fire, where is your victory?

The Man Of Sorrows – Wednesday Of Holy Week. 

The Man Of Sorrows – Wednesday Of Holy Week. 


​THE MAN OF SORROWS.

Wednesday of Holy Week.

Presence of God – O suffering Jesus, grant that I may read in Your Passion Your love for me.

MEDITATION

[Two passages from the prophet Isaiah contain lessons] (62:11 – 63:1-7; 53:1-12) which describe in a very impressive way the figure of Jesus, the Man of Sorrows. It is the suffering Christ who presents Himself to us, covered with the shining purple of His Blood, wounded from head to foot. “Why then is Thy apparel red, and Thy garments like theirs that tread in the winepress? I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a man with Me.” All alone Jesus trod the winepress of His Passion. Let us think of His agony in the Garden of Olives, where the vehemence of His grief covered all His members with a bloody sweat. Let us think of the moment when Pilate, after having Him scourged, brought Him before the mob, saying: “Behold the Man!” Jesus stood there, His head crowned with thorns, His flesh lacerated by the whips; the brilliant red of His Blood mingled with the purple of His cloak, that cloak of derision with which the soldiers had clothed their mock king. Christ was offering Himself as a sacrifice for men, shedding His Blood for their salvation, and men were abandoning Him. “I looked about and there was none to help; I sought, and there was none to give aid” [Is 63:5] (Roman Missal). Where were the sick whom He had cured, the blind, who at the touch of His Hand had recovered their sight, the dead who were raised to life, the thousands whom He had miraculously fed with bread in the wilderness, the wretched without number who in countless ways had experienced His goodness? Before Jesus, there was only an infuriated mob clamoring: Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Even the Apostles, His most intimate friends, had fled; indeed one of them had betrayed Him: “If he that hated Me had spoken great things against Me, I would perhaps have hidden Myself from him! But thou, a man of one mind, My guide, and My familiar, who didst take sweetmeats together with Me” (Ps 5:13,14). We read these words today, as on all the Wednesdays of the year, in the psalms of Terce. To this text which is so deeply expressive of the bitterness Jesus felt when betrayed and abandoned by His own, there is a corresponding response at Matins:

“Instead of loving Me, they decried Me, and returned evil for good, and hate in exchange for My love” (Roman Breviary).

As we contemplate Jesus in His Passion, each one of us can say to himself, ‘dilexit me, et tradidit semetipsum pro me’, ‘He loved me, and delivered Himself for me’ (Gal 2:20); and it would be well to add, “How have I repaid His love?”

COLLOQUY

O sweet Jesus, I understand what You must be feeling! O good Jesus, meek and loving! You suffered martyrdom by the many wounds caused by the scourging and the nails. You were crowned with thorns. How many, O good Jesus, were they who struck You! Your Father struck You, since He did not spare You, but made You a victim for all of us. You struck Yourself when You offered Your soul to death, that soul which cannot be taken from You against Your will. The disciple who betrayed You with a kiss struck You too. The Jews struck You with their hands and feet, and the Gentiles struck You with whips and pierced You with nails. Oh! how many people, how many humiliations, how many executioners!

And how many gave You over! The heavenly Father gave You for us, and You gave Yourself, as St. Paul joyfully says: ‘He loved me and delivered Himself up for me.’

What a marvelous exchange! The Master delivers Himself for a slave, God for man, the Creator for the creature, the innocent One for the sinner. You put Yourself into the hands of the traitor, the faithless disciple. The traitor handed You over to the Jews. The Jews delivered You to the Gentiles to be mocked, scourged, spit upon, and crucified. You had said these things; You had foretold them, and they came to pass. Then, when all was accomplished, You were crucified and numbered among the wicked. But it was not enough that You were wounded. To the pain of Your wounds, they added other ignominies and, to slake Your burning thirst, they gave You wine mixed with myrrh and gall.

“I weep for You, my King, my Lord, and Master, my Father and Brother, my beloved Jesus” (St. Bonaventure).

(Adapted from Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D.).

