Nothing Is Too Cheap For God

March 23, 2008

A coworker of mine was recently reading through a discussion forum and came across a post that said “Since Vatican II, it seems that nothing is too cheap for God.”

I don’t think that Vatican II can be blamed for the mediocrity that passes for “art”, “architecture”, “music”, and “education” in the Church today, but the council can certainly be noted as the point when the decline, which had been noticeable in some areas, metastasized into the whole Church. But you would have to do some pretty incredible acrobatics to attribute the decline to something actually in the documents.

You can look back to the 19th century to find the beginnings of simpering Jesus holy cards and the feminization of male saints in art and holy cards. You can go back to the 1920’s through 50’s to find the decay of architecture which led to churches looking like bomb shelters. You can also find the roots of the rot in seminary education earlier in the century as evidenced by various decrees addressing the problems with education and theology training.

The point still holds that following Vatican II, what had been confined to small pockets of the Church not only spread but became the defacto law of the land without any law to back it up.

It seems that part of the problem is the abandonment of classical education which had pointed to a world where there are absolute truths. Or even more radically, where beauty is NOT just in the eye of the beholder but is actually a tangible quality that can be objectively assessed. In fact, the entire modernist palette of the arts and education is a clear repudiation of both absolute truth and measurable beauty.

Take, for example, your average “Catholic” religious education programs. Most of them have made it on the bishops’ approved text list by being altered just enough that outright heresy is replaced by ambiguous theological statements. There is no goal to teach the Faith and teach it well. The only goal is to sell books, and the less work that is required to make them acceptable, the better.

Or, take your average parish choir. In ages past there was actually an attempt to offer what was best to God. Now, we are subjected to whoever will get up and “sing,” regardless of their actual skill. We are also subjected to the most trite music – I am sure that one of the songs sung at Mass last week was from Jesus Christ Superstar – because the choir director felt like singing it, not because it is a quality piece of music actually worthy of offering to God.

Or, take your average parish church. The churches built today are being built by the most affluent Catholic population in the history of our country and yet the result is usually an auditorium-like building with as little adornment as can possibly be had. In fact, most of these buildings could be converted into theaters with about an hour of work. Is this really worthy of God? How is it that the poor immigrants who came to this country in centuries past were able to build churches that would still be awe inspiring today if they weren’t being torn down to make way for clam shells and concrete boxes?

I believe that the restoration that Pope Benedict wants is starting in the right place – with the liturgy intertwined with sacred music. The liturgy is really the cornerstone of the Faith in visible form. If you have reverent, solemn liturgy it is very difficult to say that it belongs in a concrete box. It is also very difficult to say that the typical music found in a parish choir is worthy of well celebrated liturgy. They are really antithetical.

During the Triduum we attended services at three different parishes. The variations in music and the quality of the liturgy, at least for the weekend, matched each other perfectly.

On Holy Thursday we attended a Mass at a parish that you can always trust to be “okay.” No wacky stuff, bells regularly, decent homilies most of the time and servers who generally know what they are doing. The Mass was reverent but the music was pretty mediocre. Most of the songs were dramatic and sounded like the tunes had been borrowed from Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.

On Good Friday we attended services at a parish that recently did a renovation that included the addition of a ten-foot Christ in agony crucifix above the altar, the replacement of the “loaf of bread” tabernacle with something that actually is identifiable as a tabernacle and general architectural changes that emphasize the sanctuary and tabernacle as the central focuses in the church. The parish also regularly uses bells and patens and both priests there give excellent homilies that challenge your practice of the Faith in a good way. The music for the liturgy was almost perfect – solemn, well executed, with a mix of Latin and English hymns. The one thing I don’t understand is why, even during Lent, the piano is considered an essential part of liturgical music.

On Sunday morning we attended Easter Mass at Holy Ghost in Denver which has a long-standing reputation for excellent music and liturgy. The church is run by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and they have shown their dedication to quality liturgical music by hiring a paid! choir that required auditions before its twelve members were chosen. The Latin Novus Ordo Mass was accompanied by a Mass setting, probably by Mozart, that included an orchestra. From where I was listening in the church basement with a sick child, the music still sounded incredible.

