My Servant Shall Prosper, He Shall be Raised High and Greatly Exalted

He Shall be Raised High and Greatly Exalted © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013  EA Photo

He Shall be Raised High and Greatly Exalted © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013 EA Photo

See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him- so marred was his look beyond human semblance and his appearance beyond that of the sons of men – so shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; for those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it (Isaiah 52:13- 15 from the First Reading, Good Friday Liturgy).

The Sacred Paschal Triduum commemorates the holiest days of the Church year. Last night the Triduum commenced with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. At this Holy Mass we celebrated both the institution of the Holy Eucharist and commissioning of the sacred priesthood, while contemplating the night on which our Lord was betrayed.

By Your Own Blood Lord, You Brought Us Back to God © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

By Your Own Blood Lord, You Brought Us Back to God © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Today, on Good Friday, we gaze upon the suffering face of our Lord as we accompany Him along the, Via Crucis; the Via Dolorosa – the Way of the Cross. Around the world many of us walked (literally and figuratively) with our fellow Christians, and commemorated the Sacred Passion of Our Lord by praying the fourteen Stations of the Cross.

So Marred Was His Look Beyond Human Semblance © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

So Marred Was His Look Beyond Human Semblance © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

These photos are from the annual Stations of the Cross with the Milwaukee Archbishop, His Excellency Jerome Listecki, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians at Holy Hill.

Annual Good Friday Outdoor Stations of the Cross at The Basilica of The National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians At Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Annual Good Friday Outdoor Stations of the Cross at The Basilica of The National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians At Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Throughout the afternoon, hundreds of pilgrims climbed the steep hill praying the words penned by St. Alphonsus Liguori, and echoing the strains of the Stabat Mater.

Outdoor Stations of the Cross at Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Outdoor Stations of the Cross at Holy Hill © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Later, we gathered in the Basilica for the traditional Good Friday Liturgy, at which the Passion of Our Lord (The Gospel of St. John 18:1- 19:42) was read aloud, and the faithful venerated the Holy Cross before partaking in Holy Communion. Tomorrow a new day dawns, and by evening time the Sacred Triduum will crescendo into a triumphant culmination with the Vigil Mass of Our Lord’s Resurrection.

Outdoor Stations of the Cross at Holy Hill, with Archbishop Jerome Listecki © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013. EA Photo

Outdoor Stations of the Cross at Holy Hill, with Archbishop Jerome Listecki © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013. EA Photo

Through the celebration of the Good Friday Liturgy, we recall the most pivotal event in the history of human kind: the day on which Our Lord suffered, was crucified, and died to pay the penalty of our sin. On this day we pause and recall our own sins, and the burden our actions have added to Our Lord’s sacred shoulders. While this is a solemn, somber celebration of our Lord’s passion and death, there is also a glimmer of joy; for in His passion and death is the ultimate expression of merciful love. It is no coincidence that today we also begin to prepare for the Feast of Divine Mercy. That preparation begins with the novena of Mercy.

For the next nine days, I will post a brief reflection, a reminder to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the novena requested by our Lord, and the link to the novena which our Lord dictated on Good Friday 1937 to St. Maria Faustina for her private use in preparation for the Feast of Divine Mercy.

For the Sake of His Sorrowful Passion © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

For the Sake of His Sorrowful Passion © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

In Her Diary, St. Maria Faustina relates that our Lord Himself requested the Chaplet of Mercy be recited, beginning on Good Friday, for nine days before the Feast of Divine Mercy. He stated: “By this novena I will grant every possible grace to souls (796, p.316 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

The Divine Mercy Chaplet is to be recited on ordinary Rosary Beads. After making the Sign of the Cross, one then recites an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and the Apostles Creed.

On the single bead prior to each decade, one prays:

“Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ in Atonement for Our Sins, and for the sins of the whole world (475, p.207 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

On the ten beads of the decade, one prays:

“For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world (476, p.208 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

After all five decades have been prayed, one prays the concluding Doxology:

  

His Mercy Endures © SalveMaterDei.com, -2013.

His Mercy Endures © SalveMaterDei.com, -2013.

                    “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world (476, p.208 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

There is an optional closing prayer:

“Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly on us, and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we not despair, nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your Holy Will, which is Love and Mercy Itself (796, p.370 – Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

While Our Lord requested this novena of Chaplets not only for St. Maria Faustina, but the whole world, He also gave her a private novena. In this novena, Our Lord invites Sr. Faustina to immerse a particular group of souls into the abyss of His mercy each day, so that in turn He may bring these souls to the Heavenly Father. Over the years, I have found this novena tremendously fruitful.