Why The Church Veils (Covers) The Crucifix And The Holy Images During Passiontide.

Why The Church Veils (Covers) The Crucifix And The Holy Images During Passiontide.

KNOW YOUR FAITH.

WHY THE CHURCH VEILS (COVERS) THE CRUCIFIX AND HOLY IMAGES DURING PASSIONTIDE.

As the Church gradually approaches the commemoration of the death of Christ (Good Friday), certain changes become apparent, which may prompt the faithful to ask certain questions: why is this so? What is the significance? Etc. Among these notable changes is the veiling of the crucifix and holy images in the Church. As with the custom of the Church in many regions, the veiling takes place right from the eve of the Fifth Sunday of Lent. 

In other words, the veiling ought to have taken effect right from Saturday evening. However, in other regions, the veiling begins with Thursday of the “Easter Triduum” Triduum is a Latin word meaning “a space of three days”; it a period of three consecutive days on which specified devotions etc. are observed. In this case, the days before Easter, namely, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are referred to as Easter Triduum.

Returning to the issue on ground – veiling; the Catholic Encyclopedia describes this custom as follows: “Before Vespers of Saturday preceding Passion Sunday [i.e. the 5th Sunday of Lent], the crosses, statues, and pictures of our Lord and of the saints on the altar and throughout the church are veiled”. Crosses are unveiled after the Good Friday ceremonies. All other images and pictures retain their covering, no matter what feast may occur, until the Gloria in Excelsis of Holy Saturday.” Neither the Stations of the Cross nor stained glass windows are ever veiled. The bishops’ conference may decide if the veiling during this period should be obligatory within its territory.

Having said this, what can we say to be its significance? Put differently, why does the Church veil the cross and images in these final days of Lent, a time when she is most intent on meditating upon the Lord’s sorrowful passion?

There are two interpretations: the mystical and spiritual interpretation.

Abbot Gueranger enlightens us with a Mystical interpretation of the Gospel which, in former times, was read on this Sunday: “As Christ hid from the rage of the Jewish authorities (John 8:59), so now he is hidden from the world in preparation for the mysteries of his passion”. Therefore, the presentiment of that awful hour (of our Saviour’s passion) leads the afflicted mother Church to veil the image of her Jesus – the cross is hidden from the eyes of the faithful. The statues of the saints, too, are covered; for it is but just that, if the glory of the Master be eclipsed, the servant should not appear. 

“The interpreters of the liturgy tell us that this ceremony of veiling the crucifix during Passiontide, expresses the humiliation to which our Saviour subjected Himself, of hiding Himself when the Jews threatened to stone Him, as is related in the Gospel of Passion Sunday (John 8:46-59, They took up stones, therefore to cast at him. But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple [John 8:59]). Therefore, the Church begins this solemn rite with the Vespers of the Saturday before Passion Sunday.”

In the case of the Spiritual sense, Dom Gueranger continues to direct us to acts of devotion for the Cross: “Twice during the course of the year, that is, on the feasts of its Invention and Exaltation, this sacred Wood will be offered to us that we may honour it as the trophy of our Jesus’ victory; but now, it speaks to us but of His sufferings, it brings with it no other idea but that of His humiliation.” Considering that, in the season of our Lord’s passion, all the strength of our devotion should be directed to the Cross of Christ, we may be surprised that the images of the Cross are to be covered in these days. However, when we recognize that we now venerate the Cross not so much as an emblem of victory (as in the Triumph of the Cross) but as an instrument of humiliation and suffering, we will soon understand the spiritual realities which are conveyed through the covering of the crosses. This is because, in his passion, our Saviour’s divinity was almost totally eclipsed, so great was his suffering. Likewise, even his humanity was obscured – so much so that he could say through his prophet: I am a worm and no man (Psalm 21:7). His face and whole body were so disfigured by the blows and scourges that our Jesus was scarcely recognizable! Thus, the wounds he endured hid both his divinity and his humanity. For this reason, we veil the crosses in these final days of Lent – hiding our Saviour under the sad purple cloth.