My hope is that with the recent restoration of the old rite to a “normalized” status in the Church, the bar for liturgy in general will be raised. From the many posts on the topic by Fr. Z, it appears that this is the Pope’s goal and one that may actually be achieved without a single new document on the subject being issued. As proof, I have heard of parishes in our city actually using a chant ordinary where the mere mention of Latin a couple of years ago would have caused either seizures or spontaneous combustion among the musicians and liturgists. There has also been a general move towards more reverent liturgy in our diocese which I think can be partially attributed to our new (of five years) bishop who seems to think that following the GIRM is actually a good idea and has been encouraging our priests to do the same. It has been several years since I have seen a glass or clay chalice in use and for the most part, liturgical texts are read as written.

I have also heard that one of the parishes in town is revamping its altar server training with the goal of having honest-to-goodness installed acolytes in a few years. I think that would put a parish in our diocese in the rarefied company of Lincoln, NE when it comes to liturgical correctness.

So, how can we assist with the renewal of Catholic culture? First, I believe that a return to a more classical approach to education where truth is actually treated as truth and where an emphasis is placed on understanding the Great Books of Western Civilization is essential. Pearson College at the University of Kansas used to have a classics program that become the root of the Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma. One of the founding members of the college, John Senior, wrote two visionary books on the topic of Christian culture that are just coming back into print.

Second, I believe that an actual love of God must be cultivated among all the Faithful. Most people would be aghast if it was suggested that they give the music or the art in their parishes to someone they love as a gift. They would probably choose something of higher quality as a gift. And yet, this lack of quality is what is offered to God each day at Mass. To achieve the goal of love of God will require a lot of patient education. This education may offend people who have come to believe that liturgy is all about community instead of worship and that mediocrity (though they wouldn’t put it in that term) is the best that can be expected. A true love of anything will always naturally bring about an improvement in the quality of attention given to the beloved. We need to abandon the idea that nothing is too cheap for God and return to the notion that nothing is too good for God.

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The Life of Christ – An Invitation for you.

March 22, 2008

 This Paschal season, and beyond, we might do well to ask ourselves “how can we come to know Our Lord in a deeper and more meaningful way?” In our life-long journey to Christ, who we know is the Light and the Life, what could be more important?

The Church teaches us that we can deepen our experience of the Lord in many ways – through the Sacraments, the Liturgy, Sacred Scripture, through our prayer and devotional life, by studying the teachings of the Church, and through instruction by other faithful and learned members of the Church.

It seems as if we are busier than ever in today’s society, and that we are living in an increasingly visual age. Time is precious but we know that we must make time for the truly important things. Although we are reading books less and less, while spending more time watching television and surfing the internet, the idea of spiritual reading and of “lectio divina” is a tradition of the Church that goes back to the earliest times. This practice was popularized by religious communities who acknowledged the profound value and benefit of it. In our increasingly secular and materialistic age, an age of so many distractions from our true path, why not make a return to a venerable tradition – one proven to help us grow in Christ? What have you read lately that has deepened your faith experience?

Returning to the original question of how we can come to know Christ in a deeper and more meaningful way, and considering the idea of making a practice of meaningful spiritual reading a part of our lives, there are many excellent books, after the Sacred Scriptures, which help us to understand and to appreciate more, the Life and Teachings of Our Lord.

