Saturday, April 16, 2011

Palm Sunday

Jesus' Entry into Jerusalem by Pedro Orrente

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Why I love Jesus

Anne who blogs over at her lovely blog Imprisoned in my Bones tagged me for a new meme.
Here are the rules for the meme:
*state 5 reasons why you love Jesus
*tag 5 other bloggers
*provide links to the blogs of those you tag as well as the one(s) who tagged you.

Why do I love Him? Let me count the ways...5 of them to be exact but there are many, many more reasons why I love Jesus. Wow, I thought this was going to be easy but it is hard to put my feelings into words.

1. God humbled Himself to be born as a beautiful baby and I cannot resist babies. I just love them! When I get to Heaven, the first thing I want to do is ask to hold the Baby Jesus in my arms so I can cuddle Him and kiss His adorable little face.

2.  He is the Good Shepherd.  He shepherds His flock especially when we lose our way.  He is always beside us, gently guiding us back to His fold.

3.  He sacrificed His life so that we can have everlasting life.  Shame on me for ever taking that ultimate sacrifice for granted!

4.  He cannot say no to His dear Mother and therefore I can be assured He will answer my prayers through her intercession.  (I also have an endless list on why I love Our Blessed Mother Mary).

5.  Divine Mercy.  Need I say more?

I tag the following 5 bloggers:

1. Sister Lisa

2. Lisa

3. Cathy

4. Father Daren

5. Father Gordon

Friday, April 15, 2011

In Understanding the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ

It is sad to realize that I never really understood the torturous punishment that was inflicted on our beloved Lord Jesus.  The paintings and drawing  in Catholic school and in catechism classes sanitized the Passion story too much.  Therefore, although I felt badly for Jesus, I did not really understand His extreme pain and suffering because I did not know the extent of His sacrifice.  In turn, I was not able to teach my own son adequately just how much our Lord had to endure in His passion and death...for love of us.  He who never committed a single sin, was cruelly executed for each and every one of our sins!

Parents should not keep this reality from their children.  They can teach at an age appropriate level but still get the message across.  I really wish my mother had described Jesus' suffering in more vivid details to my brothers, sisters and me when we were children.  Because she mistakenly felt she was protecting her innocent children, none of us really appreciated Good Friday like we should have.  I was so ignorant of the fact that I thought that the agony in the garden was Jesus being sad because He was going to die for us.  I thought the scourging was nothing more than a  whipping. 

Just try reading the Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich and you will get a more vivid picture of the actual brutality that Jesus accepted to endure for love of sinners.

The Agony in the Garden

This is an example of the pictures I grew up seeing about Jesus' agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

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The following are better in describing Sister Emmerich's description on how Jesus suffered.

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"...truly did our dear Lord writhe like a worm beneath the weight of His anguish and sufferings!"

"...When Jesus, unrelieved of all the weight of His suffering, returned to the grotto, He fell prostrate, with His face on the ground and His arms extended, and prayed to His Eternal Father..."

"...Jesus, in His anguish of spirit, raised His voice, and gave utterance to several cries of pain...But the sight of Jesus, thus bathed in His own blood, and sinking to the ground beneath the weight of mortal fear and anguish..."

"...I saw the blood flowing in large drops down the pale face of our Saviour, His hair matted together, and His beard bloody and entangled..."


The Scourging at the Pillar
Usual depiction of the Jesus' scourging. 

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In more likelihood it was like this:

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"The two fresh executions commenced scourging Jesus with the greatest possible fury...The blows from these sticks tore His flesh to pieces; His blood spouted out so as to stain their arms, and He groaned, prayed and shuddered..."

"...Our Lord remained for a short time on the ground, at the foot of the pillar, bathed in His own blood..."

"During the time of the scouring of our Lord, I saw weeping angels approach Him many times..."

A scourging

Description of a Scourging

The Crowning with Thorns

This is the picture we find in Rosary booklets.

The following are more realistic:

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"...In the middle of the court there stood the fragment of a pillar, and on it was placed a very low stool which these cruel men maliciously covered with sharp flints and bits of broken potsherds.  The the tore off the garments of Jesus, thereby reopening all His wounds; threw over His shoulders an old scarlet mantle which barely reached His knees; dragged Him to the seat prepared, and pushed him roughly down upon it, having first placed the crown of thorns upon His head... They then seized the reed, and struck His head so violently that His eyes were filled with blood; they knelt before Him, derided Him, spat in His face, and buffeted Him, saying at the same time, 'Hail, King of the Jews!'   Then they threw down His stool, pulled Him up again from the ground on which He had fallen, and reseated Him with the greatest possible brutality."

