“DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY”
The Feast of Divine Mercy, celebrated on the Octave of Easter (the Sunday after Easter Sunday), is a relatively new addition to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Celebrating the Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ, as revealed by Christ Himself to Saint (Sr,) Maria Faustina Kowalska, this feast was extended to the entire Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II on April 30, 2000, the day that he canonized Saint Faustina.
A partial or plenary indulgence can be granted on the Feast of Divine Mercy if certain conditions can be met. There are various websites that explain how to obtain these graces.
Today’s reflection is about the gifts of the “priesthood.” and “Doubting Thomas.”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Faith without action serves no useful purpose. ~ Anonymous
(Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (NAB Jn 20:21-29)
By means of “sending” the eleven picked disciples, they became apostles, meaning, “Those sent.” This declaration of a solemn and special mission is also the subject of the post-resurrection appearances to the Apostles in the other three gospels as well. Jesus is not just telling these eleven men to go out and preach the good news though; He is expecting all of us to evangelize.
My wife would faint if she had to talk to crowds of people; especially if it had to be on the subject’s of religion or politics. This is not what Jesus meant; He wants us to use the gifts we have, in our own individual ways. I have no problem talking to large crowds of all levels. Others deal with very small groups or individuals. And others do better demonstrating a proper Christian life through their own everyday behaviors and attitudes. St. Francis said, “Preach the gospel. If you have to, use words.” Most may not know that all baptized Catholics are “priests.” All are to go out into the world and spread the “good news,” thus making us members of the “common priesthood.”
The action of “breathing on them” recalls Genesis 2:7, where God breathed on Adam and gave him life. As Adam’s life came from God, so now the disciples’ new spiritual life comes from Jesus. The act of “breathing on” has a very distinct role in the Catholic Church, even today. The Bishop “breathes on” the seminarian or deaconate candidate, at their ordination, passing on the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus did to the first priests and bishops: the eleven Apostles. The priest “breathes on” the host at mass, allowing the Holy Spirit to change this bread and wine, into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. Just two examples of the miraculous grace God has bestowed on the “ministerial priesthood.”
The Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) defined the power to forgive sins to be performed in the sacrament of penance, by a priest. The priest is not the one that is actually forgiving the sin. So why do we have to go to a man, and tell our sins? The answer is simple: Because Jesus said so!
When Jesus breathed on the apostles, and said those words, He passed on a special grace to these men, which allows the Holy Spirit to work through them in a very specific and special way. Through “apostolic succession,” this grace is passed on to the priests and bishops of today. If you notice, nowhere in the bible does it say that anyone can forgive sin, or that you can just ask for it in a prayer. It actually says of the apostles, “Whose sins you forgive.” The priest is actually in the person of Christ (persona Christi) via the Holy Spirit during this blessed and magnificent sacrament. There are no shortcuts to salvation and redemption.
Thomas is probably my favorite Apostle. He seems to be always the last to arrive. He wasn’t in the room when Jesus first appeared to them, and had to be convinced, by Jesus Himself. Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (September 8, 1774 – February 9, 1824), in one of the books of her visions, saw the death of the Blessed Mother: Mary. In this vision, Thomas was the last to arrive at Mary’s house in Ephesus (present day Turkey); getting there the day after her death.
I believe Thomas was one of the most devout (though time deficient) of the apostles as well. He traveled the furthest of the eleven, going to the orient. On proof of Jesus’ resurrection being real, he fell submissively and reverently, stating “My Lord and my God.” Thomas is not only exclaiming that Jesus was his superior (Lord), but also his divine creator of all (God). Thomas was the first to pronounce his true faith in Jesus Christ.
The last sentence of this gospel reading is a beautiful beatitude on future generations. Belief by faith and not by sight is what matters. It is easy for someone to believe in something they can see, touch, or feel. Faith is a trust without a logical (in the scientific way) proof. Just as a child knows his/hers parent will protect them, we know our heavenly mother and father will be with us, and protect us.
“Jesus, I doubt no longer. I believe in you, and your eternal love for all your creation. Please help me to be a good steward of our resources. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Marguerite d’Youville
Foundress of the Sisters of Charity, the Grey Nuns of Canada. St. Marguerite D’Youville was born at Varennes, Quebec, on October 15, Marie Marguerite Dufrost de La Jemmerais. She studied under the Ursulines, married Francois D’Youville in 1722, and became a widow in 1730. She worked to support herself and her three children, devoted much of her time to the Confraternity of the Holy Family in charitable activities.
In 1737, with three companions, she founded the Grey Nuns when they took their initial vows; a formal declaration took place in 1745. Two years later she was appointed Directress of the General Hospital in Montreal, which was taken over by the Grey Nuns, and had the rule of the Grey Nuns, with Marguerite as Superior, confirmed by Bishop of Pontbriand of Quebec in 1755.
She died in Montreal on December 23, and since her death, the Grey Nuns have established schools, hospitals, and orphanages throughout Canada, the United States, Africa, and South America, and are especially known for their work among the Eskimos. She was beatified by Pope John XXIII in 1959 and canonized in 1990 by Pope John Paul II. Her feast day is April 11th.
(From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #11:
Trusting the Father, Christ chose for Himself and His mother a poor and humble life, even though He valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.
Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power.