In his recent book, Jesus of Nazareth which he distinguishes as being “a pastoral work and not a Magisterial teaching”, Pope Benedict writes about Our Lord in a profound yet completely accessible way. Regarding the Paschal Sacrifice and Christ’s mission, something we meditate on especially during this holy and reflective time of year, Pope Benedict writes:

“The Apostle’s creed speaks of Jesus’ descent “into hell.” This descent not only took place in and after His death, but accompanies him along his entire journey. He must recapitulate the whole of history from it’s beginnings — from Adam on; He must go through, suffer through, the whole of it, in order to transform it. The letter to the Hebrews is particularly eloquent in stressing that Jesus’ mission, the solidarity with all of us he manifested beforehand in His baptism, includes exposure to the risks and perils of human existence: “Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted” (Heb 2:17-18). “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15). The story of the temptations is thus intimately connected with the story of the baptism, for it is there that Jesus enters into solidarity with sinners. . .In his short account of the temptations, Mark brings into relief the parallels between Adam and Jesus, stressing how Jesus “suffers through” the quintessential human drama. Jesus, we read, “was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.” The desert — the opposite image of the garden — becomes the place of reconciliation and healing.”

A few years ago, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Austria, who was the senior editor of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church commissioned by Pope John Paul II, wrote a superb book called My Jesus – Thoughts on the Gospel. In this book Cardinal Schoenborn begins by asking the question “Who is Jesus Christ?” He takes the reader through the Gospel of Matthew, explaining along the way that the search for the answer to this all-important question begins in the Gospels themselves. Cardinal Schoenborn offers a wonderful background on and explanation of the Gospel to help the reader enjoy a greater understanding of the Gospel and the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Fr. Benedict Groeschel says of this book “Cardinal Schoenborn convincingly brings home the truth and power of the Gospel image of Jesus. If you have lost touch with Christ, you will find him again. Disciples of Christ will discover new strength, conviction, and joy in this fresh expression of the reality of your Jesus and mine.”

One of the greatest books about Our Lord written in modern times, indeed this book has become a spiritual classic, is the Life of Christ by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen. If you are of a certain age and recall seeing Archbishop Sheen on television or hearing his talks on the radio, you know he was one of the most gifted and inspiring preachers of the 20th century. The Life Of Christ is considered by many to be the most eloquent of Fulton Sheen’s writings, the fruit of many years of dedication and research. His magnum opus. Filled with compassion and brilliant scholarship, his recounting of the birth, life, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ is as dramatic and moving as the subject Himself. Here is a passionate portrait of the God-Man, the teacher, the healer, and most of all the Savior whose promise has sustained humanity for nearly two thousand years.

“It was not so much that His birth cast a shadow on His life, and led to His death,” writes Archbishop Sheen. “It was rather that the Cross was there from the beginning, and it cast its shadow backward to his birth.” With his customary insight and reverence, he interprets Sacred Scripture and describes Christ not only in historical perspective but in exciting and contemporary terms; he sees in Christ’s life modern parallels and timeless lessons. Archbishop Sheen probes the hearts of many prominent New Testament figures – Joseph and Mary, Peter and the disciples, Herod, Pilate, and others – shedding new light on age-old events. The whole adds up to a masterful study: a faithful blending of philosophy, history, and biblical exegesis. This book has truly been a revelation to countless readers, as well as a source of inspiration and guidance. Every Catholic should read and own this vivid retelling of the greatest life ever lived.

The long history and tradition of spiritual reading in the Church has always been accompanied by prayer, for prayer must be at the very heart of our Christian experience. St Bridget of Sweden composed a beautiful prayer which is also a short meditation of the life of Christ:

“O Jesus! Who art the beginning and end of all things, life and virtue, remember that for our sakes Thou wast plunged into an abyss of suffering, from the soles of They feet to the crown of Thy head. In consideration of the enormity of Thy wounds, teach me to keep, through pure love, Thy commandments, which are a wide and easy path for those who love Thee. Amen.”

 

This beautiful prayer, and many others related to the life of Our Lord composed by St. Bridget, can be found in the book the Magnificent Prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden.

 

May your Paschal season, the season of Our Lord’s Death and Glorious Resurrection, the season of our Salvation, be an especially blessed one as you grown closer to Him.

 


Taking Part in the Triduum

March 22, 2008

For various reasons we haven’t been involved in Triduum services for a few years but decided this year to get to both Holy Thursday and Good  Friday liturgies. By the time the weekend is over we will have been to a different church for each service.