Our Lord stated to St. Faustina:

“I desire that during these nine days you bring souls to the font of My mercy, that they may draw therefrom enough strength and refreshment and whatever graces they need . . . . On each day you will bring to My Heart a different group of souls, and you will immerse them into this ocean of My mercy, and I will bring all these souls into the house of My Father (1209, p. 435, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

Our Lord Jesus loves each of us immeasurably. He came into the world to testify to the truth of that love, and to lay down His life in reparation for our sins. It is for sinners that He came into this world, and for sinners that He died and rose again victorious. Therefore, it is fitting that this first day of the novena be dedicated to sinners.

Immerse them in the Ocean of My Mercy © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Immerse them in the Ocean of My Mercy © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013

Jesus requested of St. Faustina on Day 1:

“Today, bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners, and immerse them into the ocean of My Mercy. In this way, you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me (1210, p. 436, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Congregation of Marians, 1987).”

For the text of the entire first day of the novena, please visit go to the Marians of the Immaculate Conception Website at http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/novena/firstday.php.

In this first day, St. Faustina immerses each of us into the abyss of God’s mercy, an abyss so deep that even death could not fill it. As we journey from the Cross to the Resurrection, let us join St. Maria Faustina in immersing all of humankind, but most especially all sinners, in Christ’s Mercy, with the hope that He will in turn eventually bring them home to His Father’s House.

Blessed Triduum,

Ad Jesum per Mariam

M.A. J.M.J.

** Divine Mercy Celebrations will be held at churches world-wide in accordance with Our Lord’s directive to St. Maria Faustina. Confessions, Holy Mass (often at 3 p.m.) and the singing of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy usually occur at these events. There is a true outpouring of grace at these events.

Contact your local Archdiocesan Office for details and locations of hosting churches.

In Wisconsin,

The Basilica of The National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill hosts a beautiful celebration. For more information regarding that celebration visit the site: https://www.holyhill.com/index.php?option=com_jevents&task=icalrepeat.detail&evid=741&Itemid=50&year=2013&month=04&day=07&title=sunday-of-divine-mercy-&uid=dfc595f576ed1845fa495278cafe52ea&catids=6|3

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse also will celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. For More information visit their site at: http://www.guadalupeshrine.org/events/divine-mercy-sunday

Lord, My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

A Light for Revelation

A Light for Revelation. . . © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Now, Master, You may let Your servant go in peace according to your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You prepared in the sight of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory to Your people Israel, Lord (Canticle of Simeon, Nunc dimittis, Luke 2: 29-32).

Yesterday, February 2, we celebrated the rich and ancient feast of Candlemas, which is commemorated in both the Western Roman Rite Church and as well as the Eastern Church. This liturgical festival is known under a variety of titles, and its early existence is verified in the homilies of many ancient bishops including: St. Methodius of Patara (C. 312), St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 360), St. Gregory the Theologian (c. 389), St. Amphilochius of Iconium (c. 394), St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 400), and St. John Chrysostom (c. 407).

Candlemas Celebration, Holy Hill, Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, February 2, 2012, © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012-

Candlemas Celebration, Holy Hill, Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, February 2, 2012, © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012-

In the Western Roman Catholic Latin Rite this feast is known as: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, and the Presentation of the Lord. For the Eastern Orthodox and many of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, this feast is celebrated as one of the Twelve Great Feasts. It is the Hypapante which is Greek for “Encounter. As such, it celebrates the encounter of the Christ-Child and Simeon ( the Just Man) and the Prophetess Anna, as recounted in the Gospel (Luke 2: 22-40). For the Byzantine Catholic and Greek Orthodox this feast is also unique because it is celebrated as both a Great Feast of Our Lord, and a Great Feast of Our Lady, the Theotokos, and is known as: “Feast of the Presentation of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple” or as “The Meeting of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.” In the Eastern Rite, this beautiful festival is celebrated with a forefeast of one day, and an after feast of seven days (thus, I can assure myself that even though this post is late, it is still relevant….). Often candles are blessed during the liturgical rites of this celebration and distributed among the faithful.

Candlemas Celebration at Holy Hill, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, February 2, 2013 © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011-2013.

Candlemas Celebration at Holy Hill, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, February 2, 2013 © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

In his recent book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, the Holy Father, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, notes that three specific events are celebrated on the fortieth day after Christmas: “the “purification” of Mary, the “redemption of the first-born child Jesus through an offering prescribed by the law, and the “presentation” of Jesus in the Temple (p. 58).”

