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Holy Saturday – 16 April – The Lord Descends into Hell

Holy Saturday (Vigil Mass of Easter) – 16 April – Matthew 28:1-7

When Christ should appear, Who is your Life, then you also shall appear with Him, in glory.” Colossians 3:4

“And at the end of the Sabbath,
when it began to dawn
toward the first day of the week,
came Mary Magdalen
and the other Mary,
to see the sepulchre
.”

Matthew 28:1

Ancient Christian Writer
Anonymous
(An excerpt from Homily on Holy Saturday)

The Lord Descends into Hell

SOMETHING STRANGE IS HAPPENING — there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and He has raised up all who have slept even since the world began. God has Died in the Flesh and hell trembles with fear!

HE HAS GONE TO SEARCH for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow, the captives Adam and Eve, He Who is both God and the Son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the Weapon that had won Him the Victory. At the sight of Him, Adam, the first man He had created, struck His breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will give you light.”

I AM YOUR GOD, Who, for your sake, have become your Son! Out of love for you and for your descendants, I now by My Own Authority, command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness, to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the Life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in My image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in Me and I Am in you; together, we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

FOR YOUR SAKE I, your God, became your Son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, Whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden and I was Crucified in a garden.

SEE ON MY FACE the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in My Image. On My Back see the marks of the scourging I endured, to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See My Hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I SLEPT ON THE CROSS and a sword pierced My Side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My Side has healed the pain in yours. My Sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced Me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

RISE, LET US LEAVE THIS PLACE.
The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise but I will enthrone you in Heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life but see, I Who am Life itself, am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The Kingdom of Heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity!

Posted in DIVINE MERCY, FATHERS of the Church, GOD ALONE!, LENT 2022, LENTEN PRAYERS & NOVENAS, LOVE of NEIGHBOUR, QUOTES on CHARITY, QUOTES on CHASTITY, QUOTES on ENVY, QUOTES on FAITH, QUOTES on GOOD WORKS, QUOTES on KINDNESS, QUOTES on LOVE of GOD, QUOTES on MERCY, The FAITHFUL on PILGRIMAGE, The HEART

Wednesday day of the Third Week of Lent – 23 March – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – ‘… With our whole heart and our whole mind.’

Wednesday day of the Third Week of Lent – 23 March – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – Exodus 20:12-24, Matthew 15:1-20

Have pity on me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord.” – Psalm 6:3

“… This people honours me
with their lips but their heart
is far from Me
… ”

Matthew 15:7

GREAT IS THE MERCY that Jesus Christ has shown us. The first benefit that we owe to His mercy, is that we, who are living, do not sacrifice to dead gods or worship them but have, through Christ, attained a knowledge of the Father. What else is knowledge of the Father but the recognition of His Son, through Whom this knowledge comes to us? He Himself declares: – Everyone who acknowledges Me, I in My turn will acknowledge in the presence of the Father. This then will be our reward if we acknowledge Him through Whom we have been saved. But how shall we show that we acknowledge Him? By doing what He says, by not disobeying His commands and by honouring Him. not only with our lips but with our whole heart and our whole mind. For He says in Isaiahs This people pays me lip service but its heart is far from me.

LET US NOT ONLY CALL HIM LORD, for that will not save us. Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will be saved, He warns but only the man who does what is right. So then, brothers, let us show our faith in Him by our deeds, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, by not finding fault with one another, or being envious. Instead, let us be chaste, merciful and kind. We should also have compassion for one another and, not be covetous. We have to prove that we believe in Him by performing such actions as these and by avoiding whatever is contrary to them, since we fear God rather than men. Should we fail to do so, we have the Lord’s warning:- If you do not keep my commandments, even though I had pressed you to my heart, I will thrust you away from me and say to you: Out of my sight, you whose deeds are evil; you are complete strangers to me.

THEREFORE, MY BROTHERS, let us enter the lists in the knowledge that the contest is imminent. Many men travel far to contend for a crown that soon fades, yet not all of them win but only those who have strained every nerve and competed fairly. Let us so contend, that we may all be crowned. Let us run a straight course in the race of the Christian life, setting out in great numbers to take part in it and then striving for the crown with all our might. Even if we are not all able to win, at least let us draw near to victory.