Holy Thursday was a reverent Mass that ended with a Eucharistic procession and the chanting of Pange Lingua and Tantum Ergo. Unfortunately, the Mass was interspersed with music that would have been much more at home in West Side Story or some other such performance.

Good Friday at St. Patrick’s was simply stunning. The service featured four altar servers, two seminarians, two deacons and both parish priests. I had forgotten about the prostration at the beginning of the service.

Father Brad has always given good homilies and tonight was no exception. He talked about being a true witness and having the courage to speak the Truth of Christ even when it means people will leave. He also praised Catholics United for the Faith for its efforts in the diocese (his parish sponsors our chapter). He also talked about his trip to the Holy Land and visiting the Church of St. Peter and the Rooster. This church was built over the house of Caiaphas, the high priest and it is in the caves beneath this house that tradition holds was the place where Jesus was held overnight. Father talked about how cold it was and that he had a lot of spiritual growing to do because he was ready to leave after twenty minutes but Jesus had been left there overnight.

Following the homily and the petitions (I wish they had been chanted), Father carried a seven foot tall cross to the front of the sanctuary for adoration. For some reason, this was a lot more moving than the standard hand-held crucifixes usually presented on Good Friday.

After Communion, Father told everyone that even though the parishioners are usually very outgoing and  like to talk after Mass, to hold off out of respect for the day and just go quietly back to their cars. As everyone a single bell tolled.

On Sunday we will be going to Holy Ghost for Easter Mass. I have no doubt that the contrast between the somber Good Friday service and the joyful extravagance of Easter will be striking.


It Isn’t Just Catholic Stores Having a Hard Time

March 20, 2008

Borders, the nation’s second-largest bookseller, said Thursday it may put itself up for sale and has lined up $42.5 million in financing to help the chain continue operations.

Shares tumbled more than 17 percent, or $1.23, to $5.87 at the open of trade.

Borders has lost market share both to online companies and to discounters like Wal-Mart Stores  Inc.

Source

As Catholic retailers we have to always keep in mind that running a business like a business is not an option in our market, any more than it is an option in the “real” world of business outside the religious sphere.

It is especially important to note that the reasons for the problems at Borders are not confined to that chain. Online competition will take a heavy toll on any store that doesn’t have a web presence. Our niche is both a curse and a blessing. As a group we run our businesses so poorly that there isn’t enough of a market for places like Walmart to get interested in selling Catholic stuff. On the other hand, our niche is run so poorly that there are very few healthy players in the industry.

I was reading a Christian Retailing trade journal a few months ago and there was an article about large, long-standing stores closing and they cited the same reasons as Borders for the closures.

As a business owner you have got to adapt to the changing retail environment around you or you WILL close. Adaptation doesn’t just give you a competitive edge,  it keeps you alive.


Top Ten Favorite Quotes from John Milton’s Paradise Lost

March 18, 2008

In 1667 John Milton published the epic poem Paradise Lost. It stands alongside other pillars of literature such as the Iliad and the Divine Comedy and even seeks to surpass them all in prose, rhyme and subject. Rather than attempting to explain the merely human aspects of hubris or conversion, Milton addresses the chief source of our fallen nature and seeks to justify the ways of God to man. (PL 1:26) Although this book is primarily read by students in classical literature courses, its influence is as deep as that of Shakespeare.

Great writers and poets such as William Blake, Samuel Coleridge, John Keats, and Lord Tennyson all drew inspiration from his work. In Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, the epigraph is taken from a passage of Paradise Lost describing the relationship between maker and creator. Even Philip Pullman, the self-proclaimed atheist and author of the trilogy His Dark Materials draws heavily from Milton’s work. The title of this trilogy can be found twice in Paradise Lost (PL 2:916, 6:478) as well as the title for the first book, The Golden Compass. (PL 7:225) The premise of Pullman’s trilogy is what might have happened had Satan been triumphant.