The Book of Leviticus (12:1-4) stipulates that after giving birth to a male child, the woman was considered to be impure (excluded from taking part in public worship) for seven days, the child himself was to be circumcised on the eighth day, and the woman was to remain at home for an additional span of thirty days, in purification of her blood. After this time, she was to present a purification sacrifice – a burnt offering – of a young lamb, as well as a sin-offering of two turtle doves or young pigeons. The poor were absolved of the need to bring the young lamb. Thus, St. Luke stipulates that Mary and Joseph brought the offering of the poor: two turtle doves or young pigeons. In his book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, Pope Benedict notes that the entire Gospel makes it clear that Jesus and His family belonged to the poor of Israel, and it was therefore through the poor that the long awaited Messiah would fulfill the promise of salvation. It is precisely through the poor that God chose to offer His gift of salvation for all humankind.

Candlemas Celebration, Holy Hill Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, February 2, 2012 © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

Candlemas Celebration, Holy Hill Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, February 2, 2012 © SalveMaterDei.com, 2012.

The Holy Father goes on to state that:

“Mary does not need to be purified from the birth of Jesus: his birth ushers the purification of the world. But she obeys the law, and in this way she serves the fulfillment of the promises (p. 59).”

Our Lady is a model of poverty and obedience. She did not excuse herself from the precepts of the law rather, in her holiness, she perfectly fulfilled scripture.

Hail Full of Grace © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011-2013.

Hail Full of Grace © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

One might also consider that while because of her poverty, Our Lady was absolved of the requirement under the Mosaic Law to bring a young lamb to the temple as a purification sacrifice, in actuality He Whom she (and St. Joseph) brought to the temple IS the Ultimate Purification Sacrifice: the infant Lamb of GOD. It is precisely because of Our Lady’s spiritual poverty, her willingness to empty herself totally, and be filled with the grace of God (Hail Mary Full of Grace… kechatitomene – Kεχαριτωμένη-) that this privilege was bestowed upon her by Almighty God.

In Mosaic Law, the first-born male was to be redeemed, and a price of five shekels was to be paid to a priest. The first-born male child was thus to be given unreservedly to God: “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord (Exodus 13: 2).” In his text, the Holy Father points out that this prescribed action did not necessarily have to take place in the Temple. Yet, in Jesus’ case the Temple setting is absolutely essential to God’s plan. Recall, the Temple was considered to be the “footstool” of God’s presence for the people of Israel. In an authentic way the Temple was an indication of the validity of God’s presence among His people. In this encounter, The Redeemer of the World is redeemed according to the law, and by virtue of this act, Jesus is publicly handed over to God His Father. As Jesus is presented in the Temple, in a real way the Son of God is presented to God the Father. Thus, both acts are completed in this encounter in the Temple, the prescribed redemption under the law, and the Presentation of the Son to God the Father.

The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple, © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011-2013.

The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple, © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

These significant events unfold fulfilling both scripture and the letter of the law against a backdrop of prophesy. First, Simeon the “Just Man” is described in scripture as “righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel (Luke 2: 25).” It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. On this particular day, Simeon came to the temple “in the Spirit of the Lord (Luke 2:27).” Upon seeing the Child Jesus, Simeon took the Child Jesus in His arms and blessed God, proclaiming:

“Now, Master, You may let Your servant go in peace according to your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You prepared in the sight of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory to Your people Israel Lord (Canticle of Simeon, Nunc dimittis, Luke 2: 29-32).”

Mary and Joseph are amazed at this public proclamation regarding their infant son. As Simeon blesses them, he continues to prophesy, saying specifically to Mary:

“Behold this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted, and you yourself a sword will pierce, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2: 33-35).”

Simeon’s prophesy indicates the truth that the cross is intimately intertwined with the Messianic mission. Yes, the Christ-Child is the Salvation of Israel – and of all people – but to embrace the glory of Salvation, the Cross is essential.

Candlemas celebration, February 2, 2013, Holy Hill, Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians © SalveMaterDei.com, 2011-2013.

Candlemas celebration, February 2, 2013, Holy Hill, Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians © SalveMaterDei.com, 2013.

Like Simeon, Anna the Prophetess, is equally pious, leading a sacrificial life of prayer and penance (Luke 2: 36-38). Like Simeon, she steps forward at the moment Jesus is presented in the Temple, to thank God, and to speak “about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2: 38).”

This beautiful feast is replete with grace and meaning. Scripture is fulfilled and we are invited to bear witness to the true Light which has come into the world. Just as Simeon and Anna encounter Christ, we too are invited to “see” Who He truly is – with the grace of the Holy Spirit – to encounter Him. Like Simeon, we are also invited to “take the child into our arms” and bless God. Embracing Christ and His Cross, we too are invited to praise God for the gift of the Incarnate Word – Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Blessed Feast of the Presentation of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple; Joyous Candlemas!

M. A. JMJ