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How Low Sunday became Divine Mercy Sunday

Crux || By Father Jeffrey F. Kirby || 23 April 2017

low sunday became divine mercy sundayThe Sunday after Easter was once called Low Sunday, but now we celebrate it as Divine Mercy Sunday. The reason is that after a long 20th century, the human family is in tremendous need of healing and hope, of both receiving mercy and sharing compassion with one another.

It’s interesting that just a little while ago, today was called Low Sunday. It received such a name because, after all the liturgies and devotionals of the Sacred Triduum, the church seemed to take on a nomenclature that reflected the tiredness of both priests and people.

Let’s face it, the past week was spiritually intense, emotionally draining, logistically busy, and sometimes either a circus or a zoo in organizing choirs, ushers and greeters, altar servers, lectors, and everyone else. After such a whirlwind, it seems everyone is ready for a Low Sunday!

Except it’s not called Low Sunday anymore. Now, we have Divine Mercy Sunday and that brings along with it another whole set of expectations and devotionals.

What happened? Where’s our break? Why a Divine Mercy Sunday?

The answer isn’t too complicated. It only involves two world wars, rampant nihilism, a Polish religious, a pope of mercy, and the third Christian millennium!

Two world wars. In the Great War of the early twentieth century, the entire world found itself in an historically unparalleled state of worldwide combat. The nationalism that was driving the conflict and its accompanying trench warfare, chemical attacks, and nascent air bombings only brought unprecedented destruction to the human family.

Peace was attempted in 1918 but an intemperate diplomacy, still driven by nationalism and a desire to punish the vanquished, only led to further tension and a second worldwide conflict seemingly hell bent on surpassing the first in the devastation it would inflict upon the human race.

The Second World War would ignobly conclude with the ghastly dropping of two atomic bombs on two cities full of homes and parks, families, and children.

Rampant nihilism. Such overwhelming wreckage and slaughter of human life traumatized the human spirit. People were both numb and in denial over what had happened, what they had participated in, or what they refused to denounce.

In a false comfort to weary souls, many concluded that the appalling series of events were just an evil without reason. And so, in the absence of rational explanation, nihilism pervaded as its own poisonous gas and humanity desperately breathed it in.

Nihilism convinced the survivors of humanity’s evils: There is no explanation, no meaning, no purpose, and no value. It’s all nothing.

The person intoxicated by such a nihilism runs the risk of living as an empty soul, moved only by momentary pleasure or self-interest. Transcendental experiences are explained away and relationships are marked by tension and a will to power. Life is just a flow of subjective satisfactions lacking any real sense of rationality.

A Polish religious. In the throws of these world wars and within the arena of the competitive spirits of nationalism and nihilism that sought to possess the human soul, a simple Catholic religious sister, hidden away from the world, received a liberating message for the human family.

The mystic, Faustina Kowalska, was given a powerful answer “ever ancient, ever new” to the turmoil and sufferings of humanity. Jesus appeared to her in her moments of prayer and shared with her the proclamation of Divine Mercy. For a desert, it would have been an ocean. For shadows, it would have been the sun. For humanity, the Divine Mercy was (and is) a declaration of love and a hope.

As Pope St. John Paul II taught: “It is this love which must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person.”

A pope of mercy. It would be exactly John Paul who would reveal and heavily endorse this message of Divine Mercy to the universal church. This backing included changing Low Sunday to the Divine Mercy Sunday. The pontiff even purposely waited to canonize Faustina so that she would be the first saint of the twenty-first century.

The third Christian millennium. In the Mass proclaiming her a saint, John Paul explained: “Sister Faustina’s canonization has a particular eloquence: by this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium.”

And so, the third Christian millennium began with a canonization of the Divine Mercy.

In asking why we lost our Low Sunday, therefore, the response is painfully obvious. The human family is still in tremendous need of healing and hope, of both receiving mercy and sharing compassion with one another.

As good things often require sacrifice, so the comfort of a quiet and relaxing post-Easter Sunday now gives way to the celebration of a Divine Mercy Sunday with all its appropriate fanfare and devotions.

Low Sunday now bows to the Divine Mercy Sunday so that forgiveness and tenderness are proclaimed and the world hears a different message than one of emptiness or hate and is shown a path to reconciliation and peace.