NOW, WE MUST SURELY KNOW, that even when the contest is for a wreath that lasts but a day, if anyone is found to be breaking the rules, he is flogged and driven off the racecourse. What do you suppose, then, will be the fate of the man who breaks the rules in the contest of the Christian life? Of those who have not kept the seal of their Baptism unbroken, Scripture says: The worm does not die and the fire is never extinguished. They will be a spectacle to all men.” – Anonymous Ancient Christian Writer – ACW (An excerpt from a Second Century Homily).

Posted in CHRIST the WORD and WISDOM, FATHERS of the Church, QUOTES on FAITH, QUOTES on SIN, QUOTES on THE WORLD, St PAUL!, The FAITHFUL on PILGRIMAGE, The HEART, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 21 February – ‘And other seed fell upon the rock’ – Luke 8:6

One Minute Reflection – 21 February – Sexagesima Weekday, Readings 2 Cor. 11:19-33; 12:1-9, Luke 8:4-15

And other seed fell upon the rock and as soon as it had sprung up, it withered away because it had no moisture.” – Luke 8:6

REFLECTION – “The seeds of the Word that are lying on rocky ground, are snatched away by fleeting devils. Tell me, whose fault is it? That of the devils who snatch away the seeds, or that of the careless souls who do not bury them in the furrows of their hearts? I believe, the fault is not that of the snatching devils. The thief who breaks through the wall, enters the secret part of the house. But since he is stationed in a position outside, how can the thief be blameworthy, so to speak? Thus also, the devil, were he able to enter the innermost recesses of your heart, to snatch the word away from you against your will, would indeed be blameworthy. But now, what has been neglected and held in contempt by you, he snatches away.

A rock has two properties of nature: strength and hardness. Therefore, a man is said to be a rock either because of the constancy of his faith, or because of the hardness of his heart. The prophet says in this regard, “I will take out of them the heart of stone.” What then is the ground? It is the sinful nature that remains in the soul of the faithful who are still drawn toward the flesh. For many have a good mind according to nature but some do not have a faithful mind. Their mind is from God but their soul is from the divided will. There are people who, if you speak to them about the glory of the Saints or the blessedness of the Heavenly Kingdom, immediately become joyful and take delight in listening. Being wise according to nature, they readily accept the Word. But you who are not content to give alms from your possessions, how will you be able to sustain the loss of your material things when hard times or persecutions strike, in the light of God’s Word? You will become unsettled.” – Anonymous Ancient Christian Writer [ACW] (Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 31).

PRAYER – O God, You Who see that we put no trust in anything we do, mercifully grant that by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles we may be defended against all adversity. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen (Collect).

Posted in "Follow Me", CHRIST the WORD and WISDOM, GOD ALONE!, LOVE of NEIGHBOUR, ONE Minute REFLECTION, PRAYERS to the SAINTS, QUOTES on JUSTICE, QUOTES on LOVE of GOD, Quotes on SALVATION, QUOTES on VIRTUE, SAINT of the DAY, The KINGDOM of GOD, The WORD

One Minute Reflection – 14 February – ‘ … Be aware that we have been hired as labourers…. ‘

One Minute Reflection – 14 February – “Month of the Most Blessed Trinity” – The Memorial of St Valentine (176-273) Bishop and Martyr, 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 10:1-5, Matthew 20:1-16

The kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard.” – Matthew 20:1

REFLECTION – “To hire labourers for his vineyard.” What is the vineyard of God here? Not men, as elsewhere; for men are called the cultivators of the vineyard. The vineyard is justice and in it different kinds of virtues are placed like vines. For example, gentleness, chastity, patience, high-mindedness and countless other good qualities, which are all in general called virtues. So let us note how earnestly we should cultivate the heavenly vineyard. Adam was put in paradise to cultivate it and work it, but because he neglected it, he was ejected from it. We have been put here to cultivate justice; if we neglect it, we will be cast out, just as the Jews also were cast out, of whom it was written: “Add iniquity to their iniquity, that they may not enter thy justice.” The fall of those going before, should be a warning for those following. But if we the followers have also fallen into ruin, those who were the first to fall, deserve pardon more than we, who follow. A hired hand placed in the vineyard will not only lose his pay if he neglects it but, he will also be charged with the loss of the abandoned vineyard! So we too, if we neglect the justice committed to us, will not only have no reward but, we will also be charged for the justice that has been abolished. For God’s vineyard is not outside us but has been planted inside our very selves. So anyone who commits sin destroys the justice of God within himself but anyone who does good works, cultivates it in himself. The well-cultivated justice of God within you, brings forth grapes, that is, Christ. For those who do just deeds form Christ in themselves, as is written: “My little children, with whom I am again in travail, until Christ be formed in you.