The Carrying of the Cross

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What it may have been like:

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"...he fell quite down against this stone, and the cross fell by His side.  The cruel executions were obliged to stop, they abused and struck Him unmercifully, but the whole procession came to a standstill, which caused a degree of confusion.  Vainly did He hold out His hand for some one to assist Him to rise:  'Ah! He exclaimed, 'all will soon be over,' and He prayed for his enemies...but these cruel men, far from endeavouring to alleviate His suffering, put the crown of thorns again on His head before they pulled Him out of the mud, and no sooner was He was more on His feet than they replaced the cross on His back.  The crown of thorns which encircled His head increased His pain inexpressibly, and obliged Him to bend on one side to give room for the cross, which lay heavily on His shoulders."

The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus

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"...The executioners soon pulled off our Lord's cloak, the belt to which the ropes were fastened, and His own belt, when they found it was impossible to drag the woolen garment which His Mother had woven for Him over His head, on account of the crown of thorns; they tore off this most painful crown, thus reopening every wound, and seizing the garment, tore it mercilessly over His bleeding and wounded head. ..Then seizing His right arm they dragged it to the hole prepared for the nail, and having tied it tightly down with a cord, one of them knelt upon His sacred chest, a second held His hand flat, and a third taking a long thick nail, pressed it on the open palm of that adorable hand, which had ever been open to bestow blessings and favours ...and with a great iron hammer drove it through the flesh, and far into the wood of the cross.  Our Lord uttered one deep but suppressed groan, and His blood gushed forth and sprinkled the arm s of the archers...The nails were very large, the heads about the size of a crown piece and the thickness that of a man's thumb, while the points came through at the back of the cross...
Description in detail of a crucifixion.

Please be sure to read A Physician Analyzes a Crucifixion.

Source used: The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

More Spiritual Help from the Imitation of Christ

On the Love of Solitude and of Silence

"...Must you be always gossiping, always going about aimlessly, picking up the latest rumours? If you can do without that, you will find plenty of suitable occasions for getting on with your meditations. The great Saints always avoided the society of other people as much as they could; they wanted to be alone, waiting for God."

- Chapter 20(a) Book I

On a View of Man's Misery:

"... What a feeble thing is this human nature of ours, always ready to slip down-hill! The sin you commit today is the same sin you mentioned yesterday in confession; an hour has gone by, and those resolutions about avoiding it might just as well not have been made. Haven't we good reason to feel ashamed? Can we ever entertain a good opinion of ourselves, weak and wavering creatures as we are?..."

- Chapter 22 Book I

On Judgment on How Sinners are Punished:

"Nothing so important, nothing so useful, if you want to clear your soul of that debt, as to be a man who can put up with a great deal. Such a man, if he is wronged, is more distressed over the sin committed than over the wrong done him; he is always ready to say a prayer for his enemies, forgives an injury with all his heart, and is quick to ask forgiveness of others, and you will find him more easily moved to pity than to anger...

...Those fires, what is it they will feed on but your sins? The more you spare yourself, and take corrupt nature for your guide, the heavier price you will pay later on, the more fuel you are storing up for those fires. The pattern of man's sins will be the pattern of his punishment; red-hot goads to spur on the idle, cruel hunger and thirst to torment the glutton; see where the dissipated souls, that so loved their own pleasures, are bathed in hot pitch and reeking sulphur, where the envious souls go howling like mad dogs, for very grief!

Each darling sin will find its appropriate reward; for the proud, every kind of humiliation, for the covetous, the pinch of grinding poverty. Spend a hundred years of penance here on earth, it would be no match for one hour of that punishment. Here we have intervals of rest, and our friends can comfort us; there is no respite for the damned, no consolation for the damned.

Take your sins seriously now, be sorry for then now, and at the Day of Judgment you will have confidence, the confidence of blessed souls. How fearlessly, then, the just will confront those persecutors of theirs, who kept them down at all the time! The man who submitted to human judgments so meekly will now take rank as judge; in perfect calm they will stand there, the poor, the humble, while the proud are daunted by every prospect that meets them."

- Chapter 24 Book I

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Artist Octavio Ocampo

I had not heard of this artist until today when a friend from church forwarded me an email. His paintings are optical illusions. I am sharing links to the religious ones.




