My Online Courses

Monday, March 25, 2019

Feast of the Annunciation.

Chapel at Basilica of Annunciation in Holy Land.

The feast of the Annunciation is on 25th March and it inevitably falls in Lent.  This marks the day when Mary, as described in the Gospel of St Luke, was told by an angel that she was to be the mother of the Saviour. This is the day of the Incarnation, when Christ, the Son of God, arrived in his mother's womb.

Interestingly enough, the old English name for this day is "Lady's Day" and for centuries it was marked as the first day of the New Year: due to the fact the tax year ran from March to March each year.   Of course, the Annunciation is exactly nine months before Christmas, signifying the time spend by Christ in the womb of Mary. On a practical note, for those of us who had promised ourselves we were going to be organised for Christmas next year, why not connect this feast with a start of a Christmas shopping list.!!!! Shock horror, some might think of Christmas-when we have not yet celebrated Easter.
Nevertheless, reflecting on this feast and connecting it with Christmas, may provide a fresh impetus. 

An old tradition says that the first Good Friday was also on 25th March, and so Christ was dying on the anniversary of the day on which he first arrived on earth.

WHAT DOES THIS FEAST MEAN FOR ME?
Apart from wanting to be organised for Christmas and connecting the two feasts of our salvation what does this feast also mean for me?

God does not need his creatures because He is God.  Yet, he desired Mary's yes and our yes to make His plan complete. Jesus invites us every moment of every day to say Yes to Him He gives us a choice just as Mary was able to say no too. Jesus never squashes our free will. In this time of Lent particularly, it is an ideal opportunity to become more aware of the opportunities we have to say yes to God.

Will we be willing to say Yes to God like Mary in what He asks of us?

Blind Bartimaeus at Jericho Mk 10 46-52.


Gospel of mark series: Blind Bartimaeus at Jericho.


THE BIBLE  GOSPEL OF MARK SERIES ICON



During 2019, each week, I will write a weekly post about the Gospel of Mark, as I review and explore each of the 16 chapters and how it may be applied in our daily lives. If you are following this series for the first time, you will find this series under Scripture- New Testament- Gospel of Mark. 

Click here to read the first post in the series. I have written this series in different years (2012, 2015, 2018) with some irregularity, but am determined to complete this series this year since I am more than half way through this Gospel.

My goal is to understand and pray the Gospel of Mark. I hope you will join me on this journey as we travel through the liturgical season.  In today's post we explore chapter 10:46-52 which is called Blind Bartimaeus at Jericho.

Blind Bartimaeus at Jericho.


The story of Bartimaeus concludes the teaching of Jesus about service of others (10:32-52).  Jesus serves this blind man, begging beside the roadway, by freeing him: from his blindness.

The giving of sight to the blind to Bartimaeus also concludes the fifth part of Mark’s gospel, where Jesus had been forming his disciples in his way.  With the earlier healing of the blind man at Bethsaida, the healing of a Bartimaeus: forms a frame for the whole of this part, we Jesus tries, unsuccessfully to enlighten the blindness of his disciples.

As Jesus leaves Jericho on this journey up to Jerusalem, these disciples and a large crowd of people follow him.  At the side of the roadway since the blind Bartimaeus begging.  He is apart from the disciples and the others, and under able to see.  He hears Jesus of Nazareth is there and begins to shout: for mercy without knowing exactly where to shout.  He calls Jesus Son of David, a title for by expected Messiah.The crowd try to silence him, but the more they try, the more he shouts.

Jesus stops and asks them to call him.  Bartimaeus eagerly jumps to his feet, throws away the cloak, which likely he has spread it on the ground before him to receive alms, and runs to Jesus.  Notice how the disciples and others are drawn to help, once  Jesus begins to act.
It is clear what Bartimaeus wants.  

Nevertheless, Jesus ask him to speak it out.  Please stands in his blindness before Jesus, whom he cannot see, with nothing but he is human need to be healed.  Through the faith of Bartimaeus Jesus gives him sight.

