Sunday Reflection – 25 March 2018 – Palm Sunday

Sunday Reflection – 25 March 2018 – Palm Sunday

St Augustine (354-430) Father & Doctor of the Church

Sing to the Lord a new song;  His praise is in the assembly of the saints.   We are urged to sing a new song to the Lord, as new men who have learned a new song.   A song is a thing of joy, more profoundly, it is a thing of love.   Anyone, therefore, who has learned to love the new life has learned to sing a new song and the new song reminds us of our new life.   The new man, the new song, the new covenant, all belong to the one kingdom of God and so the new man will sing a new song and will belong to the new covenant.

There is not one who does not love something but the question is, what to love.   The psalms do not tell us not to love but to choose the object of our love.   But how can we choose unless we are first chosen?   We cannot love unless someone has loved us first. Listen to the apostle John:  We love him, because he first loved us.   The source of man’s love for God can only be found in the fact that God loved him first.   He has given us Himself as the object of our love and He has also given us its source.   What this source is you may learn more clearly from the apostle Paul who tells us:  The love of God has been poured into our hearts.   This love is not something we generate ourselves;  it comes to us through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Since we have such an assurance, then, let us love God with the love He has given us.   As John tells us more fully:  God is love and whoever dwells in love dwells in God and God in him.   It is not enough to say:  Love is from God.   Which of us would dare to pronounce the words of Scripture:  God is love?   He alone could say it who knew what it was to have God dwelling within him.   God offers us a short route to the possession of Himself.   He cries out:  Love me and you will have me for you would be unable to love me if you did not possess me already.

My dear brothers and sons, fruit of the true faith and holy seed of heaven, all you who have been born again in Christ and whose life is from above, listen to me, or rather, listen to the Holy Spirit saying through me:   Sing to the Lord a new song.   Look, you tell me, I am singing.   Yes indeed, you are singing, you are singing clearly, I can hear you. But make sure that your life does not contradict your words.   Sing with your voices, your hearts, your lips and your lives:   Sing to the Lord a new song’.

Now it is your unquestioned desire to sing of Him whom you love but you ask me how to sing His praises.   You have heard the words:  Sing to the Lord a new song and you wish to know what praises to sing.   The answer is:   His praise is in the assembly of the saints – it is in the singers themselves.   If you desire to praise Him, then live what you express.   Live good lives and you yourselves will be His praise.his praise is in the assembly of saints - st augustine - 25 march 2018 palm sunday


Our Morning Offering – 25 March 2018 – Palm Sunday

Our Morning Offering – 25 March 2018 – Palm Sunday

To You, O Jesus
By St Bonaventure (1217-1274) Doctor of the Church

To You, O Jesus,
do I turn as my true and last end.
You are the river of life
which alone can satisfy my thirst.
Without You all else is barren and void.
Without all else, You alone are enough for me.
You are the Redeemer of those that are lost;
the sweet consoler of the sorrowful;
the Crown of Glory for the victors;
the recompense of the Blessed.
One day I hope to receive of Your fullness
and to sing the song of praise in my true home.
Give me only on earth some few drops of consolation
and I will patiently wait Your coming,
that I may enter into the Joy of my Lord.
Hosanna! you, o Jesus - by st bonaventure - palm sunday - 25 march 2018

Posted in FATHERS of the Church, HOLY WEEK, LENT, MORNING Prayers

Palm or Passion Sunday – 25 March 2018

Palm or Passion Sunday – 25 March 2018

Today we commemorate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem for the completion of the Paschal Mystery.   In the old calendar before Vatican II, the Church celebrated Passion Sunday two Sundays before Easter and then Palm Sunday was the beginning of Holy Week.   The Church has combined the two to reinforce the solemnity of Holy Week.Entry into Jerusalem Van Dyck

palm sunday

The Palm Sunday procession is formed of Christians who, in the “fullness of faith,” make their own the gesture of the Jews and endow it with its full significance.   Following the Jews’ example we proclaim Christ as a Victor… Hosanna to the Son of David!   Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.   But by our faith we know, as they did not, all that His triumph stands for.   He is the Messiah, the Son of David and the Son of God.   He is the sign of contradiction, acclaimed by some and reviled by others.   Sent into this world to wrest us from sin and the power of Satan, He underwent His Passion, the punishment for our sins but issues forth triumphant from the tomb, the victor over death, making our peace with God and taking us with Him into the kingdom of His Father in heaven.palm

Homily of St Andrew of Crete (650-740)

Palm Sunday marks the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.   But he entered in humility, not in pomp and power.   To humble ourselves and make our souls the garments that we spread before him, this is the greeting he desires says St Andrew of Crete (650-740), one of the Early Church Fathers – his Memorial is 4 July.

Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives.   Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will toward his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation.   He who came down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin, to raise us with himself, we are told in Scripture, above every sovereignty, authority and power and every other name that can be named, now comes of his own free will to make his journey to Jerusalem.   He comes without pomp or ostentation.   As the psalmist says:   He will not dispute or raise his voice to make it heard in the streets. He will be meek and humble, and he will make his entry in simplicity.

Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish.   Then we shall be able to receive the Word at His coming and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.

In His humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and He is glad that He became so humble for our sake, glad that He came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to Himself.   And even though we are told that He has now ascended above the highest heavens – the proof, surely, of His power and godhead – His love for man will never rest until He has raised our earthbound nature from glory to glory and made it one with his own in heaven.

So let us spread before His feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither but ourselves, clothed in His grace, or rather, clothed completely in Him.   We who have been baptised into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before Him.   Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of His victory.   Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.

This Lenten or Holy Week reading on the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in humility is an excerpt from a Palm Sunday sermon (Oratio 9 in ramos palmarum: PG 97, 990-994) by Andrew of Crete, a bishop and Early Church Father who died in 740 AD.   It is used in the Roman Catholic Office of Readings for Palm Sunday with the accompanying biblical reading of Hebrews 10:1-18.

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem by Hippolyte Flandrin c. 1842
PALM title image final g
palm sunday by james tissot no 1
james tissot - palm sunday

St Andrew of Crete
St Andrew of Crete (c. 660-740) was born around 660 AD in Damascus and eventually entered monastic life at Mar Saba.   He later served at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and was ordained a deacon at the great cathedral of Constantinople and mother Church of Eastern Christendom, Hagia Sophia, around 685.   Always exhibiting great pastoral solicitude for orphans, widows, and the aged, Saint Andrew spent his last days as Archbishop of Gortyna on Crete, a position to which he was elevated in 692. Attributed by many with the invention of the canon as a style of religious writing, his works display not only great rhetorical skill but an incomparable depth of theological understanding.   He is considered one of the great spiritual writers on the theme of repentance and his Great Canon, prayed during Lent in the Eastern Churches of Byzantine tradition, stands as a great testimony to man’s repentant cry to God, our merciful Father.  Saint Andrew of Crete is numbered among those great Christian writers known as the Early Church Fathers or “Fathers of the Church.”st andrew of crete

Posted in MARTYRS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 25 March – Blessed Emilian Kovch (1884-1944) Martyr

Saint of the Day – 25 March – Blessed Emilian Kovch (1884-1944) Martyr and Priest, Husband and Father – born (born Оmelyan) on 20 August 1884 near Kosiv, Ivano-Frankivs’ka oblast, Ukraine – gassed and burned on 25 March 1944 in the ovens of the Nazi death camp at Majdanek, Lubelskie, Poland.   Beatified on 27 June 2001 by St Pope John Paul II at Ukraine.


Emilian Kovch, was born in The Ukraine on 20 August 1894, in Kosmach near Kosiv.   His, was a family that had produced several priests.   His father, was Father Gregory Kowcz, a Greek Catholic parish priest.   Blessed Emilian completed school in Lviv and then from 1905 to 1911, he studied theology in Rome.   In 1911 he married Maria-Anna Dobrzynska, and the next year he was ordained a priest.

There was a war between Poland and the Ukraine, which was a multi-sided war that saw seven different nations take the battlefield.   In this war, Father Emilian served as a military chaplain from 1919-1921.   He had said at the time, “I know that the soldier on the front line feels better when he sees the doctor and the priest also there . . You know, lads, that I am consecrated, and a bullet doesn’t take a consecrated man easily.”   He was captured, held prisoner briefly and then released and appointed parish priest at Peremyslany, a small town 30 miles from Lviv.
His activity then was devoted to parish life.   He cared for the spiritual, material and physical needs of his parishioners.  He organised Eucharistic congresses, bought shoes and books for poor children, supported local cooperative movements and the Ukrainian independence movement.  This brought him attention from the local Polish administration, who searched his house over 40 times.   He was fined and imprisoned in a monastery.   He and his wife had six children of their own and many times gave shelter to orphans as well.