Having established these, it would not be out of place to import the explanation of the prominent “angelic doctor” (Thomas Aquinas) of the medieval era about Good Friday and the Eucharist. According to him: 

“the figure ceases on the advent of the reality, but this sacrament [i.e. the Eucharist] is a figure and a representation of our Lord’s Passion; and therefore on the day on which our Lord’s Passion is recalled as it was really accomplished, this sacrament is not consecrated.” (ST III, q.83, a.2, ad 2). 

In an analogous way, it is fitting that, as the liturgical year recalls the events leading up to the Crucifixion, the Church should hide the effigies of the Cross from the vision of her faithful.

Kindly share with other Catholics…

Shalom!

~By Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri.

Post – Synodal Apostolic Exhortation CHRISTUS VIVIT of The Holy Father FRANCIS To Young People And To The Entire People Of God [Chapter 1]. 

Post – Synodal Apostolic Exhortation CHRISTUS VIVIT of The Holy Father FRANCIS To Young People And To The Entire People Of God [Chapter 1]. 

…continued

CHAPTER ONE

What does the word of God have to say about young people?

5. Let us draw upon some of the richness of the sacred Scriptures, since they often speak of young people and of how the Lord draws near to encounter them.

In the Old Testament.

6. In an age when young people were not highly regarded, some texts show that God sees them differently. Joseph, for example, was one of the youngest of his family (cf. Gen 37:2-3), yet God showed him great things in dreams and when about twenty years old he outshone all his brothers in important affairs (cf. Gen 37-47).

7. In Gideon, we see the frankness of young people, who are not used to sugar-coating reality. When told that the Lord was with him, he responded: “But if the Lord is with us, why then have all these things happened to us?” (Jg 6:13). God was not offended by that reproach, but went on to order him: “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel!” (Jg 6:14).

8. Samuel was still a young boy, yet the Lord spoke to him. Thanks to the advice of an adult, he opened his heart to hear God’s call: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:9-10). As a result, he became a great prophet who intervened at critical moments in the history of his country. King Saul was also young when the Lord called him to undertake his mission (cf. 1 Sam 9:2).

9. King David was chosen while still a boy. When the prophet Samuel was seeking the future king of Israel, a man offered as candidates his sons who were older and more experienced. Yet the prophet said that the chosen one was the young David, who was out tending the flock (cf. 1 Sam 16:6-13), for “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (v. 7). The glory of youth is in the heart, more than in physical strength or the impression given to others.

10. Solomon, when he had to succeed his father, felt lost and told God: “I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act” (1 Kg 3:7). Yet the audacity of youth moved him to ask God for wisdom and he devoted himself to his mission. Something similar happened to the prophet Jeremiah, called despite his youth to rouse his people. In his fear, he said: “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth” (Jer 1:6). But the Lord told him not to say that (cf. Jer 1:7), and added: “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8). The devotion of the prophet Jeremiah to his mission shows what can happen when the brashness of youth is joined to the power of God.

11. A Jewish servant girl of the foreign commander Naaman intervened with faith and helped him to be cured of his illness (cf. 2 Kg 5:2-6). The young Ruth was a model of generosity in remaining beside her mother-in-law who had fallen on hard times (cf. Ru 1:1-18), yet she also showed boldness in getting ahead in life (cf. Ru 4:1-17).

In the New Testament.

12. One of Jesus’ parables (cf. Lk 15:11-32) relates that a “younger” son wanted to leave his father’s home for a distant land (cf. vv. 12.13). Yet his thoughts of independence turned into dissolution and excess (cf. v. 13), and he came to experience the bitterness of loneliness and poverty (cf. vv. 14-16). Nonetheless, he found the strength to make a new start (cf. vv. 17-19) and determined to get up and return home (cf. v. 20). Young hearts are naturally ready to change, to turn back, get up and learn from life. How could anyone fail to support that son in this new resolution? Yet his older brother already had a heart grown old; he let himself be possessed by greed, selfishness and envy (Lk 15:28-30). Jesus praises the young sinner who returned to the right path over the brother who considered himself faithful, yet lacked the spirit of love and mercy.