Though: told to go, Bartimaeus does not go.  His eyes have begun to see.  No longer does he sit beside the way as an outsider.  He follows Jesus as a disciple joyfully, maybe with dancing, along the way up the slope to Jerusalem.

JOURNAL REFLECTIONS

In our journal and/or our discussion group we may wish to reflect on this passage as follows:

  • Name the key points that you have learnt about the person of Jesus in this passage of scripture?
  • Imagine that you are one of the disciples- What do you see and hear and feel. What can I learn from this?
  • Imagine being Bartimaeus both as the blind person and as the Bartimaeus  who can now see.- what would you have felt?  
  • What is reading the Gospel passage with the eyes and ears of disciple mean to me?
  • How does Jesus invite me to look at my own blindness?
  • What are the areas in my life I need to bring to Jesus? What questions do I want to ask Him about my blindness?
  • Am I willing to look into myself with honesty and ask how much do I grasp what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus with sight in the light of this teaching? 
  • Is my faith in the divine power of Christ, whom we follow, large enough to make us ready to walking faithfully his ‘’way’’ with sight?
  • In the light of this passage, how will you respond to Jesus as a true disciple?
  • If a fellow parishioner had read this passage, what might he/she say about this passage?
  • In the light of this Gospel passage what positive change will you adopt in your life and in your spiritual life.  How will you implement these changes?





Sunday, March 24, 2019

Collect and Gospel reflection 3rd Sunday Lent


COLLECT AND GOSPEL REFLECTION

The Mass _ Collect and Gospel Reflection Series 

COLLECT FOR THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR C

The Collect for Third Sunday of Lent year C 8th reads as follows.

O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness,
who in fasting and alms giving have shown us a remedy for sin,
look graciously on this confession of our lowliness,
that we, who bold are bowed down by our conscience,
may always be lifted up by your mercy. 
Through our Lord Jesus Christ your son,
who reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.


REFLECTION QUESTIONS 


In making this prayer tangible for during the week, the following reflection questions emerged:
1.    What does mercy and goodness mean to me?
2.    How is my Lenten observance of fasting and alms giving progressing?
3.    How am I preparing for a good confession this lent?
4.    In what areas of my life is my conscience bowed down?
5.    In other areas of my life do I need the mercy of Jesus?

GOSPEL REFLECTION


The Gospel is from St. Luke, 13:1-9. Our Lord stresses that we need to produce plenty of fruit (cf. Lk 8:11-15) in keeping with the graces we have received (cf. Lk 12:48). St Luke also tells us that God waits patiently for this fruit to appear; He does not want the death of the sinner; God wants him to be converted and to live (Ezek 33:11) and, as St Peter teaches, he is "forebearing towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Pet 3:9).  However, it is important to realise that God's clemency should not lead us to neglect our duties and become lazy and comfort-seeking, living sterile lives. He is merciful, but he is also just and he will punish failure to respond to his grace.

I think it is important to stress that last point.  God is merciful and anti is also just.  God’s justice is merciful and always fair.  God has given us the means: for our salvation through prayer whether this is communal our personal, participation at Mass, receiving the sacraments regularly and keeping the commandments such as by loving god with all our heart and our neighbour ourselves.

Lent is a time for us to review our lives.  The church reminds us of the need to pray, fasting and alms giving.  Praying helps us come closer to God.  Fasting helps us our mind on God, as well as helping us to be grateful for the food and resources that we have.  Almsgiving helps us to focus on our neighbour.  So then Lent is really about both God and neighbour.  The church therefore gives us this time of lent to review our lives in these areas.  Lent is a blessing that Jesus gives us through His church.

We know we are human and we made mistakes, sin and also omit to do good when we could have done.  So we need to repent and believe the good news.  God wants us to be converted and live.  God does not want us to be bowed down by our sins or make the mistake of thinking that we are perfect.  