Father Emilian’s support of independence for Ukraine did not mean that he had animosity towards the Polish people.   After the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939 and Stalin’s invasion of the west Ukraine and eastern Poland, he severely scolded some of his parishioners for looting Polish homes and he prevented further thefts.   He said to them, “I thought that I had taught you to be good I am ashamed of you before God.”
Father Emilian organised help for Polish widows and orphans.   In the first two years of Soviet occupation, the secret police murdered or deported over 300,000 persons from west Ukraine.   In 1941 mass arrests were carried out in Peremyslany, including Father Emilian and two of his daughter’s.   Miraculously, they escaped just as the Nazi invaders reached their town, but, as Father Emilian Kowcz celebrated his first Mass back in his parish, the news arrived that all of the other prisoners had been killed by the retreating communists.

Many of the Ukrainian people hoped that Hitler would liberate them from the Bolshevik oppressors and grant them some measure of independence, but, those hopes were short lived.   Father Emilian urged the young people to not become involved in criminal deeds and to resist the urging of anti-semitism by the Nazi’s and their newly formed police force under Nazi control.   He never ceased to condemn publicly the deeds of the Nazi Fascist regime, which treated the Slavs as sub-human and began deporting them to German factories and labour camps.
The treatment of the Jews became a very serious matter.   A detachment of the SS drove some Jews into a local Synagogue and began throwing firebombs inside with the intention of burning them alive. Somehow made aware by some Jews of what was taking place, Father Emilian, along with some of his parishioners, rushed to the Synagogue and blocked the doors preventing the Nazi’s from throwing more firebombs inside.   Fluent in German, Father Emilian shouted at the Nazi’s to go away and by another miracle, they did.   Father Emilian and the parishioners then went into the already burning building, and saved as many as possible.

