Catholic Culture Liturgical Year
As the earth cycles annually through its seasons, just so the Church celebrates with quiet, deliberate rhythm the seasons of the liturgical year – always the same, yet ever new and renewing.
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"I shall sing forever the Lord's mercy." (Ps 89 ) This Sunday is popularly known as Mercy of God Sunday. Between 1930 and 1938 Christ appeared to Sister Faustina, a Sister of Mercy in Poland who initiated the Divine Mercy devotion. She was canonized on April 30, 2000, the Sunday after Easter, the Feast of Divine Mercy. On Good Friday, 1937, Jesus requested that Blessed Faustina make a special novena before the Feast of Mercy, from Good Friday through the following Saturday. Jesus also asked that a picture be painted according to the vision of Himself as the fountain of mercy. He gave her a chaplet to be recited and said that it was appropriate to pray the chaplet at three o'clock each afternoon (the Hour of Great Mercy).
"Lastly, He showed himself to the Eleven themselves while they were at table. He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy.... And He said to them, 'Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.'" (Mark 16: 14-15)
"Children, have you any fish?" They answered him, "No." He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!"
"Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you!'" The Gospel tells of an appearance of Jesus in the Cenacle on the very day of His resurrection. The newly baptized (neophytes) and all Christians with them, must live like the risen Christ, none but a heavenly life and by their manner of living proclaim their faith in Christ.
Today the Gospel relates the story of the disciples and Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Through the holy Eucharist we are drawn deeper and deeper into the saving death and glorious resurrection of the immortal Christ. Like Cleophas and Luke of Emmaus we are Table-guests of Christ, we know Him, our crucified and risen Lord, in the breaking of the Bread; our cold hearts begin to burn, our blind eyes are opened, and our souls are filled with that paschal peace and joy with which these two disciples hastened from Emmaus back to Jerusalem on that first blessed Easter evening. -- Vine and Branches, Martin Hellriegel, 1948.
The first eight days of the Easter season form the Easter octave and are celebrated as solemnities of the Lord. Each day is another little Easter. The Alleluia verse is repeated throughout the octave: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia!"
The Lord has risen from the dead, as he foretold. Let there be happiness and rejoicing for he is our King forever, alleluia. According to Moses and the prophets, Christ was to suffer all "these things and so to enter into His glory". And what was this "glory" which Christ merited by His sufferings and death? It was His resurrection, His ascension into heaven, His sitting at the right hand of the Father, the homage of all the nations. It was especially the glorification of His body which only a few days ago hung mangled and lifeless on the cross.
Easter is the feast of feasts, the unalloyed joy and gladness of all Christians.
On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord's tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. The altar is left bare, and the sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Only after the solemn vigil during the night, held in anticipation of the resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of fifty days.
"It is accomplished; and bowing his head he gave up his spirit."
The last three days of Holy Week are referred to as the Easter or Sacred Triduum (Triduum Sacrum), the three-part drama of Christ's redemption: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Wednesday is known as Spy Wednesday because on this day Judas made a bargain with the high priest to betray Jesus for 30 silver pieces (Matt 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:1-6). In Poland, the young people throw an effigy of Judas from the top of a church steeple. Then it is dragged through the village amidst hurling sticks and stones. What remains of the effigy is drowned in a nearby stream or pond.
"False witnesses have stood up against me, and my enemies threaten violence; Lord, do not surrender me into their power!" Our Lord calls upon His heavenly Father to shield Him against His enemies. In God's providence, however, the Cross of Christ was destined to be a sign of glory and not an emblem of shame: from that Cross came victory over Satan, from it came life, resurrection and salvation: "It behooves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, by whom we are saved and delivered."
"Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have endowed him with my spirit that he may bring true justice to the nations. He does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets. He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame (Is 42:1-2)."
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on an ass's colt (Jn 12:13-15)!"
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, in some places today is the feast of St. Julie Billiart, a French religious who founded, and was the first Superior General of, the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
St. John Baptist de La Salle was born in Rheims, France. He was known as the Father of Modern Pedagogy. He opened free schools for poor children, introducing new teaching methods. He organized the congregation called the Brothers of the Christian Schools, which made great contributions to popular education.
Historically today is the feast of Saint Juliana of Cornillon, also known as Juliana of Liege, who was a medieval Norbertine canoness regular and mystic in what is now Belgium. She has long been recognized as the promoter of the Feast of Corpus Christi.
St. Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419) was born in Valencia, Spain, and died in Vannes, Britany. He was a great scholar and became Master of Theology -- he knew the entire Bible by heart. He was also a great preacher, preaching throughout Europe. Jews, infidels and heretics were converted by his sermons on the true faith. The most obdurate sinners embraced a life of holiness. The favorite topic of his sermons was the final judgment. He repeated over and over the words of the prophet, "Arise, ye dead, and come to the judgment." He is often called the "Angel of the Judgment." A renowned wonder-worker, St. Vincent cured the sick, the blind and the lame.
St. Isidore, who succeeded his brother St. Leander as Archbishop of Seville, was one of the great bishops of the seventh century. He was proficient in all brances of knowledge and was regarded as one of the most learned men of his time; with Cassiodorus and Boethius he was one of the thinkers whose writings were most studied in the Middle Ages, St. Isidore died in 636. Pope Innocent XIII canonized him in 1722 and proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church.