We know we are not perfect, but pride or fear may be get in the way of us using the sacrament of Reconciliation.  We need to remember that women use the sacrament us reconciliation, but we are confessing our sins to God.  The priest is there to help us make a good confession and give us advice and: he gives us absolution.  God wants us to be converted and to live freely without a murmur of sin in our hearts.  We need to choose this help and use it regularly.

PERSONAL NOTE
I am sorry that i have not had written in the last couple of weeks. I have forced rest with a frozen shoulder. I have not been able to do any computer  work. It has been most frustrating. I am beginning to feel better now, but cannot be on the computer too long. Hope to be at full strength soon.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

His marvelous goodness and grace.

REFLECTION AND PRAYER SERIES.


My reflection and prayer series is about sharing reflections and Prayers which have impacted upon me and have provided food for thought. I hope that they will also nurture your soul and spirit.

My Scripture reflection is 

''I lift up my eyes to the hills-whence does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord- the Maker of heaven and earth”’
(Psalm 121:1-2)

Christ the Redeemer
 Reflection and Prayer Series Icon

My post is called:

                                                      His marvelous goodness and grace.


God lifts me above the world's noise and confusion, 
Setting me firmly in place 
On the heights in His presence,
 where I can rejoice IN His marvelous goodness and grace.''.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Did Christ have a human body? Compendium Series


COMPENDIUM SERIES


No 92 Did Christ had a human body?  (475,482 )


WHAT DOES THE COMPENDIUM SAY?

Compendium states: 

Christ assumed a true human body by means of which the invisible God became visible.  This is the reason why Christ can be represented venerated in sacred images. 

PERSONAL RESPONSE

What does this mean for me?

  • I can thank God constantly that the invisible god became visible. 
  • I can be thankful that I am able to see Christ represented in sacred images.
  • When I look at had sacred images, I should remember and venerate Christ in the sacred images.
  • I can be thankful too that Jesus did not lose His divinity whilst on earth and because of that embrace the divine nature He shares with me every day and learn to experience His infinite love for me each day.

Questions to consider.

1.     How would I explain this teaching to another person?
2.     What benefit does it have to me knowing that Jesus as a human experienced learning as I do?
3.      What is God’s divine will for me?  Am I following those plans or have I followed my own will?
4.     How does the impact of the truth that Jesus human will was subject to His divine will have on me?



Wednesday, March 20, 2019

First Reading Part 2

‘FIRST READING: PART 2’.

The Mass: About the Mass Vol 2 icon.

How does posture make a difference in the Liturgy of the Word?


The Liturgy of the Word begins with a posture body change.
Now we sit, not just to give us a rest, but so that we can listen attentively to the Word of God. We sit as one faith community, expressing something of our communal bond we share.  Body posture is important. How we sit can either help or hinder us to being in tune in mind body and spirit to the Word of God.   

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) stated:
‘In human life, signs and symbols occupy an important place.  As a being at once body and spirit, man expresses and perceives spiritual realities through physical signs and symbols.  As a social being, man needs signs and symbols to communicate with others, through language, gestures, and actions.  The same holds true for his relationship with God’. (Para 1146, p.297). 

Background of First Reading.


 From what does the lector read?  It is called a Lectionary.  We listen to the First Reading, taken from the Old Testament.  It is chosen in relationship to the Gospel. But you may wonder- why do we read the Bible when we celebrate the Eucharist? 

The oldest celebrations of the Word according the Bible coincided precisely with the first celebration of the Covenant of Sinai according to Exodus 24:1-11. First there is the proclamation of the Word: Moses took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people who declared: ‘Everything that Yahweh has said, we will put into practice and we will obey’. (Exod 24:7) Then there is the sacrifice of the Covenant:  Moses took the blood of the victims that had been immolated, sprinkled it over the people and said: ‘This is the blood of the covenant that Yahweh as made with you in accordance with all these words’. (Exod 24:8).