Anyone who consigns a vineyard to another to work consigns it, not so much for the other’s benefit, as for his own but God, giving His justice to our understanding, gave it, not for His own benefit but for ours. God does not need our labour but we, who do just work, may live because of it. The owner who consigned the vineyard to someone else for his own benefit, expects to receive it back in the same condition as He handed it over. How then will justice not be demanded back from us, in as immaculate a condition as He created it in us, particularly as He gave it, not for His own benefit but for our salvation?

Be aware that we have been hired as labourers. If we have been hired as labourers, we ought to know what our tasks are, for a hired labourer cannot be without a task. Our tasks are the works of justice, not to till our fields and vineyards; not to amass riches and pile up honours but to benefit our neighbours. And although we can do this tilling and amassing without sin, yet they are not our tasks but our daily occupations.

No-one hires a labourer to work, only so that the labourer may eat. So we too have been called by Christ, to do, not merely what pertains to our own benefit but, to do what pertains, to the glory of God. The hired hand, who only works so that he may fill his belly, wanders purposelessly about the house. So we too, if we do only what pertains to our benefit, live without reason on the earth. And just as the hired hand first looks to his work and then to his wages, so we too are Christ’s hired hands and first ought to look at what pertains to God’s glory and to the benefit of our neighbours …. Charity and true love toward God “does not insist on its own way” but desires to perform everything to the wish of the Beloved—than to what pertains to our own benefit.” – An anonymous Ancient Christian Writer (ACW) known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew (Sermon 34).

PRAYER – O glorious advocate and protector, St Valentine,
look with pity upon our wants,
hear our requests,
attend to our prayers,
relieve by your intercession,
the miseries under which we labour
and obtain for us the divine blessing,
that we may be found worthy
to join you in praising the
Almighty for all eternity:
through the merits of
Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen

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One Minute Reflection – 18 October – ‘… Let us always reflect the image of God …’ Matthew 22:15-21

One Minute Reflection – 18 October – Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Readings: Isaiah 45:14-6Psalms 96:134-5,7-89-101 Thessalonians 1:1-5Matthew 22:15-21 and the Feast of St Luke the Evangelist

And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God, the things that are God’s.” – Matthew 22:20-21

REFLECTION In an ancient work known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew, an anonymous Ancient Christian Writer (ACW) offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel:
“The image of God is not depicted on gold but is imaged in humanity. The coin of Caesar is gold; that of God, humanity. Caesar is seen in his currency; God, however, is known through human beings. And so give your wealth to Caesar but reserve for God the sole innocence of your conscience, where God is beheld. For the hand of Caesar has crafted an image by likenesses and lives each year by renewable decree. However, the divine hand of God has shown His image in ten points.

What ten points? From five carnal ones and five spiritual ones through which we see and understand what things are useful under God’s image. So let us always reflect the image of God in these ways:

I do not swell up with the arrogance of pride;
nor do I droop with the blush of anger;
nor do I succumb to the passion of avarice;
nor do I surrender myself to the ravishes of gluttony;
nor do I infect myself with the duplicity of hypocrisy;
nor do I contaminate myself with the filth of rioting;
nor do I grow flippant with the pretension of conceit;
nor do I grow enamoured of the burden of heavy drinking;
nor do I alienate by the dissension of mutual admiration;
nor do I infect others with the biting of detraction;
nor do I grow conceited with the vanity of gossip.

Rather, instead,

I will reflect the image of God in that I feed on love;
grow certain on faith and hope;
strengthen myself on the virtue of patience;
grow tranquil by humility;
grow beautiful by chastity;
am sober by abstention;
am made happy by tranquillity
and am ready for death, by practicing hospitality.

It is with such inscriptions that God imprints His coins with an impression made neither by hammer nor by chisel but has formed them, with His primary divine intention. For Caesar required his image on every coin but God has chosen man, whom He has created, to reflect His glory.” (Incomplete Work on Matthew, «Homily 40»)

PRAYER – Lord God, You chose St Luke to reveal the mystery of Your love in his preaching and his writings. Grant, we pray, that we may grow in love for the Holy Face of Christ, His words and His directions, revealed to us in the Gospels, in the example of your saints. Today, on his feast, we especially look to St Luke, to guide, teach and pray for us. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, one God with You, forever and ever, amen.