Lest you be bothered by a Pullman endorsement, Milton’s image of angels and devils was the basis for Christian novels such as Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti as well as characters in That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis. Lewis also wrote a lengthy work called A Preface to Paradise Lost in which he defends Milton’s portrayal of spiritual beings. While there are easily a 100 favorite quotes from Paradise Lost, these are my top 10 in line order.

(1.)

1:254-255

The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.

Storyline:

The great war of the angels has been settled and Satan and the other demons have been cast into hell. Satan is lamenting his loss and beginning to realize that he will be in hell for a very long time. At this point in the narrative Satan is still licking his wounds and not seriously considering revenge. Instead, he is deciding how to make the best of the situation. It is a few lines later when he utters the famous phrase “Better to reign in hell, than serve in heav’n.” (PL 1:263)

Relevance:

Satan’s existential view of damnation does little to comfort him when faced with the reality of Hell. Just as the chosen people were never able to shake the myth of happiness in Egypt, so Satan can never forget the true happiness he experienced in paradise. Even as he plots to corrupt creation he wrestles with the impossible dream of returning to heaven. He must feed his own hate with lies to make his loss more bearable. In the end the very thought of happiness becomes a source of pain for him. In the garden he states, “the more I see / Pleasures about me, so much more I feel / Torment within me…”. (PL 9:119-121) Like many people who have fallen away from the Church, the problem is not so much one of issues, but one of pride and the fear of atonement. Sometimes the only way to justify this separation is by making the accusation that the Church is not all it claims to be. As if we can devalue the truth with our minds and somehow escape the reality. Satan discovers that hell will always be hell.

(2.)

1:648-649

…who overcomes

By force, hath overcome but half his foe.

Storyline:

The self-pity of Satan doesn’t last long and revenge is soon on his mind. Before his revolt Satan had thought that it was old repute and custom (639-640) that gave God his throne and he learned too late that while God’s regal state was fully revealed, his strength was concealed. Having been self-deceived in his pride, Satan announces these lines and suggests that God too is deceiving Himself if He believes war and punishment is the final solution.

Relevance:

Fitting lines for our times. As a country we struggle with the realization that defeating a nation’s leaders or a nation’s army does not guarantee victory over its people. In the John Mayer song Belief he writes: belief is a beautiful armor/ but makes for the heaviest sword. If there is to be any real change in people it has to stem from the heart. This is the same concept that the Jews missed when they chose Barrabas, whose message was one of revenge and insurrection, over Jesus whose message was one of love, sacrifice, and conversion. It is also the reason that in times of extreme Christian persecution, the faith has flourished instead of faded.

Read the rest of the list.

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The Life of Our Lord and Saviour

March 18, 2008

“The Life of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ”

The Transfiguration of Our Lord Fine Art Print 
“The Apostle’s creed speaks of Jesus’ descent “into hell.” This descent not only took place in and after His death, but accompanies him along his entire journey. He must recapitulate the whole of history from it’s beginnings — from Adam on; He must go through, suffer through, the whole of it, in order to transform it. The letter to the Hebrews is particularly eloquent in stressing that Jesus’ mission, the solidarity with all of us he manifested beforehand in His baptism, includes exposure to the risks and perils of human existence: “Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted” (Heb 2:17-18). “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15). The story of the temptations is thus intimately connected with the story of the baptism, for it is there that Jesus enters into solidarity with sinners. . .In his short account of the temptations, Mark brings into relief the parallels between Adam and Jesus, stressing how Jesus “suffers through” the quintessential human drama. Jesus, we read, “was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.” The desert — the opposite image of the garden — becomes the place of reconciliation and healing.”
– from “Jesus of Nazareth” by Pope Benedict XVI
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Pope Benedict XVI’s “Apostolic Journey to the United States” begins next month! The theme of his visit is “Christ Our Hope.”
In honor of the visit, we have created a Pope Benedict XVI specialty store. To browse the items in our Pope Benedict XVI specialty store, please click here.
 
 The Catholic Cafeteria is Closed T-shirt

Why Did the Word Become Flesh?