13. Jesus, himself eternally young, wants to give us hearts that are ever young. God’s word asks us to “cast out the old leaven that you may be fresh dough” (1 Cor 5:7). Saint Paul invites us to strip ourselves of the “old self” and to put on a “young” self (Col 3:9-10).[1] In explaining what it means to put on that youthfulness “which is being renewed” (v. 10), he mentions “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other if anyone has a complaint against another” (Col 3:12-13). In a word, true youth means having a heart capable of loving, whereas everything that separates us from others makes the soul grow old. And so he concludes: “above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3:14).

14. Let us also keep in mind that Jesus had no use for adults who looked down on the young or lorded it over them. On the contrary, he insisted that “the greatest among you must become like the youngest” (Lk 22:26). For him age did not establish privileges, and being young did not imply lesser worth or dignity.

15. The word of God says that young people should be treated “as brothers” (1 Tim 5:1), and warns parents not to “provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col 3:21). Young people are not meant to become discouraged; they are meant to dream great things, to seek vast horizons, to aim higher, to take on the world, to accept challenges and to offer the best of themselves to the building of something better. That is why I constantly urge young people not to let themselves be robbed of hope; to each of them I repeat: “Let no one despise your youth” (1 Tim 4:12).

16. Nonetheless, young people are also urged “to accept the authority of those who are older” (1 Pet 5:5). The Bible never ceases to insist that profound respect be shown to the elderly, since they have a wealth of experience; they have known success and failure, life’s joys and afflictions, its dreams and disappointments. In the silence of their heart, they have a store of experiences that can teach us not to make mistakes or be taken in by false promises. An ancient sage asks us to respect certain limits and to master our impulses: “Urge the younger men to be self-controlled” (Tit 2.6). It is unhelpful to buy into the cult of youth or foolishly to dismiss others simply because they are older or from another generation. Jesus tells us that the wise are able to bring forth from their store things both new and old (cf. Mt 13:52). A wise young person is open to the future, yet still capable of learning something from the experience of others.

17. In the Gospel of Mark, we find a man who, listening to Jesus speak of the commandments, says, “All these I have observed from my youth” (10:20). The Psalmist had already said the same thing: “You, O Lord, are my hope; my trust, O Lord, from my youth… from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds” (Ps 71:5.17). We should never repent of spending our youth being good, opening our heart to the Lord, and living differently. None of this takes away from our youth but instead strengthens and renews it: “Your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Ps 103:5). For this reason, Saint Augustine could lament: “Late have I loved you, beauty ever ancient, ever new! Late have I loved you!”[2] Yet that rich man, who had been faithful to God in his youth, allowed the passing years to rob his dreams; he preferred to remain attached to his riches (cf. Mk 10:22).

18. On the other hand, in the Gospel of Matthew we find a young man (cf. 19:20.22) who approaches Jesus and asks if there is more that he can do (v. 20); in this, he demonstrates that youthful openness of spirit which seeks new horizons and great challenges. Yet his spirit was not really that young, for he had already become attached to riches and comforts. He said he wanted something more, but when Jesus asked him to be generous and distribute his goods, he realized that he could not let go of everything he had. In the end, “hearing these words, the young man went away sad” (v. 22). He had given up his youth.

19. The Gospel also speaks about a group of wise young women, who were ready and waiting, while others were distracted and slumbering (cf. Mt 25:1-13). We can, in fact, spend our youth being distracted, skimming the surface of life, half-asleep, incapable of cultivating meaningful relationships or experiencing the deeper things in life. In this way, we can store up a paltry and unsubstantial future. Or we can spend our youth aspiring to beautiful and great things, and thus store up a future full of life and interior richness.

20. If you have lost your inner vitality, your dreams, your enthusiasm, your optimism and your generosity, Jesus stands before you as once he stood before the dead son of the widow, and with all the power of his resurrection he urges you: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” (Lk 7:14).

21. To be sure, many other passages of the word of God can shed light on this stage of your life. We will take up some of them in the following chapters…to be continued. 

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