Miracle of Roses


Palm Sunday


Pope turns 84 and receives birthday greetings by e-mail

You can send Our Holy Father a birthday email. Watch video for details.

Quotes to Help Us Spiritually

The following are excerpts from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a' Kempis.

On Charity as the Motive of Our Actions:

"Whereas true charity, charity that goes the whole way, leaves no room for self-seeking; it is God's glory that must have, everywhere, the preference. A man who has charity of that kind does not envy other people..." 

- Chapter 15 of Book I

On Putting up with Other People's Faults:

"If you have spoken to a man once and again without bringing him to a better mind, it is a mistake to go on nagging at him; leave it all in God's hands; let His will be done, His name be glorified, in the lives of all His servants-- He knows how to bring good out of evil...

...We like to have everybody around us quite perfect, but our own faults-- we never seem to correct them...

...there is no better test of a man's quality than when he cannot have things his own way. The occasions of sin do not overpower us, they only prove our worth"

- Chapter 16 of Book I

On the example set us by our Holy Fathers:

"...the holy fathers in the desert--how sever that life was, how full of self-renunciation! The long periods of searching trial, the devil's constant assaults; prayer offered to God so frequently and so fervently, and stern fasts kept; all that burning ambition to rise higher in the spiritual life, that gallant campaign to overcome their faults; the clear eyes, the true wills, that aspired towards God! After a day of hard work, they must still be long over their praying-- as if work itself had meant rest, for a moment, from mental prayer!

- Chapter 18 of Book I

On the Pious Practices (meant for monks but also applicable to the laity)

"As each new day comes, we ought to renew our good resolutions, re-kindle the fires of our devotion, as if today were the first day of our coming back to God. 'Help me, Lord God,' we ought to say to Him, 'in carrying out my good resolutions, in this holy business of serving you. Help me, today, to make an effective start; so far, I have really nothing to show for it."

- Chapter 19 of Book I

Quote by St. Catherine of Siena - Our Ingratitude to God

St. Catherine of Siena by Raffaello Vanni
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"...Shame, shame on our human pride, our self-complacency, our self-centeredness, when we see how good God has been to us, how many gifts and graces He has given us--not because He has to but because He wants to..."
Excerpt is from the 4/13/11 Meditation in April Magnificat

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Begger Priest

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You can read this beautiful story involving Venerable John Paul II and a priest here

Original source: The Deacon's Bench

Mahalo to Cathy

Monday, April 11, 2011

Did the early Christians have any fiction?

Movie explores faith in Cristero War against forced secularism

Book Review: The Third Testament

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I do not know whether to thank John Eklund or not for introducing me to his novel.  I gave up reading fiction during Lent. Yet, when I received this book and saw the beautiful cover with the stained glassed pictures of saints, I took a sneak peak. Before I knew it, I finished the book. Oh well...

The Third Testament is a book of fiction by the author's own account. It could also be categorized as historical fiction for it is filled with interesting bits of Catholic history and world history.  Many of the historical people and events have piqued my interest.  I would now like to learn more about them. The Miracle of Dunkirk is just one such example.

The novel's story is of a college professor employed at a small Catholic college somewhere in Illinois. The book starts off with his telling of an interesting tale out of Norse Mythology. As a fan of mythology, though I prefer Greek or Roman myths, I enjoyed the story very much.  The story is narrated by the professor himself. He is a widower, the father of a grown daughter whom he loves very much.

The story is an interesting tale of a spiritually inspired directive via dreams where the professor is chosen to write the third part of the Holy Bible, hence the Third Testament. I had expected to read a tale of the third testament via stories of fiction. Instead, the third testament itself started off with the persecution of the early Christians and continued onto the present time in history.   I was intrigued by the juxtapositioning of the professor's quest to complete this monumental writing task while bearing some heavy crosses in his own life.

There is also a strong element of good vs. evil in this book.

As usual with a good book, I was sorry that the story ended.  As I mentioned above, the writer has made reference to certain events in history which I would like to learn more about.  Another example I would choose would be that of the evil of communism.  It is no wonder that Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who also hailed from Illinois, inexhaustibly combated communism during his adult lifetime.

I highly recommend The Third Testament as it is not only enjoyable to read but hopefully you will learn one or two new things like I did.

To learn more about The Third Testament or its author and/or to order the book, please visit The Third Testament. You will also find interesting photos of places mentioned in the book, Q & A, etc.

BTW, I was just kidding. I really want to thank Mr. Eklund for the privilege of reading and reviewing his wonderful first novel.