“With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.” The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who “loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins”: “the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world”, and “he was revealed to take away sins”:

Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?

The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 456 – 485

 

Selected Religious and Devotional Items for the Easter Season . . .

A beautiful collection of inspiring hymns from St. Clement’s Choir
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The Resurrection of Christ: a faith approach

“The resurrection of Christ is like a mountain peak that acts as a watershed; in one direction it faces toward history and leads to history; in the other, it faces toward faith and leads to faith. Let us now come down in the opposite direction from the one in whcih we came; let us follow the crest of faith. By passing from history to faith, our way of talking about the resurrection changes too; our tone, our language. We do not adduce proofs and confirmations; there is no need for them, for the voice of the Holy Spirit creates conviction directly within the heart. It is an assertive, apodictic language. ‘But now Christ has been raised from the dead’ (1 Corinthians 15:20), says St. Paul. Now we are on the plane of faith, no longer on that of demonstration. It is the kerygma: ‘Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere’ runs the liturgy for Easter Day: ‘We know that Christ has really risen.’ This too is the language of faith. Not only do we believe but, having believed, we know that it is so, we are sure of it. We are talking about a certainty different in nature from the historical kind, yet stronger since founded on God. Only the unbeliever or the agnostic can regard this as an arrogant claim of people who believe themselves to be in possession of truth and refuse all further discussion. In fact, it is the language of those who are totally submitted, as a result of practicing what St. Paul calls ‘the obedience of faith. (Romans 1:5)”
– from “The Mystery of Easter” by Fr. Raneiro Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., Preacher to the Papal Household.
First Holy Communion season is almost here!
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A Prayer for Easter:

O Jesus! Who art the beginning and end of all things, life and virtue, remember that for our sakes Thou wast plunged into an abyss of suffering, from the soles of They feet to the crown of Thy head. In consideration of the enormity of Thy wounds, teach me to keep, through pure love, Thy commandments, which are a wide and easy path for those who love Thee. Amen.
– from the Magnificent Prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden
We hope your Easter season is an especially blessed and faith-filled one.
 – the staff at Aquinas and More Catholic Goods

Spiritual Reading and Gift-giving Ideas for the Easter Season

March 15, 2008


“He is not here. He is risen . . .”

 

St. Mary Magdalene Announces the Resurrection Icon
 “. . .  And on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, (the women) came to the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled back from the sepulchre. And going in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were astonished in their mind at this, behold, two men stood by them, in shining apparel. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their countenance towards the ground, they said unto them: Why seek you the living with the dead?He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke unto you, when he was in Galilee, Saying: The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words. And going back from the sepulchre, they told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. And it was Mary Magdalen, and Joanna, and Mary of James, and the other women that were with them, who told these things to the apostles.”

– The Holy Gospel According to St. Luke, 24: 1-10

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Author: Fiona French
The Divine Mercy novena begins on Good Friday, March 21, the nine days concluding on Divine Mercy Sunday, March 30. We carry a large selection of Divine Mercy resources, gift items and devotional items. To browse the complete selection in our Divine Mercy specialty store, please click here
 
 Chaplet of the Divine Mercy DVD
  

 The Meaning and Saving Significance of the Resurrection

“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ’s works and teachings. All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by his Resurrection has given the definitive proof of his divine authority, which he had promised.

Christ’s Resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus himself during his earthly life. The phrase “in accordance with the Scriptures” indicates that Christ’s Resurrection fulfilled these predictions.

The truth of Jesus’ divinity is confirmed by his Resurrection. He had said: “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he.” The Resurrection of the crucified one shows that he was truly “I AM”, the Son of God and God himself. So St. Paul could declare to the Jews: “What God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'” Christ’s Resurrection is closely linked to the Incarnation of God’s Son, and is its fulfillment in accordance with God’s eternal plan.

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.