The structure is exactly the same as the Mass of today.  First there is the proclamation of God’s Word, then there is the sacrifice when the priest, at the consecration, repeats the words of Moses: ‘this is the blood of the Covenant’, and the words and action of Christ at the Last Supper.  Finally, there is the meal of communion in the reception of the Eucharist. 

Second Vatican Council (Vatican 11) spoke of the ‘extreme importance of God’s Word’. The Church has always venerated the Divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord. The Council speaks about the ‘real presence of Christ in the Word’.

In the previous translation of the Mass, the First Reading ended with ''This is the Word of the Lord''.  In the current translation of the Mass, it ends with ':The Word of the Lord.
The thinking behind this change is that by just finishing it with ''The Word of the Lord'', it is as though God has signed His name to end it.  It is also to ensure that the last phrases of the reading remains in our hearts.

It should also be noted that there is a 3-year Sunday cycle (Years A, B, and C), so that all 4 gospels and major sections of the Old Testament are reviewed.  Cycles change beginning with Advent of the previous year and end always on the Feast of Christ the King. For example: Year A commenced on first Sunday of Advent 2017 and will continue until Feast of Christ the King (generally the last Sunday in November).  

On weekdays however, there is a two-year cycle.  Year 1 is for odd number years and Year 2 for even number years.  These alternating cycles are not used for Lent and Easter as this aids our renewal in these seasons of spiritual growth.

So how well do you listen to Christ in the’ real presence’ of the Word?



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Feast of St Joseph

St Joseph and a hymn to St Joseph.


St Joseph is known of course for being the spouse of Mary and foster father of Jesus. He is also known as

  • Patron Saint of fathers, and honoured in many countries.
  • Patron of single women- especially those seeking a good husband.
  • Patron of the dying- Many pray to him for the gift of a 'happy death'.

One Italian tradition of the Feast Day of St Joseph is to have a 'St Joseph's Table', filled with homemade and donated sweets and delights. The proceeds are given to charity. Items found on 'St Joseph's Table include shortbread, toffee, fudge, coconut ice and flapjacks which are displayed in ribboned boxes.

Relaxing one's Lenten penance is permitted on the Feast of St Joseph, as is St Patrick (March 17) and The Annunciation, (March 25) should one desire to celebrate it. Other people who prefer to maintain their Lenten penance can buy from 'St Joseph's Table' for family and friends for Easter.  It is one tradition of the Feast of St Joseph that can be revived, as it can bring the parish community together and a charity can benefit from the proceeds. It may be a project that the young people in the parish might consider.

HYMN TO ST JOSEPH

One tradition that I fondly remember is the singing of the Hymn to St Joseph.  I remember learning this hymn whilst I was still in primary school and I fondly remember the nun who taught it (God rest her soul). I have to say that at the time, I did not appreciate the words- just learning the whole 3 verses from memory was my major effort.  However, as each year passes and I sing it on the feast of St Joseph, I value the simplicity of the words and painted pictures contained in the words.

I hope that by sharing it with you that you too will appreciate and reflect on the life of St Joseph and what he means for your life.


GREAT ST JOSEPH.


Great St Joseph, Son of David,
Foster Father of Our Lord.
Spouse of Mary, ever-virgin
Keeping o'er them watch and ward.
In the stable thou didst guard them
with a father's loving care.
Thou by God's command didst save them
From the cruel Herod's snare.

Three long days in grief and anguish
With His Mother, sweet and mild,
Mary Virgin, thou didst wander
Seeking the beloved Child.
In the Temple thou didst find Him:
Oh what joy then filled thy heart.
In thy sorrows, in thy gladness
Grant us Joseph, to have part.

Clasped in Jesus' arms and Mary's
When death gently came at last,
Thy pure spirit sweetly sighing
From its earthly dwelling passed.
Dear Saint Joseph by that passing
May our death be like to thine.
And with Jesus, Mary Joseph
May our souls for ever shine.

Music: by A. G Stein, died 1852.