Source: Crux… 

 

Benedict XVI Shares a 90th Birthday Beer with Family and Friends

Crux || By John L. Allen Jr. || 17 April 2017

pope emeritus benedict birthday 2017Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his 90th birthday on April 17. Among those present was Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, Benedict's 93-year-old brother, who flew in from Germany for the occasion, as well as a small delegation from Bavaria, his home region. They brought to the party two staples of Bavarian cuisine with which the 90-year-old emeritus pontiff was obviously delighted -- beer and pretzels.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI actually turned 90 years old on Sunday, but because the day was Easter, his closest aide Archbishop George Gänswein announced that a “modest” celebration would be held today instead, the day that Italians observe as Pasquetta, meaning the Monday after Easter.

What “modest” means for a retired pope living on Vatican grounds, however, is a bit different than for the rest of us.

Benedict XVI passed the day in the company of his beloved 93-year-old brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, as well as a small delegation from his native Bavaria in southern Germany. Among other things, the party enjoyed some beer and pretzels, both considered staples of Bavarian cuisine.

The emeritus pope today lives in a former monastery within the Vatican, called the Mater Ecclesiae, which was created by St. John Paul II as a residence for cloistered nuns who would pray for the intentions of the papacy.

On April 12, Pope Francis visited his predecessor to wish him a happy birthday. The Vatican stamp and coin office also celebrated the pope emeritus’s birthday with the release of stamps marking important events in the life of the church spanning almost 2,000 years.

In a recent interview with the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, Gänswein said that as he turns 90, Benedict occasionally talks about the prospect of death, but it’s not an “obsession” for him.

“I can say that he’s a serene person,” Gänswein said. “He has a soul at peace, and a happy heart.”

These days, Gänswein said, Benedict can no longer see out of one eye, although that’s an old problem, and also has difficulties walking, but otherwise is in good health.

“Certainly, he’s a man who by now is old,” Gänswein said. “It’s tough on him to walk, and he uses a walker. He can’t work on scientific texts like he used to do, but he still writes, and a lot. He has an enormous amount of correspondence from all over the world. He gets books, essays and letters, and he replies. Naturally that takes time and effort, but he thinks about every response, it’s never something done casually.”

Gänswein also said that for Benedict now, his most important activity is prayer.

“He’s convinced that prayer is apostolate number one,” he said. “Through prayer, he feels able to be close to the faithful.”

Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, was born on April 16, 1927, which was Holy Saturday, in a small Bavarian town called Marktl-am-Inn, just across the border from Austria and the city that enchanted his youth, Salzburg. He was baptized with the newly blessed Easter water in the town’s small parish church, to parents named Joseph and Mary.

In his 1998 autobiography, published in English as Milestones, the future pope wrote that his birth and baptism on the vigil of Easter was, for him, a symbol of the human condition in its “not quite” relation to Easter and the resurrection.

Source: Crux…

 


 

10 Ways that Science Is Proving the Church Is Right and the Culture's Wrong

Aleteia || By Jim Schroeder || 15 November, 2014

Source: http://www.aleteia.org/en/scienvironment/article/10-ways-that-science-is-proving-the-church-is-right-and-the-cultures-wrong-5881921179484160?utm_campaign=NL_en&utm_source=daily_newsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_content=NL_en-15/11/2014

Catholic beliefs have long been challenged by that elite triumvirate of academia, media and government. Today, many of us are also finding our beliefs challenged in our daily lives – in our professional careers, our parenting and how we live.

Adult Catholics need to understand and intentionally embrace Catholic teaching with our intellects and reason. We can’t be content to believe and accept the teaching of the Church solely because our parents and teachers “said so.” In this process, we may struggle with particular teachings due to our own flaws, lack of good catechesis and other reasons. And even as adults, our faith may be challenged when the lives and practices of people we respect and love contradict Catholic doctrine. When this happens, I try to see the relevance of my beliefs to their lives.

The values espoused by the Church can seem harsh and even unfair in our live-and-let-live ethos. It’s understandable that many today believe that the Church is out of step with the modern world and that its teachings are no longer relevant.

But what is amazing (and certainly unintentional) is the fact that modern science – which so many assume is the antithesis or even enemy of Catholic teaching – actually bears out the truth and value and relevance of what the Church has taught for 2,000 years. Here are ten examples to illustrate my point.