Finally, Christ’s Resurrection – and the risen Christ himself is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep… For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfillment . In Christ, Christians “have tasted…the powers of the age to come”and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may “live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

 – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 651 – 655

 Selected Religious and Devotional Items for the Easter Season :

A beautiful new greeting card for this holy season.
Only $2.95 each
Features the Holy Trinity, Blessed Mother, Sts. Peter and Paul. Made in Italy. 12 in.
Only $59.95
Proudly proclaim your Catholic faith with this t-shirt.
Only $16.95
A Powerful and Inspiring 3-part DVD Experience from Fr. John Corapi!
Only $24.95

The Hope of Easter

“The Cross had asked the questions; the Resurrection had answered them…The Cross had asked: “Why does God permit evil and sin to nail justice to a tree?” The Resurrection answered: “That sin, having done its worst, might exhaust itself and thus be overcome by Love that is stronger than either sin or death.”

Thus there emerges the Easter lesson that the power of evil and the chaos of any one moment can be defied and conquered, for the basis of our hope is not in any construct of human power but in the power of God, who has given the evil of this earth its one mortal wound – an open tomb, a gaping sepulcher, an empty grave.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

 – from  Lent and Easter Wisdom from Fulton J. Sheen

First Holy Communion season is approaching quickly.
 To browse our complete selection of First Holy Communion resources and gift ideas, visit the Aquinas and More  First Holy Communion Specialty Store
To read our recently posted article about First Holy Communion traditions and practices, please click here
This Lenten season, why not deepen your prayer life by praying the Rosary or praying it more often? To browse our complete selection of rosaries and chaplets, please  click here
To browse our Catholic art selection, including icons, pictures and prints, please click here
 

A Novena Prayer for Easter:

“O Divine Saviour, who rose from the dead on that first glorious Easter morn, grant that I may rise from my sins and so live as to see You, glorious and immortal, in heaven. Lord, I am nothing, but, although nothing, I adore You. Amen.”

We hope your Easter season is an especially blessed and faith-filled one.
 – the staff at Aquinas and More Catholic Goods
 
Shop online at www.catholicchurchsupply.com for all your parish’s church supply needs –  including clergy shirts, vestments, altar linens, censers and boats, incense, candles, chalices, sanctuary lamps, altar breads, official liturgical books, lavabo sets, altar bells, and so much more!
We have one of the largest selections of Clergy Shirts available anywhere. To view our complete selection, please click here.
Its not too late to order, act soon!
An assortment of beautiful Paschal candles and
Easter Vigil candles for your parish is available now at Catholic Church Supply.


How Not to be a Good Vendor – Part III

March 13, 2008

1) Tell us we haven’t been paying our bills for two years.
2) When asked to send the invoices in question, never do.
3) When given payment information proving payment, do nothing with it for months.
4) When phone calls are made asking for some sort of assistance in getting the matter cleared up, don’t return calls for two weeks.
5) When sent payment information again, don’t do anything with it for a couple more weeks.
6) When repeated messages are left asking for some kind of update, don’t reply until you are finally caught in the office.
7) When you say you will get back to us in an hour, never call back.
8 ) When we call back several days later after not getting an update, tell us that because we are a credit risk, we now have to prepay all orders.
9) When you finally send us the invoices we requested five months earlier and it turns out that the issue is a joint error – the vendor hadn’t recorded more than half the amount due and we were missing some invoices, tell us that it doesn’t matter and we have to prepay all orders.

Anybody know a good supplier of audio talks?


Your Car Needs A Catholic Car Decal

March 12, 2008

Divine Mercy Car DecalProud to be Catholic? Let others know with our new Catholic car decals. These stylish stickers can be applied to your car windows and show off your devotion to the Rosary, the Miraculous Medal, St. Therese and the Divine Mercy, among others. We also have “RC”, “IHS”, and “JMJ” stickers similar to those old European country decals.

Make your vehicle a tool of evangelization and get your car decal today!


A Most Unconventional Catholic Store

March 12, 2008

I’m sure you’ve been wondering: ‘Where on earth can I get my Hell’s Angels leather jacket repaired and find a nice rosary, too?”

Read the rest.

H/T New Advent