The Jews were the majority of the population of Peremyslany and any attempt to save Jewish lives en masse from the Nazi’s was impossible.   Some of the Jewish population came to Father Emilian asking for baptism, in the hope that would save them from Nazi extermination and he catechised and baptised them, at first individually.   As the Nazi persecution became more intense, a group representing 1,000 Jews came to Father Emilian asking for baptism.   Father Emilian then consulted Archbishop Andrei Sheptytsky (who was sheltering over 1,000 Jews himself) as to what action to take.   As time was getting short, on his return, Father Emilian then administered a short catechesis and mass baptism.
This was entirely against Nazi law but, Father Emilian ignored their warnings and further, after the closing of the ghetto, he applied to the Nazi’s for permission to enter the ghetto to baptise any who desired it.   The records indicate that the newly baptised Jews formed their own Christian community even within the ghetto.   Father Emilian even wrote a letter to Adolph Hitler denouncing the Nazi crimes!
The Nazi’s could not allow such activity to go unpunished and so in December 1942, Father Emilian Kowcz was arrested, imprisoned, and interrogated by the Gestapo. During interrogation, Father Emilian admitted to baptising Jews and refused to sign a document saying he would not do so in the future, even if it was contrary to Nazi law. The record of this interrogation still exists and says in part:
Officer: “Did you know that it is prohibited to baptize Jews?”
Fr. Kovch: “I didn’t know anything.”
Officer: “Do you now know it?”
Fr. Kovch: “Yes.”
Officer: “Will you continue to do it?”
Fr. Kovch: “Of course.”
Unable to get compliance from Father Emilian, the Gestapo sent him to Majdanek concentration camp in Lublin.   There, Blessed Father Emilian Kowcz brought comfort to his fellow prisoners, no matter what their race, no matter what their faith.   He saw his situation as a mission and a Gift from God, as well as a responsibility to be fulfilled.   He would celebrate the Liturgy in a corner of the barracks.   When his daughters and other family members attempted to secure his release he wrote these words to them:
I thank God for His goodness to me.   Apart from heaven, this is the one place where I wish to remain.   Here we are all equal: Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Russians, Latvians and Estonians.   Of all these here I am the only priest. I cannot even imagine how it would be here without me.   Here I see God, who is the same for us all, regardless of our religious distinctions.   Perhaps our churches are different, but the same great and Almighty God rules over us all.   When I celebrate the Divine Liturgy, they all join in prayer. . .
They die in different ways, and I help them to cross over this little bridge into eternity. Is this not a blessing?   Isn’t this the greatest crown which God could have placed upon my head? It is indeed. I thank God a thousand times a day for sending me here. I do not ask him for anything else.   Do not worry, and do not lose faith at what I share. Instead, rejoice with me.
Pray for those who created this concentration camp and this system. They are the only ones who need prayers . . May God have mercy upon them.”
Father Emilian’s health began to deteriorate and after Christmas 1943, he became seriously ill from stomach problems he couldn’t hide.   He was sent to the camp “hospital” where it was well known by his fellow prisoners that healing treatment was extremely rare and that the Nazi “doctors” helped speed death along by injection or starvation.   Father Emilian was last seen by his fellow prisoners in the spring but, afterwards, they did not know what became of him.   It was not until 1972 that his daughters managed to obtain his death certificate, where the records indicate that he died of infection and inflammation to his right leg that blocked circulation.   Some records also indicate that he was gassed and burned in the ovens of the Majdanek concentration camp.   Father Emilian Kowcz died on 25 March 1944.
On the night before his death, he wrote the following to his family:
I understand that you are trying to get me released.   But I beg you not to do this. Yesterday they killed fifty people.   If I am not here, who will help them to get through these sufferings?   They would go on their way to eternity with all their sins and in the depths of unbelief, which would take them to hell.   But now they go to death with their heads held aloft, leaving all their sins behind them.   And so they pass over to the eternal city.”
Blessed Father Emilian Kovch through his example of faith and courage, showed all what Love of Christ, Faith in Christ, and Hope in Christ is and how that love, faith, and hope is to all people, no matter who they are, or what their station in life.
On 9 September 1999, Blessed Emilian Kovch was recognised as a Righteous Ukrainian by the Jewish Council of Ukraine.

25 March 2018, Palm Sunday, the Solemnity of the Annunciation and Memorials of the Saints

Palm Sunday (2018)

Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Solemnity): The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Gabriel the Archangel that she was to be the Mother of God (Luke 1), the Word being made flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit.   The feast probably originated about the time of the Council of Ephesus, c 431 and is first mentioned in the Sacramentary of Pope Gelasius (died 496).   The Annunciation is represented in art by many masters, among them Fra Angelico, Hubert Van Eyck, Jan Van Eyck, Philippe de Champaigne (1 and 2 below), Ghirlandajo, Holbein the Elder, Lippi, Pinturicchio, Titian (2nd last below), Tintoretto (last below) and Del Sarto.Annunciation_Philippe de Champaigneannunciation-philippe-de-champaignethe annunciation - paolo de matteis 1712the-annunciation1200px-Zwiastowanie_Tintoretta

Our Lady of Betania:   Actually the name Betania means Bethany in Spanish. It was originally given this name by Maria Esperanza and was the site of their farm, in Venezuela.   Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary were reported and eventually a small chapel was built here and the faithful began to gather, especially on Feast Days but throughout the year.

St Alfwold of Sherborne
St Barontius of Pistoia
St Desiderius of Pistoia
St Dismas
St Dula the Slave
Bl Emilian Kovch
Bl Everard of Nellenburg
Bl Herman of Zahringen
St Hermenland
St Humbert of Pelagius
Bl James Bird
Bl Josaphata Mykhailyna Hordashevska
St Kennocha of Fife
St Lucia Filippini
St Margaret Clitherow
Bl Margaretha Flesch
St Mariam Sultaneh Danil Ghattas
St Matrona of Barcelona
St Matrona of Thessaloniki
St Mona of Milan
St Ndre Zadeja
Bl Pawel Januszewski
St Pelagius of Laodicea
Bl Placido Riccardi
St Procopius
St Quirinus of Rome
Bl Tommaso of Costacciaro

262 Martyrs of Rome: A group 262 Christians martyred together in Rome. We know nothing else about them, not even their names.