1. The Church teaches that pride is the root of all vices. Research studies in psychology show that narcissism and irrational thinking are on the rise, especially in our younger generation, and are creating a “community” that is disjointed, disenchanted and confused. The traits of narcissists – self-centeredness, inflated self-esteen, lack of empathy, aggressiveness – are harmful to others, to society, and eventually to the narcissists themselves.

2. The Church teaches that gluttony and sloth undermine the values of food and rest, creating unhealthy conditions that threaten the mind, body and soul. The “Journal of the American Medical Association” reports that almost 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, that obesity is a significant threat to mental and physical health and will soon overtake smoking as the leading cause of death.

3. The Church teaches that lust involves treating the human body as a physical commodity rather than as an aspect of the whole human person – an inseparable body, mind and soul – who is the masterpiece of God’s creation and who will live forever. Currently, profits from pornography in the United States exceed the combined revenues of CBS, ABC and NBC (Kimmel, 2008).

4. The Church teaches that a valid marriage is forever and indissoluble. Science tells us that growing up in an intact family with one’s biological parents who are married to eachother confers the greatest benefit to children and other arrangements result in varying degrees of social, psychological, emotional and academic harm.

5. The Church teaches that artificial birth control violates the natural law. The World Health Organization classifies oral contraceptives as Class One carcinogens (that is, known to cause cancer in humans), like asbestos, radon, and plutonium, except that contraceptives are far more prevalent.

6. The Church teaches that fear prevents love and that, above all, we should trust in God’s providential care and not be afraid. Studies show that anxiety is the number one psychological complaint in youth and adults (see, e.g., Cartwright-Hatton, McNicol, & Doubleday, 2006; Muris & Steerneman, 2001). At unhealthy levels, anxiety is associated with a myriad of negative health outcomes.

7. The Church teaches that homosexual acts are not a healthy expression of human sexuality. An “International Journal of Epidemiology” review of studies finds that the

risk of HIV transmission is 18 times greater during anal intercourse than vaginal intercourse.  

8. The Church teaches that all human life is precious, from conception to natural death, and that each person is deserving of our love and care. The American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations strongly condemn discrimination against those with disabilities whose medical care, happiness and livelihood are often threatened by others (but, curiously, they support the “right” to abort persons with disabilities).

9. The Church teaches that sex before marriage undermines the loving union and well-being of each individual and the couple as a whole. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that sexually active adolescents are more likely than their abstinent peers to be depressed and suicidal, to use illicit substances, and are at significant risk of acquiring one or more sexually transmitted diseases, many of which are incurable.

10. The Church teaches that greed creates a society in which some people are exploited for others’ gains and those who are exploited struggle to meet basic needs. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the gap continues to widen between rich and poor in this country. This is also the case worldwide, where the disparity between the gross domestic product of the 20 richest and 20 poorest nations more than doubled between 1960 and 1995.
Many people would prefer to avoid topics like greed, lust, pride, birth control and gluttony. It’s awkward and “judgmental” to raise moral issues. But if we truly care for the well-being of our families and friends now and in eternity, as well as the future of society, we need to have honest conversations, at appropriate times. Thankfully, we can now begin these conversations with the findings of science, which people today accept more readily as truth than the teachings of Our Lord and the Church He founded.

Some say that the Church is no longer relevant in the 21st century. But given the serious harm people are causing to themselves and others by ignoring or denying Catholic teaching, it seems that these truths are needed now, possibly more than ever.

Jim Schroeder is a pediatric psychologist at St. Mary’s Center for Children in Evansville, Indiana. He resides there with his wife, Amy, and their six children. He received a BS from Ball State University and graduated with a PhD in clinical psychology from Saint Louis University in 2005. He completed an internship at the University of Louisville School of Medicine / Kosair Children’s Hospital and did his postdoctoral fellowship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital through the Washington University School of Medicine. He also writes a monthly column titled "Just Thinking" (www.stmarys.org/articles) designed to inform, educate, and motivate parents and providers in applying pertinent research in meaningful, practical ways.

Full citations to sources cited in no. 3 and no. 6

Cartwright-Hatton, S, McNicol, K., & Doubleday, E. (2006). "Anxiety in a neglected population:  prevalence of anxiety disorders in pre-adolescent children." "Clinical Psychology Review," 26, 817-833. 

Kimmel, Michael (2008). "Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men": Harper, New York.

Muris, P. & Steerneman, P. (2001). "The Revised version of the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED-R): First evidence for its reliability and validity in a clinical sample." British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 40, 35-44.  

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